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Opinion: Backup to CD/DVD or NAS (or similar)

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  • NAS / RAID
  • CD-Rom
  • Storage
Last response: in Storage
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March 12, 2008 12:29:33 PM

Situation:

I work for a fairly large company, and we have a fairly large IT department. Our department uses files in an on the fly bases for projects, and we may or may not have to use a file from years past. Currently I am in charge of backing up our departments files to CD/DVD once a projects done. Now this prcess can be a pain depending on the number of prjects that we go through. I was thinking of getting a simple attached storage solution (I believe it's a NAS?) Where it has two 500gb HDDs in a RAID configuration attached to my computer via eSATA. Others in the department will need access and i should be able to allow them over our LAN. Yes our IT department backs up every night, but it takes forever for them to retrieve something thats been deleted and they have been unable to retrieve things in the past, plus they only keep information for 6 years.

I was just wondering how people feel about dumping CD/DVD burning for
an external RAID NAS type solution.

any other suggestions are welcome of course.

More about : opinion backup dvd nas similar

a b G Storage
March 12, 2008 1:36:52 PM

As an Engineer in the IT department of a "fairly large" company myself I would give you this advice.

-First... what is "fairly large"
-You will want to consult with the IT department before doing anything. These days data security is a BIG issue and our corporate policy states no one is allowed to store data on an external device. Which is exactly what you are looking at doing.
-Consult with a manager. If the IT department's data retention period is not long enough they should be notified. Are these files you are actively keeping on company storage? Or do you just need to archive for historical purposes?
-Regarding speed of restored backups? Once again consult the IT department or a liason within your department. Depending on their method of backup and how long ago you need the data from it would take a while to dig through tapes or whatever means they use. We use an Enterprise NAS system which can restore files on the fly if it was within a Week and recover historical data from drive arrays or archived data off offloaded tape.

My advise is from a corporate stand point. Large companies must adhere to their IT Policies and you do to. Maybe your IT department needs to hear your concerns to they can better serve your department.

If you need access to these files why are they not on network storage in the first place? Why do they need retrieved from backup? Don't delete them unless you no longer need them.

NOW, with that out of the way. If you are asking for a general standpoint. I'd go with an eSATA drive whenever possible. It will operate ate the same speed as an internal drive. CD/DVD is old skool, get rid of it.


March 12, 2008 2:11:05 PM

Thanks for the reply jay,

At this point I'm just thinking out loud you know, trying to make my process faster. I'll eventually be going to my manager and so on through the hoops.

I guess from a IT stand point its large, we have roughly 500 people in our building which is the main corporate headquaters, then I'm not sure how many more accross the US.

I'm not planning on going off on my own by any means. I just want to see if there would be an issue with what I wanted to do purely on a longevity basses. We have CDs from years before I started here (that i have to redo since the burn software is different). I just want to make sure that if I'm aloud to do this that it will be as effective if not more than having a box full of cd/dvds sitting behind me.

Also would two 500gb drives in RAID be alright, can i rely on a single drive not to fail? Or is it wise to use two that way it's less likely both will fail at the same time?

I wish I could keep people from deleting and moving thing but alas I'm powerless to stop carelessness.

edit: also I already do my own backups to small external drive (went through IT and everything) for really time sensitive files like calendars etc. Our IT department constently gets on us for the size our department takes up telling us we need to clean things out which is never a bad thing but at the same time we can only clean out so much.
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a b G Storage
March 12, 2008 2:43:29 PM

For that situation, I would build a NAS.

Actually, I just completed my own home NAS consisting of 4-320GB WD drives in RAID5 on a 3Ware 8506 controller. I am using an ASRock Conroe1333 mobo with a Celeron 420 and 1GB of DDR2667 and rather than a hard drive, I am using a Compact Flash card connected via an IDE-CF adapter. I am running FreeNAS as the OS. This entire build cost me less than $300 but that is only because I already had a number of the parts laying around.

You could build a similiar NAS for the office with a reasonable budget and have it connected to the LAN for everyone to use. You can also set-up user accounts and assign permissions if you are worried about folks deleting any files or data.

I highly recommend checking out www.freenas.org as it is very comprehensive and very configurable and costs absolutely nothing. The specs listed above are overkill given that the machine is just running FreeNAS. As a matter of fact, FreeNAS supports all i386 processors and a large number of LAN and RAID controllers, so if you've got some last/previous gen hardware laying around the office, hard drives and a possible RAID controller aside, you've already got a basic NAS. Even though you can run FreeNAS with low-end hardware, gigabit LAN is highly recommended but not necessary. I am using 10/100 along with 802.11g and it streams media without any issues.
a b G Storage
March 12, 2008 3:50:28 PM

We have about 6500 employees on our corp. On the cheap I would say a NAS of some sort is a good idea, however you should evaluate the value of the data. If you have a single drive unit, it can blow up and you loose everything. If you have a mirrored Raid, one drive could go and you would be fine. If the whole unit goes up in smoke you would loose it all. If there is a fire emergency in the area this is located, you loose it all. If the device decides to write corrupt data to one drive it would go to the 2nd, you would loose it all. Granted the RAID is the safest bet between those two. If this is valuable data I would recommend discussing this with the IT department and look at the possibility of a departmental file server w/ tape backup. A low-end server with alot of drive space in a RAID 5 and added tape which would be incorporated in the IT backup routine. We have departments that do just this at our corporate office. Granted we are moving them off of these departmental servers to the enterprise NAS because of power and consolidation reasons. Our NAS is something like 40TB or something like that and is replicated to our DR site in another state. Se also don't back this up with tape, it is a HardDrive library using Data Deduplication methods. You could also go with a more corporate style NAS that includes a tape backup. There are many options.

