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Data Storage

Backup Solutions for Small Tech Companies? 34

Brushfireb asks: "This has been hit on before, but given the cheap cost of hard drives, larger capacities and speed increases in possible storage (USB2, FIOS, etc) we though that an update would be really helpful. Here's the scenario: We are a small tech company and we have an assortment of workstations (Macs, Linux and Windows desktops), and servers (Web, Database, File, e-Mail, DNS, etc) that run on different Linux distributions. What advice or recommendations do Slashdot readers have for our needs that: won't break the bank; won't force us to take our servers down for an extended period of time (our servers must run 24/7); are reliable; and are easily to maintain. What are some typical mistakes that small tech companies make when it comes to backing up? What software and hardware do Slashdot readers use to accomplish these tasks in similar situations?"
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Backup Solutions for Small Tech Companies?

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Because I could swear it wasn't here last night when it is timestamped.
  • I am the admin for a small company myself. Here, there is only 1 thing we really need backed up regularly, and that is our customer data. It is backed up nightly onto a large raid system, and then once a week it is backed up to dvd from the raid. Larger volumes of data might be better handled with backups to tape or external hard drives. Those backups should then be stored off site for disaster recovery. Our regular employee data (current projects, etc) is backed up just to the raid itself. If anyone
    • It is backed up nightly onto a large raid system, and then once a week it is backed up to dvd from the raid.

      And if on the 6th day the RAID controller goes haywire and screws up your data, you've lost 6 days of inserts/updates/deletes.

      Maybe your data is pretty static, but for most 99.9% of businesses, daily backups are essential.
      • No, they don't lose the data, just its backup. The original data is still intact wherever it was backed up from.

        I agree with the phrase "RAID is not backup" if that's what you're trying to say, but in this case the OP isn't pretending that a single RAID array counts as backup. That's why it's backed up onto this other RAID array (so there are now two copies on two separate machines) and then onto DVD.
  • by DRue ( 152413 ) <drue AT therub DOT org> on Monday November 07, 2005 @06:11PM (#13973856) Homepage
    I use and recommend rsnapshot [] for taking disk-to-disk backups of unix based servers and PCs. It has a *really* slick directory structure where each daily/weekly/monthly backup directory is a *full* snapshot - but by using hard links, it only saves the changed files multiple times. Also, because it uses rsync, it only copies changed files across the network, and can use ssh no problem.

    It's downsides: it's basically just a wrapper for rsync. It requires a lot of babysitting (if your backups fail for some reason, it'll try to do full backups the next day possibly with disasterous consequences as it tries to jam hundreds of gig down your T1). Also, it has to log in as root on all of your boxes, so there are some very careful sercurity considerations.

    But a box with a bunch of disks in it, put it off site, and whamo you have a complete backup solution.

    For the windows users, I like backuppc []. I have never actually used it, but it allows windows users to choose when their backups are taken, and allows them to recover files themselves through a web interface. It's big downside is the cryptic way it stores files internally, making it really hard to extract files without using the web interface.
    • Backuppc (Score:4, Interesting)

      by sr180 ( 700526 ) on Monday November 07, 2005 @10:12PM (#13975818) Journal
      We have used backupPC for around 9 months now. A linux based server (Fedora Core 2) with 6 200gb USB2 external drives. The drives are encrypted using a pre-generated key that is stored locally (also encrypted) and off site on cd multiple secure locations. The drives are rotated often, storing both full and incremental backups. 5 off site, one onsite. This stores around 6 months of backups for us. Every 6 months we archive the important information to DVD. Drives are monitored for errors and replaced at planned 18 month intervals.

      We have around 15 desktops and 10 servers being backup by this solution. It was trivial to setup. Drives are secure while in transport and storage. Its automated. Recoveries can be made very easily from the website on the linux server.

      Its much easier for us than the tape backup system (Veritas) that it replaced.

