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Default Tape backup for Windows and Linux servers

September 23rd, 2013, 12:56
I'm hoping someone might be able to save me a bit of research. I've been out of the real IT world for nearly a decade, so I'm a bit out of touch with current trends.

I've got to come up with a system to backup a Windows server and a couple of Debian Linux servers to tape. The system I inherited is, uh, not so good and in dire need of replacing. My initial thoughts are an external tape drive connected to one of the servers, which will run the actual backup.

Does anyone have any suggestions on hardware or software? Since we're a charity, money's an issue, so cheap/free solutions are better.
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September 23rd, 2013, 14:42
I use Robocopy and hard drives. I used to use Xcopy back in the XP days. I never used tape drives as hard drive space is just cheap and easy.

I use 2 USB 3TB external drives that get updated whenever I remember to bring one in and I have a dedicated computer (doesn't need to be fancy at all, all its doing is backing stuff up) that has 8 TB of storage. I use the RED WD drives nowadays. I use Robocopy.exe and have numerous bat files made (like 50) and scheduled in the task scheduler. It works very well and has saved alot of potential lost files and such thru the years. Pretty much all hands off once its set up also.

Databases that see alot of data in and out I back up 5 times a day, 7 days a week so we always have 35 versions of the data. Other stuff I back up every evening so have 7 versions of it. The only potential drawback is if something is messed up and goes past a week without being detected (I should have it on the USB drives tho). A messed up file or database has never gone past a week tho without being detected so we have been good.
Last edited by Toff; September 23rd, 2013 at 14:53.
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September 23rd, 2013, 16:06
I also use Acronis True Image (I'm sure other imaging programs would work also) to make an exact copy of a servers or other important computer's hard drive. This way if the server hard drive takes a crap, its just a matter of sliding in the backup hard drive and updating the relevant data on it. I work in a large millwork shop and have multiple machines out there in lots of heat and dust and this has worked out very well. Slide in a backup hard drive for the machine and it is back up and producing in 30 mins or so.
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September 23rd, 2013, 18:33
Thanks Toff, I'll take a look at Robocopy, but I think tapes are still the way to go for our sort of setup. My goal is to get as simplified a setup as I can get away with, so my successor doesn't have to untangle as much as I have.
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October 2nd, 2013, 19:41
LTO is basically the only tape format remaining. You'll probably want an LTO3, LTO4, or LTO5 drive (or library), depending on your budget. LTO6 is coming soon, last I heard.

If you're backing up multiple systems across a network, you'll almost certainly want to go disk-to-disk-to-tape ("DDT", or "disk staging"), as opposed to going directly to tape. Tapes today run too fast to stream data to them, when you're pulling that data live across a gigabit network. Your overall backup speed will be absolutely atrocious if you try it, and you'll kill your tapes/drives. (Look up "shoeshine effect" for more info) Your backup jobs should copy everything that's going to be backed up to a central disk area, then move it to tape from there, at whatever interval you desire (you can keep incrementals/dailies on the disk only).

Personally, I use ARCserve. Generally you would run it on a Windows system (where your tape system is attached), and then run ARCserve agents on the Linux systems. Backup Exec is probably your other popular, low-cost option. Both of them support disk staging, of course.
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