I am currently in the process of writing a backup plan for the webserver in use by my business. I am very new to this area and have a few ideas about how things should work but am unsure of what tools to use and what sort of restore process is appropriate.

I'm looking for something relatively simplistic and it doesn't have to be 100% paranoid just enough to give me a reliable backup. Speed is not of the essence and there is not going to be a live fallback in place.

The backup will be onto a single hdd that will be stored onsite (no option for offsite as yet).

Backups will be taking place weekly.

I am constrained by both time and money which is why I'm aiming for a good enough solution.

Is taking an image of the webserver system drive periodically and using that as the backup appropriate?

Should I be testing that the backups restore correctly every time that I perform one?

This is a bit broad but what setup would you use if you were in my place, given the services I am running? Should I add additonal machines and split the services?

Any advice is much appreciated!

See below for server details

  • Webserver

    • Platform

      • Linux Ubuntu server
  • Running

    • mail-server

    • svn-server

    • mediawiki

    • wordpress

    • apache-webserver

  • Hardware

    • single 500gb sata drive
  • Architecture

    • Single machine behind router (with firewall) accessible to the internet.

Based off the answers here and in the interest of not being too dodgy I have landed on the following plan of action.

  • RAID 1 // makes sense and the consensus is it would be unwise not to
  • Separate backup box with rsnapshot for continuous backup
  • Weekly images on external HDD just in case
  • Offsite backup // haven't found a vendor yet and will worry about this later

Thanks for the help from everyone!

  • 5
    A machine with a single hard disk drive isn't a server-- it's a ticking time-bomb. Servers have redundant disks. Jun 17 '10 at 0:36
  • I assume you mean for availability purposes? i've been led to understand that RAID is no sort of replacement for a backup.
    – radman
    Jun 17 '10 at 0:59
  • 1
    Absolutely. RAID isn't backup, but a single hard disk drive is a nightmare for availability. The cost of a second disk is miniscule compared to the potential cost of even a short downtime incident. It's "cheap insurance", as we say. Jun 17 '10 at 1:09
  • 1
    you're perfectly correct in that RAID isn't backup. Don't try to decide between them, you should have BOTH. Jun 17 '10 at 1:38


might be a pretty good fit and is included in most linux distributions. Supports multiple generations as well, so, you can keep 2-3 'weeks' of backups, while only having to store the amount of data that changed for those additional weeks.

  • rsnapshot rocks!
    – Javier
    Jun 17 '10 at 1:32
  • how does rsnapshot/rsync deal with databases? in my case I imagine that they will become the biggest data hogs over time.
    – radman
    Jun 17 '10 at 2:12
  • rsnapshot contains support mysqlhotcopy Jun 17 '10 at 3:20

I think you should consider mounting up your external drive in an internal bay, configuring software RAID-1, and using a "cloud-based" backup service of some stripe. You'll get off-site storage, and since you don't have a set SLA for restores, the fact that you'll have to wait while a restore moves across your Internet connection isn't a bad thing. You'll also get the ability to take backups much more frequently than weekly, and you won't have to mess around with attaching and removing an external drive.

You should be able to get something cloud-based setup fairy quickly and cheaply. A Gooogle search on rsync backup service returned a lot of promising-looking hits on the first page, just as an example.

  • With a cloud based solution there are a few things that concern me; I'm in Australia and as such have download caps, any significant amount of data transfer would be undesirable. Also my upload speed is pretty average (500kbit) and I wouldn't want backups to affect access to my hosted services. That being said I'm having a look at if it's a feasible solution.
    – radman
    Jun 17 '10 at 1:07
  • using rsync for backup means you transfer only differences. bandwidth usage stays very low in most cases. (even better if you use rsnapshot to keep historic backups without duplicating what haven't changed)
    – Javier
    Jun 17 '10 at 1:36
  • I second the cloud backup option. Take a look at Crashplan Pro: b3.crashplan.com/business. For databases, check out AutoMySQLBackup: sourceforge.net/projects/automysqlbackup
    – churnd
    Jun 17 '10 at 2:38
  • Had a look at crashplan and it appears that this is software to facilitate doing your own backups. I would need an offsite server, so this is not really a 'cloud' solution, or am I missing something?
    – radman
    Jun 17 '10 at 3:53

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