I am looking for a backup solution for this scenario:

  • 3 servers (One Linux mail server, 2 Windows Servers)
  • ~ 10TB of data
  • 2 TB of which are in daily use
  • a few GB of activity/change per day
  • ability to restore data from any point in time
  • backing up is performed on a live system (international office)
  • A MSSQL database needs backing up as well
  • There is no sufficient network connection to back data up off-site
  • Uncomplicated access (native file system) to the secured data.

At the moment the backing up of data is handled by carrying out the delta on portable disks to an off-site location. But the software is not completely reliable (something home cooked).

We pondered whether to purchase a tape library solution from Dell, but are not very convinced that tapes are the way to go for this relatively small amout of data.

How would you set up this kind of data backup? What software would you recommend?

Carrying disks with the delta to an off-site server to a mirror server is an option. What kind of hardware would you use?

3 Answers 3


What i would recommend for an on-site solution to start off with is to invest in a a backup server that has a good amount of room for expansion.

I was recently looking into the possibly deploying a tape drive solution with HP tape drivers and i was very turned off by the low amount of storage per tape, high price and the fact if i need to upgrade it i might as well throw the old tape drive out the window.

One thing you might want to look at is Drobo pro, if you load one of them up with 2tb drives you can get 16tb. I have been looking to give one of these a go ( When i get the funds :) ) but i have herd great reviews about them and the fact that a few years down the track you need to upgrade you just take a few drives out and put in some new hard drive that has yet more ridiculous amounts of space.

  • Agree, tape is dead. HD is cheap, most of the prior advantages of tape have become stale, and in a disaster tape's not "uncomplicated access" as the OP put it.
    – nedm
    May 16, 2009 at 18:40
  • Our off-site backup solution for our datacentre is a server in our office with a 4.5TB RAID6 array. The server currently uses 8 of 16 drive bays, so when we need to upgrade, we can just install more drives. Jun 4, 2009 at 11:33

You will probably be best off if you invest in a proven solution.

Tapes are definitely not the way to go, for your size a disk based solution would be better and much easier to maintain.

When you are on the TB scale, you should consider using something with compression and deduplication. In a solution like this you will only store unique data that is common on several copmuters ,and have references to these unique files or blocks.

You should also make sure that whatever your backup server starts with, the product supports expandable storage. So you can start with 10TB, and add on more disks as you go.

With several computers an agentless backup client would also be favorable. So that you can backup your whole LAN from a single backup client. Some products also include a virtual computer based on an FTP/SFTP/FTPS location. So you could have your backup client on windows and backup all the LAN machines + the linux machine from the same interface.

I wouldn't use an approach based on either of 1) Incremental backups and 2) differential backups. With incremental backups, you will want to do another full backup eventually, or at restore time you'll have to restore too many backups. With differential backups, you will want to do another full backup eventually, or eventually your differential backup will get too big. In your case you would have to re-send the 10TB. That is not acceptable.

Make sure when you seed the data to your backup server, that the data will NEVER need a new re-transfer if it is not changed.

Make sure that you don't NEED to restore full backups, and that you can restore only a subset of what you backed up and that you can select from backups as they were on the day you are restoring from.

Backing up data should be allowed from offsite locations, and even if the backup client is offline. In the case that they are offline there should be a 'large initial backup' option for later importing at the server.

Be sure to chose a solution that has built in MS SQL backups and exchange backups, and that you don't need to re-transfer everything each time you back them up. It should support hot backups of these items.

An example of a product at this scale that supports all of the above is ROBOBAK. (I also work for this company)

  • Can ROBOBAK handle the following? - Two locations (1 on-site ("live"), 1 off-site (backup)) - Keep the two locations in-sync through data exchange via portable hard disk. So ROBOBAK would have to put the delta onto the portable disks and the off-site server reads the portable disks and is then up-to-date again. Preferably all via the same software and with little manual tinkering. Thanks!
    – ttobiass
    May 4, 2009 at 11:15
  • That should of course happen with support for the full feature set, e.g. versioning and customizable handling of file deletion.
    – ttobiass
    May 4, 2009 at 11:19
  • @ttobiass: If you are interested, please call the number at robobak.com. They will be able to answer any advanced questions. May 5, 2009 at 0:25
  • Backula might be your option, and then go disk to disk to disk for your redundancy. The last set of disks are offsite. If you distill both of these answers you will be able to get what you want done. Don't skimp on the hardware, make the investment, give yourself room to grow and you will be pleased with the results....Skimp on the hardware and it will be a headache till you upgrade! May 19, 2009 at 2:44

Looking at the scenario, The best backup solution can be given by "faubackup", Go through this http://faubackup.sourceforge.net/ .

Faubackup uses a filesystem on a hard drive for incremental and full backups. This enables the backup to be accessable through standard filesystem tools.

Later Backups to the same filesystem will automatically be incremental, as unchanged files are only hard-linked with the existing version of the file.

Executing ’faubackup srcdir destdir’ is a bit like ’cp -a srcdir destdir/‘date‘’. That is, it will copy everything from srcdir to a subdirectory of destdir. This directory is named after the time of the backup (format ’YYYY-MM-DD@hh:mm:ss’). All filenames, permissions, contents will be preserved. It can cope with soft-, hardlinks and with holes in files.

The big advantage over a simple copy is the use of hard-links between unchanged files to minimize disk space usage. You can exe‐cute faubackup on a regular basis, and any files which haven’t changed between these calls are not copied again, but are hardlinked between the various backup-directories. This is similar to incremental backups, where only changed files are written to the tape.

  • The last release is from 2006? I don't think faubackup is a good solution.
    – guettli
    Mar 14, 2012 at 15:49
  • ttobiass might have gone some other solution :) You are answering this question very late. Mar 15, 2012 at 13:28

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