      The only issue is that with windows servers, it cant access open files. Our sql servers simply make a backup copy of their databases which it grabs, but exchange will cause you issues.

    • rsync + hard links is awesome. And since rsync runs on most any platform, I backup Netware/Windows Server/Windows XP and Linux to our Debian backup server. I use Apache for single file restore and a Samba share for multiple files. (Only admins can restore ATM)

      I didn't use rsnapshot (didn't know about it), instead I wrote a script to take care of the linking.

      It's easy, it's fast, it's reliable and I don't miss Backup Exec at all.
    • Also consider Box Backup []. It encrypts the backups so that the server storing the backup doesn't have the necessary key to read the backed-up data. It's working well for me.
  • by anonymo ( 878718 )
    If you have money enough then Netbackup is a very nice solution: version handling, user-restore, fine-grain authentication of systems and users. User friendly interface, Scales excellent. There are modules for databases and different OS-es.
    Not cheap at all. When the database dies, it's very difficult to revive it. I suggest having a stand-in copy just in case.

    I tested about 10 more or less freeware programs like Amanda, afbackup, Arkeia etc. - and idn't liked any of them.
    Basically I use 2 scripts on systems
    • About the hardware:
      I suggest buying an SDTL2 tape system: the mechanism of tapes and tape-units are very realiable and the tape is highly resistant to EMP, better than any other tape media.
      DAT and 8mm and it's derivates are mechanically less stable, they are a bit slower too and takes less EMP.
  • by compwizrd ( 166184 ) on Monday November 07, 2005 @06:49PM (#13974315)
  • Amanda (Score:3, Informative)

    by Noksagt ( 69097 ) on Monday November 07, 2005 @07:02PM (#13974449) Homepage
    If you have knowledgable IT, Amanda [] is nice--it will let you spend money on a nice tape changer and media, rather than expensive backup software that is often flakier than Amanda. If you don't have knowledgable IT, I'd actually say the next-best would be to out-source the backups.

    • How many servers?
    • How much data?
    • How much "churn" is in your data? I.e., lots of new/modified/deleted stuff every day, or is it relatively static?

    My first thought would be external firewire disks that "you" bring home.
      • Overall budget ('cheap' to one person may not be cheap to you)
      • Any existing backup system(s) in place?
      • Cost of downtime (eg, if you make up to $5k/hr in sales profit, an hour's downtime may cost $5k ... possibly more, due to loss of reputation)
      • Amount of administrator time allocated per day/week (if you're overworked as it is, you don't want an extra hr each morning verifying backup tapes)

      I like the firewire disk approach -- we use it here for systems where we have a lot of data, but it doesn't change t

      • it's many terabytes

        For multi-TB systems, why aren't you all using multiple high-end (LTO 6 or SDLT-320) tape drives? With autoloaders, you kick them off at night, come in the next morning, take them off site and you're done.
        • First off -- tape backups are not as fast as you claim, as you're missing the critical part of backups -- verifying that they were good. (restore a few random files from each tape, preferably from a different mechanism, and compare them to the original file). I've seen too many people get stung by that in the past -- (little known fact : SIMS [Sun Internet Mail System] could run on Solaris 6 or 7 ... Solaris 6 had a 2GB file limit ... so SIMS backup software would stop the backup at 2GB, with no notice, e
          • Our shop ran for over a year before we had to do a full restore for one of the upper management ... the incrementals were fine, but the fulls weren't, so we couldn't get shit back)

            Shame on your shop for not testing the backups. But you know that now...

            plug the firewire disks into it, and have an image up within 30 minutes.

            How long does it take to back up "many terabytes" to disk?

            And how often do you back it up?

