Crude backup of W2k3 server using batch file to external HDD

Discussion in 'Business & Enterprise Computing' started by dave-, Jul 9, 2010.

  1. dave-

    dave- Member

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    First up, I know nothing about looking after a Windows Server setup but due to some of the sharks out there trying to fleece small business, I'm trying to help out the old man with an economical backup solution.

    The current IT guys coming in have been pushing for a DR solution from a 3rd party which while great in theory, was just way too excessive and expensive for a small business. It was using a local appliance and sending snapshots offsite but ~$3k setup, $500/mth "subscription" and $1k/day recovery with still a few too many questions. Now I'm all for DR at the enterprise level but for a small real estate agency?

    He has a small office with about 10 XP PC's accessing a basic Dell Poweredge server. It is running 2k3 hosting the XP user profiles and all the office data. A pair of mirrored SAS drives have been partitioned into C: for OS and D: for all Data. They've had no end of trouble with the SCSI DAT tape backup over the last few years so I'm not sure how effective their backups even are.

    The bulk of the data is photos, letters and brochures and to a lesser extent the users outlook folders. The important data is rather small and consists of a propriety rental application with inbuilt database and MYOB for all their accounting (the person doing the books also makes a copy of this data on to USB key). Its about 50Gb total after 3yrs but once we do a cleanup of the old photos etc, it will easily come down to about 20gb.

    After the tape drive issues, the last guy they sent out at least created a scheduled task to backup the entire data drive each night using the built in windows backup tool to a usb segate freeagent plugged in 24/7. I'd never seen this tool, but I can open the backup file and view its contents. I'm not sure how reliable it is in a recovery situation so would like to get some additional backups running in parallel.

    With a 2nd usb seagate, I'll go into the office every month or 2 and make clonezilla backups of the entire system. This drive will be kept offsite and ensure they have a backup of all the OS configuration etc.

    As for the topic of the thread, with a 3rd usb drive, I'd like to setup a batch script that will allow my dad to be able to plug the drive into the server and perform a full backup of his data. This drive would also be kept offsite and probably run every 2-3 days. He isn't very tech savvy so it needs to be as simple as possible. If it prompted for the destination drive letter etc that would be ok.

    I've found a few xcopy batch scripts from google searches and got as far has having a new directory with the current date created then coping all the D drive data over to the USB drive. For some reason some of the files are hidden unless the "show o/s files" option in Explorer is set (even though on the server they are just regular files) but that isn't an issue, as long as the data is there and accessible.

    I'd like to expand the script to check for backups older than a certain date or x number of copies to prevent the drive running out of space. 3 copies would be more than adequate as the aim here is to have recovery data, not be able to get a file from 3 weeks ago.

    I'm also not sure how xcopy handles files already open or in use, say if a user is logged in with their profile on a machine in the office?

    Can anyone please offer any advice or copies of batch files they've used themselves? Doesn't have to be xcopy and could be via a software package. Just looking for something reliable that will ensure we have copies of data saved locally and offsite.

    PS: I know using portable HDD's isn't the ultimate solution but spreading the copies over multiple units and keeping some offsite is cost effective and still better than having nothing at all.
     
  2. Gristy

    Gristy Member

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    "With a 2nd usb seagate, I'll go into the office every month or 2 and make clonezilla backups of the entire system. This drive will be kept offsite and ensure they have a backup of all the OS configuration etc."

    You can automate this with Acronis you should have no issues setting it up, you can also write some scripts to move stuff about and have incremental or full backups etc, quite a few options and fairly cheap.



    sounds like the script that is already in place is working fine.

    test restore rather than doing another process, im pretty sure windows server backup will take advantage of vss as well so you dont have issues with open files.
     
  3. Squeezer

    Squeezer Member

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    Why not use a service like Backblaze

    $5 per month unlimited and it will automatically backup new files

    http://www.backblaze.com/
     
  4. OP
    OP
    dave-

    dave- Member

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    Hmm Acronis has heaps of different products, which one specifically are you suggesting?

