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Best data-backup for small business?

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October 15, 2008 2:00:18 PM

Let me say first; I'm not too savvy with networking/data backup. The office I work in has five users and we're trying to decide on what is the best data-backup solution out there for us.

We currently just run a "server" that we save important business related files to.

What would some of our options (details, if possible) be for this matter?

Thanks!
October 15, 2008 2:21:12 PM

Tape drives for the server is a convention, though I think it is primative.

I would recommend buying everyone an little 120-250GB external usb hard disk (small ones). And making it a company policy to run a backup program once weekly on each machine with each user responsible for their own backups. I would recommend storing these off site except for the day you bring them in.

It depends on your business. obviously if you are IP laden you MUST encrypt ALL BACKUP DEVICES with STRONG encryption. If you hold personal details of clients this is also necessary.

In fact just do it anyway. No reason not to. Once you set it up it is no extra hassle.

I sincerely hope your server has at least Raid 1 or Raid 5 arrayed disks. These give you redundancy and given the incredibly low cost of disks compared to the cost of re-doing work you would be a fool not to. Offsite backup could be dealt with using the same small external HDD as your client PC's if you want cheap but actually useful to some degree protection if your server gets stolen/burned up/impacted by a crashing plane/flooded etc.


Thats my 2 cents.
October 15, 2008 2:21:17 PM

You could simply use an external 1tb HD, they run for around $100 now.

You could get a 1 touch one. You simply hit a button and it will back up 100% of ur server files.
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October 15, 2008 2:26:25 PM

This is the cheap an easy solution for small (miniscule) budget businesses.

A professional service will cost you LOTS to get all the new equipment they want you to buy and then LOTS to maintain said equipment annually PLUS loads to get them to come out in a set time 1day-3days usually and then charge a fortune for showing up.

Its the way the business let themselves be played. Medium sized business could probably save loads by just hiring a full-time "IT guy", but they don't they pay companies to rip them off on a one or more times per year basis.
a c 82 G Storage
October 15, 2008 2:55:46 PM

nxsteven can you provide more info on your server, e.g., operating system, disk types (array or not) and size, if boot disk is separate from data storage, etc.

krazyk12 and americanbrian, how will they restore the server if it crashes? Using an external disk is fine, but what if both the external disk and the server fail at the same time and all data is lost? Will it impact their operations? At a minimun they should consider a backup application that can backup and restore the whole server and use 2 external disks in rotation.
October 15, 2008 3:23:29 PM

Perhaps an internet based backup would work well for them (i.e. Mozy) most store data in an encrypted maner and then you don't have to worry as much about what happens if there is a fire or flood or robbery that could take out both the backup and the server if they are in the same location. A rotating set of external drives is also an acceptable solution.
October 16, 2008 10:19:04 AM

Ghislaing,

I appreciate that this is NOT the standard professional solution. It is a minimum useful program.

As I said if a disk in the server fails and the external drive too, there is still at least one disk if the server is raided, possibly two. So the likelyhood of three or four disks failing at the same time is minuiscule.

Also you forget that EVERYBODY is responsible for keeping their own work backed up weekly in my scheme. This limits the loss of the work to a MAXIMUM of a week. not great but better than starting from scratch. It is cheap and easy to implement.

You haven't even suggested your plan. I suspect you work in exactly this industry and are trying to point out the shortcomings of doing it the cheap way.

Internet based backup is just silly. trusting an external company in this financial climate to not go bust, not "lose" your data, etc etc. pie in the sky.

Cheap and dirty is safe enough in my opinion.
a c 82 G Storage
October 16, 2008 12:58:13 PM

To be honest, I know of one small business that lost all of it's data and no longer is in business.

What if there's a fire in the room where the server is located or all the equipment gets stolen? Having the previously used external disk stored somewhere else is cheap insurance. We are talking about a business where data most likely is valuable, not a home system (though my home systems are properly backed up to external disks so that I can quickly restore them in case of a catastrophy. Asking users to be responsible for corporate data isn't a good solution and most of them eventually forget to do it.

I can't suggest a plan until nxsteven provides a bit more info about his environment. My customers use tape backups (tape drives or tape libraries) to meet their backup requirements, but a small business obviously has different and less expensive requirements.

