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I have 25 computers in a business office that right now are being backed up locally to a server. I want to also back these systems up to a remote server. Is their an ideal way to do this? My biggest worry and concern is that we could be looking at GBs being uploaded and we know that could be slow, depending on the internet connection.

Anyway, can I achieve such a backup solution with Windows built in backup system or do I need a special application? This will be all FTP based as the offsite server will more than likey be Linux that runs an FTP service.

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migrated from Jul 19 '12 at 0:36

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Version of server? – imtheman Jul 5 '12 at 21:24
Windows 2003. However, the offsite server will more then likey be Linux that runs an FTP service. – Rachel Nark Jul 5 '12 at 21:41
Take a look at Crashplan. It is extremely efficient for both bandwidth and storage usage. The pricing isn't too bad either. – Zoredache Jul 6 '12 at 0:12
You can backup from one Crashplan computer to another, for free. – SpacemanSpiff Jul 25 '12 at 0:16
What are you currently using to backup the client computers to the local server? Are you looking at the offsite backup as a disaster recovery option in addition to your existing local server based backup, or to replace it? How big are your current backups? – dunxd Jul 26 '12 at 10:23

You're severely limiting yourself if you limit your protocol options to FTP.

Ideally you only want to upload the "bits" that have changed since the last backup. The FTP protocol doesn't have functionality to do this natively, so you'd need some kind of software running in your office to identify the "changed bits" and send only those changes. You could certainly implement something like this, but I think you'll find that you're limited in the off-the-shelf solutions you can find.

You might consider looking at something that implements the rsync protocol, which allows for only the changed bits of files to be sent and builds this list of changed bits based on comparison of the local and remote copies of files.

Your remote Linux server could host an rsync server fairly easily. Most Linux distributions have a built-in package for an rsync server. Access to rsync should be performed over a secure transport mechanism like a VPN or an SSH tunnel.

On the Windows Server side you might have a look at one of the packages below.

Personally, I'd look at rdiff-backup because it allows you to easily maintain multiple generations of backups remotely (daily, weekly, monthly, etc).

All rsync implementations on Windows that I'm aware of handle NTFS permissions poorly. I use Helge Klein's wonderful setacl tool to dump the permissions of the files being backed up to a file within the backup set. In the event of a disaster setacl can be used to restore the permissions.

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If you aren't locked in to a Linux server at the remote end, I'd look into setting up DFS Replication. As Evan pointed out, you want something that will only replicate the changes to the files from your local backup. DFS Replication utilizes Remote Differential Compression, which will only replicate changes to the files (including any ACL changes). You would still need to secure the connection with some type of VPN. You would also need an Active Directory environment where both servers (local/ remote) are members.

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DFS isn't backup. A good DFS secondary system will only be a few seconds behind the primary. For Disaster Recovery, DFS rocks. But if your users delete 100 files and corrupt 100 more all those deletions and corruptions will be faithfully replicated seconds later. – Mark Jul 22 '12 at 16:02
You can easily configure a replication schedule to avoid such instances. – HostBits Jul 22 '12 at 17:20
You can use a knife to turn screws if you're real careful, but we still don't call it a screwdriver. OTOH, using DFS to drive the files to a remote location and then using a real backup at that end has its place. – Mark Jul 22 '12 at 18:28
You could also use VSS snapshots on the local server, and remote server, for point in time restores. And ya, you could use another backup solution to backup data at the remote site. But I have plent of remote sites data replicated to our data center through DFS with VSS snapshots and very rarely do I need to touch our tape backup system... – HostBits Jul 22 '12 at 20:22

You can use Win Backup, but put it on clever storage that is able of Copy-On-Write for snapshots. That will greatly reduce data you have to upload to remote server, cause only changed blocks are transferred.

As for a 'win clicker' I recommend you NexentaStor. You can make HQ storage of the old PC with 2 disks + NexentaStor software. All managed by web GUI. You can setup SAMBA share there or use it as iSCSI target for some Win backups managing server.

Off-site backups then requires setup of periodic snapshots and those ones can be send by SSH to remote NexentaStor which will recreate actual version of files. All can be clicked out on GUI. That way you'll get periodic mirror of backup files on remote site and only differentials send through network.

Another variant is FreeNAS. It can do almost the same. Both ZFS based.

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Depending on your budget, and what your other (non-server/client) backup needs are, it may be worth looking into the "enterprise" options of CrashPlan:

They do offer purely "cloud" backup, but they also allow you to have local appliances where your clients back up to. That includes have hardware that's in the regional offices that then syncs to a server in the corporate HQ.

In addition to the rsync/DIY solutions mentioned, this could be useful in case the suits want something more "proper".

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Just throwing this out there: How about rsync on Cygwin? Maybe setup a scheduled job to run off-business hours?

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The big problem with rsync-on-windows is that its NTFS support is rather lacking from a Windows-sysadmin point of view. If all you need are the files and none of the meta-data, then it's great. But if permissions matter, it's a poor tool for the job. – sysadmin1138 Jul 25 '12 at 12:58
@sysadmin1138: I just dump the ACLs with setacl and backup the dump file, too. It's a cheap hack. – Evan Anderson Jul 26 '12 at 1:05

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