Looking for suggestions for making a file server vault with versioning


I am hoping to gain some suggestions and good experience with others crazed enough to do this: we are hoping to utilize a file vault for our main shared drive so that we can retain changed files forever, on a new server running 2012R2. We've considered Volume Shadow Copies, but I don't love the interface for it and I don't really want to make this available to all users either. What have you used that worked well? Free would be best but I'd like to hear everything.

Why not just use plain old backup? Mainly because we don't want to be stuck with intervals of potential loss, and that's how it works with our software.

Thanks for your thoughts!
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Cliff GaliherCommented:
It sounds like you are looking for a document management system. SharePoint is then go-to solution in a Microsoft-centric stack. You can use your favorite search engine to turn of many others. Version control is a basic feature in almost any DMS.
dgapinskiAuthor Commented:
Yes, that will be perfect in the future - we actually are planning a gradual migration that way, but we're not ready to give up the file server naming just yet. So for the time being, we've got standard file services.
EirmanChief Operations ManagerCommented:
Are these development/project files?
What limitations does your backup software have?

Suppose you had zipped up version of them created every hour (up to 8760 zips per annum),
and kept for as long you wish, would that do as a temporary measure during your migration?
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dgapinskiAuthor Commented:
We use Veeam, and it's a timed backup which is something I'd like to avoid if possible. My orders center around being able to make versioned backups as files get created or modified. And be able to restore them relatively easily. I know that is not terribly helpful, which is why I asked  out for help! :-)
dgapinskiAuthor Commented:
Maybe I should put it this way - we could call it would be putting the entire space on legal hold? Not sure how we would do that in this context.
Cliff GaliherCommented:
You can't have everything you want. You want a DMS, but don't want to move to a DMS. That's an inherent unresolvable conflict. The APIs available at the file system level just don't provide what you want. Thus no software exists that meets *all* of your wishes. Something's gotta give.

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dgapinskiAuthor Commented:
Tone matters.

You can't just move everything to Sharepoint without having other repercussions. What about legal hold solutions?
Cliff GaliherCommented:
I am not sure where "tone" has come into the conversation. Pointing out "you can't do that" is not carrying any hostile tone, but some people don't like to hear that they can't do something so they read tone into it, no matter how politely it is said.

Regarding SharePoint, I know that you can't "just move" everything without repercussions. Which is why I said *something* (meaning one of your restrictions) has gotta give. I didn't specify what as that is a discussion for you and the people setting the "orders" (your words, not mine.)

Sometimes it helps to take things out of I.T., which is too "black box" for some people and thus they just assume there *has* to be a way, Let's say you were given marching orders to move a data center across the country. The boss is environmentally conscious and owns a Prius. He doesn't want you to rent a truck because they are fuel inefficient compared to his Prius, he'd rather you use his Prius (free) or, if you absolutely have to, rent a few more Priuses to get the done.

Now anybody with a tape measure can figure out that a 48U rack is too big for a Prius. Renting more won't fix the problem. The racks are just too big. *Something* has got to give. You can leave the racks (and any other equipment too big for a Prius trunk) behind and invest new. Or you can rent a truck and accept that moving a datacenter is not a small -carbon-footprint endeavor. That moving datacenters has "repercussions." But *something* will not be ideal and a change in plan will be required, no matter what.

You are in the same boat. You've set too many conflicting criteria, and no matter your marching orders, you'll have to push back. You can't break the laws of physics.

As for legal hold, DMSes (most of them) can do that. If it is a business that knows they need it, they usually have made investments. And ones that haven't? I've witnessed a digital forensics team walk into an office and seize a server just to ensure no tampering  occurs. Clearly that is disruptive to the business, but that isn't a concern in a hostile legal seizure. Disruption isn't a criteria.

You have some decisions to make.
dgapinskiAuthor Commented:
I guess we are are not on the same plane. I was hoping for possibilities that were outside of the box - a little mad science, and that might not have been clear. One of those crazy programmatic ideas that you were talking about, which might take a while to bring to life. To give you an idea of where I was coming from:

I was looking at the  FileSystemWatcher class, which is sure to run out of resources with over 1.1 million files to watch on our share.  VSS / Previous Versions seem dependent on Windows Backup for their recovery points so that does us no good. I even asked our AV vendor about simply watching file changes and doing custom actions, and while they have no interface for that kind of thing they would only apply to new and changed files. Deletions would not apply. Right track though, given it operates at a system level.

But the idea might still work - I was searching earlier on watching files and folders, when I should be looking a little more deeply on the on intercept file operations and found this: http://easyhook.codeplex.com/, which provides access to file operations as they happen. If I am reading its possibilities rightly, then the laws of physics don't apply like they did a day ago. I think I will close this issue and study more along this route, because it would make the most sense for us at this point. For the future though, moving to Sharepoint was always the long-term plan, so you should get the answer points. But that project is not in my control, and I'm being asked for complete recoverability, and to think through the best solution to make that happen.
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