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Simple tape solution (with library) for Server 2012

Posted on 2013-06-25
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I have my backups taken care of (very nicely) by Dell's AppAssure.  I don't have any issues of getting the servers backed up initially.

What I'm facing is backing up ARCHIVE data to tape.

I currently have around 7 TB of archives that I have exported out of AppAssure that I need written to tape.  I have Server 2012 installed with a Dell PowerVault P124T  (SAS LTO 4) library.

I need software that will run the library for VERY basic backups and restores.  I don't need scheduling, bare metal, virtual machine support or any of that crap.  Most importantly, I don't want to pay for all those features that I'm not going to use.

I need an inexpensive tape backup solution that meets those needs.  I have checked into some of the cheaper alternatives that support tape (Uranium, NovaStor (couldn't even get that one to start), etc).  They might support tape, but they don't support tape libraries.  

So how about it?  I need simple backups and 2012 compatibility.

Go!  =)
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Question by:Jared Luker
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by:Robert Saylor
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Check out Windows Server Backup. It's the replacement for NT Backup. You would have to load the tape drivers and the medium changer driver in order to use a library.

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc770266%28v=ws.10%29.aspx
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by:Jared Luker
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Ummm... no...

You can no longer back up to tape. (However, support of tape storage drivers is still included in Windows Server 2008.)
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by:Robert Saylor
Robert Saylor earned 250 total points
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Backup exec is what we use but you were looking in expensive. Not many with medium changer support. Arc serve would be another option but they are both pricy.

Why not USB drives? They would be cheaper then software.
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by:Jared Luker
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Haha... if I have to go with something like BE, I could buy a lot of hard drives before getting  close to that kind money.  It's worth considering.  

I still welcome other suggestions.
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SelfGovern earned 250 total points
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Please don't consider using hard drives for archival storage, unless you put in place rigorous procedures to make sure that your data remains readable.  When most people think of backing up to disk, they write to the disk, then put it on a shelf.  The problem is that hard drives are not designed to retain data for long periods when un-powered.  When powered on, there is a low-level process that periodically checks the integrity of each sector; if the read is marginal, it rewrites the data in place and reads it again.  If it's still marginal, it moves the data to a reserved area of the disk and maps the original sector out so it's never used again.  When the drive sits on a shelf, none of this happens, and bits can 'flip' without you knowing it, until you've lost the ability to recover.  I would not count on data being readable from an unpowered disk after six months (sure, you'll usually be able to... but I wouldn't count on it, especially with the cheap, high-capacity consumer drives people tend to use for this).

For library management software:
1) Many vendors ship a basic backup program with their tape drives and libraries.  It's worth calling Dell to see if you are entitled to a license for your library.

2) I've heard good things about Bacula (http://www.bacula.org/en/) but not used it myself.
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by:Jared Luker
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Thanks SelfGovern... you make some great points
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by:Gerald Connolly
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NB The minimum data rate for a LTO-4 is (for HP) 33MB/sec for a Half Height Drive or 40MB/Sec for a full height drive, Thats uncompressed.

Anything below that and it will start to shoe-shine and then the performance will fall off a cliff.
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by:Robert Saylor
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There are not many free windows applications... You could deploy Linux then have Linux backup windows to tape. Or bite the bullit and buy backup exec. We are still running the 2010 version with no issues.
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by:Jared Luker
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You are running 2010 in server 2012?
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by:Robert Saylor
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Server 2003 but if you have to buy it you would get 2012 computable version.
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by:SelfGovern
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connollyg says:
> Anything below that and it will start to shoe-shine and
> then the performance will fall off a cliff.

This is not true for (at least) HP drives.   The buffer is big enough and the mechanics fast enough that there is no performance penalty for buffer underrun -- and I've seen it tested with data down to 1MB/sec: The actual write speed is the same as the speed at which the data arrives (possibly a few percent less, but almost rounding-error difference, not "off a cliff" difference).

HOWEVER -- feeding even an LTO tape drive with less data than it needs WILL contribute to excessive wear on the tape mechanism and the tape media.  An LTO drive runs at about 7 meters/sec -- 22 feet or so per second.  If you're constantly stopping, rewinding, and restarting the motor, the motor wears out, the tape gets stretched.

PARADOXICALLY, the more compressible your data is, the more stress it puts on your drive subsystem (and network, sometimes) -- but more compressible data doesn't make the tape drive work any harder.  As an example, if your tape drive has a minimum native speed of 33MB/sec, it needs uncompressible data to come in at least that fast to prevent buffer underrun.  If the data is 2:1 compressible, it needs at least 66 MB/sec of data to be fed to it.    Note: Since data is typically variable (this stretch will be uncompressible, then another stretch 2:1, then another stretch 1.25:1, and another chunk 3:1), a drive may still get to a buffer underrun condition if you only feed it at the rate indicated by average compression: more data is always better.
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