I'm looking for some input on backing up data on our servers. We are running a pair of Novell servers that primarily act as file servers. When I look at our data, I'm not concerned about the Network infrastructure itself and backing up of the NDS, user profiles, trustee assignments, etc. The way I look at it, I can always recreate these if I have a catostrophic event. We only have 130 users so it's not that difficult to recreate this setup. So my thought is to just focus on backing up the datafiles from these servers. This is the material that I need to ensure never gets lost as it can not easily be recreated.

In order to do this, I was considering putting a data storage device at my house and then backing up the servers from our office to a data storage appliance at my home. I could use a software solution to maintain synchronization of the data. Alternatively, I could look at backing up the data to a cloud based solution. Am I looking at this entirely wrong? I've used Backup Exec in the past with tapes and that's a pain. Currently we're using a Barracuda backup appliance but integration with Novell is lacking. I also need to get this data backed up off site. Therefore, my proposal may work. Please comment.

Edit - I'm not trying to create a meaningless dialogue here. I'm really trying to understand why my thinking is flawed. In my situation I'm running Raid 5 data storage on multiple servers. Our primary server is mirrored to another server for redundancy in another area of our building. The only thing that could really cause us to lose our data is a catastrophic event. I gauge the likelihood of this happening as very low but yes, it could happen. Therefore, I agree, backups are important and necessary. However, help me understand why just storing the actual data offsite and not all the network structure detail is flawed. I hope this is more constructive...

  • Novell? What version are we talking here? Are you actually running Netware? Or do you just have a Linux/Windows box with Edirectory?
    – Zoredache
    Feb 1, 2013 at 2:35
  • 4
    1. Recreating user accounts, profiles, certificates, etc., etc for 130 users is no big deal? What will these users be doing with their time while you're performing all of this work? 2. Storing critical company data at your house is NEVER the right solution.
    – joeqwerty
    Feb 1, 2013 at 2:46
  • 1
    Lemme level with you. Backups are a pain, no matter when method, what storage medium. They're a pain, period. But they're completely necessary, and no worth cutting corners on.
    – EEAA
    Feb 1, 2013 at 2:54
  • Yes, I'm actually running Novell, version 6 small business suite. It just seems to run so we really haven't had the need to migrate to something different. The 130 users are not concurrent users. We have a manufacturing facility so we run 24/7 and at most we have 50 users at any given time. Somehow I suspected that the house backup solution wouldn't be supported but to me, it isn't that far fetched.
    – Deca
    Feb 1, 2013 at 2:59
  • How does your legal department feel about having their critical stuff backed up at someone's personal residence? This seems like a good way to get them to wet themselves.
    – ceejayoz
    Feb 1, 2013 at 20:57

1 Answer 1


Backing up NetWare servers (not Novell servers as those could be Open Enterprise Server, or even SuSE Linux Enterprise Server depending on who is doing the asking) really does work best if you're using the Targeted Services Agent (TSA) architecture. The TSAs are designed to perform backups, and do a lot of the work that 'backup agents' do; such as pre-caching files to ensure the network pipe stays full. You'll also get trustee/owner/dir-quota metadata in the stream which really eases restores.

You won't get anywhere near the same speeds backing up via mounted drive (or CIFS share) due to how the file-redirector layer works on the client machine. There is a reason all backup software for NW uses the TSA system. That said, a mounted-drive backup of a CIFS share of your data would at least get the files backed up.

Storage of Backup Data

This question got closed on "unprofessional" grounds before, and it was likely due in large part to your choice of off-site location. A good off-site location for backup data is:

  • Unambiguously owned by the company, or has unambiguous access-rights granted to the company.
  • Access to the site is held by more than one person.
  • Has strong protection of the data versus theft or destruction.
  • Able to store the data for long enough to satisfy retention requirements.

Storing backup data in a personal home fails the first two points here, and likely the third as well. This is why "backup-tapes in a safe deposit box" worked for so long. If you were to meet an untimely demise, access to the backup site would not be guaranteed to the company; worst-case would be that the device and the data on it would be locked up in probate until the estate is settled.

Secondly, data-ownership issues do appear. If the owner of the business is the one doing the home-storage, things are less wobbly; but if an employee that has not been specifically delegated the duty of storing company data at home does so without approval the consequences can be quite significant.

Backup Method

The best backups are ones that minimize your time-to-restoration (TTR). A full TSA backup of a NetWare volume includes all of the useful metadata like users and directory quotas. Restoring this information means you don't have to sit down and set up all the rights again based on whatever documentation you keep for that. This speeds things up.

If your environment really is simple enough that you can get away with a file-based backup and just re-permission everything, that can be adequate. Doing it all through a CIFS share will get all of your data. It may not get all of the namespace data, but if you're only accessing it through the CIFS shares that won't matter. That said, if you're still running XP on your desktops and using the Novell Client, it will matter and I counsel against it.

Note for observers:
Re-permissioning TBs of NetWare volumes is actually extremely fast compared to Windows, it's not as onerous as you'd expect. The NSS filesystem is built to make that kind of thing zippy.

  • re "Note for observers" that will depend on the amount of files. My netware clientelle was running DOS based accounting software that after a few years ended up storing 5-6 figure number of files in a single dir. No fun in either backup or restore, through arcserver did perform a decent job of it
    – dyasny
    Feb 1, 2013 at 21:40
  • @dyasny Er, assigning permissions to a directory like that is very zippy. Doing anything else with it will make you weep, I agree.
    – sysadmin1138
    Feb 1, 2013 at 21:45
  • Thank you very much for answering my question. Just to clarify, this is my family's business and I am the president and CEO. Therefore, access to the backup data isn't too much of an issue. I was contemplating putting another Barracuda device at my home which I could use to sync to my other Barracuda device at the plant. Alternatively, now that we have a fiber pipe into our plant, backing up to a cloud based solution may be a viable solution too. Question, I am running xp pro desktops and using the novell client. What's wrong with this? Why does this pose and issue for my backups?
    – Deca
    Feb 2, 2013 at 1:55
  • @Deca Then I strongly recommend you back up your data using the same client setup, not via CIFS. That ensures the namespace will remain the same. You won't get that through an appliance I'm afraid. One of the weaknesses of NetWare is that it has multiple name-spaces (DOS, Unix, Long, and I forget the other one) each with their own file-names. If you only back up in one, you can't guarantee your file names will be the same in the others after a restore.
    – sysadmin1138
    Feb 2, 2013 at 3:28
  • yeah, you're right, I still shudder recalling campouts in the server room waiting for a restore to finish running through on NW3.12
    – dyasny
    Feb 2, 2013 at 5:07

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