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rroguee

Backup Options for Small Business

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Hi guys,

 

I've recently embarked on a foray in to the family business, first thing that needs doing is updating on the IT side of things. I've got a serious concern about the lack of - any - redundancy of individual PC's. At the moment all documents are stored on each person's PC, and there is only a backup taken of the accounting and financials PC.

 

I feel the best (cheapest) way to get this resolved in the short term is a large NAS drive, then work out how to setup personal folders and get people to work off the shared drive like so.

 

Following that; what NAS is going to offer me;

  • Easy setup for a Static IP Ethernet
  • 3+ Drives
  • Easy swapping of drives if / when one fails
  • Remote alert if a drive fails
  • Reliability

Every PC bar the two servers is running Windows XP or Windows 7, so although I will 'tell' people that anything they leave on their own PC's will disappear, I would like the option of automated backup - not necessarily imaging - for certain folders to their NAS Folder. What kind of software is consistent, easy to setup, and will run on old and struggling XP based machines without too much overhead?

 

I've taken a hunt through the forums here and so far haven't been able to find quite what I need, if there's already a thread feel free to abuse me and send links.

 

Cheers

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I use a ReadyNAS NV+ RND4000 V2 at work and at home, for backups and storing media. It ticks all of your boxes:

 

Easy setup for a Static IP Ethernet - Yup

3+ Drives - 4x2TB @ home 4x1.5TB @ work (both in X-RAID with one redundant)

Easy swapping of drives if / when one fails - Yup

Remote alert if a drive fails - Yup

Reliability - So far so good!

 

A lot of people also like QNAP products which are similar, (possibly better), but a touch more expensive..

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I'll take a look at that one we've probably got up to 20 users likely to be using it. And some of the data is *extremely* vital so I really need to know it's not going to fall over without warning.

 

Cost isn't excessively prohibitive if it means the quality and reliability is improved, but without going too.

 

Thanks for that one.

 

Is there much different between the 'home' NAS setups and the ones marketed more specifically for Business usage?

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I'll take a look at that one we've probably got up to 20 users likely to be using it. And some of the data is *extremely* vital so I really need to know it's not going to fall over without warning.

 

Cost isn't excessively prohibitive if it means the quality and reliability is improved, but without going too.

 

Thanks for that one.

 

Is there much different between the 'home' NAS setups and the ones marketed more specifically for Business usage?

The business ones usually have a better CPU / More RAM.... with the QNAP we have at work i have not seen much memory usage but if you are going to use windows file sharing the CPU does play a large factor.

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I feel the best (cheapest) way to get this resolved in the short term is a large NAS drive, then work out how to setup personal folders and get people to work off the shared drive like so.

But that won't be providing a backup dude, no matter how many drives you have and what sort of raid setup you use. You must backup to external media which stored off site and you must have multiple backups in case one backup media fails.

Depending on data size and net connection I would also be looking at some sort of online backup storage like Carbonite, CrashPlan or even Google Drive.

 

Oh and BTW as you have two servers (assuming one is running windows server 2003 or better) set up group policies on it so all users folders are redirected to folders on one of the servers. Then no need for fiddling around with a NAS. Then you can set up backups on the server to back up users data and the financial stuff to an external HDD, tape drive or whatever removable media suits best.

Edited by aliali

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what kind of budget is "on a budget"

 

 

Looked at the possibility of a HP microserver? whilst I wouldn't normally recommend them for anything business related if its minimal it should be more then ample. I was at a data center last week and I spotted 4 of them in random racks.

 

http://www.shoppingexpress.com.au/buy/hp-p...-371/658553-371

 

If not what about thecus gear? http://www.thecus.com/

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You mention "And some of the data is *extremely* vital." your budget should therefore reflect the cost it would cost you to recover this data.

 

Is it worth looking at offsite backup options, if the data is critical to your business. There are some online backup solutions available, but at worst offsite tape works well.

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Thanks for the responses everyone.

 

The data is quite vital, and the main limiter is that it is an older organisation at this point so they have little in the way of anything set up to allow things o be backed up.

