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Off-Site Backups


I have been tasked with the project of implementing a non-tape based backup solution for our network backups.

The main goals of this project:
1) Eliminate tape backups
2) Have at least 2 points of failure
3) Quick restore times
4) Low bandwidth usage
5) Inexpensive =)
6) Backups must be encrypted (Either hardware or software based)

Currently, we are using Backup Exec 12 on a Windows 2008 R1 SP2 server that writes our backups to Ultrium III tape. We then take the tape to our offsite location.

I've been looking at several NAS backup solutions such as those offered by Data Domain and HP. However, these solutions are fairly expensive.

We only have a 1.5 Mbps connection to our offsite location. Our full backups are 250 gigs, and we are strictly a Windows shop.

If anyone could make a suggestions are far as whether or not Deduplication or a WAN Accelerator would be a good idea, or what might be another technology to explore I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you.
3 Solutions
Other than using a few eSata drives (making them hot swappable - raid 5 config) and rotating them offsite once a week or so...or SANS (which is not economical and bandwidth limiting), no idea )
RDX drives might be an alternative to tapes, works perfectly with backup exec.
They are also quite cheap.


Data Domain is a pretty good solution, and my organization is heading to it in just a few weeks. The appliance is going to make our backup solutions tapeless (finally!) but the system is going to cost us 14k. Shortly after implementation we will also be sending data to an offsite location via the network.

As for your 1.5mbps line to the offsite.... is your offsite a heavy workload area?  With deduplication it should be an ok solution assuming the offsite doesnt already put a heavy burden on the line.  Our site has just under 1tb of data to backup and the plan is to have that data offsited with Data Domain product. With deduplication and 4 1.5mbps lines holding up the network this shouldn't be an issue. Scaling it down i'd imagine performance to be on par with your setup.

According to the pro's that have designed our coming solution it should be doable...
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I have nearly the exact setup at my business and went through the same project your going through.  Here's the story of what I found, maybe this will help you with your project.

We run Backup Exec 12 on a Windows 2003 server and write nightly backups (250gb) to a local SATA Raid array, and once a week (Wednesdays) we push a complete backup to one of two USB drives and take the drive offsite.  The drives are rotated out so both drives are never in the same place at the same time.  With the weekly USB offsite backup, we ensure that the worst case (natuaral distaster of some sort and we lose our office) is no more than 7 days of active data loss.  It is realistically 5 days because our office is closed over the weekend and data doesn't change on Saturday or Sunday.  As your goal #1 states, I wanted to get rid of the procedure of physically swapping drives and use our dedicated point to point T1 to push the backup to our remote location.

I researched trying to push our entire backup to our remote location over the T1 and made several attempts at trying to make it work.  There just isn't enought bandwidth or speed in the T1 with any compression that I know of to push the entire 250gb backup over it nightly.  The next option without compression was to try to reduce the backup to a reasonable size to push over the T1.  I had to remind myself that this backup will only be used if the building burns down and I lose all my other backups. With that in mind, what portion of my data could I afford losing a weeks worth of and what data we absolutely couldn't lose.  I found out that the vast majority of the 250gb we run nightly rarely changes on an everyday basis.  Our critical "no loss alowed" data was our database related software (SQL, Exchange, Accounting, Purchasing, etc.)   That data only added up to about 30gb nightly.  The other 220gb was mostly redundant or MS office documents or AutoCAD drawings that we could re-create if a weeks worth of if the worst case was to happen.  Once down to 30gb, I was able to configure BackupExec to just push that over the connection nightly to another server on the other side.  It works most of the time when our ISP isn't working on their equipment or something at night.  We're about 10 miles from the nearest city here so our ISP isn't the most reliable.  We still have the weekly USB offsite and of course the local nightly backups to fall back on.

End result is until someone develops a better compression method or we can get an affordable 20mb internet connection, still gonna have to use the tapes or USB.

Hope my story helps.  Wasn't what I wanted to hear either, so if you are able to find a solution, please let me know.

That's the beauty of deduplication solutions! Deduplication significantly decreases the amount of redundant data being stored. Out of that 250GB's of data, mostly likely less than 10GB of it actually changes from day to day. At these levels offsite replication becomes feasible and manageable.

Check out this link for some interesting info on it. It is from Data Domain, so treat it like a sales pitch.

tgarrityAuthor Commented:
I'm trying to decide whether or not to leave Backup Exec 12.
I does not handle snapshots on the 2008 platform very well.
I was considering Acronis as a replacement.
Any suggestions?
Acronis is a great tool for many things, but I have had trouble restoring a backup image to a domain controller.  The last time I had to do it it created a USN rollback problem which was difficult to correct.  The latest version of Acronis may correct the problem, but I have not tried it.  We decided to virtualize all our servers on VM ESX for snapshots and left BackupExec in place for file level backups.  Here's a couple of good articles about USN rollback:


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