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Old 07-16-2012, 09:16 PM
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Default Backup Strategy Suggestions

I need some suggestions for a backup configuration.

Here is an overview of the current hardware and process.

2 x Poweredge 2900 servers, circa 12/08 One is DC + Exchange, 2nd is app server & data. DC is SBS2003, App server is Server Std 2003. Both are the 32-bit versions (a mistake we are living with for now).

The servers each have 500GB storage in Raid5

30 Workstations (Mix of XP-Pro and Win7-Pro)

There are some remote workers (GoToMyPC & RDP only, nothing fancy), so overnight is the only predictable period of low use.

We use Symantec Backup Exec to make a full backup of both servers each night to 640GB RDX1000 drives. The backup footprint is currently 180GB. We use a 6-disk TOH rotation with unneeded disks taken offsite each night.

Several things have been carved out of the nightly backup and are being backed up separately (robocopy via scheduled batch files) to daily folders on a series of 3 external USB drives we rotate weekly. This was done to allow the whole routine to finish before 8am. The carveouts are:

Exmerge files (created nightly before the full backup starts)
WSUS database
Roaming profiles
Email archives

The workstations are basically static, with no data. We take images of each one a couple of times per year and store it on a Buffalo 2TB Raid 1 NAS. This is a manual process. This takes up about 600GB on the NAS.

While this process is a bit fragmented because it was developed over time, it works very well. The disk-changers are well trained at this point and we've never lost a file (shouldn't have said that out loud).

The business deals with individual employee data for their customers, so there is a lot of social security, salary & IRS Tax information. They are very reluctant to look at cloud backup.

Ok, now they are starting to eliminate paper files where possible by scanning in the customer files. The copiers can scan directly to the NAS, so we setup a separate directory for this purpose as a proof of concept. This has worked well enough to start the scanning in ernest.

I'm thinking this is the time to re-think the entire backup strategy.

At the very least we need to increase the storage on our NAS and pick up a 2nd one to backup the first. This doesn't make it offsite, however, hence the question here.

How would you approach designing a more robust backup strategy or use the existing equipment more efficiently? This isn't in the current budget so money is definitely a concern. I appreciate your comments & suggestions.

Last edited by HCHTech; 07-16-2012 at 09:20 PM.
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Old 07-17-2012, 01:18 AM
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If they have SBS...why using GoToMyPc and RDP? SBS has RWW...more secure than exposing RDP.

I'm a firm believer in full backups each night when it comes to tapes (or removable SATA disks as your RDX unit is).

Realizing that you're outgrowing that...one move is to order up even larger cartridges (every expensive)...or to go a local NAS based backup...and satisfy some offsite movement with that by copying end of week to an external USB drive that is encrypted.

Personally, I'd work hard at getting these owners to get over the fear of internet based offsite backup.

Replacing/upgrading the hardware/cartridges to larger capacity is going to be well over 2 grand right there. Hopefully that'll make them re-think and realize that the 2 grand can pay for a near a year of offsite backup..or more.
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Old 07-17-2012, 12:59 PM
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RWW is what they use - my bad. There is one remote worker that uses GTMPC because we couldn't solve a remote printing problem any other way.

The problem with TOH is that you can't (inexpensively) keep long-term backups. We use 6 disks, and each disk is big enough to hold 3 backups at our current footprint. That means that our oldest backup is 2^6 x 3 days old, or 192 backup days. We don't backup on the weekend, so that works out to 38 weeks give or take.

As the backup size grows, this will soon be 2 backups per disk, cutting the oldest backup time to 25 weeks.

I guess online is the only real option for the future, so it's my job to convince them of that. In the meantime, I'm using the old 320GB disks we had before the upgrade to make some static backups.

Do you use online for a backup this size? What kind of dollars are we talking about here for, say, 3TB? A quick google show Carbonite Business is $599/yr for 500GB + $89/yr/100GB. This works out to $2,824/yr for 3TB. Hmmm. There are undoubtedly less expensive options - I'll have to research.

Let me ask a few questions about the process if you don't mind. I assume you would use an initial seed, but after that - how long does it take to update the backup each night? We've got Comcast business, which gives us 25-30Mbs, but that's still a lot of data. How does the resource load on the server compare to local backup?

