Med-Biz Backup Strategy

I am working to build an appropriate backup strategy for a medium size business.  The company primarily handles Solidworks drawings, along with the typical office docs.  The current server arrangement includes...

HQ Office
-2 domain controllers
-1 file server ~1TB data

Remote Office
-1 file server ~500GB data

I planned on enabling DFS to replicate files from the remote office to the HQ file server to make backups easier.  I was thinking a few 3TB external drives would be decent for keeping the most recent backups offsite, but I'd really like to be able to keep at least 6 months of data.  I'm not sure if finances would allow for a tape drive and media, but I'll press if that is the only option.


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Thomas RushCommented:
Please do an analysis of your data and the cost to the organization of losing your archived data.  What are the legal requirements for length of data retention?  What do your business processes require?

Disk is not designed for long-term unpowered storage.  No manufacturer rates their drives for length of data retention when the disks are stored on a shelf or in a vault... so when you say you want to retain data for over six months, I get nervous about disk.*  Tape -- as hated as it is -- has a rated life of 20 - 30 years.

So this may be a time when you analyze the business requirements and tell the guys in finance, "What I have to do for legal compliance can't be done without spending at least $x for this solution."  Your task of protecting the business's data is at least as important as the finance guy's job of protecting the business's cash.

* Yes, you can keep data on live disk -- but unless you're doing that multi-site, you don't have a good solution.  If you do have two copies of your data (one local, one remote) you'll find you have a real mess of having to continually add more storage (even with deduplication, you're typically looking at 5x your primary storage per year).  And there is the hidden cost of keeping those disks powered up, and in moving the heat they generate out of the data center.  Numerous studies have put the long-term cost of disk backup at 7x to 11x the cost of tape backup (including acquisition, power, and facilities costs).
Joseph DalyCommented:
So you have what looks like a total of 1.5 TB worth of data. That should be able to fit onto an LTO5 tape assuming halfway decent compression. So tape is definitely an option.

Another option might be to get yourself a cheap nas and then direct the backups there instead of the tape drive. This may allow longer term storage onsite but wouldnt address your offsite storage in case of disaster recovery.

A final option and one that may work best for this would be a subscription service like iron mountain, amazon, azure, etc. These have gotten pretty cheap in the past year or so and also have knowledge built in to them to only sync the changed data. After the initial sync you may see much shorter backup times.
CBAlexanderAuthor Commented:
Thanks for the reply xxdcmast.  I've been running demos of Zetta and am happy with how that functions.  I haven't had a chance to compare the costs of all of the options out there, but I've been looking at Azure and Amazon as well.

The trouble comes down to money...I know the finance group is not going to want to spend a lot on this.  I currently have a Dell NX3100 with 8 empty slots, so I have quite a bit of room locally.  I could expand storage there and use 2 external drives to swap out from week to week so I could hold on to week old backups offsite.  Another issue exists with business continuity.  The building does not have sprinklers, there are no fire suppression systems in the data center, and the data center also does not have firewalls.

So how does that plan sound to EE?  Expand the NAS to allow for deeper onsite archives, and cycle out external drives weekly to take offsite?
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