We help IT Professionals succeed at work.

best backup system

Hello Experts,

I have to implement best possible backup system at work.

At the moment, I have around 20 users on the network using shared data on the windows 2003 server. I have nightly backup setup which mirrors the data from the server on one dedicated XP machine on the network which has 2X650GB HDD..

Apart from this there is no other backup system is placed.

I am now looking for some sort of off site backup storage, I mean if something goes wrogn with the machines or the building then there is no backup for the actual backup data.

Please can someone advise what is the best method forward? Tape or Disk drives?

Please can someone advise me if there is some sort of already available and hassle free  backup system I can use?

Any help/advise/recommendation will greatly be appreciated.

Thanks
Comment
Watch Question

Hi,

Tape disks are good in this case to weekly take backup and get all disks at your home day by day. Also if you are in UK there are many offsite data backup provider which you can search over the internet(for your area) and get their paid service.

Regards,
Faraz H. Khan
Commented:
Hello,

USB hard disk is also good & cheap.You can use for weekly backup.The main thing is you can connect USB any where, its not required any other drive or peripherals to connect.If you can use properly, its a good for your organization.

For Online backup symantec storage is the best solution.

http://www.symantec.com/business/storage-foundation


Regards,
Tushar Kaskhedikar    
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process Advisor
Most Valuable Expert 2013

Commented:
Given the information you've provided, no, I don't think people can give you a good solution that's actually likely to be appropriate for your company.

*How important is the data?
*How much data do you have?
*How much would it cost in time and money to replace it?
*Do you use Exchange?  
*Do you use databases?
*Is all data EQUALLY important?
*Do you have to keep the data indefinitely for legal purposes?
*Do you WANT to keep data on a regular basis for archive purposes (it's great to back things up nightly... it's horrible to discover that the particular document you only need to access once a year isn't there anymore - perhaps having been deleted 6 months ago and you only now notice it when your backups only go back 2 weeks).
*How much do you expect the data to grow over time.

If you're looking for an answer, you've got two above this.  If you're looking for the most appropriate solution for your company's needs, then you need to answer these questions (and frankly, probably others that I'm not remembering).  

You should probably look over my backup article here: http://www.lwcomputing.com/tips/static/backup.asp - I've not updated it lately, but the only thing that's really changed is the pricing on the media...
madunixChief Information Officer, EE MVE
Most Valuable Expert 2019
Commented:
-check bacula http://www.bacula.org
http://www.linux-magazine.com/w3/issue/57/Bacula_Backup_System.pdf

-ibm tivoli storage manager Storage management software that automates data backup and restore functions http://www-01.ibm.com/software/tivoli/products/storage-mgr/

madunix
If you want data backup durability then Tape backup is a good option for which you can use following hardware and softwares

Hardware:
1. DLT 32/76
2. LTO 4

Software
1. BackupExec
2. Acronis True Image
3. NovaNet
4. Backup Sync

Commented:
Just a couple suggestions to look at:

http://www.idrive.com/  for off-site storage, which is better than storing it at the same site.

Software:
Cobian Backup

Commented:
I've never had anything but problems with tapes.  They're unreliable -- even when backups logs indicate success-- and you often don't find out until you need it for a restore.  And they take forever to restore.  Use a combination of ext. USB drives and on-line backups.
In a small business environment, I have users put copies of critical files on the SBS server.  The SBS server is running Storagecraft's backup -- Quite good as is O&O's product (both are capable of imaging drives and HIR).  Mission critical backups (like accounting data and such) are addtionally backed up using an on-line backup service like Ibackup.com
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process Advisor
Most Valuable Expert 2013

Commented:
abausone,

tapes work fine... but there CAN be issues over time.  That's why you need to TEST backups periodically, preferrably on a different machine, including a different tape drive, but that's often not practical.

Do the math.  If this is a firm that MUST save their backups (like a law firm) then external USB drives would be extremely expensive as you'd need a new $100 drive frequently vs. a new $30-40 tape.   The tape drive adds cost initially, but over time, it goes down and becomes - OVER TIME - FAR CHEAPER to use tapes when you need to permanently (or for several years) retain your backups.

In addition, depending on how much data they have, USB drives may not be large enough.  It's not impossible to have a huge amount of data that requires backing up and doesn't fit on USB drives.  The advantage to tape is that a tape library can be used which allows for backups to easily and automatically spam multiple tapes.

But this is why I asked my questions and why I believe all other advice to-date has been poor - you can't answer this well unless you understand the environment in question.  A generic solution could get this guy fired in 3 months if something happened.  But if he looks at things properly, maybe he keeps his job and does the right thing.

