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I wish to setup an automated backup system for three Windows XP machines in the same building to a Linux server out on the WAN. I visit each machine every few months and make a disk image for a bare metal recovery. I need a way to automatically backup user documents (including Outlook's mailbox file). This is for a small daycare/preschool and therefore needs to be a low budget project.

There will be no qualified sysadmin on site daily to deal with problems. The backup needs to run without user intervention and without fail.

The file recovery needs to either be accomplished remotely (i.e., they call me; I push the recovered file back to their system), or simple enough for a non-techie to operate.

As I see it the candidate systems are Amanda, Bacula and BackupPC. Reading the docs I see that BackupPC is probably out of the running because it does not do Volume Snapshot Services (VSS). What is your practical experience with these systems? Is there some other system that I should be considering?

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+1 for asking the about the clients for each option. I've used both Amanda and Bacula as server backups but never client. It would be interesting to hear from others for possible solutions. –  osij2is Aug 4 '09 at 15:42

3 Answers 3

up vote 8 down vote accepted

Bacula has a Windows client (that can be either desktop or server clients) that handles backups quite well. It utilizes VSS to create hot images of whatever you're looking to backup (works fine with Outlook AFAIK). You can set the desktop clients to use different ports than the default (9101 I think?) and port forward requests from their WAN router to each individual computer. Something with a VPN would be preferable, but not always possible.

Amanda and BackupPC use samba shares to backup - not exactly ideal, especially over WAN.

Additionally, Bacula has a bartpe plugin to do bare-metal recoveries, something that I haven't found for Amanda or BackupPC. The problem is that bare-metal recoveries are going to be tough (read: not impossible) to do remotely. I'm thinking your best bet with that is to have the clients boot to PXE where you recover the files to the client PC, or something similar. Either way, it'll be tough to set up.

Currently I use Bacula to backup 2 servers, 8 Windows clients, and 3 Linux clients, and it works very well. It has a number of front ends, with a python based graphical tool coming soon.

Recoveries are done to a server's local directory, then you can copy/push files to the clients that need them.

For what you're looking for, I think this fits the bill.

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You can restore files to the remote file system using bacula too. I'm not an expert at it, but we certainly use it to do so, having set the storage device (?) to that of the client. –  Coops Aug 4 '09 at 19:52
    
Thanks for pointing that out - I (obviously) haven't experimented with that yet. –  Cory Plastek Aug 4 '09 at 19:59
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For the record, BackupPC can also use rsync for backing up, which is how I use it. –  Joe Casadonte Oct 5 '09 at 13:04
    
One correction. Bacula can and does restore to remote systems as well. Bacula also can do TLS encrytpion between the File Deamon (client) and the servers. Also it can even encrypt the data on the client if the information is sensative. I use bacula to backup about 59+ servers with my full backups storing over 12TB of data. –  Squidly Jan 23 '12 at 17:50

Amanda has a Windows Client from zmanda which support VSS: http://wiki.zmanda.com/index.php/Zmanda%5FWindows%5FClient

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I see that it supports VSS, but does it also support NTFS ACLs, and does it run with Backup Operator privileges so it can bypass ACLs and backup everything? –  Zoredache Apr 19 '11 at 0:01

backuppc can also use VSS, via the rsyncd+vss method, check the url:

http://www.goodjobsucking.com/?p=62

It uses the windows RPC to remotely start scripts that setup the VSS and startup a rsync daemon.

i already build the needed "client" scripts and tools in here, so its easy to install:

http://caravela.homelinux.net/~higuita/backuppc/

i use this on +500 workstations and +50 servers with windows xp, windows 2003, vista, 7 and 2008 32bit and 64bits.

other package with the same scripts (version 1.1 doesn't seem to support 64bit, but do have wake-on-lan support):

http://www.michaelstowe.com/backuppc/

As it uses a windows service and no encryption, i recommend this for LAN usage, if you need security (as for WAN usage) you will want to setup a vpn to protect the traffic and the clients. check the openvpn, its easy to setup and secure.

If you need WAN and cant use a vpn, you can also check the cygwin ssh+rsync method:

http://sourceforge.net/apps/mediawiki/backuppc/index.php?title=CygwinSSHWindows

http://sourceforge.net/apps/mediawiki/backuppc/index.php?title=User_Scripts_-Client-_Windows_VSS

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