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I support an environment for a non-profit that is a single SBS 2003 server running Exchange and Sharepoint. They are in need of a decent backup solution that I would prefer incorporate online backups, possibly with local copies as well using a removable USB drive.

Are there any good backup solutions at free to minimal cost (I'll accept the cost of online storage as a given, S3, etc.) that will support SBS 2003, specifically Exchange mailboxes and the Sharepoint data?

Key features would include minimizing the data sent to the online service (block level changes, not entire files) as well as possible item level restores of information from mailboxes or sharepoint to facilitate easier recover of specific items if needed.

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This isn't an answer, so I'm putting it in the comments. If your customer has 10 mailboxes of 500 MB each, it will take more than 7 hours to download the Exchange mailbox DB over a T-1 connection. That's before you know whether you can even restore the DB. Also, you're likely to slow their Internet connection to a crawl by constantly saturating the upstream bandwidth. For the amount of data a small company likely has, I would use some other form of off-site backup as a primary and use online as an absolute last resort. If they have a 10 Mbit symmetric connection, you'll probably be OK. –  Carl Campos Jul 20 '09 at 22:30

6 Answers 6

Internet backup is one of those things that seems a great idea until you try and use it. That's the point where you realise just how slow ADSL upload speed is. We do use Internet backups, but they regularly stop because someone copies or moves 10GB of data and it takes a week for the Internet backup to catch up. If at all possible I would use backup tapes and take them off site. If tyou really, really must use Internet backup here are some of my findings.

We normally roll our own Internet backups using rsync (see http://www.ratsauce.co.uk/notablog/UsingRsync.asp for some general comments). You can easily rsync to a server (or just a PC) at the MDs house through his ADSL line because the bottleneck is the upload speed at the office. The MD won't even notice the traffic on his home Internet connection.

To rsync Exchange use vshadow to create a shadow copy of the disk and rsync the Exchange store from the shadow copy. Alternatively use NTBackup to backup Exchange to a bkf file and rsync the bkf file. I'd use the former because it's simpler.

To rsync Sharepoint use an osql command to backup the SQL database to disk and rsync the backup file.

As I mentioned, we do all of the above and it works just fine. BUT you will occasionally run into problems when there is a large data change on the server and you will have to manually refresh the remote copy e.g. with a USB disk.

If you still want to go ahead I have loads of scripts that you're welcome to use if you think they'll help.

There are loads of commercial Internet backup companies, but at the end of the day they all suffer from the restricted upload speed. I'd also question the need to pay for Internet backup when everyone has a broadband line that you can use.

JR

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This question has been asked and answered several times in various formats. Take a look here for example:

http://serverfault.com/questions/22064/how-do-you-do-the-offsite-hard-drive-backups

and here:

http://serverfault.com/questions/25581/setting-up-a-new-backup-scheme


Asking how to do your backup plan is kinda like asking 10 grandmothers how to make the best chicken noodle soup. You'll get 10 different answers but all of them will agree on the basic ingredients.

In my opinion, Backup & Recovery does a pretty good job of talking about the strengths and weaknesses of different options you may (or may not) choose to implement.

I would highly recommend the book "Backup & Recovery" (O'Reilly Book) by W. Curtis Preston

http://oreilly.com/catalog/9780596102463

So, that's where I'd start first.


Depending on how much you need to back up I would recommend the following:

  1. JungleDisk / Amazon S3 - Works VERY well.

  2. RSYNC to a remote machine also works very well. CRON job every XX hours.

  3. Rdiff-Backup is another very good package for making backups and also keeping a differential.

SOME of what I've suggested won't necessarily be the best solution for your Windows platform but its probably all worth taking a look at so you can get a better idea of what is out there and what you're looking for.


We back up almost a TB of data to Amazon's S3 cloud and have a "warm standby" at our colo backing up from the master several times a day (via rsync). The cost for transfer/storage on Amazon S3 is extremely cheap. (ie. cheaper than burning to a DVD but not cheaper than backing up to HDD. I know some folks who simply plug in a 1TB UDB "My Book" or something into the server and back it up weekly/monthly. Depending on your needs one or two of those might be the cheapest solution for you.

Now that's just talking about DATA backups. Several comments below talk about backing up the server itself...