Commented:
I understand the implications of backing up huge amounts of data and situations that call for saving backups for longer periods.  Most of the time that's not the case though.  After spending 9 years supporting 600+ systems that used tapes, I can say unequivocally that they are far less reliable than almost any other method of backup.  And testing periodically will only tell you if that particular file on particular tape, at that particular time is good (tapes also degrade over time even when not in use--as I'm sure you're aware).  So I stand by my recommendation -- unless of course there is a requirement that tapes be used.  I'm not sure I understand your assertion that usb drives may not hold enough data -- external USB drives up to 1.5TB are pretty affordable and more capacity than most tapes.  
Technology and Business Process Advisor
Most Valuable Expert 2013
Commented:
Pretty Simple:

LTO4 tapes hold 800 GB native, and in real world conditions, probably around 1 TB per tape.  They cost $33 each online.

USB drives that hold 1 TB (to be fair and equal), cost a minimum of $86 at newegg.  2.5x as much.  If you have to replace and then store each of these for a long term, this becomes hugely expensive.  An LTO4 tape drive can run $2000.  Now do the math - hard drive $86 - tape cost - 33 = $53 per "cartridge" saved.  If you must save each and every backup for years, then 2000/53 = 38 "cartridges" and you break even.  If you do one full of 1 TB per week then in 9 months, the tape drive is paid for.  The next 27 months (assuming a 3 year lifespan) you are saving money.

As for reliability, I've worked in a similar environment... I managed 35 Windows servers (other guys managed dozens of solaris and Linux systems) and we used tape for everything.  Worked fine.  We had issues with tape drives (Dell equipment especially), but once we switched to Overland, solid backups for years.  

And you don't test single files - well you can, but periodically, you MUST test FULL restores - and not necessarily to the original system.  Further, the only time I've even seen significant problems with tapes is when they have been used continuously for over a year (one of my new clients had 5 tapes cycle through each week for 18 months... after 18 months, she couldn't get a successful backup.  Replaced the tapes, works fine).
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process Advisor
Most Valuable Expert 2013

Commented:
If you CAN overwrite backups, then I do agree (read the link I posted) tape is not the best solution UNLESS you have huge quantities of data.  Because even at $86 per drive, if you only need 5-10 drives, then that's $430-860 vs. $2150-2700 for tape.
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process Advisor
Most Valuable Expert 2013

Commented:
Oh, and critical data should be backed up using multiple methods and multiple device types.  For example, a QuickBooks file can be backed up during the normal backup, but should probably have a separate one (script or something to backup to another location).  At one of my clients, we took their critical database and QuickBooks file and packaged them in a zip file and used Carbonite to have an off-site backup of those files automatically and regularly.  We ALSO setup a script to copy the files to the accounting workstation nightly, in case of drive failure or corruption, we used shadow copy on the drive the files were stored on, and then there was the regular backup.  And yes, we used all different backup methods at one point or another to restore either the QuickBooks file or the Access database.  (ShadowCopy was frequent, the accounting workstation could (shouldn't have been but could) be turned off, and the backup drives could get full on occasion).

Hence my questions - running 4 different types of backups on EVERYTHING could make the server unusable... but if certain data is less important or more important than other data, then THAT data can be (and probably should be) backed up multiple times using multiple methods and multiple media - NO ONE ELSE has suggested that, which again, is why I think most if not all previous answers are incomplete at best.

Commented:
leew,
Understood.  I don't think we're really disagreeing here.  Sometimes, as in your example, tapes are pretty much a requirement.  Outside of those circumstances (which is most of the time), I would definitely not recommend tape for the reasons mentioned above.   BTW, the vast majority of my tape backup experience involved Travan drives and tapes.

I also recommended multiple backups starting with RAID (mirrored or other redundant), and include full system backups on-site, and mission critical files backed up to secure off-site storage (via any reputable on-line backup company).

Author

Commented:
Hello Folks,

Thank you so much for your valuable comments,  much appreciated.

leew: Let me asnwer your questions

*How important is the data?
The data is important. It is basically the day to day works data. From designers to the operations department, we are the company of size 25.