 

My first idea is to try to pull user data away from individual pc's, and that was where I was thinking NAS could be an option. Once it's centralised I can then backup a single location.

 

None of the servers are Windows server, nor are they a file server in that sense.

 

I'm quite happy to have a go at setting up Windows Server 2008 and using that to centralise the data and backup from there. The question is, given I've never worked with Windows Server;

 

How hard is it to set up the kind of system where PC's basically login as a client to the server?

Is this easy to implement with an existing network setup where the PC's are predominantly running Windows XP?

How does this effect access to shared data or files when someone uses a laptop?

 

A NAS device still seems worthwhile to me as a backup medium, given I can use it as an onsite daily backup location for a Windows Server box, but also work that in with removable USB drives on a weekly basis to keep a backup else?

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Sounds like you need someone in your company to run a (small) IT department(of one) who has some experience.

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Not really, we don't really have a whole lot that needs doing day to day, it's just keeping things running if they screw up - or are the moment, pre-empting things screwing up and not having to worry.

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Get a NAS, get 2 USB drives.

Put everything on the NAS, then weekly/fortnightly/monthly/whatever copy the important stuff onto the USB drives and store them off site at different sites.

 

If you aren't running Windows Server then I probably wouldn't bother, it's a cost and hassle you don't want to screw around with.

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Thanks for the responses everyone.

 

The data is quite vital, and the main limiter is that it is an older organisation at this point so they have little in the way of anything set up to allow things o be backed up.

 

My first idea is to try to pull user data away from individual pc's, and that was where I was thinking NAS could be an option. Once it's centralised I can then backup a single location.

Christ no. Get some sort of backup solution running, even if temporarily, before even thinking about playing around with data files and folders and their locations.

And verify the bloody things too. No goo starting changing things, something gets "lost" and you have no backup or the backup is corrupt

 

None of the servers are Windows server, nor are they a file server in that sense.

Then what the fuck are they serving?

 

I'm quite happy to have a go at setting up Windows Server 2008 and using that to centralise the data and backup from there. The question is, given I've never worked with Windows Server;

 

How hard is it to set up the kind of system where PC's basically login as a client to the server?

Is this easy to implement with an existing network setup where the PC's are predominantly running Windows XP?

How does this effect access to shared data or files when someone uses a laptop?

The basics are not too hard, but it can quickly escalate to something very complicated, especially when you start playing around with groups and permissions and such.

And yes XP is fine so long as it is XP pro, not XP home, the home versions of XP, Vista and 7 cannot join a domain or have group policies implemented on them.

Best bet is to grab an old PC and install a windows server os, set up a small network between it and a desktop PC and start playing around to see what happens.

With group policies and the like you can control access permissions etc on the client PCs, so stopping normal users from doing stupid things like installing their favourite unapproved application.

 

 

 

A NAS device still seems worthwhile to me as a backup medium, given I can use it as an onsite daily backup location for a Windows Server box, but also work that in with removable USB drives on a weekly basis to keep a backup else?

Suppose if you can configure the backups to back up to the NAS on a regular basis this would be ok, especially if you can hotswap in and out hard drives so you can rotate backups.

Or manually copy the backups to a USB drive.

We use three USB drives and rotate them so we have backups going back three weeks. One drive is always off site and is rotated back on site during the three week schedule.

 

I would still be looking at some sort of online backup for the critical data if it is not too big. Belt and Braces is a good idea when it comes to essential data.

Main reason I suggest the latter is it can be fully automated via the backup providers software, so it just works, so long as you have an internet connection.

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Don't forget the (mystical) cloud option, if your dataset isn't huge and you have a decent net feed you can send it that way.

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from one business owner to another:

 

1. XP Pro

2. A couple of USB External Hard drives

3. ?????

4. Profit

 

Our 'server' like yours isn't a 'server' in that sense - it's just a core i5 baby with all our major flies get accessed from (quickbooks, biscount, price files, part number index's etc). i use the xp pro backup software. easy as too set up, time/frequency/folders(or drives) and done!

plug in the next drive the next day and repeat. that same backup is also done on a diff partition on the server AND the server runs raid 1 for those 'oh fuck' moments

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Wow, lots of replies haha.

