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I'd like to create a server suitable for having a hot-spare disk, plus the capability to create full backup for removal off-site, say once a week.

I am considering the HP ProLiant DL160 G6 (with hot swap) rack server (spec here).

Obviously configuring the server for RAID 1 with 2 disks will enable the hot-spare in the event of a single drive failure, but will this server support the ad-hoc backup capability I need for the offsite side of things?

I envisage having say 6 additional, spare HDDs,for say 6 weeks of backup and labelled accordingly. The admin would bring the appropriate HDD to the server at the end of the week, insert it in one of the spare hot SATA slots and kick start the disk cloning process.

Can I get a server to perform the "cloning" automatically upon insertion and then notify the user via a light (assuming the server is headless, apart from RDP)?

Or is there a better way to achieve what I'm after?

Thanks.

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4 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

The server you selected is capable of maintaining a RAID1 with 2 disks+another hot spare if you so desire (you do).

When it comes to backup you have a few options-

  1. NTBackup (Here's a link on how to do it with USB drives) downside-it will run on a schedule-it won't auto run when it detects your backup disk. So you'll have to make sure the disk is plugged into the machine when the backup starts.

  2. Acronis Backup supports SBS 2008 now-and while I've never personally used it, I've heard good things. Similiar caveats as before-your disk will have to be connected to the machine when the backup kicks off otherwise it will fail. Here is a link showing Acronis supports SBS 2008.

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thanks very much –  Ben Oct 12 '09 at 18:45
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If this comment was helpful to you, feel free to give it a vote. –  Josh Budde Oct 12 '09 at 18:54
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i would if i could! not enough rep - sorry –  Ben Oct 12 '09 at 18:58
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I will then :) Have some rep for the question too as it's a good and interesting one. –  Jimmy Shelter Oct 12 '09 at 19:20
    
I've upvoted all of ya... enjoy. ;-) –  KPWINC Oct 12 '09 at 20:24
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If you're going to hot-swap like this, I would advise that you leave the disk that you're pulling out of the RAID array, otherwise each time you pull and replace the disk you'll be rebuilding the array, which will put a load on your server and may possibly shorten the lifespan of your disks and/or controller.

I'm a total tape junkie when it comes to backup solutions, so I'm advising that you pull back a little and look more at what you want to achieve rather than how you want to achieve it. Depending on your volume requirements, a decent tape drive can be bought for a very reasonable price, and tape media are incredibly cheap these days.

I'm also a fan of keeping things simple and primitive with a backup solution. Primitive on the level of "me Og, me discover fire, fire keep tigers away at night" even. In all my time, every time I have seen someone introduce something fancy into a backup solution, the next thing to happen has normally been havoc.

You want your backup solution to be (a) boring and (b) predictable. That way you can be utterly certain that it stands the best chance possible of working flawlessly each time. Exciting or sexy backups are not an option.

Also be sure, whatever you decide to do, that you can restore from it. I include a full server restore as well as restore of individual files here. The whole point of backing up is to be able to restore, after all.

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...and (c) reliable. –  John Gardeniers Oct 12 '09 at 23:02
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You idea of using RAID drives for off-site backups is a real bad idea. Is there a better way? Of course there is, in fact there are many, but the first thing I suggest is that you abandon the idea of using fragile, error prone, temporary storage devices such as hard drives for backups, especially if they are to be transported or stored for extended periods. If you absolutely have your mind set on using hard drives at least use laptop drives, which are far better designed for the abuse they will receive. An external 2.5 inch USB drive (or half a dozen of them) is vastly more appropriate than using RAID for backup. RAID is for redundancy and you would be well advised to implement it for that purpose. My experience indicates that hard drives fail more often than all other computer components combined and should be considered a disposable item.

Before implementing anything just consider that there have already been quite a few questions asked here on the subject. There have been many thousands of articles posted on the Internet in general on the subject. There have also been a number of books written about it, some of which I've been told are fairly good. Take a little time to study the subject and work out which systems best apply to you specific needs, as there is no "one size fits all" solution.

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Hi John. Thanks very much for your input - very much appreciated. Surely the bandwidth over USB is inferior to that of the SATA achieved via the hot-swap bays? I know this is a large topic, but due to time constraints I am compelled to take a more pragmatic approach and post here. I understand tape drives to be significantly more expensive than HDDs, hence the leaning to their use. Flash drives also have a significant price disadvantage. –  Ben Oct 12 '09 at 21:24
    
Tape drives may be more expensive than HD, but tape media is significantly cheaper. On balance - and bear in mind that I haven't done any real calculations here - I think they would at least even up. –  Jimmy Shelter Oct 12 '09 at 21:55
    
The bandwidth of USB is indeed lower but hot swapping was never intended for the purposes you are intending to use it for. A tape drive, like any other part of your infrastructure, is an investment. A significant one to be sure but one that is purpose built for the task. As mh said, tape media is not expensive. Overall a tape system will cost a bit more for the setup you describe but what value do you place on the ability to be able to restore from your backups when (not if) that is required? –  John Gardeniers Oct 12 '09 at 23:00
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I agree with MH that having the array rebuild all the time will be an issue.

If tape is a challenge due to price, an external hard drive solution has worked for me. Instead of USB, obtain an eSATA card for the server and connect an eSATA external drive. We use a Western Digital "Studio" drive (WDH2Q10000) with USB, Firewire and eSATA interfaces and RAID 1. The multiple interfaces give more options for connecting for recovery and eSATA gives great backup and recovery speeds. When being taken off site, the drive is carried in a Pelican hard case.

We have used with Windows Backup, Backup Exec System Recovery 8.5 and Backup Exec 12.X

I also agree with John Gardeniers that there is no simple answer and each case is different. Tape is great and would be my number one choice but there is a cost.

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