Internet based backup, as suggested by Aragorn, might be a very good solution, particularly if a complete system backup can be done locally and a copy of the whole system backup can be stored off site. It would then be possible to restore the server and get all data back, up to the last day or even the last 2 hours, depending on the option that was selected. Trusting a company like Mozy that stores encrypted data in a secure datacenter makes sense for a small business.

It's up to nxsteven to tell us if cheap and dirty is good enough for them. To be honest, we don't even have a clue of what they do and how valuable their data is.
October 16, 2008 3:24:20 PM

nxsteven said:
Let me say first; I'm not too savvy with networking/data backup. The office I work in has five users and we're trying to decide on what is the best data-backup solution out there for us.

We currently just run a "server" that we save important business related files to.

What would some of our options (details, if possible) be for this matter?

Thanks!


Off-site internet based backup. It just backs things up in the background via internet connection all the time. Stored encrypted somewhere else. If anything happens, just plop on a computer, load up your software, watch it download and rebuild your data.

Otherwise, physical copies are good.

Overall, it depends on how much data you're actually backing up.

Questions:

1. Backing up megabytes worth of data per day? Per week? Or gigabytes? What is your backup size and frequency?
2. Do you have a budget? Certainly you do. What is it?
3. How sensitive is the data you need to backup? If it's photography, uh, very simple and cheap. Client accounts and all that? Need more discrete and powerful options.

Very best,
October 17, 2008 9:50:02 AM

ghislang,

I understand that you are thinking about this from probably a different perspective than I am.

My mother has owned 2 modestly successful businesses where cash flow is TIGHT. but not quite bank-busting. She had a coffee house that she sold on to a nice dutchman, and now has a coffee roastery. The data they hold is important to operations but not REALLY sensitive.

I have my mother run external hdd backups once a week and it is good eneough.

If the company is a tech/Intellectual property holding comapany then I would go for the more robust solution you are suggesting. However I think this is probably a small, modest firm with not a large budget for this.

Also I have to say that a internet backup requires at least a dedicated line for the backup system, and monthly payments and you must trust the company that holds the data. All in all an expensive commitment.

I stand by my first suggestions as I reckon I understand the profile of small businesses better. Anyway, they will decide in the end. I am just trying to give my opinion and illustrate some options.

And I still think tape drives are primative technology that are in fact obsolete in this day and age.
October 17, 2008 4:05:15 PM

Glad to see so many replies. As for the server it's an IBM brand and i'm not entirely sure of the model number. I'm rather certain it only has a single HDD and is running Windows Server 2003. I would also go out on a limb and say that said HDD is a max of 250GB.

The server is mostly for the employees to access different types of tech tools, problem logs, and things of that nature. However, we do have a separate server for the client-critical types of things. Such as account information...

I'm trying to do a data-backup for the tech-server first. It's incredibly messy atm and we're trying to clean it up and back it up the right way.

Thanks for the feedback and keep it coming!
October 17, 2008 8:49:14 PM

At my company we run a server with a RAID array which everyone is expected to save their data to. That server is then backed up to tape daily, weeky and monthly. Tape is what most people use but I think there is a move towards nearline storage. So basically you'd run a fast storage device of some sort for your primary storage and then backup to a cheaper slower storage device, maybe a small NAS?

If your talking about backuping up workstations you could try imaging with something like Norton Ghost or Acronis. So if the PC has a problem of some sort you still have a complete backup of the harddisk for that PC. Of course you'd need to store the images somewhere.

You definately need to move away from a single disk system!! Maybe investing in a small NAS for now will be enough, you can then always get a second one and mirror them, or use it as a virtual tape library. We also run a NetApp Filer which does stuff like snapshotting etc. to give you even more backup. I think a filer would be a bit excessive and expensive for your requirements, you'd be better suited for a smaller device...

Have a look at some of these...

http://www.majentaonline.co.uk/gbu0-prodshow/QNAP_TS-50...

http://www.google.co.uk/products?q=RND4410&btnG=Search+...

http://www.scan.co.uk/Product.aspx?WebProductID=437049

October 24, 2008 7:38:44 PM

Just wanted to give all of you guys an update since you were so helpful.

We've decided to update our office server and set up a RAID-5 configuration with four harddrives. Our PC's will be running SyncBack Pro (http://www.2brightsparks.com/syncback/sbpro.html) and backing up our folders to the server at a specific set time.

