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We just got two new servers, that are running Windows Server 2008. The intent is to make the machines pretty much identical, copying the content of the master to the slave on a nightly basis, so that if anything fails, the second copy can stand in immediately. It doesn't need to be up-to-the-minute mirroring, though I suppose that wouldn't hurt if performance is not affected.

The two machines will, amongst other things, each be running an instance of SQL Server 2008. The aim is to duplicate the databases on the master down to the slave on a nightly basis. Unless I'm misunderstanding, the slave databases in mirrored databases require the primary to be present to work correctly; I'm hoping for some solution where we have a second machine that can be up and running with minimal downtime if the first one falls over.

Am I misunderstanding mirroring? Is that the best way to do things, or should I use some other mechanism? If so, what?

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

With the specification you presented, the easiest way to do this would be with a SAN / NAS snapshot every night.

If your requirements are having the second DB more current than once a night, Mark C's answer would be more appropriate.

There is also the possibility of log shipping, and having the second machine in a state of constantly rolling forward as the logs arrive, which is somewhere in between.

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I think you're looking for "replication" and there's really no reason that your replication couldn't be very close to live without having a major impact on performance.

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You can make an Image of you server, using special soft. For example - Acronis True Image

  • Advanced backup scheduling
  • Live disk snapshots with support for databases and server applications
  • Recover an entire system, single file or folder
  • Advanced encryption technology ensures data security
  • Optimized, image-based backup technology maximizes backup performance
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