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We recently added a new server to our system with a 6 TB RAID array for file storage of completed audio and video projects. We have traditionally been a Microsoft house, so I used Windows Server 2008 for the new machine. When I went to make my first backup, I attached a little 4TB GTech box to use for the backup as we were only using about 2.5 TB on the server array at this point in time. I was then going to take that offsite when the backup was complete.

At this point I discovered that the Microsoft backup had changed drastically in Server 2008. No longer can you select what files to backup, but instead you have to backup a full volume. When I read up on it, I decided this was OK as it is supposed to be faster and makes a mountable virtual drive file as the result. But then I discovered that because of limitations in Shadow copy, the new Microsoft software can only backup volumes of less than 2 TB !!! I even used an MSDN incident to confirm this with them.

I have tried to shy away from third party backup apps as I have always believed that basic backup functionality should be built into the OS, and Microsoft has been been traditionally good about providing backwards compatibility to restore backups made from years ago on a newer system. With third party tools you are always having to deal with renewal charges and version changes, and then if you decide to switch companies or the company folds, you have to worry about transitioning old backups, etc. And tools such as RSync can take days to complete a full backup or restore when you are talking about terrabytes of files.

So I wanted to know the commuinty's thoughts on a few options I am considering understanding that budget is definitely a concern:

A) Trying to move the data off the system and repartition. This is not ideal for the structure our data takes. In the world of audio and video, 2TB is a starting place. But it could be possible.

B) Switch the server to a Debian Server box, but I am unsure which tools should be used for backup in that environment, and whether I might run into similar problems.

C) Using a third party tool.

D) Other thoughts?

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3 Answers

i found out the hard way the exact same thing. for now to make the backup i am using another server on the domain with ntbackup to mount and backup the data for offsite redundancy. problem is that open files will get skipped and why shadow snapshot was a good idea.

we are currently going to explore symantec backup (i think they bought veritas?) anyways, i loved veritas back in 2005 so i would like to keep something that is similar. plus didn't veritas write ntbackup in conjunction with ms?

switching to linux flavour is not a bad idea but do you have the know how to admin it?

good luck.

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I would separate system and data. Backup system with Windows Backup solution, and copy data through a robocopy. You won't be able to store more than one backup shortly, and in some time you will have to buy a new externall storage to store one full backup.

Remind that this external storage should only be connected during the backup process and then been put as far as possible from the production data.

From a Linux, using built-in tools, i would do a cp / or tar gzipped / or a dd if equal places. It won't help on what you are looking for (not using third party software)

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B) Switch the server to a Debian Server box, but I am unsure which tools should be used for backup in that environment, and whether I might run into similar problems.

I recommend against it. If you are proficient in Windows doing a "quick hack" to switch over isn't a solution that will make your customers or you happy.

A debian backup solution would be to

  • create squashfs images (not too well tested)
  • use bacula (I consider it the best open source backup tool)

Baculas feature set is impressive, they have a native windows client support options if you need them for compliance and a couple of plugins to backup exchange/mysql(/oracle - not sure about that).

If you don't mind setting up a new backup infrastructure give bacula a try, I think it's worth the effort if done with the right mindset (yes it will cause work, it's not a fire & forget installation)

C) Using a third party tool. D) Other thoughts?

I don't do windows normally but I remember that I read something about the changed backup utils that microsoft provides and that there is a windows 2000 style backup tool somewhere available from microsoft. Maybe that is enough of a pointer to find the right thing

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I am not completely new to Linux, though I have many more years of Microsoft under my belt. Also I have recently hired a developer with considerable linux experience. Between the two of we now have added a couple of debian DNS servers, and switched our phone system to Asterisk. So Linux us making in-roads here and I am looking to learn more. –  AudioDan Jun 10 '09 at 13:35
    
The question is - If I invest the R&D time to setting up, learning, and transitioning this basic internal File server to Linux - will I run into similar backup problems/gotchas with partitions of that size under Linux. With a product like Bacula - how fast can it backup 3 to 4 Terrabytes of audio/video files to an extrenal drive array? How does it handle open files? Will this work as I thought the Microsoft solution would? –  AudioDan Jun 10 '09 at 13:37
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