Looking for a good backup solution

Posted on 2012-08-12
Last Modified: 2012-08-13
I have a system with about 45Gb of data that needs to be backed up on a schedule right now the system is using windows backup weekly and backing it up to an 130Gb external drive but the drive fills up really fast and requires the users to delete the old backups on the drive to make room for the new backups.  I don’t know of any software that would create back ups without creating one big large file instead of the real data so the users can easily access the data if need but this would be a great option also weekly or biweekly ….. any suggestions
Question by:Deerek11
    LVL 30

    Assisted Solution

    Well,for a quicky,M$ has shadowcopy services that allows users to recover deleted or corrupt file without  sysadmin intervention.

    If you want incremental ,then Symante System Restore,Acronis and Storagecraft have products that will do what you have outlined very well.
    LVL 95

    Expert Comment

    by:Lee W, MVP
    You fail to mention what version of Windows, but from the description, I'm GUESSING Windows server 2003.

    Short answer - upgrade to 2008 R2 and use it's built in backup - that backup does one full and then only backs up changes.  I have one client with Windows Backup backing up to a 1 TB External drive for over a year now and they haven't come close to filling it.

    Otherwise, you are aware of Volume Shadow Copy for immediate user access, right?

    You could do a script that just copies things using Robocopy and the /mirror option or a windows port of rsync.  

    But you need to determine your level of acceptable risk.  For example, if you're backing up to an external hard drive and deleting files as they age this tells me you don't need to keep backups long term.  Your not worried about a user calling you up and saying I deleted a file I know I had 6 months ago but it's not there today and I don't remember seeing it the last 5 months.

    Now, are you ok with the building burning down and losing everything?  Because your backup description says you are - you have no off-site backup.  Do you just want redundancy in case the disk fails?  I work with clients all the time of various sizes and they all want backup for NOTHING.  Backup is expensive.  To do it properly so you can continue the business after a disaster instead of declaring bankruptcy 3 months later because you lost all your data and cannot reconstruct what you had.  

    Tape is old and pointless if you don't need to create long term backup archives for regulatory purposes or have multi-TB of data that changes on a frequent basis.

    You need to consider:
    1. Off-site (are you going to trust people to cycle drives off-site or are you going to pay for an online backup service?)
    2. How long you need to keep the backups
    3. How much data there is
    4. MOST IMPORTANT, HOW MUCH IS THIS DATA WORTH?  If you say $100, then that's how much you should be prepared to spend on backup.
    LVL 95

    Expert Comment

    by:Lee W, MVP
    Keep in mind, VSS is only a PARTIAL solution as a disk/RAID failure looses all VSS backups and a smart virus can kill them too.
    LVL 19

    Expert Comment

    Are you just backing up data files?  If so, I have a solution that works for me.

    Using Windows Task Scheduler, I run a task every night.  It is a .CMD file that deletes the oldest backup, renames the other backups, then runs the backup.

    The .CMD file is like this:
    md \backup
    cd \backup
    rd 03
    ren 02 03
    ren 01 02
    ren 00 01
    ren LastBackup 00
    (command to run the backup)

    This assumes that the external drive is g:.  By using 03 as the highest folder name, I keep 4 sequential backups.  You would adjust that amount to make sure you don't exceed the capacity of the external drive in any reasonable length of time (a year or so).

    The backup itself can be an Xcopy or robocopy command or a standalone program.  I typically use SyncBack (from  I have it back up to

    The backups are simple file copies of the originals.  There is no security and no compression.  Depending on the actual backup method used, you may or may not be able to get around open file issues.

    This approach makes it very easy to check for specific files having been backed up and to retrieve them.

    You can use more than one external drive for added reliability, keeping one off site.  When it is time to swap them, you need only to do a proper disconnect, reconnect, and then confirm that the drive has the correct letter assigned.

    If all you want to back up is data files and a 1T or 2T external drive will hold enough copies for you and security of the backup is not important, this may work.
    LVL 30

    Expert Comment

    >Short answer - upgrade to 2008 R2 and use it's built in backup - that backup does one full and then only backs up changes.  