Just remember you get what you pay for. A $400 NAS from newegg, a $4000 file server or NAS from HP, or a $400,000 NAS from NetApp. I say you are more in the file server or entry level corporate NAS area.
March 12, 2008 4:13:55 PM

I'm finding out the necessity to back up to an external in our department wether it be cd/dvd or other wise but really there isn't much that doesn't get backed up to the main IT storage, unless it gets deleted before the backup runs (which has happened).
a b G Storage
March 12, 2008 4:56:11 PM

La-Z-CADtech said:
I'm finding out the necessity to back up to an external in our department wether it be cd/dvd or other wise but really there isn't much that doesn't get backed up to the main IT storage, unless it gets deleted before the backup runs (which has happened).

So you aren't really looking for a backup solution, but rather a quicker means to retrieve the backup data?
March 12, 2008 5:27:50 PM

Well it could change but yea primarily quick access to old files that would take up a lot of time to look up in old back up tapes (i assume that what they use any how) down in IT, when we need them "NOW" and take up IT time when we could just have them sitting right there on a drive (currently on CD) easily accessable to our department.
right now I'm the only one who really knows how the CDs are organized and whats on it but it woul djust be easier if it was accessable through the LAN that way no one has to go hunting through my office looking for a CD/DVD.

my personal issue is the amount of time it takes to create these cds and how unreliable some of them have been (an entire CD was unreadble for some reason or another thus loosing all that information)



a b G Storage
March 12, 2008 5:42:51 PM

I can only share from my experience in IT that many times we don't like departments performing IT related tasks such as this. However every corporate environment is different and policies can be very liberal or conservative. Alot of companies are moving from multiple tape backups to Hard disk arrays which are in the form of a backup appliance of sorts. Basically to restore a file is only as slow as it takes IT personnel to login, click the files you need and hit restore. Tapes have compression limitations, as well as the time it takes to restore anything can be HUGE, especially if it is incremental and they need to go back several series of tapes. I really think it is something that needs to be addressed with IT because otherwise they won't have initiative to move to these technologies. As for a current solution, the IT department may be able to guide you to a solution they already have in another department. You would believe the times we have used one solution in a department and the same situation arises in another.

A small NAS would probably work great for you though... for the time being.
March 12, 2008 6:08:19 PM

Thanks for your input Jay, i appreciate the expertise.

and thank for the reply chunk i'll take a look at freenas, if not for this situation for my home media server (when I build one).

Idealy I would like to do nothing, seeing s how it's not my job...but how many times have we all said something like that.
March 12, 2008 6:08:58 PM

With under 1 TB of data, your options are really limitless. Any desktop system could perform that storage as long as its secure from other users rummaging through other people's files. So all in all it depends on the nature of the data, whether you should venture into that. Tape backup provides a level of - you can't easily steal the data because it takes forever and the drives are expensive.
March 12, 2008 7:02:25 PM

well the data actually needs to be more easily available to people. The thing that got this all started was one of the managers couldn't find some old files on a CD in my office and they wanted me to write procedures on how everythings organized and how to find everything. and I thought this is all stupid and a waste of time when truely everything should just be on the LAN to begin with. and if thats going to be a problem then NAS would be th next step. I rmember our IT department making a big BrewHAHA over how much space we occupied. And I personally don't see it for all the files we use and have stored on there takes all of 140gb.

but most of the files get passed around anyway so by having them sit on a NAS would be the least weakest link in the way everything is actually handled.
a b G Storage
March 12, 2008 7:05:09 PM

jay2tall said:
I can only share from my experience in IT that many times we don't like departments performing IT related tasks such as this. However every corporate environment is different and policies can be very liberal or conservative. Alot of companies are moving from multiple tape backups to Hard disk arrays which are in the form of a backup appliance of sorts. Basically to restore a file is only as slow as it takes IT personnel to login, click the files you need and hit restore. Tapes have compression limitations, as well as the time it takes to restore anything can be HUGE, especially if it is incremental and they need to go back several series of tapes. I really think it is something that needs to be addressed with IT because otherwise they won't have initiative to move to these technologies. As for a current solution, the IT department may be able to guide you to a solution they already have in another department. You would believe the times we have used one solution in a department and the same situation arises in another.

A small NAS would probably work great for you though... for the time being.

Agreed. Also don't forget to put in software encryption on the drive if it contains any sensitive info.
a b G Storage
March 12, 2008 7:25:13 PM

Shadow703793 said:
Agreed. Also don't forget to put in software encryption on the drive if it contains any sensitive info.

I did not even want to get into that realm. Technically if it could have physical security if it remains within the confinds of the building. Nothing difference than someone picking up a PC and taking off with it. That's why all of our storage is in a secure Server room. We would look at this request and say NO without even blinking. You would have to put together a project request and submit your reasons and we would help you determine the best solution. In a personal world you can do whatever you want. In a business world you are limited to the corporate policy. We get ALOT of people who don't like when we say NO and is as easy as saying no to a USB thumb drive. Which is now blocked by our AntiVirus/Security software. They plug it in and it doesnt recognize it. They don't like that at all. WOOPS!
March 12, 2008 7:50:52 PM

Our files travel all over the place and multiple people need to access them, many outsource or contracted individuals,in house people who work from home at times. Not to mention anyone can slide into my cube and walk away with the cds/dvds. It's really the necessity to grab something that has been long tossed in the back of the closet by out IT dept. And when my boss says their bosses boss "NEEDS" this or that "NOW" 2 to 3 days up to a week is unacceptable, and I know they've been around the block with this with my coworker whom no longer is a coworker so now i get to open up this can of worms again (without knowing what happened previously). Like i said I'd rather not deal with it. oh well
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