SBS 2003 - What to back up

As a minimum for 'Disaster recovery' what should I back up on our SBS 2003 Premium server?

What issues would i face if I had to restore to a bare metal replacement for our server?

Thanks for your time
Neil RandallAsked:
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jmaggio322Commented:
the system state, the data for all of your shares, and you may face problems such as needing the proper drivers to be installed. Otherwise go with a Hardware Independant Imaging software such as Shadow Protect IT Edition or Acronis True Image 2011 with the plus pack add on
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PerarduaadastraCommented:
Imaging is my preferred method of backing up a server installation, and I would further recommend that backup images are saved to disk rather than tape; I have found the former to be faster and more reliable than the latter when restore time comes around. Imaging has the virtue of taking a snapshot of the entire system and so saves everything.

I would endorse jmaggio322's suggestion of ShadowProtect, though not the IT Edition, as that product is intended for unlimited use by technicians and administrators on any or all of the systems in their care - this makes it very expensive! It also lacks scheduling and therefore the ability to perform incremental and differential backups. See this link for details:

http://www.storagecraft.eu/products/shadowprotect-it.html

For your needs I would suggest this:

http://www.storagecraft.eu/products/shadowprotect-sbs.html

I use the product myself and have found it to be excellent. The HIR (Hardware Independent Restore) is particularly effective, and although it doesn't prevent Windows requiring re-activation if the hardware it is being restored to is different to the original, it does allow mass storage drivers to be loaded so that RAID arrays and SCSI controllers etc. can be seen by both ShadowProtect and the Windows image. The SBS edition is also Exchange and SQL aware and so handles them without the need for stop and start commands to be run, though you can still insert such commands if they are needed for other processes.

Recently I moved a Windows server image from one vendor's RAID array to another using ShadowProtect, and the HIR allowed the drivers to be loaded dynamically for both source and target RAID arrays, allowing the move to succeed quite painlessly. One thing to remember, which applies to any HIR product, is to have any required drivers for mass storage and NICs readily available on a USB flash drive.

If you want to be able to restore to different hardware if necessary (your “bare metal”), my experience suggests that you’re less likely to have major issues at restore time using ShadowProtect than with several other products I’ve used. I’m not a Storagecraft employee or publicity agent, merely a satisfied user. Doubtless other people will be just as happy with whatever product they use, and will report their satisfaction in like manner.
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jmaggio322Commented:
I would personally recommend the ATI 2011 with plus pack addon over shadow protect we use both softwares and need to use acronis over shadow protect most of the time. Also the cost is much less and you can set up a version chain specifying how many copies are kept and so on.
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Neil RandallAuthor Commented:
Thanks both of you.

Sorry for the tardiness of my reply.

Doing a quick crash course in imaging and reviewing both your suggestions.

I will distribute points evenly between you (if that's ok), but would like to keep the question open a little while longer, just while i look at both products.

Thanks again

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Neil RandallAuthor Commented:
Both products seem to do the job. The decision for one or the other will be made after I have read all the overviews, user guides, costs etc over the Easter holidays (deep joy!!).

This would seem to be the perfect time to move away from our tape drive to hard drives and was wondering what type of network storage you both would suggest? We have a network connected second building 50m away that would be perfect for part 1 of the off-site storage process, with part 2 being a removable hard drive containing the latest 'image' being taken home each night.

What are your thoughts, and thanks for your time
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PerarduaadastraCommented:


Your second building being only 50m away sounds good, but keep in mind that the total cable length must not exceed 100m; suppose your server in Building 1 is another 30m away from Building 2, and your NAS unit is another 30m away from Building 1, that's a total cable run of 110m - not good! It's also a very good idea to have a dedicated link between server and NAS.

Regarding the NAS itself there is a wide range of products, technologies, and prices to choose from.

