best practice to backing up ubuntu server and windows server

we need to setup a backup system in our office and need advice on how to best approach this.

The servers needing backup are as follows:

1. Email server using ubuntu, postfix, dovecot
I wanted to ensure that in the event of hardware failure such as motherboard or hdd, we can simply buy another machine and keep going. Also, we need to keep the email data and settings such as the user information and setup files.

2. Fax server using ubuntu, hylafax, postfix, dovecot
Same objective as above

3. Instant messaging server using virtual computer, virtualbox, ubuntu, openfire
Same obj as above

4. Windows server
Since (to me anyway) setup is easier, we're not too concerned on the os backup.
We're more interested in the file backup. So this is not exactly a problem for us.
The only important point is that we'd like to backup the windows servers to the same backup server as the abovementioned linux servers.

5. Finally I'd also like to backup syslog and system events to one backup location.

Ideas so far:
Is to provide a backup server and back up to either fixed or removable hdd.
Have looked at (but dont understand much) on rsync, bacula and remastersys.

Thank you
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ArneLoviusConnect With a Mentor Commented:
I suggested using rsync or bacula

Bacula like any software has a learning curve, but is not difficult to get started, I would suggest reading the excellent documentation and subscribing to the mailing list. Although Bacula started off as taoe only, it has had backup to disk for some time, there are also VTL capabilities and removeable media options.

I would tend to run backup servers on "bare metal" rather than as VMs, it doesn;t make much sense to have a VM backing up a VM on the same host, and if you need to connect to external media (USB disk/tape etc) then running in a VM can have additional issues.
if you're just backing up files, then dirvish is great

if you want something closer to traditional backup, then bacula is really good

setting up a dedicated syslog srver is also a good idea

What do you need to backup on Windows ?
Aaron TomoskyTechnology ConsultantCommented:
If you have a file system somewhere that supports snapshots like zfs then rsync works great. I do something like this
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SW111Author Commented:
We have multiple purpose for backing up depending on the server.
For windows, I mainly plan to backup files.
For linux servers, I hope to backup the entire system/snapshot if possible.
Running on linux servers are postfix, mysql and openfire and apache.

For linux, I wanted to have least amount of recovery time.
For windows, I just nees to backup the files.

Also, I hope to be running this on a windows server. Except if its not possible then I will prepare a linux server also. Thanks
SW111Author Commented:
I'm not sure how to apply it to my situation though. I'm using ubuntu and windows.
And the backup server will hopefully be on windows. Thanks.
Aaron TomoskyTechnology ConsultantCommented:
The basis of it is using something like rsync to mirror the remote (server to be backed up) to the local (backup file). The problem is that a single copy is a scary backup. So by making a snapshot in zfs, you can always mirror and snapshot. Otherwise you need backup software with versioning.

If you want to build a little zfs box I can help with that. It's super easy with zfsguru (FreeBSD). You can run the rsync script on this. It would backup all your non windows with ease. It can also backup your windows file shares, or you can even share out a SMB share off zfs and have windows back itself up to that.
Daniel McAllisterPresident, IT4SOHO, LLCCommented:
Sorry to break up the love-fest with localized backup solutions, but as I tell my clients:
"with even the slightest bit of luck, you'll only need these backups in the event of a disaster... so if your backups are in the same building as the source, one fire and you've lost it all. If they're in the same county, one hurricane and you've lost it all! Along the same river? One heavy rain (anywhere upstream) and you could lose it all!"

What you need is cloud-based backup....
I've recently started using CrashPlan for Windows Servers (, but when I tried it on Linux systems the program essentially HALTED the usefulness of the server because it used too many resources while indexing... so I wouldn't recommend that particular solution for Ubuntu servers...

Again, in all honesty, I haven't found a decent cloud-based backup provider for Linux, but I'm told Vembu ( has a decent product as well....

I hope this helps...

You can run rsync on windows, and if you add VSS to the mix, you get something akin to snapshots, if you then used the windows native backup to external USB connected disks, you get offsite storage as well. There is a 2TB limit on Windows Server 2008, but this limit goes way with Windows Server 2012.

You could also look at comercial software such as Archiware Presstore, Quest NetVault, or even Symantec BackupExec.

