Windows Backup plan advice for multiple sites

Posted on 2011-09-05
Last Modified: 2012-05-12
Hi, i need some advise please on the best practice for backing up 12 Servers across 4 physical locations. I am implementing AD next year and need to plan for hardware etc.
The 4 locations will have 2 Domain Controllers each and 1 file server.
The 4 sites will be connected together by 2Mb leased lines via MPLS.
As i am based at one site, i am reliant on staff at the other sites to put backup tapes in etc, also the cost of 12 lots of media tapes is going to be quite high so i need to factor that in. i also need to think about DR incase of a fire etc.
I dont know if a 2 Mb connection will be quick enough for online backup and also what the speed would be if i needed to restore during the day when all the users are online.
Would it be better to have an additional server at each site which the 3 servers backed up to and then this server backed up to tape which could be taken off site?
I will probably use Backup Exec.
Any thoughts would be appreciated.
Question by:Rick_Penney
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LVL 42

Expert Comment

ID: 36484892
Are you just backing up file servers? I have 12 remote sites. Each site has a single read only domain controller that is also a file and print server. All files are accessed through a unified DFS namespace. I replicate all files between the main site and the appropriate branch(es) using DFS. The advantage is that if the branch server is to go down, I can use DFS namespace to redirect users to another copy of their files over the WAN. Once their server is repaired, we wait until everything has replicated back and then repoint them back to the local server using DFS namespace.

I enable a shadow copy schedule on the fileservers, but they don't otherwise have any local backups. All backups are done against the centralized copy of the files. All replication is done over a 1.5 mbit T1. Some branches have up to 200 GB of files that are replicated. DFS replication only replicates changes bytes in files and is very WAN friendly. I limit the amount of bandwidth it can use during the day.

You could replicate everything to the site you are at and then 1 other site in case you lost your site.

Two domain controllers at each of your sites seems like major overkill (unless you have very large sites). As I said, I have just single servers supporting the remote offices. I would make sure that your servers support full remote out of band management and virtual media management such as HP iLO or Dell DRAC Enterprise. That way, you can see what is on the screen, go into the BIOS, power cycle the servers, etc. Without trying to talk someone through it over the phone.  

Author Comment

ID: 36487438
Hi, i really appreicate your suggestion and explanation.
This is my first live setup of AD, and although i've done the exams and have a test domain set up etc, i dont have live experience and this is one area where i need to get advice on the best way to backup/restore the servers.
It will just be Windows 2008 servers that i'm backing up, each site will have approx 80 users and computers.
Its not going to happen until next year, so i will have a good read up on DFS and set it up on my Test domain to get up to speed with it.
If one of your RODC's blows up, do the clients autmatically go over the WAN to get authenticated by a different DC? Do you use Windows Backup and IFM to repair your RODC or do you use Backupexec or just reinstall from scratch?
Sorry for the extra questions, thanks for your help,
LVL 42

Accepted Solution

kevinhsieh earned 400 total points
ID: 36490468
If a DC is unavailable, clients will automatically find another DC as long as DNS is still working. From a practical perspective, that means that your local DC should be the primary DHCP server. It's normally easiest to have your router also forward DHCP requests to another Windows Server setup with a DHCP scope for that remote site. Your DHCP servers should have out at least 2 DNS servers - the local DNS server and then another remote DNS server.

DFS failover to another site could be automatic or manual, depending on how files are accessed because DFS doesn't have native global file locking, so it is possible to have the same file being modified on multiple servers at the same time, which is generally bad. It is safer to have manual DFS namespace failover for this reason, so clients can only access the files from one possible server.

I just rebuild a DC if necessary and let the files and AD replicate back.

Author Closing Comment

ID: 36491073
Many thanks for your time and help with this, Its much appreciated and your solution will also save me some money which will push the project through quicker. Cheers, Rick

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