Depending on your needs, Norton Ghost or even Acronis (http://www.acronis.com) might be of help to you. Things like Norton Ghost tend to rely on your ability to be able to actually turn OFF the computer to make the backup. Some of us don't have that luxury but if YOU do then Norton Ghost is a VERY good product.

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Thanks for nearly quoting your answer to the other question, but it does not address my question regarding online backups specifically for SBS 2003, Exchange, and Sharepoint. I understand the concepts here, I'm looking for specific recommendations of products that are known to work with online backups and the features I pointed out. –  Kevin Kuphal Jul 17 '09 at 5:52
    
Kevin, not knowing exactly how much data we're talking about transferring here its difficult to give you the exact answer you're looking for. What works for us is backing up our data to a 2nd server at our colo and then synching up to Amazon S3 via JungleDisk. If you pay the extra $2/mo or something JungleDisk will allow you to do block level updates and upload resume. That takes care of anything on SBS. For Exchange and Sharepoint its almost the same. Back the data up to disk first (Exchange Backup and Database Dump) then use JungleDisk to back it up. That's just ONE of many methods. –  KPWINC Jul 17 '09 at 14:57
    
KPWINC - I'm interested in JungleDisk, but their FAQ says they have a 5GB limit on filesize. Is that correct? Many of my critical data objects (MSSQL backups, Exchange backups) would be larger than that. –  Brian Spolarich Jul 20 '09 at 20:47
    
Good point. Another site you could check out is crashplan.com - I have not tried them myself but know of others who have and liked it. I don't think there is a filesize limit (or rather its HUGE) on their service as the person I'm thinking up was backing up video files. –  KPWINC Jul 20 '09 at 22:26

There are companies that do just that sort of thing like digitiliti. Basically they have a small setup fee per server and let you backup to their site and you pay by the amount of data you store. They also do deduplication so you pay for less storage than your data probably takes up now. The nice thing about using something like this is that they already have the exchange/sharepoint issues sorted out including message level restore in Exchange, at very lowe cost compared to using something like NetBackup/BackupExec/ArcServ.

We're using them to solve one very specific backup need, but I know that another college here in the city is using them for all their server backups.

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There are companies that do just that sort of thing like digitiliti. Basically they have a small setup fee per server and let you backup to their site and you pay by the amount of data you store. They also do deduplication so you pay for less storage than your data probably takes up now. Local copies are also an option with systems like this. The nice thing about using something like this is that they already have the exchange/sharepoint issues sorted out including message level restore in Exchange, at very lowe cost compared to using something like NetBackup/BackupExec/ArcServ.

We're using them to solve one very specific backup need, but I know that another college here in the city is using them for all their server backups.

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I made good experience in using Acronis True Image Echo for SBS (compared to the standard server products you'll get it for a reasonable price, and its really worth the money) - for me its an ideal full backup solution. It's perfect in case your hard disk(s) fail or even if you need to recover your system on a newer / different hardware. I have proofed that this is working, Acronis provides boot media for restore, using BartPE Windows Boot disk and the Acronis backup plugin it is also possible to use storage controllers in your target machine you need a 3rd party floppy driver for.

Acronis backup images are easily browsable archives (from the machine where you have it installed) in case you need to recover single files or folders.

One thing about the Small Business Server Edition (SBS) might be misleading - while one might think Acronis will backup your Exchange information storage correctly, because Exchange is integral in SBS, Exchange is not reliably backed up with Acronis for SBS. Even Acronis support says that it depends whether you are lucky or not - but the VSS feature is definitely not enough for online backup. In two test drive recoveries, it worked one time for me, but failed to start the information storage service for the second.

So, as a workaround you either start/stop this service for the time the hard drive snapshot is taken, or (as someone was mentioning before) you use NTBACKUP to make a backup file for the message store and the Active Directory to the disc drive you plan to backup with Acronis.

Personally, I also like working with backup media you can take physically off-site instead of using online storage. Since light weight portable hard drives at low prices are available, it seems to be a good idea to use such disks compared to expensive tape solutions.

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I can tell you a good online backup that i am using for 1 year and i didn't encountered any problems with them until now. I am using http://www.dmailer.com/dmailer-backup.html , their software is free to use and a good other thing is that you can store your backups online on their servers . I think it could be a good backup solution for your SBS2003 . Give it a try and come with a reply.

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