*How much data do you have?
 The data size currently is upto 400 GB excluding emails and sql server.
*How much would it cost in time and money to replace it?
I am currently using windows 2003 default backup utility to backup 400GB, it has now started taking over 6 hours to do full backup, its very important for me now to get a backup software which can reduce the time and also able to mirror the whole system for the recovery
*Do you use Exchange?  
No,  we dont use excahgne
*Do you use databases?
yes, sql server
*Is all data EQUALLY important?
Yes
*Do you have to keep the data indefinitely for legal purposes?
no, not for any legal purposes but yes for the users it definitely need to be there .
*Do you WANT to keep data on a regular basis for archive purposes (it's great to back things up nightly... it's horrible to discover that the particular document you only need to access once a year isn't there anymore - perhaps having been deleted 6 months ago and you only now notice it when your backups only go back 2 weeks).
yes i have a scheduled nightly backup
*How much do you expect the data to grow over time.
last year it was 200GB, this year its about 200GB, there are quite a huge design artwork files here

please also advise what is the max usb drives i can get and if they are good for my purpose

thanks

Commented:
How frequently do they access old data?  What I'm getting at is whether or not DVD archiving is something that should be considered.  If they have 400 GB of data, it might not be out of the question to look into something like a NAS device.  

Another consideration is off-site storage -- what would happen if the building burned down or was burlarized?  That's quite a lot of data for uploading unless you have a darned good upload speed.  How frequently does the data change?

Author

Commented:
hello,
thanks for your comment,
the data changes almost every day, i mean, its day to day's work which get stored at central location on the server...  
we definitely cant do online storage due to the cost and time involved ....
i think if we have two such devices which we can swap every day then we can always have one off site data disc...
please advise what device and the software i can use?

thanks
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process Advisor
Most Valuable Expert 2013

Commented:
It's impossible to have two drives and have one on site and one off site at all times.  You'd need at least three drives.  And you'd be better off with 5 (one per day).

I should have been more clear - when I asked about keeping the data, I meant keeping the BACKUP data.  In other words, do you have any policy/desire to retain a backup made, say today, for the next 2, 3, 4, 5 years?   Why?  As I said before: it's horrible to discover that the particular document you only need to access once a year isn't there anymore - perhaps having been deleted 6 months ago and you only now notice it when your backups only go back 2 weeks.  By keeping a backup (say one every 3 months or so) indefinitely, you can help ensure you can recover almost any data you need almost any time, even if it's years old.

6 hours to backup is NOT a really large Window for most backups.  If you're doing this nightly, it could be a problem, but most companies do well with a full once a week and a differential on a nightly basis.  This means your 6 hour backup occurs on a weekend (typically)  and your differentials take probably 30-60 minutes.

USB based disk backup can only go so fast.  the rated throughput of a USB 2 connected hard drive is 480 Mbit per second.  The ACTUAL sustained throughput is more like 160-200 Mbit.  This translate into a MAXIMUM backup speed of 20-25 MB/Sec. Other technologies can provide faster backups.

If you need faster backup times, you should consider other backup strategies - including do a full backup of some data on one night and a full of other data on another night.  You still get full backups and each one completes faster.   Read my article - there are numerous suggestions and tips for you.  Bottom line, it's really best to have a person who can come in and review your network, your data, and give you the best possible answer.  Otherwise, you risk spending more than you should for more than you need - or less than you should and not be appropriately protected.  MAYBE you'll get it right on your own... but having a consultant on site to review and work with you is usually well worth it.

Author

Commented:
Hi Leew

Thank you so much for explaining that in so much detail, much appreciated.

I am a .net developer and I dont have much experience with the admin functions, I have been asked to recommend my boss the best possible solution for the backup which I have to in any case. I am sure he is not interested in hiring a consultant for this job.

I think your idea of having a USB device works for me, perhaps full backup once in a week and the differential in the night.

Yes, it would be nice to keep the data for ever so that anyone who wants to go back to a certain file in the future then they can very do so provided if I have it archived.

Please can you also advise which is the best USB device I can buy in size and cost?

Thanks
C
Commented:
There's quite an array of drives to choose from and newegg.com is a great place to start.  Pay attention to the ratings--though they're not gospel since the ones that most often feel compelled to rate a product are the ones that have had issues.

That being said, don't forget the software component.  My personal experience is that the built-in backup software is insufficient and in the event of a full recovery, quite time consuming compared to a good backup program.  StorageCraft and O&O have good, easy to use, reasonably priced software that are full featured (including disk imaging and hardware-independent restores)

Also consider using at least two backup drives that you alternate taking off-site.  As I mentioned before, true disaster recovery takes into account total loss of equipment on-site.  How well could the company survive a tornado hit, fire, or sabotage from an insider?  These things happen all the time and if saving the data means saving the company, this is a no-brainer.