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My company has an older Dell 2650 server running ArchLinux x64: (2 x 2.4GHz Intel Xeon w/around 3287 RAM according to "free -m")

We use it to host our internal company site and to post some information from our orders to and we'd like the ability to keep it up as much as possible.

What we require: - It needs to always be functional from 8am to 4pm for our data entry person to use it and others to do other things required on it. - If it goes down, we need a quick way to get the machine running again. - If it goes down, we would like to have the data backed up.

Some of the major problems include: - The servers old and it may have memory issues - We don't know when one of the hard drives could fail - Our power goes out here once in a while

We have a battery backup, but that's pretty much it and it's not for long term. If the server does go down, we have another system in place to store order information that comes in while it's down and repost it when it's back, but we need it up during the day.

So we're wondering, what should we get for options? These are the things we thought of, sort of:

  • Setup RAID 1, but that would involve wiping everything right? If we do that, how would we transfer the data over without messing up the server?
  • We could buy an extra server or 2 off eBay for $100, the same model, is that practical or should we get something else?
  • Should we buy a PC or another better server and host off that because it is if anything easier to exchange parts?
  • Should we keep extra parts handy incase it implodes?
  • Should we buy/use backup software? We hear drobo's are cool, but suck.

Perhaps there is a software solution to this problem that backs up to another machine or gets us up and running again quickly. Also, if we are to purchase hardware, what is decent? Does anybody know of one for ArchLinux/Linux? We both know a ton about computers but we're kind of unsure what step to take with this, especially with this type of server.


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up vote 1 down vote accepted

Yes - set up a software raid1. No you can do this without losing data.

Buy a second box for HA, buy a third box for spare parts.

The 2650 is a pretty robust server.

If you have got the service-tag, you can look up the original configuration on the Dell-web-page.

Why arch-linux? It would be much better to use something wich is supported by OMSA - so that piece of software can monitor your hardware and trigger actions on failures (like reboot).

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What you're looking for seems to be High Availability, not backup. If you can afford another server, that's your best bet.

Here's a step in the right direction should you go down that road:

As far as actual backups go, you should just be able to copy your /etc/apache, htdocs, database, etc to tape (or your preferred safe storage method).

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Why would you use tape in the days of disk? – George Reith Jun 12 '12 at 12:09
@GeorgeReith Whatever you use is fine, as long as it's physically disconnected from the local network and moved offsite after the backup is done. – Hyppy Jun 12 '12 at 13:08
Sure, I guess I'm just surprised people still use tape as a storage medium. – George Reith Jun 12 '12 at 13:25
@GeorgeReith It's situational, but you have to be aware of what you're doing. It's a Very Bad Idea™ to keep backups online and connected to your network, as any malicious actor could just erase/modify those while they bork up the rest of your network. – Hyppy Jun 12 '12 at 13:47

It depends on your budget. If you can afford a new server, I would buy a new one which comes with RAID controller and allows you install new hard drives on the go, and I would use the old one as the backup server. You can go with one of Dell servers.

AFAIK, installing an HDD with RAID controller may require you remove all your current data and install everything again. Whatever you do, I definitely recommend some sort of RAID cause hard drives are not reliable at all.

An easy backup solution is to set up another box that periodically connects to your server and gets a snapshot of all your data. You can easily find backup scripts online and customize them for your use. All you need is a script to compact all files in a tar.gz file and transfer it using scp or rsync commands together with a cron job to do this everyday. This way you can have your own backup server ready all the time and just switch them in case something happens to your main one.

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