            We need to back up 3TB every other night, and keep the those backups for a month. Even with the
  • You need one massively redundant device that can offload whatever is appropriate to DVD, tape, whatever. Whipping up a big RAID 5 machine shouldn't be too hard, and just either run everything from it (think SAN) or sync everything to it every so often via rsync or whatever. You can even scale this to enterprise level by calling up your favorite IBM rep and saying "If you take me to a nice lunch with alcohol and strippers, I'll recommend to the PHB that we order a SHARK storage unit from you". Sure, it'll
  • Some of it also depends on how critical the backups are. Our user's data is important, but anything that's really, really important should be on the RAID array of the file server which is backed up two separate ways. Files on the PCs are ok if we can only get them from last week, but that will only happen if our backup drive failed at the same time and we didn't swap in a spare and do an immediate full backup fast enough.

    For that reason we're not blowing a lot of needless money on things we don't need. We a
  • Can do *nix, MacOS X (via hfstar), Windows (via smb shares).

    Also can backup to disks (via virtual tapes) or traditional tape drives.

    Used it at work for over 4 years with no problems, even old SunOS 4 hosts are still OK.

    An alternative is Bacula, but you an RDBMS (mysql or postgress I think) to store the indexes whereas amanda uses files. Also I think bacula uses it's own backup client whereas amanda is merely a front to dump(), tar() etc so it's more platform/filesystem idependant.

    Don't forget to test restor
  • Here's an easily modifiable script that uses hard links and rsync []. I used this as our office's starting point and now have a system that:

    • creates a local snapshot every night and stores it on a separate drive;
    • archives a copy from the night before for only the storage cost of the changes;
    • writes off to an external drive every weekend.

    The nightly back-ups mainly account for users accidentally deleting files or saving changes they wish they hadn't rather than hardware failure. Since it's all just stored as

  • servers (Web, Database, File, e-Mail, DNS, etc) that run on different Linux distributions. What advice or recommendations do Slashdot readers have for our needs that: won't break the bank; won't force us to take our servers down for an extended period of time (our servers must run 24/7); are reliable;

    If you intend to use some form of backup software or customized scripts to perform these tasks, you have to think about OS compatibility and the like. Why would you run various Linux distributions if you ar

  • Well the bigest mistakes companies make. Is that they buy backup software and never test a rampage lightouts scenario in which they try to rebuild from backup software. So they don't no how to use their software and as a result they don't know how long it takes to bring it up again. What extra configs or pre configurations would be required. They just don't no it. Just buy an old PC and try to restore server X on it.... Some also don't catalog their tapes or accedently delete tape's belonging to tape se
  • []
    Arkeia has a very good solution for small businesses. It has native agents for Linux, Unix, Windows and MacOS. It can backup to tapes, managing tape libraries and autoloaders. It can also backup to disk. It has plugins to backup databases online so there is no need to stop the database.

    There are 2 products:

    • Arkeia Network Backup which is enterprise class product.
    • Arkeia Smart Backup which is designed for small businesses.

    Arkeia Smart Backup is free for 50GB of backed up data. An

  • Anything but Veritas Backup Exec9.x on W2K3 A stone table and chisel would be preferred to that! And Hardware? Stay away from anything that is SCSI!!! I have been battling these, and haven't had time to really, truly learn something else, sorry moderators!
  • I just picked up a ultrium 3 tape drive (mine is HP but i think they are all basically the same) and although the drive was costly at nearly 6k we are reaping savings in time. Our data mix allows us to get about 700-750 gig on each tape and it takes under an hour and a half to write each tape.

    This might mean that you can find Ultrium 2 drives for cheap now and in my opinion the technology is worth a glance. the tapes are not cheap at around 125-140 per 400/800 cartridge and they do have restrictive humidi
  • Many businesses fail to do regular backups of there desktop machines, and forget about the mobile computers coming in and out of the office. They are harder to manage than most BU Admins can deal with. Though having a network backup solution is a necessity business eventually feel the pain of a mobile user or desktop that crashes or becomes infected and all of the data on the machine must be re-imaged and thus lost in the process since the last regular backup.

    For a complete security solution for you data, y

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