I run a small IT group and am using a Dell Precision T3400 workstation as a shared file system. I'm also running a Quickbooks multi-user server on the same machine. Two weeks ago, my only hard drive failed on me and I spent the next 7 days restoring the machine and all the data. It wasn't the end of the world (I'm still employed), but I need to make sure I don't repeat this, at least anytime soon.

Here is my current setup: Seagate drive 1 - two partitions (c: 100GB e: 400GB) Seagate drive 2 - two partitions (d: 100GB f: 400GB)

External hard drive (250 GB)

Windows 7 and Barracuda Yosemite Backup installed

Here are the parameters:

1) I'd like to do this without spending much money (less than a couple hundred $s)

2) I'd like to keep downtime to one day or less in the case of a single hard drive crash

3) I'd like to never lose more than an hour or two of data

4) If I could maintain a short file history of changes, that would be cool, but not necessary.

Should I consider a RAID 1 software solution? I think Seagate or Dell came with a CD that did that.

Should I use a Microsoft Restore Backup solution?

I own Barracuda Yosemite Laptop/Desktop Backup but had mixed success with it (it only restored some of my files).


Everything I've mentioned here (including the book) should cost you less than $200.

Just like Kevin said, "RAID is NOT a backup."

With that in mind, RAID 1 (mirror) will help with hard drive failure but should should also take a hard look at backing your important data up to another hard drive (about $50-$100 depending on size) and you should also look at backing up to an OFFSITE location.

I've used Amazon S3 and JungleDisk in companies that have over 5 million files and have no problem keeping the data synchronized.


I think the best solution for you (and your cash requirements) would be to purchase another hard drive that you can take off-site and keep in a safe place. Backup however often you see fit (probably weekly) and then use JungleDisk or another Amazon S3 solution to do backups every hour or two.

That being said, there are several good articles here on ServerFault that talk about backup plans, different software you can use, etc, etc.

O'Reilly's book "Backup and Recovery" is always a good place to start:


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  • Regarding Amazon S3/Jungle Disk, you are assuming Trevor Allred has substantial upstream bandwidth. Like you, my experience with Amazon S3 is positive, but without decent bandwidth it is useless. – Chris Driver Aug 3 '09 at 23:12
  • We ended up going with Jungle Disk. It's working pretty well. One major point I left out is that we have an office in Houston that needs access to the same files. Jungle Disk allows us to have the files hosted externally so we all can access them from the either office or even from home. It has made us reconsider our upstream bandwidth limits though. Chris is right about the limitations. – Trevor Allred Dec 21 '09 at 18:51
  • The amount of bandwidth needed really depends on how much you're backing up and when. I've implemented a JungleDisk solution in less-than-optimal conditions simply by being careful what is backed up and doing the backup off-hours (ie. at night). Sometimes it doesn't matter if the backup takes 15min or 5hrs if nobody comes into the office until 8am. :-) – KPWINC Dec 28 '09 at 19:14

First: RAID is not backup

Now that we have that out of the way. You have two issues to protect yourself from. First is hardware failure and second is your long term backup strategy for data loss (either intentional or accidental).

RAID 1 is a decent solution to protect you from hardware failure and with only a limited budget and a small number of drives, is an easy solution. This will allow you to lose one drive to a hardware failure and recover using the other drive. It will not protect you from data loss as file system errors on one drive will simply be mirrored to the other.

To protect from data loss, you can use the integrated Windows Backup to back up your primary hard drives to an external drive (such as your USB drive). This will give you basic restore capabilities in the event something needs to be restored.

You might want to consider an online backup such as Mozy Pro which can give you unlimited storage for about $5/mo. It is not as convenient for restoration as an external drive but it also is not physically in your building and can give you another layer of protection.

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  • 1
    +100 if I could. RAID IS NOT BACKUP. – Evan Anderson Aug 3 '09 at 21:54
  • Has anybody used NTBackup with great success? Is it simply a file copy operation or is there more involved restoration capability there? – Garrett Aug 3 '09 at 21:58
  • NTBackup works fine. I've done complete bare-metal disaster recoveries from NTBackup both with tape-based backups and with the .BKF files it generates being on disk. – Evan Anderson Aug 4 '09 at 0:06

Why have you opted for Windows 7? I would've thought Server 2003/2008 would be a better option for file sharing, even in a small business environment. I'm not sure Windows 7 has any caps, but XP was limited to 10 client connections at any one time.

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  • Price was the major consideration. Now we've started using Jungle Disk, I don't think we'll switch to Server 2008. – Trevor Allred Dec 21 '09 at 18:52

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