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How much confidence do you have in your backup system?

  • I'm fairly confident in our ability to recover from a disaster.

    The 3 best pieces of advice I can give anyone in regards to this are:

    1. Test your restores often. Never, for example, archive a yearly backup offsite without running several random test restores against files and directories from that backup.

    2. Store full backups offsite. My yearly and monthly backups are sitting in a firebox at my home... away from the office.

    3. And obviously, make sure your backup scheme is hitting all of the data you would need to recover and that you are getting the appropriate amount of historical snapshots for your needs. (nightly? weekly? monthly? snapshots etc)

    For my system, I've got 4 offices with about 200GB of total "full" backup data and I run 1 tape backup server at each office with Symantec 11d in a classic GFS system.

    I've never had a total disaster, but I have had lots of partial restores to do over the years. I'd say they have been about 80% successful. When they have failed, it was always human error, and not machine or system error. Ie: The user was storing the data somewhere where it wasn't getting backed up and thus wasn't available for restore, etc.

    Truth be told, I'm starting to trim down my methods. I have found them to be overkill for our needs. I am also exploring alternatives to tape and have started performing my weekly and monthly full backups to portable USB drives via backupexec's backup2disk feature.

    Next time a tape drive blows out I will most likely replace it with a few portable usb hard drives. And I also plan to explore online backup solutions such as those offered by Vaultlogix and Mozy in the coming year.
  • About six months ago I purchased a Maxtor One Touch 750 GB external USB drive.  It comes with backup software.  I run an automatic backup on my system every day and it keeps the last 10 copies of any file.  I feel very confident in it.  I don't know if it will work on a server but is sure worth a look.  Cost for the drive was under $100.00.

  • If you were to go with that system for a server, you should buy more than 1 drive.  Mainly because without an offsite backup, you're not truly protected in the case of an environmental disaster that will take out your building.  Some will argue that bringing the backup to your home is not truly an offsite backup - but I think that doing so is better than not at all.

    Chris Shipley
    Nutmeg Consulting

  • I recently purchased a 1 tb network harddrive backup system with a built in Raid 0 (I think) mirorred drive system to backup our computers onto. I have it located on the LST (WW II museum ship) and the computers are in the office which is located on a seprate barge. They are connected with a secured wireless network connection. I fee this meets the offsite requirements for a good backup process. Each night after we close the complete backups run on each computer to the storage system. Now I know I should erase and reload a computer to ensure the backups are good but I am scared to do so. Some day I will bite the bullet and do it to verify the backup process.

  • lstmate
    Now I know I should erase and reload a computer to ensure the backups are good but I am scared to do so. Some day I will bite the bullet and do it to verify the backup process.

    Keep your eyes open for a hard dive sale, or look for a donated computer that you can steal the hard drive from it.  Install that hard drive in your subject computer, keeping the good drive disconnected and safe during this test, now you can test your recovery process with out the fear of it not working and loosing a workstation for several days as you try to recover the machine.

    $70.00 for a drive to test your recovery process is really reasonable peace of mind.


  • Also, make sure you are using RAID 10, RAID 1, RAID 5 or RAID 1+0 ...  RAID 0 provides absolutely no redundancy - just speed and size.

    Chris Shipley
    Nutmeg Consulting