IT Help, new backup solution for work, confused!!?

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  • IT Help, new backup solution for work, confused!!?
  • Premier Icon Tiger6791

    Two of these

    In Raid 1, plugs into the network and has some backup software.

    Runs every night
    One lives off site for a week
    Swopped on Monday

    This gives us

    Nightly backups with Raid 1 redundancy
    1TB of storage
    Maximum of 5 days loss if office is destroyed by fire.


    NAS is basically glorified network drive. You can achieve the same* with USB disk shared over a network.

    * disclaimer as actual NAS products can have other features normal USB drive does not have

    So NAS is fine, but use one with RAID mirroring (or RAID5/6).
    However, note that RAID 1 and 5 protect only against one disk failure, which, using cheap SATA drives, is not that much. Problem is that rebuild takes a long time with large SATA drives, creating a large window where you can loose data.

    RAID6 somehow decreases chances of this happening (protects against 2 disk failures), as does using better (not cheap SATA) drives.

    For software to copy files over, there are also a number of free alternatives, if you only need to copy data on predefined schedule (for example, see Cobian Backup.

    So it all depends on your budget.

    Premier Icon simon_g

    There’s software called Firestreamer ( ) which allows USB drives to be presented as tapes in a library so it will work with existing backup software. Not cheap though – about $800 per server.

    Else LTO drives aren’t that expensive now and gives more headroom – although buying enough tapes to cover the usual daily/weekly/monthly cycles can get pricey.

    As for space on the server, if you need to keep that much data accessible then you need space for it. Given both of those things and that the server is probably old and out of warranty anyway (PE800 and Arcserve 11 suggests 2004), it may be worth just getting a new server with a new tape drive and moving the data over before it inevitably dies and leaves you stuck.


    Cheers… will take a look

    i just thought aswell, that DELL NAS doesnt solve the backup problem side of things, as in.. i’d still have to back it up every night.

    maybe ive picked you up wrong but that link to dabs is for a buffalo NAS, i already got one very similar but it was cr*p, although it says it will work with windows server and NTFS it didnt, it conencted to the network, i copied over all our data and there were no NTFS permissions. (it was well documented on forums) could not get it to ‘join/see the domain’


    thanks for the quick replies..

    it may be worth just getting a new server with a new tape drive and moving the data over before it inevitably dies and leaves you stuck.

    thats what im worried about, she is creaking already, when it restarts after an update it takes ages!!

    b r

    NAS is fine, but the data is still onsite… You do take the current backup tapes offsite, don’t you?

    +1 Simon

    I’ve just done this at a client, as they were in the same position as you. Have you also checked whether you could actually recover the data from the current tapes, or have you an offsite drive/server?

    As for costs, just work out the position the company would be in if they lost the data – and (if on one site) the supporting paperwork…


    If you stick with tape then LTO is the way to go, you’ll probably need a SCSI card with an external port + the LTO drive (even an LTO-2 should be fine for your needs by the sound of it but you may as well go LTO-3 for some headroom). Should be able to find a drive cheap somewhere like eBay or a refurb/reseller place like this
    I wouldn’t bother with an internal LTO drive even if your chassis has room.

    If you have multiple sites and want to get rid of tape then you can backup to disk and copy/replicate the backup image across to the other site. There are various ways to do that depending on how much bandwidth you have and how much you can afford (we’re evaluating Data Domain boxes atm with a view to getting rid of tape, but then we use about 75 LTO tapes a night across 5 sites).

    Premier Icon wonkey_donkey

    Just upgrate your tape drive to LTO4 or suchlike.

    Premier Icon Cougar

    +1 for LTO drives.

    Also, do differential backups rather than a full one every night?


    You do take the current backup tapes offsite, don’t you?

    Yes, take tapes home everynight, learnt the hadway years ago.

    Have you also checked whether you could actually recover the data from the current tapes, or have you an offsite drive/server?

    in a word NO, the irony of this is not even funny. if the office burned down, i’d have the backup tape but then have a nightmare to actually restore it!

    Just upgrate your tape drive to LTO4 or suchlike.

    good idea but it doesnt solve the storage space problem.

    i think i’ll go with a NAS solution and then back it up to the external hard drive, buy 2 of them and take one home each day.


    FWIW, the two times I’ve had to use it Buffalo tech support has been awesome. Basically two occasions of landing up at sites that had been backing up to Linkstations and me calling Buffalo for some handholding while I recovered data. On second occasion I also asked them to help me reconfigure backups afterword and they did. Ace.

    That said (crikey!) that was all 6 and seven years ago now!



    Current Set-up….

    Dell poweredge 800 server with built in Dell DAT72 tape back up

    Windows 2003 server

    Arcserve 11.

    Were in a pickle at the moment one DAT72 tape is not enough to backup our files, ive limited it down to the essential files incase of an emergency but the tape still runs out about 80% through the backup.

    Also capacity on the server is down to 32gb! so in effect its a double edged sword…

    what do others use?

    Ive tried various external USB drives but arcserve is not compatible with them as the version we have is 6 years old.

    looking on the dell site they also do this NAS storage system, it looks to be what is basically a server but without all the fancy bits so it would just bolt onto the network and the existing server (domain controller) would look after all the network side. so i could copy most of the files onto the NAS.


    thanks for any pointers.


    I recently implemented a new backup solution, as the previous one (tape [200GB] + ArcServe) was quite frankly rubbish. Was taking donkeys years to backup our data (both over the LAN, and onto the tape).

    Plus, we the previous IT manager didn’t actually backup all that he should..

    5 x Freecom Quattro 1.5TB ( )
    1 x eSATA PCI-X adapter (can’t remember which one)
    1 x BackupAssist v5 (now at v6) – ( )

    (Plus I upgraded from 100M -> 1000M network… but it’s not relevant if it’s just local data you’re backing up.)

