Learning to Backup Servers - Need Some Input

I am new to the server backup game, and am trying to set up a new backup system.  Right now, the previous IT Manager was just backing up certain files online, which doesn't sit well with me.  I am wanting to backup everything to removable media, as well as make a copy offsite.  I have a USB RDX drive, getting some 1 TB cartridges, and I have CA Brightstor Arcserve 11.5.  I have 4 servers, with a little over 1 TB of needed space (uncompressed) to back them all up.  These are all Server 2003.  I need to know 1) What other steps do I need to take to get a complete backup of the system besides a full backup with system state?  This includes a couple of different databases (SQL and Pervasive).  Do I need to do a different proceedure to backup the databases, or will a normal full backup do the trick?  2) What will I need besides a full backup with system state if I have to restore to a new server in the case of hardware failure?
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Bill BachPresidentCommented:
Databases must be quiesced before a proper backup can be taken.  The "best" backup would be to disconnect all users and shut down the databases, then the files can be safely backed up normally using Arcserve.  This is the easiest solution, but may be intrusive to the users.

For the Pervasive backups, you can quiesce the database by enabling "Continuous Operations Mode".  The process for doing this can be found here:
Once quiesced, the files can be backed up normally.  

As your data set is quite large, you may find it best to back up the databases separately.  In other words, write a script to put the PSQL database into continuous mode, copy the files to a secondary location on the server, and then take them out of cont-ops mode.  This will get you back in normal mode quickly.  Then, configure your backup to grab the files from the alternate location and skip the product copies.  This will avoid conflicts between the backup package and the database, which can result in Status 46 issues, in addition to mangled/corrupted backups.
Paul MacDonaldDirector, Information SystemsCommented:
The Arcserve instructions should tell you if you need to back up SQL and Pervasive databases separately.  I'd do it, just so I didn't have to search a whole tape to restore a few databases.

The single biggest issue you'll run into during a restore will be restoring to different hardware.  Since that's a real possibility, you may want to look into a product that will do a "bare metal" restore.
Jeff PerkinsOwnerCommented:
I typically image my servers in case I want to do a 'bare metal' retore, this we do on a 3 to 6 month basis.
As for backing up, I prefer using a commercial grade product that does most of the work for me. If you check my profile you will see my website there and a link on the page to the Nordic backup that we are using.  It allows me to back up certain areas at different times, as well as keeping those areas in their own backup. I can backup my SQL databases without having to disconnect, and for those that I have lots of activity thru the day I can make backups every hour if needed.  
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lflorenceAuthor Commented:
@ BillBach -

What about for Microsoft SQL databases?

Do I need to create an ASR disk to restore to different hardware if needed?  A bare metal solution would be great, but I don't know if the funds are there right now.  One of these servers is a domain controller, anything different I need to do there?
lflorenceAuthor Commented:
@ riteheer -

What product do you use for imaging?
Paul MacDonaldDirector, Information SystemsCommented:
You'll get the AD database when you get the DC's system state.  That said, you should have two DCs for redundancy.
when you say everything...that requires more definition...if ms sql server what kind? 2000, 2005, 2008?

do it manully? automatically?  if a small office..manual is fine..ms sql server backs up fine..no matter when..pretty good app..

ms sql db 2008 :


Bill BachPresidentCommented:
Getting the Arcserve Backup Agent for SQL is likely the easiest way to handle the SQL side.  

The ASR disk is best for recovery to the same system, when a failure of the hard disk occurs. It is not quite as good at restoring to completely different hardware.  For this, I agree that a special-purpose tool should be used, such as Acronis Backup and Recovery:
Their "Universal Restore" add-on solution (as well as several others available in the market today) provides an easy way to restore to dissimilar hardware.  These tools work by segregating the hardware-related data and providing a way to re-map this information to the new hardware.  This is a great solution for virtualizing, too.

Another solution here is to use the free VMWare tool to migrate a physical machine to a virtual machine, then run the VM on the new hardware.  (This can also be used to keep a backup image of the server, too.)  It's not designed as a true backup solution, so it can be inconvenient to use, but it does the job on a tight budget.
Jeff PerkinsOwnerCommented:
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