Windows Server 2008 Backup planning

belly-buster
belly-buster used Ask the Experts™
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With Microsoft's decision to discontinue NTBackup and force us to use the new Windows Server 2008 backup solution (without paying for third-party stuff), I am thrust into a position to rethink our planning for deploying new servers to various Small Businesses.  Now that NAS' are not very useful (only repetitive Full Backups via command line), I was wondering if anyone had a good idea for best practices.  I will be creating servers for small businesses, but would like to know what size drive I should get for the backup.  Theoretically, if the user has a 250 GB hard drive (but uses only 30% of it), will another 250GB hard drive be enough to carry a full backup with fairly good incremental retainment?  I'm a little shady on how the new Server 2008 Backup system backs up all the files, as the main purpose of having this attached backup is to be able to restore to early files in case of end user error, which daily Full Backups only will not accomplish.  Thoughts or advice?  Should I get a drive bigger than the capacity of the drive I'm backing up?
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Site Reliability Engineer
Most Valuable Expert 2011
Commented:

For USB-attached hard disks, Windows Server Backup will create a full backup of the hard disk, then subsequent backups are incremental backups - to maximise on the number of backups held on the backup disk. These will only be overwritten when the backup disk becomes full.

A server where most of its 250GB hard disk is full would also fill the backup disk, leaving no space for incremental backups. For my clients I usually specify a disk double the size of the internal server storage. This allows Windows Server Backup to work very effectively.

For your current (30GB) usage, you could store many months of backups on a 500GB disk without a problem.

As a "best practice", you should also cycle your backups and take the latest backup offline. I would therefore suggest using 2 identical USB disks, which are cycled on a regularly basis - a Monday morning, for example. It is very easy in the backup wizard to set up a second disk; the backup tool automatically creates a 'disk pool' so it knows either disk can be used. The first time a new disk is put in, the tool automatically stores a full backup, so you can guarantee you can always recover from your off-site disk.

I hope this answers your question,

-Matt

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