    Reasons for change:
    1. eSATA is lighting fast, compared to tapes/USB.
    2. For restoration of data, just plug in via USB to workstation…
    3. BackupAssist only uses native Microsoft tools (easy restoration without tools…)
    4. BackupAssist ‘ejects’ the eSATA drive automatically when finished the job. Unplug, then plug in the next drive. Rinse and repeat.
    5. BackupAssist is CHEAP compared to many others!!

    Each night we backup onto external disk (1-2-1 mirror… not incremental!!) :

    220GB of Data (text/pictures); 250GB of MS-SQL; 65GB of Exchange (exported to PST automatically); 47GB of NTBackup (Exch 2003 snapshot)

    And it takes 6hrs in total from start to finish, including integrity checking everything…



    Oh, and as for a NAS solution…. just use an old PC if budget is tight, and cram it full of disks with a RAID controller, and investigate running FreeNAS or OpenFiler (very simple OS, designed as a NAS solution)

    We’ve got a 6TB NAS, which cost £600 to put together.

    Personally, I think NAS products are a little over rated, when you can DIY for not much money.

    Premier Icon brassneck

    If you need to keep any sort of history (i.e. restore from a couple of years ago) tape is still a decent option – you could pick up an LTO1 off EBay for a couple of hundred, a decent scsi card for £50 and you can then keep rotations fairly cheaply. reconditioned media is available but to be honest I’d source some cheap new tapes, had bad experiences with around 20% failing.

    LTO solves your storage problem – LTO 1 = 200Gb compressed. LTO 4 is 800 native 1.6Tb compressed, but I expect out of your price range or you wouldn’t be asking here.

    Disk is a good option for DR and quick restores – depends what you’re looking for really.

    Premier Icon brassneck

    Regarding the NAS – price it up against a normal W2K8 R2 box with the same disk space. You may not need the many of the features the NAS supplies.
    You won’t need much RAM or CPU to serve files, integration into AD is done for you, it’ll probably come with 2 NICs inbuilt and teaming software… and you can choose your backup method from pretty much anything on the market – WSS have had some compatibility and upgrade issues in the past, though I’ve steered clear of the latest to make any definitive comment.

    IMHO, if you don’t already know about Openfiler/FreeNAS etc. you’d probably be better off with a Windows file server. I admin a fair few NetApp filers which these products are trying to emulate, and some pretty experienced local admins still ask me to make any necessary changes – it’s maybe 1 more hassle you don’t need day to day.


    @xiphon – how are you getting your data off-site? backup to disk is great but you still need to shift it off-site unless you’re only catering for accidental deletions etc. rather than a fire. I know that wouldn’t be sufficient to save my job if it happened…


    cheers all some great advice and suggestions…

    xiphon graet idea and setup you have there, so ‘in laymans terms’ you whack one of these into a server

    then connect up your external drives? i love the idea of just sticking the external drive into the PC to restore.

    i guess it’s a toss up one what solution and the budget!


    Right I think i have it straight in my head…

    ive apprently got about £1600 to play with…

    What about…

    Dell NX200 NAS with 4 x 1TB space

    Copy of Backup assist running on it.

    2 x External 1TB hard drives to back up the NAS, take one home each night? (we have to have off-site storage for the company insurance)

    Or have i got it all wrong?


    @ monkey_boy

    Total cost was about £700 inc. all software and hardware.

    When I was away on holiday, Boss needed to restore a doc from yesterday. Get the disk out of the safe, plug in via USB, and navigate (using normal Windows Explorer) to the correct folder/file. Bingo.

    He was happy because of the simplicity.

    @ FuzzyWuzzy

    We don’t do off-site backup, only a fire-proof safe. I tried to lobby for external, but they accepted the current risk.

    Next financial years budget will include another 5x 1.5TB disks (identical) for swapping on a weekly basis with a data security company.


    Job 1a (run via local Exch box): NTBackup -> local server disk (backup server)
    Job 1b (run concurrently with above instead on local server) : remote MS-SQL -> eSATA (G:\Backup\MS-SQL\#servername
    Job 2: Local D: (contains NTBackup data above) -> eSATA (G:\Backup\Mirror\#servername

    Backup/File server is: DL380 G2 2.8Ghz / 4GB RAM / 6x 300GB / 1Gb


    And one more thing, compile a document which explains the various methods of backup, the costs, and the risks involved. (from cheap-cheap to mega expensive)

    YOU get the senior management to sign-off what THEY accept as a suitable backup for the company, based on the risk.

    As the IT Manager, it is only my reponsibility to RECOMMEND a backup process, NOT give the final thumbs up. That’s the responsibility of the directors.

    It’s my responsiblity to implement and keep it running!


    YOU get the senior management to sign-off what THEY accept as a suitable backup for the company, based on the risk.

    As the IT Manager, it is only my reponsibility to RECOMMEND a backup process, NOT give the final thumbs up. That’s the responsibility of the directors.

    thats half my battle, they see a figure and think “HOW MUCH” but dont realise the implications if data was lost.

    cheers again


    @ monkey_boy :

    Make sure they have it in clear black and white (plus a few graphs – managers love colourful things) what the consquences are. Then your ass is in the clear if anything goes wrong (“If you refer to the docment dated Sep 2010, I did recommend a solution which could have prevented this, but you decided the current solution was sufficient” )

    Good luck!

    I had an uphill battle here initially – it got to the point where I installed my OWN server hardware (powerful enough for virtualisation) to show them how it would benefit the company. They signed off new hardware less than 24hrs after I took my own kit back home… 😉

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