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I am running a small network (5 clients) on a server running SBS2k3. I'd like to be able to set up a NAS in a remote location in order to schedule nightly, incremental backups on the server drives. I'd also like to run a full backup once a week. Can anyone recommend a good NAS drive that would help me accomplish this? One that comes with it's own software I can install on my server is a plus. NT backup just isn't robust enough to meet my needs.

I have been looking at both the Seagate Blackarmor series or the DROBO line of backups, what comments / experiences might you have had with either one of those lines?

Thanks,

Mike

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Can you explain how exactly NTBackup has let you down? –  Wesley Feb 23 '10 at 3:16
    
There doesn't appear to be a way to configure a backup over a remote fileshare, there isn't a straightforward way to add e-mail notifications for success/failure events, error messages received tend to be vague and misleading (e.g. - "Media failure, possible corrupt drive" to represent running out of space). I know how to schedule backups and run incremental/full/differential backups using NT backup, but all in all I tend to be underwhelmed. –  Mike C Feb 23 '10 at 3:23
    
Thanks for the clarification. Have you tried mapping the network share to a lettered drive on the SBS 2003 machine? That will probably work. I think that limitation might be imposed by SBS 2003 rather than NTBackup itself. Yes, NTBackup, while okay in a bare-bones operation, does leave a few things to be desired. –  Wesley Feb 23 '10 at 3:27

6 Answers 6

up vote 1 down vote accepted

Have a look at BackupExec Small Business Server. It has agents for SQL Server, Exchange, SharePoint and Active directory built in. No need to purchase more agents like the full BackupExec. You can also get client licenses and backup your office PCs.

As for a backup target, I looked into the drobo and wasn't terribly impressed. I don't know if I'd trust it's implementation of RAID since it seems to be a bit mutated. IMO, the most comfortable NAS solution would be one built on more standardized parts. I would suggest building your own NAS machine using 1TB Western Digital Green hard drives (10^15 URE rating! WOOT!), a decent-but-not-outlandish SATA RAID controller and OpenFiler. Toss all those vital bits into a decent case with a motherboard and power supply and you've got yourself a great NAS box. You could probably do it for the same price as a DROBO or ReadyNAS NV+ and you'd have more flexibility (iSCSI targets if you want to do that too) and have better visibility into just what the thing is doing with your data.

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I'm with @electronherder on this one. I've heard nothing but bad comments about DROBO storage. Especially for network connectivity.

I'd recommend the ReadyNAS 1100 or 3200 from Netgear (although it's very much Netgear Business, not retail!)

I'm not sure I'd recommend building one's own NAS. Sure it's a fun project for a home media server, but it's a pain when it goes wrong and you just want 24h business support.

That said, depending on your budget, you might want to look at one of Dell's NX300. I can't say a bad word about their support. Especially their on-site replacement services.

+1 for using a package like BackupExec also.

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Very true about just wanting 24h support. I rarely suggest that anyone roll their own hardware in a business environment, but had some intuition that it might be more appropriate in this scenario. LaCie also makes rackmount NAS devices. No idea on their quality though. –  Wesley Feb 23 '10 at 13:55
    
I've used LaCie in 2 jobs in the past, and I wouldn't recommend them to anyone. We had some real issues with disk failure, we were using them for backup, and had about 40% failure rate. Might've been a dodgy batch, but i've been put off LaCie ever since! –  Tom O'Connor Feb 23 '10 at 18:19

I have used Drobos in the past for backup, and am moving away from that solution. Drobos usually support USB or iSCSI connectivity rather than being a true NAS. Drobo did sell a device that would support GigE hosting two of the original Drobos, but it was never very easy to administer or monitor. That said, I have not used any of the newer iSCSI Drobos.

I am with @Nonapeptide that it might make sense to build your own NAS - that is probably the way I will head in the next few months as we run low on storage.

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I have a few customers with your setup (SBS2k3 + 5 PCs). Mostly I use Acronis Backup & Recovery 10 Advanced Server SBS Edition. It serves my needs (scripting before and after backup and mail-notification).

For storage I always use a Iomega StorCenter device. I also have mail-notification if something goes wrong (defective drive, running out of free space) and the devices are very easy to configure.

The other option would be a Qnap-NAS. I've heard from a friend of mine who is using some devices and he seemed happy about this devices.

In no case I would build my own NAS. The price for cheap hardware is nothing against the costs setting it up (thinking about your time is not free).

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I've used a Thecus N5500 (up to 5TB) for networked backups. Server 2008 backup works fine to it, but you could use something like BackupExec or Cobian. I've got it storing vmdk backups, so that's using ghettovcb over NFS - but it also has ftp/samba/etc.

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I have a 3rd Generation Drobo-S fitted with 5x 2TB Western Digital Green, currently configured with dual failover and providing 6x 1TB virtual volumes.

It's connected via an eSATA cable that's rated at 600Mb/s, to a Dell PowerEdge R210.

The R210 is connected to another PowerEdge & exports the Drobo volumes as NFS shares over a 20Gb SAN.

What I've found is that no matter how much effort or time I spend in attempting to resolve throughput issues to those volumes, there's no hope to be able write to the Drobo at >60 MB/s.

Sometimes it'll burst up to 250, but for the most part it's dog slow, usually between 10-20 MB/s.

As such, I cannot use it for much more than archiving backups- not for housing Virtual Machine images as was originally intended.

Another thing I noticed is that when changing the filetype of the backups, it'll grind to a crawl, causing I/O delays that are usually steady at zero to skyrocket up to over 15%, until the previously used filetypes are stale & deleted.

For example, I have vzdumps that can be compressed or not. If I toggle it, the backups take more than twice as long until the older ones are replaced and all are the new format.

When I asked Data Robotics support about the possibility of their sparse provisioning mechanism remaining functional with the ext3 journal offloaded to a SSD, they dismissed the question entirely as soon as they heard 'linux'.

Basically they told me to F off, citing that the linux dashboard application is unofficial, despite the fact that it's completely unnecessary & has never been used on this device.

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