Best Practice Tape Backup Solution


I have two windows servers that I need to implement a tape backup solution for.  The old servers these are replacing have an old DAT40 tape drive each, hence lots of media.

I have about 110GB of data on each server, some of which may be replicated between the two servers.  

I have been looking at a DAT320 from Quantum which comes with BackupExec Quickstart.

As both server's data could fit onto one tape, looks like I can get away with one drive.
I need to do a daily backup so the day's tape can be taken away each night.

What would be the suggested route?

I am wondering whether I should install an extra HDD in the server with the DAT drive, the backup program does some backups to this new volume, and then each evening.

I think I need some extra software addon to get the data from the 2nd server?

What would happen if that server went down?  I wouldnt be able to do any backups...

Am I thinking along the right lines?
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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
Do you have a regulatory requirement to store your bakups for an extended period of time?  If not, the best practice is to NOT USE TAPE.  Switch to disk based backups.  100 GB is not much, relatively speaking.
ITPOLAuthor Commented:
Not regulatory particularly, just one years worth really.  How would disk based work?  I need to be able to take something offsite each day (for DR) and obviously offset the risk of the media/disk breaking.

Dump tape.

A DAT 320 gb tape is  $60 bucks and uncompressed it's 110 gb.

I was buying Seagate 500 gig USB 3 disks for 50 bucks until the floods at Wal Mart..

Those prices will come back.

Disk is faster,more reliable and easier to recover when used with a decent product.

Symantec Livestate,Acronis and Storagecraft are all decent choices.

The are also great DR products.

I would buy a couple of external disks and swap them the same as you do with tapes.

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People don't get fired for not backing up ... they get fired for not being able to restore.  So with that in mind, what is the worst-case scenario constraints on recovery.  

So if you had a catastrophe, and your data got blown away, and you had to load everything on new disk drives, or even a different computer  ... using all those incremental backups.

Then how much time will you be allowed to restore before the powers-that-be think you should be fired, instead of calling you a hero?  This is the metric you should be concerned about.  All these software packages and hardware platforms backup/restore at different speeds and behave differently when there is a load on a computer and/or network.   Backup & recovery performance is quite different, and some packages will do a cold-metal restore, the others require you to build and patch your windows o/s and re-install software before you start restoring application data.  

Many also can't handle backing up database files unless you shut things down.

Now that you know it is all about a recovery package, not a good backup package, what, specifically do you need in terms of features, and how much total data is on all your disks, and how much time will you be given for the worst-case scenario restore using all your incremental backups?

Specify that, and you'll probably end up with an easy decision because this will eliminate many options.
To add one thought to dlethe great points, the real worst-case scenario is if your location got wiped out and you had to go someplace else and purchase all new equipment and restore to that.

If you backup to tape, that means you need to have purchase a tape drive that can read your tapes and get the software loaded that can read those tapes.

That's the reason I dumped tape.

In the above scenario,having a USB  disk and a restore CD with something like Livestate with universal restore and you can be up and running on different hardware in hours instead of days.

Let's face it,almost every computer these days has a USB port and CD ROM which makes recovery a no-brainer.
There's also a product from CMS that mirrors your system to an external hard drive.

You have a system failure and you can just boot the external disk to you're regular OS.
ITPOLAuthor Commented:
Firstly, thanks to everyone for contributing.

To set the scene a little;
Now that you know it is all about a recovery package, not a good backup package, what, specifically do you need in terms of features, and how much total data is on all your disks, and how much time will you be given for the worst-case scenario restore using all your incremental backups?

Ok, so feature-wise, all I really need is the ability to do incremental backups (and of course restores) I suppose.  This is really why I didn’t initially think of HD backups, can the software packages cover incremental updates to HD?

I don’t particularly need bare-metal restore.  In the event I was doing this for real, I’d probably have just purchased completely new hardware anyway.

It’s mostly just files that I want backed up, although given enough room, I wouldn’t be against backing up my DCs too.  I do have some databases, but most tend to be database files, rather than large online databases such as SQL server.  If the file is in use, then I want it to be skipped, standard function really.

I have roughly 100GB of data about half of which changes incrementally every week/month.
Ideally I would at least like the media to be password protected in some way, encryption would be perfect, but not sure what’s available in this respect.

Whatever the medium is I must be able to take it offsite each evening.  So 2.5” HDDs are fine as long as I don’t need 10 of them!  Also how do cover the possibility of drive failures?

The only other thing to mention is that I have a small offsite location where there will be a replica server setup. So it is possible that I could buy the required tape drive and have it sitting there ready.  In the event of a DR scenario, I would want to restore my data to this server so that we can be up and running to a certain degree, fairly quickly.  There is currently no internet link between these and internet links to this region are poor so live offsite backups are not possible, hence the backup requirement.

Does HDD still seem like the way forward?

Thanks for your help.
What version of Windows are you running?

If it's SBS most of the image based backup software for SBS comes with all the necessary agents to back up the apps(SQL,Exchange,SharePoint). for about $500 bucks.
This includes bare metal to different hardware and data dedupe which can save you backup time and and disk space.

And ,the BE starter pack you have will do disk backup too,but needs to be licensed to do more with more than one server.

As for media,I would buy as many disks as you would buy tapes.
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
Right now, hard drive prices have doubled due to the flooding... expect them to drop in 6-9 months.  Buy ONLY AS MANY AS YOU NEED TO GET STARTED.

That said, do the math.  A tape drive will likely cost you $500-$1000, plus $30-60/tape.  And what happens if a tape breaks or goes bad?  (This is the equivalent of a hard drive failing).  Your total cost to start for 10 tapes and the drive could be $800-$1600. For 10 hard drives, depending on size, you're probably in the same range TODAY and HALF that in 6-9 months.  And the drives provide random access and are faster.  And what happens if the tape heads go out of alignment 3 years down the road and cannot read the tapes backed up from today... so you replace the drive and then you can read the tapes backed up from the day before you replaced the drive!  Tape is flawed and expensive and unless you need a permanent archive or long term archive, not worth it since you need to be careful with the devices and media.
ITPOLAuthor Commented:
Not SBS, Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard.

Thanks again for your input.  So I'm understanding this right; will teh backup software, whatever that be, see the harddisks in the same way it would tapes?  ie. if you have a rotation set, prompt you for the correct disk?
Depends,but probably you to set up a rotation based on recovery points when using something like Livestate.
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