Our server will be running the software and backing it up to our UK office. Also, we are going to go with the Mozy software and back our server up virtually.


Any other suggestions? A tech here said we could simply schedule a task through windows to do the backups.
October 25, 2008 1:13:37 AM

nxsteven said:
Just wanted to give all of you guys an update since you were so helpful.

We've decided to update our office server and set up a RAID-5 configuration with four harddrives. Our PC's will be running SyncBack Pro (http://www.2brightsparks.com/syncback/sbpro.html) and backing up our folders to the server at a specific set time.

Our server will be running the software and backing it up to our UK office. Also, we are going to go with the Mozy software and back our server up virtually.


Any other suggestions? A tech here said we could simply schedule a task through windows to do the backups.


Sounds good.

Though, be mindful of what RAID5 controller you're using. Also, just from a geeky optimal perspective, I would push for 5 hard drives on the RAID5 instead of 4. It has to do with how sectors/i/oblocks/parity is worked out for the RAID5 to do it's thing and while a good hardware controller should technically handle it without issue, it's still a good idea to have control over these settings yourself just in case the controller isn't so smart. It'll work either way, but controlling how the array is built can have a huge impact on actual performance. Remember, RAID5 is all about building parity to survive a "single" disk failure. The more disks you use, the more advantage you're taking of the array for increasing storage capacity while still losing the same amount of storage to parity. Again, no matter how many drives you use here (minimum 3), you always lose ONE drive's capacity worth to parity. Ie, three 1tb drives in RAID5 = 1tb lost to parity. five 1tb drives in RAID5 = 1tb lost to parity. Same storage loss, but obviously, you're getting more storage capacity from the array using more disks--the point of RAID.

RAID5 is not good for "backup" by the way. RAID5 is good for making things "available" as often as possible (well, not even really `as possible'). It's a striped array that lets you survive a single disk failure. RAID6 is similar and allows for TWO disks to fail.

Backing things up is best done with off-site and very reliable physical media. Tapes, external drives, internet backup, etc.

Anyhow, good luck and I hope you guys don't break the bank on this.

Very best,
August 31, 2010 7:13:59 PM

Install a RAID 1 device such as a Accusys InneRAID Duo ACS-75200 RAID into your server

To make a backup, remove one of the disks and replace it with a blank disk. The disk that you removed is your back up.

You can have a set of backup disks to swap, say a daily, weekly, monthly and annual disk then you can minimise any potential data losses.

If your disks are big enough you can even partition your disk to store a daily, weekly, monthly and annual copy of your data on each disk so that each back up disk contains a copy of all your backups to reduce potential data losses still further.

To restore your data either mount one of the back up disks on your server or boot your server off one of the backup disks.
a b G Storage
September 1, 2010 3:38:43 AM

I like this Raid 1 idea. However, it seems you have an adequate protection with the off site server for redundancy.

If you are using RAID 5 think about a zfs file system. The problem with RAID 5 is the way it saves data. There is no error checking or correction. Unless you have a 'good' server with ecc ram there is a danger of corrupt data being saved to the RAID and then no amount of backup will save you. Again, it depends on the value of your data. Can you recover from losing the odd file? Say one for every terabyte? If not you should consider asking your 'Tech Guy' if he can use a zfs system. Many are free.
April 12, 2011 7:21:16 AM

Also you can use any PGP software to crypt your essential data
a c 76 G Storage
April 12, 2011 5:46:26 PM

nxsteven said:
Let me say first; I'm not too savvy with networking/data backup. The office I work in has five users and we're trying to decide on what is the best data-backup solution out there for us.

We currently just run a "server" that we save important business related files to.

What would some of our options (details, if possible) be for this matter?

Thanks!


Build yourself a FreeNAS server with the door-stop computer
Place it remotely
Run RSYNC function of freeNAS
Set schedule to sync with ALL computers

This will give off-site back up with schedule sync.
a c 415 G Storage
April 12, 2011 10:33:20 PM

How come these old threads keep getting resurrected?
a c 76 G Storage
April 14, 2011 1:48:24 AM

sminlal said:
How come these old threads keep getting resurrected?


Good call, i'm not even realized that

Next time - i pay more attention to post date
!