    Yes but I'm looking to have multiple options to increase the odds of successful recovery. It isn't that expensive to add another external drive.

    I'll have to read up on how the MS tool does its restore and try it on a machine at home.

    Interesting. 2 issues though, Win2k3 isn't listed as being supported and it doesn't say how it does the initial backup? 20gb upload would take a while and have to ensure it didn't saturate the link during business hours.
     
  5. hutsy

    hutsy Member

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    sounds like you have trust issues...

    Personally I'd trust the built in Windows Server backup over a self written/unknown written batch script any day of the week.

    I would have four or five external HDDs (Week1, Week2, Week3, Week4, Week5) and run a full server backup using ntbackup (the w2k3 built in tool) each Friday night.

    Ideally I would also have another external HDD running incremental nightly backups using ntbackup (or four separate drives Mon, Tues, Wed, Thurs running either full or incremental depending on how valuable a weeks worth of data is).

    ntbackup does indeed utilise VSS so even if files are open it will back them up, it also allows you to capture System State (AD, Boot Files, Registry, SYSVOL, etc...).

    Here is a good resource for ntbackup: http://www.ntbackup.us/

    Assuming an external HDD costs about $100 (they come cheaper and more expensive, depending on brand, etc..) this method won't break the bank and will be reliable.

    If you wanted to take it a step further it would be a good idea to look into specific backup software like Symantec Backup Exec. A license for Backup Exec will cost roughly $1000 maybe a little more if your need the exchange/sql plugin. This would be a yearly figure to keep it up to date, but doesn't have to be if your happy to stick with the current version for a few years.
     
  6. Oxley

    Oxley Member

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    Personally I wouldn’t use clonezilla on a server, have you done a test restore? I like Clonezilla and use for our industrial PC’s as nothing else has the network drivers in the live or recovery boot media.

    Acronis Backup & Recovery 10 Server for Windows with universal restore which is about $1600 and has saved my bacon more than once; the benefit of converting to a virtual machine has also come in handy as well.

    A critical server went bang when the UPS decided to fry, grabed the Acronis backup, converted to a virtual machine and ran it under VMWare player on a high end PC until Dell could get on site, all in less than an hour, and no tears, no stress.

    The image based backup inWindows 2008 and up is just as good, but unless you’ve had the nightmare of using NTbackup to TRY and recover a borked system, its image based backup all way the baby.

    Now if you persist in using batch files, or at least robocopy, please let us know when it all goes to hell in a hand basket so I can send you some tissues, cause as you stated you know nothing about looking after a server, there are more “IT solution providers” out there then you could poke a stick at, if your father is not happy with the current one, find another, end of the day you and he need to work out what the cost is if the data and server can’t be restored or is down for lengthy period.
     
  7. OP
    OP
    dave-

    dave- Member

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    In a way but it was only because the software being used is an unknown to me. That URL you provided is interesting, i wasn't aware of the tools capabilities. I will leave the current NTbackup running which is only doing the Data drive files.

    Not on that machine, I have used clonezilla on my own machines however and was why I mentioned that as an idea.

    That sounds good to me, looking at the Acronis package, I need to option the universal restore option to facilitate this which is about the price you mention. Also seems like a good idea because the chances of being able to restore to 100% identical hardware is probably very slim.

    Taking this one further, is the software capable of imaging the XP workstations with extra licences? They are all identical hardware (either dell desktop or laptop) so in theory a single image of each would be enough as a base?

    My issue was that as an IT provider, they should be trying to come up with alternatives to suit the customer and not just throw their hands up in the air when a DR proposal is not accepted. Maybe they get kick backs, who knows. Otherwise Dad has been satisfied with them for everything else and since they've installed and managed the system from day 1, it would be more hassle for him to change.

