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Backing up massive amounts of data - best practice?

Posted on 2010-11-17
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I’m looking for suggestions for backing up a company with 3-4 TB of data and growing.
Much of it is static with minor changes made daily, but once in a while there is a flurry of activity and a hundred gigs or even more can change overnight.  There are about 12 servers and 3 workstations that need to be backed up.

Right now we’re using LTO-4 tapes with one drive in a tape library and Backup Exec 12.5.  That seemed adequate when we had just over 1 TB of data, but lately has been a problem.  

I’ve split the jobs up so a few critical servers get full backups every day, but most get a full backup once a week and differentials in between.  That’s fine, except, there are always backups running and we frequently miss scheduled backups because they take longer and longer to complete as the data grows.  

At the moment there is no off-site rotation of the tapes.  The tapes are getting old and need to be replaced, but when you look at the cost of disk drives vs. tapes and consider the speed and a few other factors, I have to doubt the wisdom of continuing to use tapes as the primary backup.  There’s got to be a better way to do this backup and get a copy off-site.
Here are some scenarios I’ve considered...

1.)      Add a USB 3.0 card to the backup server and use a dozen or so 2TB drives in rotation, taking some offsite, but using multiple drives online so that multiple jobs can run simultaneously.
2.)      Get something like a Drobo and use it as a backup device, then replicate it off-site
3.)      Get a Drobo with replication built-in and use it as the main data repository – replicate the data to a second Drobo across a WAN and then make tape backups infrequently just for point in time snapshots.

In scenario 1, we constantly have to deal with the drives.  With scenario two, I wonder if there is enough bandwidth for replication of backups every day, and scenario 3 doesn’t give us much protection against accidental deletion.  

Can anyone recommend a better solution for this backup problem?
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Question by:technoid-usa
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by:volcer35
ID: 34156663
NAS is always a possibility
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by:dacasey
dacasey earned 50 total points
ID: 34156738
I like your DRobo solution.  Do you have the funds to pickup a couple or three of NAS boxes, DRobo or other.  Just rotate the DRobo's, one offsite, one for current backup one ready to go.

This way you simply take the whole DRobo offsite.

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marine7275 earned 250 total points
ID: 34156757
I use a combination of solutions.

Right now we use Backup Exec with both tapes and disks. We backup to disk first and then for important stuff we write to tape for offisite storage. We have Dell MD3000i's in our Corp Data Center and use Drobo Pros in the Branches.

We are moving to CommVault now to take advantage of Dedupe, compression, and offiste DR replication purposes.

You are on the right track. I would suggest you classify your data first and seprate into backup groups. Sev 1 could include email, accounting data, and dbase data that need to be replicated and/or stored offsite. Sev 2 could be data that changes weekly or monthly that may or may not need to be stored offiste. Sev 3 could be Tier 2/older data that may just need to be backed up tot disk. By doing this, you will save $$ on bandwidth needed for replication, tapes needed for offsite purposes, etc.

Hope this helps.
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Author Comment

by:technoid-usa
ID: 34165274
marine7275 -
Can you clarify just a little for me and make sure I understand?  You use the MD3000i's and Drobos as the backup target, right?  

The Dell and Drobos are all connected with iSCSI?  Do you think the Drobo Pro FS would be fast enough?  It's an ethernet (NAS) device.

I think your suggestion on prioritizing data and making backup schedules accordingly is probably what's going to do it for us.

Also - thanks dacasey - I was thinking of duplication over the wire or maybe even swapping out disks, but hadn't thought of taking the whole unit off-site.  It gives me something to think about.

The bottom line, is that backups are increasingly problematic for many of my clients.  I wish I could find a cookie cutter solution that works without breaking the bank, but I don't think that's going to be possible.

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Author Closing Comment

by:technoid-usa
ID: 34165312
This is a best practices question and the opinions offered are very valuable, however there is no "right" answer.
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by:marine7275
ID: 34165648
Can you clarify just a little for me and make sure I understand?  You use the MD3000i's and Drobos as the backup target, right?  
Yes

The Dell and Drobos are all connected with iSCSI?
MD3000i is iSCSI but the Drobos are connected eSata

 Do you think the Drobo Pro FS would be fast enough?
Yes
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