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What is the best way to backup a small network (about 40 workstations) all running windows xp pro ? The machines are spread out over 2 large buildings so it would be nice to have a solution that could be maintained remotely.

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What are you using for your central storage backup solution? –  squillman Apr 30 '09 at 20:48
    
Central storage is just a small windows server with shared folders that gets backed up onto portable hard drives that are taken off site. It doesn't have the capacity to hold backup images of all 40 machines though –  Element Apr 30 '09 at 21:08

6 Answers 6

Backing up 40 workstations can be tiring work and doing it can cause unnecessary costs and time spent on it.

What i would recommend is that you attempt to keep all important data on the server only, the only data that would be left on each desktop would be some documents that people saved in the wrong place (Their problem not yours) or their itunes library of 10gb that someone brought in to listen to.

If you can archive that then you wont need to go through the stress of setting up and maintaining 40 backups every day.

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I have had a lot of luck using a product called Crash Plan Pro (I cant post a hyperlink yet, but search Google on Crash Plan Pro). The product has a client that is installed on each machine and allows the users to select files for backup and then restore themselves.

The product isnt cheap (~75/client), but the server software to manage the backups is free and can be run on commodity hardware. You can backup to a local and a remote location preventing the need to do tape backup. If you get really adventuresome, You can even run it on Solaris with a large RaidZ instance for large amounts of backup.

It would have no problem backing up 40 machines and once you completed the initial backup, I dont think you would have an issue sending it over the wire, assuming a reasonable connection speed. you would be surprised how little data is actually generated by the average user each day.

One tip, at the server level you can block the backup of music and video files, this is a nice feature as it prevents users from backing up there whole collection of ITunes music that they brought from home.

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My recommendation is either

1: Get a file server, and get users to store their files there. Then backup this machine.

or

2: Setup a Linux box, with decent Hardware raid, or an OpenSolaris machine with ZFS, then install bacula [www.bacula.org], and put the client on the remote machines. Then they will all be backed up over the network nightly.

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Don't try to backup everything ... just mount a shared drive and have them use it for document storage. Then keep a reliable system image. This has the added benefit of letting your users move from workstation to workstation.

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I am currently looking into solving a similar problem.

A few years back we used Veritas Backup Exec 9 for our client machine backups, but decided to go the route of asking clients to store their data on the file servers and not their machines. As can be seen from the previous answers to this question this seems to be a popular choice.

After using this setup for a couple of years we have decided to go back to client machine backups. We are currently looking for a product that offers continuous protection as I've found these types of backups to be easier to manage as any problems are found quickly. There are obvious bandwidth issues to consider, but in our situation this is not a problem.

The reason I believe backups are more effective than requesting users to store their data on the file servers is that I have found users invariably find a way to store some important data on their local machine.

There are many backup applications out there and my advice would be to pick one that matches your budget, I am currently looking at the products on barracudaware.com. I personally would advise against not backing up client machines.

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Get 4 Windows Home Servers

Each one can be configured to backup up to 10 machines.

http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/winfamily/windowshomeserver/default.mspx

Nothing will be cheaper than running 4 of these.

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I agree with 4 Windows Home Servers. For offsite backup of important documents and data you might also want to set up JungleDisk Workgroup Edition and give each user a J: drive in the sky. –  jacobsee Apr 30 '09 at 21:13
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4 machines for 40 computers? i would say that a little overkill –  Shard May 28 '09 at 7:25
    
that's 'cos its Windows. Get a single Linux box and put Bacula on it, or just run Acronis on each client and have it save to the linux server. Or run BackupPC or rsync, or run... there's lots of these solutions. –  gbjbaanb Jan 21 '12 at 15:54

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