    I didn't want to take over backups so I'll discuss the feedback from this thread with Dad to allow him discussions with the provider. I don't see why they cannot manage an Acronis type system. $2k upfront for software and disks is much better than $3k upfront plus $5k/year.

    But if even Acronis turns out to be too expensive, the NTbackup will be sufficient provided the user data can be recovered easily. Full system restoration is great but they could operate without the server as they did before (e-mail is hosted externally etc) so the only critical data which is absolutely required would be MYOB and a proprietary application database both of which are 2 folders that fit on a USB key.

    Appreciate the feedback guys.
     
  8. Gristy

    Gristy Member

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    There are a few other options as well.

    i.e. upgrade to Windows 2008 R2, this has built in image backup technologys and will work universally on other machines.

    the built in backup in 2008/2008r2 is quite simple to use.

    It really depends, also if the vendor is not suggesting cheaper options then i think your dads company needs someone else.
     
  9. Oxley

    Oxley Member

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    You could use Acronis home on the PC’s which is only $70 per pc, but you don’t get any central management.
    I don’t backup PC’s, only make an image of a clean install before giving to user or before its decommissioned, that’s what servers are for, to centralise data storage.

    Let me tell the true story of a customer I had; they where backing up using Nero and a DVD-RW, despite every IT person in town telling them it was a bad idea, they said we were all trying to sell them something they didn’t need, or words to that effect.

    Well the server was under the sink in the kitchen when something leaked, water and server, not good. I arrive on site and ask for the backup disk to restore to a PC so they could keep working, but it couldn’t be read, ask for previous nights backup, but got a blank look. They had been using the same DVD-RW for almost a year, and no one had checked that anything had been copied.
    They purchased a rev drive, 5 disks and Symantec backup before the end of the day.

    Or a other customer that someones son, who knew all about computers, had setup the backup to an external disk using a batch file, anyway data gets deleted, grab the backup disk but no data, 5x 500GB disks with no data, look at the batch file, was coping the data 3 times to same location, and then deleting it.

    Moral of the story weigh up the cost of a good backup system to what it would cost to lose everything.
     
  10. ECHO

    ECHO Member

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    I like to recommend ShadowProtect. They have a SBS edition. Similar to Acronis though. Take your pick really :)

    I migrated a customer from a 6 year old server to a brand new Dell within a morning.
     
  11. 4wardtristan

    4wardtristan Member

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    google karens replicator

    heck - http://www.karenware.com/powertools/ptreplicator.asp - there you go

    will do file compare etc, can set whichever schedule, make as many jobs as you want etc, wont halt on errors, a very good tool when you are on a budget (its free :)).

    obviously something like backupexec etc is a much much much better solution, but cost monies...
     
  12. OP
    OP
    dave-

    dave- Member

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    Not an option, everthing else is working fine so its best to leave things working as they are. I just need to provide some options for backups and go from there.

    The individual workstations don't need to be backed up, there are more than enough PC's in the office that if one died, it wouldn't be a huge issue and as you said the server is there for central data so that is the only critical item for backup. Having an image of individual workstations would maybe reduce recovery time and cost if needed but its not important.

    Thanks, added it to the list.

    Spending money isn't an issue if the software is a proven item.

    This weekend I'll head in and get multiple copies of NTbackup running so there is a local and offsite copy with up to a weeks worth of backups available as an immediate interim solution. I'll give Dad a list and RRP cost of the various backup solutions mentioned here and elsewhere and he can discuss with the IT provider as to what they would support on an ongoing basis.
    I've just had a thought, they must have been using some software to do the backups to the DAT drive so there very well may already be a package installed capable of the task.

    BTW: as for the topic, raw file copy was just the first thing I thought of as an initial step since at present no offsite backups were taking place and I didn't know enough about NTbackup to be confident that their data would be availble if needed. I know there are always posts where people think they can always save a buck and do it better but I realise I'm out of my depths here so just want to be informed and pass the info on. Appreciate peoples feedback.
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2010
  13. chunksoul

    chunksoul Member

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    There is a few things to consider.