Do you have any vendors you like?

Sorry for the rambling!
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Old 07-17-2012, 02:23 PM
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What is the size of the partitions of the servers.....in total?
What is the size of the amount of consumed space on the servers partitions, in total?
(need both)


The process depends on which product you use.....but generally you groom the disks (chkdsk 'n defrag)...and then one evening you run a full clean initial backup, which gives you your first image. Many of the newer office backup products use a data de-dupe/inverse chain technology to do backups after that....sorta like a "only back up changed files/changed blocks"...but they have a database to keep track of that, so that months down the road, you can still do a full image restore from any date/time that you select. So further uploads are small.

Most backup products have a network traffic throttle setting, so that you can throttle down the uploads during production hours...but have them go wide open during the evening/early morning.

Upload of your internet connection is what counts...Comcast business usually gives you at least 2 megs upload..typically 5. I have some clients on the 10 upload package....I can run offsite backups wide open 24x7 on those.

Very little impact on the server...depending on the product.

I'm a fan of DattoBackup. They have a business continuity product....their Siris product. Local appliance sits at clients site..backs up the servers..keeping ~ 1 months of backup locally. It synchs offsite too...and offsite they can keep 365 days worth of backups. The backups are image type...kept in VMDK format (VMWare). If a server "blows up"...you can "boot up" it's backup image from the local Siris appliance..and have it available on the network in less than an hour. Order a new server...a few days later when the server arrives, you can "push" the image to new bare metal and have the backup installed on the new server quickly and easily. The Siris appliance can detect the make/model of new server..and download the drivers for the new server hardware, and inject those drivers into the backup image as it push installs/restores it.

If the office has a catastrophe...like fire or flood...and the servers and local Siris appliance die, you can "boot up" the servers backup images in their "cloud"..and have them available to your client, in about 2 hours. Once you rebuild the office and get new servers...they'll ship your backup images to you via red label, and you can restore them to your new servers.

"Business continuity/Disaster Recovery"...that is what you're selling, not "just a backup system". For many businesses....they gotta gotta gotta have their information on their screen, they're dead in the water without it. Tell your client a realistic story...say their server "blows up" today. First..you're going to spend a least 1/2 of the day troubleshooting the server....before throwing in the towel and declaring it dead. Next...prepare client to order a new server...they scramble to get money together. Probably won't have the money available for a good proper replacement, and you probably can't get a good proper server "configured/assembled" for you overnight..so you'll take some lower quality "ready to ship barebones" server that has features that aren't ideal to you, but you'll accept because it can be shipped overnight. So 1x more day client goes without their info. Server arrives late the next day...so there's a 2nd day without their info. You begin the server rebuild...spend overnight doing it,..take onto clients site the 3rd day....and cross your fingers with the tape restore...hoping the data goes back and works. 3 days in..pretty much under ideal circumstances. Throw in some "real world" variables...and it could be a few more days.

"Business Continuity"....is what you're selling, and is what's important. Throw aside the old product name of "backup"...for many businesses it's not just backup anymore, but business continuity.

Offsite is secure....super super secure, consider it waaay more secure than having local backup media which someone travels with, and can risk losing or having damaged. Speaking of damage...how many times do you see the office secretary take the backup tapes and toss them in her purse to take offsite. Yeah...in the purse, right next to her cell phone. ZAP..may as well throw that tape out. Or toss in the glove box of the car...to bake in the summer heat. Yeah, I'll trust that tape for a restore...LOL.

Lose the tape? Have the car stolen? HIPAA regulations..notify all your clients if you didn't have it securely encrypted?

How about the time spent having someone deal with rotating tapes? And taking tapes offsite? Over a months period..that time can add up. Time is money too!

Offsite backup removes all those fears.

For clients that "outgrow" their existing backup technology...look at the replacement of hardware/software for a new backup system. It's typically well over 2 grand. And they're still held back by a dated...backup technology.

For straight up backup software....I can't stand Symantec Bloatup Exec.....gawd to I detest that software. StorageCraft is a great product....my favorite of late. Paragon is another good product. NovaStor is another.
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  #5  
Old 07-17-2012, 04:35 PM
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Lots of food for thought, YeOlde. I've got some homework to do. Thanks!
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