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I am looking at setting up a backup solution... well including in my backup solution actually... an external harddrive on my main file server. I then use something like Microsoft SyncToy to 'sync' data onto the external hard drive.

I currently have a Symantec Backup Exec solution that backs up file server (as well as other servers). This backups to external hard drives also, but of course it relies on Backup Exec. In my experience restoring from a backup is one of the most problem ridden tasks. Therefore my thinking is that the 'synced' files would be a second line backup.

Any thoughts from anyone, or better solutions? I do have a backup domain controller but do not currently know how to configure file replication on it. (I understand this is possible also)

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Why are you worried about restores? What problems have you run into that make you gunshy about relying on your three separate hard drive backups? –  sh-beta May 15 '09 at 15:55
    
sh-beta, I run a team of Support Consultants that supports a software package we produce. Our clients semi-regularly contact us with issues they have had where their restore from backup has failed... for various reasons, ie tape fail, data from the tape was corrupt etc. Another issue that I get occassionally is that my backups fail due to errors, and whilst I will usually get the backup done the next night, I am concerned about the fact that I am without a backup for the 24 hours. –  TravisPUK May 29 '09 at 11:54

2 Answers 2

I do have a backup domain controller but do not currently know how to configure file replication on it. (I understand this is possible also)

Generally file-replication doesn't really give you a very useful backup. Yes it will help if all your drives die in the main server, but if someone deletes something that shouldn't have been deleted that deletion will be quickly replicated from your main system to your backup.

You should have at least one backup, and preferably more, at any given point in time that is completely offline and separate for your production system. That way if something catastrophic happens you will still have a copy of your data that is safe.

I am looking at setting up a backup solution... well including in my backup solution actually... an external harddrive on my main file server. I then use something like Microsoft SyncToy to 'sync' data onto the external hard drive.

Copying your files to a portable drive seems like a useful solution. I suspect I would script a backup with robocopy instead of trying to use SyncToy. SyncToy doesn't really seem something I would want to trust my backup too. You really shouldn't even need a full sync, since during normal backups your data should only be going one direction.

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@Zoredache thanks for your reply. I do have the Symantec BackUp Exec that is run every night. This is done on three hard drives, one is kept offsite, one is kept in a fireproof safe onsite and the other is on the machine. These are rotated every week (at the moment). My nervousness is purely based on a catastrophe concept and being concerned about not being able to restore from backup. I like the RoboCopy concept. FYI, I use SyncToy on other things (at home etc) and it works pretty well in my experience. –  TravisPUK May 15 '09 at 9:28
    
Synchronization/replication is not backup at all, it's another form of fault tolerance (like RAID). If your machine flat-out dies, then your syncs will have the most recent data. If there's data corruption, your syncs are just as useless as your main machine. IME, data corruption is more common than system death. –  sh-beta May 15 '09 at 15:55

You may want to become familiar with ntbackup, particularly to get a system state of your domain controller. I think having a second backup method is a great idea. In your place, I'd approach this 2nd backup method as a "manually recreate" option.

  • NTbackup/systemstate will grab all AD information (this restore method merits some reading up on before you have to do it)
  • SyncToy to back up file shares

At this point, you can think about what else might be missing & look into what you'll need to know to restore with these methods.

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