    1. monitoring

    2. testing

    3. responsibility

    do you want them to support a system they don't use.

    I just looked into online backup

    for around $100 a month you get a monitored online backup system

    it's offsite and monitored.

    Comes with software too.
     
  14. OP
    OP
    dave-

    dave- Member

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    Not at all, hence why dad has to discuss the options with them. They were supporting the DAT tape drive backup solution which they installed ~3yrs ago. It was only recently that they started having issues with tapes and Dell replacing the "powervault" unit a number of times which is now out of warranty.

    So they were supporting some type of backup that wasn't the proposed DR solution.

    If they claim/refuse to support anything but the offsite DR solution, then a new IT supplier will be the only option with the requirement of managing whole of business requirements which includes local and offsite backups.
     
  15. mareke

    mareke Member

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    Handy Backup is reliable and easy to use. Just tell it what you want to back up and to where (internal or external media) and it will do it on schedule (and if the computer is off at the scheduled time it will do it automatically as soon as the computer is turned on) or you can backup manually any time with one click of the mouse. It will store any number of backups of the data that you specify e.g. 3 and then start overwriting backups so your backup disc doesn’t fill up and it doesn't stop on errors. It will also restore data back to the original source if you tell it to and it's not expensive compared to some of the solutions mentioned. You can download a free trial and try it to see if it suits your needs. I use Handy Backup to backup important data like My Documents, emails etc and Acronis to image the entire drive with the operating system on it. I wouldn't be without either program.

    http://www.handybackup.net/
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2010
  16. Simpleguy304au

    Simpleguy304au Member

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  17. Dukeymeng

    Dukeymeng Member

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    I live by Both Handy backup and Acronis.. as a symbiont backup solution, acronis for the image of the server and any exchange mail etc just incase it shits itself and Handy backup for incremental backup... best bet so far aswell is to have just a few external 640 pocket drives to swap for offsite backup...
     
  18. Daft_Munt

    Daft_Munt Member

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    I agree with otherws that a batch file is not really a backup solution but is fine to replicate files. Below is one I use at work by scheduled task along with Symantec BE, BESR and CPS.

    @ECHO OFF
    SETLOCAL
    SET _source=\\servername\folder
    SET _dest=\\servername\external drive
    SET _what=/COPYALL /B /SEC /MIR
    :: /COPYALL :: COPY ALL file info
    :: /B :: copy files in Backup mode.
    :: /SEC :: copy files with SECurity
    :: /MIR :: MIRror a directory tree
    SET _options=/R:0 /W:0 /LOG:MyLogfile.txt /NFL /NDL
    :: /R:n :: number of Retries
    :: /W:n :: Wait time between retries
    :: /LOG :: Output log file
    :: /NFL :: No file logging
    :: /NDL :: No dir logging
    ROBOCOPY %_source% %_dest% %_what% %_options%
    exit
     
  19. Simwah

    Simwah Member

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    Who was offering this, pm me if you like. Cause it sounds like a joke.
     
  20. Crusher

    Crusher Member

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    If this was my client with a small budget but willing to spend, I would look at something like this

    * Shadowprotect SBS - for nightly data backup as well as system snapshotting for recovery
    * 3 Lacie 500Gb rugged 2.5" external drives - these are the only drives I trust long term to be carried around in office admins handbags etc


    With only 50Gb I would do the following backup scheme...

    * Drive 1 - Monday & Thursday
    * Drive 2 - Tuesday & Thursday
    * Drive 3 - Friday (Weekly) and Monthly, and weekend system snapshot for DR

    Drive 1&2 rotate offsite daily, Drive 3 goes offsite Monday and comes back Friday.

    Looking at $1500 or so for the above and a few hours to install/config/test.

    I would also sack the IT guys and get someone new who is more interested in clients needs than selling stupid solutions to line their pockets.
     

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