I would suggest that iSCSI is a good option for what you want to do, as SBS 2003 supports it, and the initiator is a free download from Microsoft:

http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2003/technologies/storage/iscsi/default.mspx

As it’s IP-based it runs over existing LAN infrastructure without demanding expensive upgrades and enhancements, though gigabit LAN is really required for adequate performance. For more detailed information see this article on Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iscsi

In the past I've cobbled together a basic iSCSI NAS from some new bits I had lying around; basically it's a Windows computer with a 2.2GHz Celeron processor, 1GB of RAM, a gigabit NIC, and a big hard disk, and all for under £100, though it was a bit fiddly to set up. Of course, you will probably want something with greater ease of setup and use, support, and a warranty, and this will involve parting with rather more money than that, but the outlay doesn't have to be huge. Qnap and Netgear have products that cater for most sizes of business, and there are quite a few recent reviews on the web to help you get a better picture of what's on offer. I would say that a RAID1 unit is the absolute minimum that you should consider in a NAS; dual power supplies, hot swap, and other redundancy features are nice to have, but must be paid for!

Having said all that, I work with installations where the backup target is a portable USB drive that is changed every day or week by a member of staff who unplugs the current drive and takes it home, after plugging in its replacement. Simple, effective (as long as this simple task isn’t forgotten), and, above all, cheap! This approach isn’t suitable for every business, of course, but where it's appropriate it can work very well.

One other point to keep in mind if you decide to use ShadowProtect; if your proposed NAS is not on the same subnet as the server then you will probably need to purchase Image Manager as well to avail yourself of its remote backup feature, though you will also benefit from its ability to consolidate incremental backups in order to reduce chain length and space requirements.

Hope this helps.
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Neil RandallAuthor Commented:
Thanks Perarduaadastra:

If I could just ask you one more question.
Sorry one more batch of questions!

Thinking of a disaster now.
If we had to restore using HIR:

A. Our server has 4 x 300Gb SCSI disks (RAID 1) controlled by Dell Perc4i controller
     C,D & E volumes on one and F & G volume on the other.
B. As an emergency server could we have a bare bones machine with no RAID just 2 x 300GB+ hard drives?
C. Could it be an off the shelf machine with an OS already installed? would the recovery just format the drives and overwrite what is on there?
D. Could it be 1 TB drive instaed of 2 x 300Gb drives?

Thanks
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PerarduaadastraCommented:
Hello again NELMO

Here goes:

A.      If you have RAID1 and four drives, then you must have two RAID1 arrays. However, imaging software deals with volumes rather than arrays; drivers are needed to see the volumes, and it is the volumes that are imaged, not the arrays.
B.      Yes. Rather than having each set of volumes on its own array, each set of volumes would be on its own disk instead.
C.      Yes, you could use an off-the-shelf machine, but there is no point in buying one with an OS on it (which would add to the cost), as the image restore process would overwrite whatever OS was on the disks. An image is just that – an exact representation of each volume of your Windows installation, so it will appear exactly as it did on the source machine.
D.      Yes, you can use a single drive as long as its capacity is adequate for your needs. As 600GB seems sufficient for you at present then 1TB will be more than adequate. An advantage of using a single drive (assuming that it’s SATA) is that no specific drivers will be needed; SBS 2003 should see the drive without problems as it has native support for SATA and IDE as well as a host of now obsolete storage controllers. Remember, though, that a single drive offers no redundancy at all...

I can’t speak for current versions of Acronis TI as my last installation was version 9.1 and current versions are at least version 11, but ShadowProtect makes it easy to adjust partitions, and expand volumes that are being restored, in order to take full advantage of any increases in storage capacity.
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Neil RandallAuthor Commented:
Thanks  Perarduaadastra

Excellent explanation of everything I needed to know.

ShadowProtect4 SBS installed, backing up to a Netgear NAS with a mirrored 1T hardrive.

Full backup completed and tested (as a virtual mount).
Just need to test retore to bare metal system.
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PerarduaadastraCommented:
Glad you're up and running.
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