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I've got about 300GB of pictures and marketing data that is rarely accessed and I'd like to get it off my main storage.

I was thinking to simply add two external USB HDDs to the server and move all the files to one of the drives. The second drive would be the backup destination for the first drive.

I'm working with Server 2003 R2 SP2.

This will help me free a good amount of space on my main storage as well as reduce the complexity, backup window, and usage of my backups to tape.

Edit: Other than your general thoughts on this idea, here are some specific questions:

  1. Can I backup to a USB drive in 2003 R2?
  2. Can I create a network share on a USB drive in 2003 R2?
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Do you have a question regarding this? – MattB May 10 '10 at 19:09
I probably should have repeated it at the end of the post but it was in the title: "Your thoughts?" – idon'twearsuits May 10 '10 at 19:16
It's in the title - "Your thoughts?" – mfinni May 10 '10 at 19:22

Take this with a grain of salt, because I work for Iron Mountain (although not the division that sells or supports these products and services.)

If you support a company, you shouldn't do this.

  1. What if someone writes or deletes a file? What if they do one thing on one drive and another on the other drive?
  2. What if the controller goes bad or you get an electrical problem? Now you have two copies of corrupted data.
  3. What if the whole room goes up in flames? Will you still have a tape with the data?

If you really rarely access the data, and will know when you need it again, throw it on a tape and get it offsite, like you do (or should) with your other tapes. You need it, order it returned.

If you know that you rarely access it, but when it's needed, it's needed NOW, we have a product called VFS that lets you seamlessly migrate unused files to our storage and off your disks, but it still appears where it did before. That gets you the reduction in currently-used disk space (and thus reduction in backup window and used tape capacity), plus security for your data. Like I said, grain of salt, but it may fit your needs well.

Alternatively, you could set up a second cheaper server, with slow/cheap/non-redundant disk for cost savings. Put your old files there, and use DFS to present a unified file tree, and only back up the second server monthly (or whatever fits your business needs.)

Or you could just archive this junk to a bunch of DVDs, 2-3 copies each. Give one copy to the user(s), and put the rest somewhere secure, maybe on-site and off-site.

If this is just for you, most of this stuff still applies, but the cost/benefit can be significantly different. If it's just you, I'd lean towards archival DVDs.

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I think I royally screwed up this post because I failed to state that this data will still be included in tape backups but they will be much less frequent. One full backup per month with one diff per week. That could even be reduced to one full backup per two months or more. – idon'twearsuits May 10 '10 at 19:41

yes you can plug usb drives and yes - you can share them.

one thought - dont put all the eggs in one basket - make copies. i use 'poor man's' tiered storage where i move all files older than 180 days to another server with 'cheaper' storage and less frequent backups:

robocopy "C:\public\" "\\otherServer\public" /MOV /E /XF n_* /XF *.gkmulti /XD n_* /MINAGE:180 

[ files / directories starting with n_* prefix are not moved ]

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Backing up from one USB drive to another may be slow depending on your server's USB bus. Assuming you are too cheap to buy another server and use DFS as suggested above, I would just buy a USB drive enclosure that does RAID 1 (e.g. this) and put some slow, large, reliable disks in them.

This is assuming the data is offsited, and it's not a disaster if the USB drive enclosure dies and needs to be recreated from tape.

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You really need to consider whether or not you're even going to want to recover those files again. If you do then you really don't want to entrust it to something as unreliable as hard drive, especially consumer grade drives. You should use a medium designed for the job instead. The current push seems to be toward gold "archive" DVDs, although in my opinion they won't be proven one way or the other for at least a decade. The other, and my personal preference, is good tapes. That of course means modern tapes with full redundancy and error detection/correction, not some old crappy DAT system.

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