Assume a small office situation, 5-10 workstations (PCs), and a Windows server hosting a network share. The Windows server is in a 3+1 RAID 5. I am debating with myself over a backup solution and I find myself thinking about it way more than I should. I can:

  • Stick an additional large disk in the main server. Make backups from the PCs/share to it.

This is surprisingly common and a lot of places do it but it kind of scares me since the chassis (lightning, MOBO fault) can take out all the disks.

  • Separate backup server with single large disk (no RAID)

This seems like a good idea. Buy a cheap low end PC and stick a 2TB drive in there. The chance the live data goes out and the backup server\drive dies at the same time is low. It's still not a RAID though

  • Cheap mini NAS in RAID.

Not sure if this is better than option 2. Yes RAID makes things more redundant however RAID also increases the AFR (more disks to go bad).

Performance is a non issue since this is a small office backup that will run off hours. For increased reliability I can couple this with Amazon cloud storage.

  • 2
    taobackup.com - It's an ad, but you should still read it. Jul 24, 2013 at 21:33
  • @EvanAnderson I see I'm not the only enlightened person around here. You beat me to it with the link :-)
    – Tonny
    Jul 24, 2013 at 21:48
  • You tagged this with disaster-recovery but speak nothing of RTO/RPO and the like. You need to think in terms of recovery first, find out what management will accept/require, and then build the solution from that. Small office or not, you need to know these things.
    – TheCleaner
    Jul 24, 2013 at 21:49

3 Answers 3

  • Adding a disk to a server is not a backup. Period.
  • Separate backup disk: If your main system is down, do you want to learn that the all-important file on the backup disk is unreadable?
  • Mini NAS: The best solution in your list


You should want to have an offsite backup. The NAS will also be destroyed if your equipment is destroyed in a flood, fire or thunderstorm (or stolen).


You should follow the 3-2-1 rule for backups.

3 copies on 2 different types of media and at least one of those is off site.

I'd suggest the NAS, and periodically copy your NAS to DVDs/tape to take offsite, or duplicate the NAS to an offsite NAS over the internet.

No matter how small your business is, the total loss of all of your data would be a catastrophic event, so keep offsite backups. Those offsite backups could be in "the cloud" but they definitely should exist.


I have some experience setting up such deployments.
Besides my day job as big enterprise sys-admin I also do the IT for several friends who own small businesses with similar requirements.

Any backup that is accessible to the originating machine (outside the window needed for backup or restore) is not really a backup. Any virus that corrupts the original can destroy the copy too.
So an extra disk in the server is out of the question.

A proper backup is off-line from the originating server and ideally has 2 copies on different media.
And one of those 2 copies should be off-site.
This is known as the 3-2-1 rule:

  • 3 copies of the data (original and 2 backups.)
  • 2 different media (to prevent same media to have same failure pattern)
  • 1 copy off-site

This protects against failing media (broken tape, disk, etc.) and against theft, fire, flooding, lightning or anything else that takes out the entire server-room or worse.

Basically: In your scenario I would use 2 cheap NAS boxes. One on-site as the primary backup target and the other on a different site as backup of the 1st NAS.
(If you don't have 2 sites consider placing the 2nd one at home or in the home of the company-owner. If that is not an option place it in the same building, as far away as possible from the 1st, preferably in a different fire-zone.)
That is probably cheaper than cloud-storage in the long run.
Whether you use just a single disk, JBOD or RAID on the NAS doesn't really matter as long as the disk-capacity is sufficient.
Having said that: Personally I would still go with Raid on both NAS boxes. Just to prevent having to copy the entire backup-set back from the other NAS when a disk fails. HD's are cheap and a 2-disk NAS is hardly more expensive as a 1-disk.
It is probably also a good idea to put each NAS on a small UPS. Just enough UPS capacity that the NAS can do a controlled shutdown when power fails. (Make sure the UPS is compatible with the NAS so the NAS can monitor the UPS status.)

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