 

Alright, we have a firewall box, and a backend box both running Linux managed by a company in Sydney. That server provides program data to all PC's on the network through a terminal login.

 

The other 'server' box is running a GPS software.

 

These are locked in a separate room and need an updating, but that is less time crucial than this aspect of the problem.

 

My first problem is solving having a backup, and a NAS drive seems to be a handy and inexpensive way of achieving this given I already have 3 x 1TB drives lying around that should be plenty of capacity.

 

Then I'd like to look at something more universal, so I've been playing around with Windows Server 2008 R2 today and the Active Directory stuff seems like it could be a good type of thing to keep all files running off the one server. That then means I can run a daily / weekly backup schedule of the server to cover all the files.

 

So I suppose at this point it's looking like the following process:

#1. Go around to the various PC's and copy to a USB Drive.

#2. Put in an NAS and copy to that as well. - NAS can be backed up to another USB Drive.

 

That gives me 2 copies of data, 1 on-site that people can update (or I'll do for them) and a second I can take off-site when it's not needed.

 

#3. Creation of a shared server environment so there's a central fileserver for all the computers in the office to access. This can then be backed up from a central location to cover all files.

 

#4. Automated backup of the Server to N.A.S, Internal Drive, and USB Drive. - This gives me 3 copies, 1 off-site and 2 extra in the office.

 

#5. Organise cloud storage of some kind - I'm partial to Google Apps, so the upcoming Google Drive appeals, but i'm open to any suggestions.

 

How does all that sound?

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If you know nothing about AD then there is no point even getting into it and messing with things you don't you may not understand which could over complicate things or cause an issue. To be honest you could get something from http://www.synology.com/ or http://www.thecus.com/ which caters to the SMB setup a few accounts that have access to certain directory's and have a happy setup.

 

The big questions are:

 

What type of data are you storing? Is it sensitive? Do you require different security permissions on different folders?

 

How much data?

 

Backing up data?

 

What do you have to spend in $$ so (A) we can point you to what you want or (B) send you to someone that can help.

 

and please for the love of god don't use drives you've got "laying around" it means disaster.

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Oh they're 3 brand new 1TB Seagate drives, not old hardware - I wouldn't use old worn out drives in this case. It was a freighting mess up so we ended up with 3 drives we didn't really want, but had to pay for.

 

Data varies from bookkeeping backups which we want for archiving, to emails, to program data, invoices, sales documents, forms etc...

 

I don't have a price point as such, $10,000's is probably too high at this point, but for a more long term solution - which is what say the AD stuff would be - there could be provision for such a thing.

 

The idea is that what I want to start putting in place now is a solution that not only solves the immediate issues of backups, but then starts to centralise data and makes any one single PC redundant. The user logs in to another PC and continues on with their work.

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Oh they're 3 brand new 1TB Seagate drives, not old hardware - I wouldn't use old worn out drives in this case. It was a freighting mess up so we ended up with 3 drives we didn't really want, but had to pay for.

 

Data varies from bookkeeping backups which we want for archiving, to emails, to program data, invoices, sales documents, forms etc...

 

I don't have a price point as such, $10,000's is probably too high at this point, but for a more long term solution - which is what say the AD stuff would be - there could be provision for such a thing.

 

The idea is that what I want to start putting in place now is a solution that not only solves the immediate issues of backups, but then starts to centralise data and makes any one single PC redundant. The user logs in to another PC and continues on with their work.

Sounds like you should pay someone to do it and get it setup correctly then. You dont want to be stuck support the office when you could be doing your original role.

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We use A Synology NAS and Acronic True Image. The data you want is automatically backed up to a schedule in a single compressed archive. You can easily then pick up the data off the NAS for offsite storage instead of messing about with individual files. Use a rotation method like this for example with your backups: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Backup_rotation_scheme

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