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Backup solution for small business

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Hi All,


Just looking for a bit of help on figuring out the best backup strategy for this mess... Here's what I've got:


  • Two PC's running Windows 7
  • One server running Windows Server 2008
  • One QNAP NAS

I'm just trying to find the easiest (preferably automated solution) to make incremental daily backups, and maybe weekly images (to be back up and running ASAP if a serious disaster strikes). The NAS does not really have work-related stuff, but would be nice to include it in the backup solution.


There is RAID etc. in place at the moment, but we want to have offsite backups, you know, just in case the joint burns to the ground!


The ideas we've been throwing around so far include having a backup kept in a car (offsite location #1), and maybe having a backup in the cloud - otherwise just having a 2nd physical location offsite.


The only easy way we can figure is to have an external HDD each for the PC's and Server. We could have Acronis doing automated backups on the PCs, not sure about the server though... Is the included backup function in Server 2008 reliable? Apparently it's not to be trusted? Tips on an automated image backup solution for Server 2008 would be appreciated.


Having a brief search around it looks like CrashPlan is a pretty good option? It can do scheduled local backups, as well as providing secure cloud storage. Does anyone have experience or thoughts about CrashPlan? Going that way I think daily cloud backups would be the go, with weekly images to external HDD.


Cheers for any info on this. If there is another way that you would go about doing this, I'd love to hear!

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I use Macrium Reflect professional edition and it seems to do the job for me. I have a couple of schedules set up to back up to my files. A weekly disk image goes to another HDD in the PC and a twice weekly file backup goes to my file server. Super critical stuff like my accounting software files are also backed up to Dropbox and copied to a flash drive that lives off site (well 3 drives actually rotated weekly).

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The first thing to consider is what is actually really important that needs to be backed up offsite as opposed to what is being backed up to make things easier to restore in the event of hardware failure.


You may find that taking images and snapshots of your PCs using something like Acronis is really handy to get you back up and running in the event of a hard drive failure, but not essential if the place burns down as you would most likely be replacing the hardware anyway.


I'd be inclined to use your Windows server as your primary storage location. Use AD to ensure that the workstations my documents folder is being synchronised there too.


Crashplan is a great cloud backup solution and by targeting important data, as well as perhaps some specific server related backups (AD for instance), you could then repurpose the NAS to handle image based backups (Acronis).


The NAS should be able to handle backup to USB hard drive which could be rotated between say two or three where there is only one on-site with the rest offsite. You could go with a Desktop style drive of the same make and model meaning you don't have to swap out the AC Adaptor each time.


Your backup plan would then be:


All essential data stored and accessed via Windows 2008 -> backed up nightly to Crashplan as well as image backup to NAS

Workstations imaged to NAS with folder redirects of My Documents (and desktop if that's important) to Windows 2008

NAS backs itself up to external USB storage which is alternated every week or sooner so there is a copy offsite.


This way, so long as it's actually done, your DR plan in the event of fire/ theft/ act of god is that you can restore systems to their previous state to the last backup of the NAS and the essential data can be restored to the last night's backup.


Crashplan also has some other nice restore options too which would be worth investigating. While the accounts are generally all you can eat and pretty inexpensive, the fact that our broadband here is so expensive and our upload speeds generally suck, doing a complete backup there is generally out of the question hence the targeting of essential data.


If this is one of your clients, you could also look at re-billing the Crashplan service under your own account which means you will get dashboard and alerts to the backup being completed successfully. Make a small margin on it for the fact that you will be keeping an eye on it and actioning problems if they arise.

Edited by The Tick

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And which ever solution you chose (The Ticks sounds good) make sure to document it!


If it's not documented it doesn't exist, especially if the person who has to recover the data isn't you. ;)

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I can vouch for Crashplan being awesome, having used it for two and a half years. The pricing isn't matched (you can't really beat no-strings-attached unlimited) and as you said it's neat how it handles both offsite and local backups.


It also has limited 'Dropbox' functionality in that you can download any files you've backed up from the web interface.


The ability to store multiple versions/histories of files is great too. You can set frequency and quantity. e.g. 'keep a snapshot of changed files every 12 hours for files that are 1 year old or less' or 'keep a snapshot of changed files every 5 minutes for files that are 2 weeks old or less'

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How I see backups


They are not backups they are disaster recovery.


1. What if the hardware dies. hard disk futs out? Can you recover and get the business back running ? How quickly?


2. How much data can you afford to lose, 2 hours, a days work, a weeks work.... (incremental backup frequency)


3. Do you need to access a file from 2 weeks ago someone removed? (retention)


4. If the server and NAS get stolen or lost in a fire. do you have an offsite backup to recover from? (We had a clients site get burgled they took all machines and external drives)


In New Zealand, our watershed was the Christchurch earthquakes, flattened workplaces destroying all servers and pc's, NAS etc at the site

If an offsite backup was unaffected they could get a replacement server and pc's - restored to get the business back up and running in a temp location / hardware.


P.S. Big fan of ShadowProtect and it has local support.

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The question is - what are you running on your server?


If it's email, there are ways to journal and replicate all email to any other email server anywhere in the world, in either real time or close to real time.

If it's files, as above, you can replicate with Windows' built-in DFSR.


Backups are great, but they're deadset useless if you've got nothing to restore them to.

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