    The built in backup will not backup to drives using 4 k (AF) because of issues with the vhd format that it uses.

    Sooner or later ,all shipping SATA drives will become 4k regardless of size.

    Unless MS releases a service pack upgrading the built in backup to vhdx,I would hesitate to rely on that backup mechanism.

    The fixed it in Server 2012,but are you ready for the bleeding edge?

    Author Comment

    The version of windows is WinXP, I like acronis but running acronis will delete the old backup each week.  The user is not that savy so the easier the better I would prefer to setup something that the users doesnt have to do anything but keep the machine on.
    LVL 95

    Expert Comment

    by:Lee W, MVP

    > The built in backup will not backup to drives using 4 k (AF)
    > because of issues with the vhd format that it uses.
    Could you cite your source on this?  There are incompatibilities with 4K sector drives, but especially if you are not using an external drive dedicated to backup (one that does not get a drive letter), this is not a factor.

    > Sooner or later ,all shipping SATA drives will become 4k regardless of size.
    And sooner or later all shipping computers will be running Windows 9.  Yes, 9, not 8 and not 7.  Things change all the time.  This should be obvious to all in technology.   But if vendors and manufacturers want to make money, they will sell what can be used in the current market place.  So warning about this seems a bit silly to me.

    > Unless MS releases a service pack upgrading the built in
    > backup to vhdx,I would hesitate to rely on that backup mechanism.
    Not likely in my opinion... so backup to a share.

    > The fixed it in Server 2012,but are you ready for the bleeding edge?
    Yes, I've been running betas for months and it's a very stable system.  The metro part sucks, but I find I'm not in metro all that much.  Indeed, I can't wait for Wednesday to get my hands on bits for the RTM of 8 and 2012.
    LVL 95

    Expert Comment

    by:Lee W, MVP
    As for this question, the wording, I think, led most if not all of us to assume this was a server and not a 10 year old operating system (XP).  It wasn't in the XP zone and it spoke of users implying more than one.

    Since this is XP, it's important to note there IS NO VSS (Shadow Copy).  given it's age and limitations, I would strongly recommend moving away from XP and if multiple people use this system, you should be running some kind of server in my opinion.

    Otherwise, your options for a script haven't changed.

    Note you can also look into using my NTBackup script on my web site which includes an automated rotation of files depending on how you set it up so that you never have to manually do anything.  But at the end of the day, if you want no user interaction and don't care if you lose everything if there's a fire, electrical surge from a lightening strike, or someone steals the computer, then you can use some kind of automated imaging like Acronis.  Otherwise, you should probably look into an online backup service.
    LVL 30

    Expert Comment

    Re: 4k drives and backup program 2008 and 2011:

    A lot of drives that you think would still be 512 byte sector are shipping with 4k,so as more and more drives move from multi platter to single and zone densities increase,4k will become more prevalent.

    I would be surprised if any 512 byte sector drives ship after the next year or two.

    Iomega 1tb worked fine on one system,same model DAS,but different drive with 4k sector internally did not.

    Most 1tb USB 2.5 INCH are now 4k sector.

    Tested drives for SBS and built in backup:

    This is a major issue that MS has seen fit to ignore, as there are no KB's addressing this .
    LVL 46

    Assisted Solution

    Get a copy of Paragon Backup & Recovery Home and use its cyclic backup feature which does allow selecting number of images to keep or disk quota for images. As soon as this limit is reached the oldest backup image will be overwritten.
    LVL 14

    Accepted Solution

    First of all i would recommend a NAS for this kind of backup or a network storage server with good ram and speed

    Acronis Comes with an excellent feature of keeping data in control
    please refer to this article

    You can define the storage location and the allocated size thus it would maintain the backup files within that limit and would delete the older files if the space is not enough. Acronis has a backup compression thing which would compress the image size and later you can even mount the image to view the contents of the backup file or it could be modified

    You can define all sort of scheduled tasks like hourly, daily, weekly, monthly etc or full backup / incremental backup or differential backup

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