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Long intro:

I'm just getting into being a server admin of a small business server. I'm trying to get a grip on what is needed for robust backup approaches. Problem is, there's a bazillion articles & tools & recommendations for all the involved aspects and different scenario's. After lots (several nights) of research I'm more and more convinced I will not get everything right the first time simply because there will be things that I overlook.


Is there a guide / resource that is specifically meant for compiling a set of recommendations and points of attention for your scenario for the sake of keeping a birds-eye view on implementing a proper backup plan?

It should be:

  • Actual: taking into account modern approaches, media and scenario's for backing up.
  • Complete: in that it at least attempts to cover the entire list of what is required and important.
  • Comprehensive: so that it could potentially be used like a check-list to learn more about the details of achieving this from different resources.
  • Reasonably authoritative: having had some scrutiny that I can assume it's a fairly good starting point.


  1. Backuping should be tailored to your situation. Lots of things should be kept in mind.
  2. Research takes a long time to get started because it's buried in all the possible different approaches.
  3. Is there such a thing as a guide to compile your backup needs comprehensively?
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migrated from Mar 20 '13 at 21:56

This question came from our site for information security professionals.

This may be a better fit over on Server Fault; it's more about DR than attack prevention. – KeithS Mar 20 '13 at 20:48
I figured not, because the only reason to have a list of this is to make sure you're doing it securely. If all you need is to HAVE a backup plan at all then and a search for Rsync will be enough. It's not safe... rolling your own hacked together shell script and a cronjob but it gets you going. – Beanow Mar 20 '13 at 20:56
@Beanow so you're specifically after backup strategies from a security considerations point of view (theft of backups, backing up crypto keys, etc)? If so, you should definitely put that in the question, as that narrows down your requirements nicely and should net you some good answers. – user32616 Mar 20 '13 at 21:08
Stop what you're doing, go to Amazon and buy The Practice of System and Network Administration. – Michael Hampton Mar 20 '13 at 21:57
@MichaelHampton At first glance, that seems to be exactly what I'm looking for. I'll look into it. – Beanow Mar 20 '13 at 23:19

The only guidelines for setting up a backup plan are:

  1. Back up everything you need to restore a working system.
  2. You have no backup until you have successfully tested the restore process.

Your first backup plan will be wrong -- this is why item #2 above exists. Based on the results of your restore test you revise your backup plan and try again until you get a working system out the other end.

Everything else about backups will be dictated by your specific needs ("I need encrypted backups", "My backups have to go over the network to another location", "We need SQL Server and Exchange agents", "The backup system needs to support this autoloader that showed up in the office after falling off a truck", etc.) which will help you select specific software tools.

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Although true (as far as I can tell). That does not really address my question. I'm looking in particular for a list that attempts to piece all the specific needs together as well so you have a good view on what needs to be done. In theory, using this one should be able to search on how to do the encryption, how to do the remote backups, etc. – Beanow Mar 21 '13 at 8:40
@Beanow That list cannot be provided - you need to make it yourself. It is entirely 100% environment specific. For more information and "how-to" type guidance you can peruse the backup tag though. – voretaq7 Mar 21 '13 at 16:13
Yes and the question was: is there a resource to compile (meaning you do it yourself with a wizard or checklist) such a list based on your specific needs? Of course that is not impossible. It's a matter of streamlining information that's already out there. All that's needed is someone authoritative that invests the time to do just that. The (author of the) book recommended in the comments makes a good attempt at this. – Beanow Mar 22 '13 at 11:36

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