Cloud backups are fine for home users, but unless you have oodles of bandwidth and opex budget, usually not cost effective for business users, you also need to look as DR recovery times, if you have 500Gb of data, how long would ittake to download on your current connection ?
Daniel McAllisterPresident, IT4SOHO, LLCCommented:
Recovery time is definitely an issue, and 5-years ago cloud backup for the amount of storage a server might use would have be cost prohibitive... but have you looked at cloud-based server backup pricing lately? I'm paying less than $0.01 per GB per month...

Also, any decent cloud-based backup will offer to deliver your data on a HD (for an extra fee, of course) -- but in the event of that kind of disaster, do you think paying $250 for the 2TB hard drive they deliver the data on will be considered extravagant? I'd even bet the data recovery would be covered by your p&c insurance!


We live in exponential times... when I explore a new technology for a client & another queries me about the same technology a year later??? I start over! Year-old data is WORTHLESS in today's tech marketplace!
Your figure of $0.01 per GB per month looks very good, something tells me that you're not on metered (paying per GB) backup, but rather a fixed monthly amount, like BackBlaze charge. I'm also guessing that you're in America as Crashplan Pro is only available to continental USA.

I've used "hosted" backups for over 7 years for specific applications, all of them were more expensive than doing it onsite and rotating tapes or disks offsite. The only reason they were was used was to fulfill a client requirement and so was charged back to the client...

To giive you more background on my point of view, the file server used capacitity for my larger clients is between 2TB and 20TB, all of them backup "online" but to their servers in other sites or servers in colo, in a DR situation, they can have a copy of their data in hours. By the time you're up to that level of availabilty with hosted providers, it always costs more than doing it yourself.

The smaller ones (up to 2TB) backup to daily swapped USB disks, some with just 5 daisks, others with quite a few more (weekly disk for 4 weeks, monthly (either first or last of the month to ensure rotation) disk for 6 months etc). They can all restore from offsite disk same day...

I think your last sentence shoudl be modified to include the words performance and pricing, I have clients that keep data for significantly longer than 7 years, some of them have had design jobs for clients that have lasted for decades...
SW111Author Commented:
So I looked up VSS. Just so I'm on the same page, did you mean volume shadow copy?
If so, I take it you mean to backup windows file? I suppose I have no issue with this.
My issue is more on backing up the linux servers and making snapshot of them.

Also, a question I have about rsync is if the metadata such as privilege info will be copied with the backup. I've tried simply copying files only to find the privilege info was not copied and delayed the recovery because we had to redo the privilege according to active domain.

Btw, I have been talking about networked backup but not so interested in cloud solution though. If anything, I will need to somehow copy it via vpn to a different location.

Thank you.
I you use rsync (rsync with SSH on cygwin) to copy from the linux server to a directory on the windows file server, VSS then creates snapshots so you can go back to previous points in time.

Using a windows file stotre like this, you will however you will lose permissions etc, this is why most people backup from Linux to Linux, or use backup software which keeps the permissions etc as metadata.
SW111Author Commented:
Arnelovius, did you mean that rsync does not copy the metadata? Or that it doesnt do that if I keep the copy on a windows machine?
What is the recommendation then? (I'd prefer to keep it open source though)
rsync can copy permissions, however rsync cannot store them on NTFS does not know how to store them on NTFS, as NTFS uses a different model for permissions.

as an opposite example, if you copy a file with NTFS permssions to a Mac, the NTFS permssions are lost.

If you need to keep permissions (unix and NTFS), and you need to use Windows as the backup server, then you are going to need "commercial" software and I would probably use Quest NetVault, if you can use linux/unix as the backup server, then I would probably use bacula.
SW111Author Commented:
Ok. So I will probably setup somekind of virtual computer based on linux for the linux backup and use windows server for windows backup.

Back on the linux server,
1. Did you mean rsync is to be used in conjunction with bacula? I thought we just choose one or the other?
2. Do you have experience with bacula? My understanding is that bacula is very complicated and is not for novices.
3. I also read somewhere that bacula is made for tape backup devices and have problems with regular hard disk?
SW111Author Commented:
Ok. Thanks.
I will go ahead and try Bacula then.

Actually by VM I mean to make a VM on the Backup Server Machine.
So it will actually be a different machine (I use the word machine here as sometimes I get confused over the word server, which can refer to the application and because multiple server application can run on a single machine).

Not sure how/why running tape/usb will be a problem for VM, as I havent tried it yet.

Thanks for the pointers.
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