Enterprise Software

Backing up Novell NetWare

Novell NetWare offers several back up options, but which one should you use and when? John Sheesley can answer those questions and more.


On July 18th John Sheesley explained how Novell NetWare offers several backup solutions. During this meeting, John explained which one you should use and when.If you couldn’t join us then, enjoy the transcript; and we hope to see you on our next live Guild Meeting. You can find a schedule of Guild Meetings in your weekly TechProGuild Notes TechMail or on the Guild Meeting calendar.

On July 18th John Sheesley explained how Novell NetWare offers several backup solutions. During this meeting, John explained which one you should use and when. If you couldn’t join us then, enjoy the transcript; and we hope to see you on our next live Guild Meeting. You can find a schedule of Guild Meetings in your weekly TechProGuild Notes TechMail or on the Guild Meeting calendar.

Note: TechProGuild edits Guild Meeting transcripts for clarity.

Introductions
MODERATOR: Welcome to the Guild Meeting. I'm Joan Harvey, and I'll be your moderator tonight. Our scheduled speaker is John Sheesley, our Novell expert extraordinaire.

Also, I wanted to let everyone know that this month we're giving away a CNA Novell NetWare 5 Study set. How do you win? That's easy. Come to as many meetings as you can, and ask a lot of questions. At the end of this meeting, the speaker (John) and the moderator (me) will decide which member has contributed the most to the meeting. It's really not subjective. We do keep count of questions, etc. That person “wins” the meeting. The member who wins the most meetings wins the study set. Because it's only halfway into the month, the field is open. We have three or four people with one meeting each, and Harold966 is our leader with two Guild Meeting wins.

Why don't we get started by telling a little about what we do and where we're from? I'm the editor in chief for TechProGuild, and I'm located in Louisville, KY.

EAGLE_TECH: Net Admin/Support Manager for one of the largest high schools in the U.S., with 4,000 students. I’m located in northeast Atlanta, GA.

BWILSON: Support Professional; I work in Georgia as well.

MODERATOR: Bwilson, what kind of company do you work for, and how many users do you support?

BWILSON: I work for the county government, which is about 12,000 computer users strong.

JAMEST: I’m the manager of an I.S. department in Portland, OR.

MODERATOR: Welcome, Jamest. Glad to see Oregon represented. What's the head count for your group?

JAMEST: Smaller of the sorts, about 60 users including remote users.

JECASSERLY: Hello. I am studying for my MCSE + I certification, and I live in Charlotte, NC. I enjoy learning all that I can.

PASHA: I'm from Kiev, Ukraine; it's 4:12 A.M. here. I'm an administrator of several FreeBSD UNIX systems in an institute with about 20,000 students.

MODERATOR: John, we've just been getting acquainted. But I'm sure everyone is anxious to get started. So I'll turn the floor over to you.

The ins and outs of a NetWare backup
JOHN SHEESLEY: Let's get down to some backup information for NetWare. First of all, let’s start with some basics. What are backups? Why do you need them?

Hopefully, all of you are backing up your systems on a regular or at least semi-regular basis. One of the main reasons we centralize data on a network server, of course, is to make sure that we can back up all the data safely. As you know, one of the devices most likely to fail in any computer is the hard drive. If you don’t have good copies of the data on your hard drive, then you'll quickly find yourself flipping burgers down the street.

Three of the most common questions about backups are: 1) What do I back up my data to? 2) What strategy should I use when backing up my data? 3) What software is best to use in a NetWare environment?

Let's start off with where you put your data. Floppy disks, right? Preferably those old reliable 360K 5.25 disks you have lying around. Sounds kind of silly, but you'd be surprised at the number of people who count data they store on floppy disk as their backups. The most common device used for storing backups is tape. It's also one of the most traditional, going all the way back to the days of mainframes. Nowadays, other devices have also become popular: ZIP drives, JAZ drives, even CD-ROM, RW, and DVD-RAM drives. However, as you can probably guess, a little ZIP or JAZ drive is not going to be sufficient for a multi-gigabyte network. So it's back to tape.

What devices are most common on the networks that you all are using to back up your networks?

EAGLE_TECH: We use them all: DLT, DAT, and 8 mm.

GJANI: I would say DLT tapes.

PASHA: We use second/third/swappable HDD.

JAMEST: We prefer DAT, CD-ROM.

JECASSERLY: I use a Yamaha CD-ROM, RW.

EAGLE_TECH: DAT changers were popular for quite a while, but with bigger networks, RAIDS, and so forth, DLTs are becoming the staple around the schools we support.

JOHN SHEESLEY: Sounds like we have a mix of everything, including the CD-ROMs, RWs, and even the swappable HDs, which is a method I didn’t even mention.

Eagle makes a good point. DLTs are quickly becoming very popular. DATs and 8 mm were the rage just a few short years ago, but they've quickly run out of steam. I remember several of the places where I worked had real reliability problems with the DATs and 8 mm tapes. How are you finding the DLTs for quality so far?

EAGLE_TECH: They are slower, I think, but they are easier to store, rotate, and keep organized then the changer mags. My humble opinion only!

GJANI: DLTs are pretty good. We haven't had any major, serious problems. So far so good.

EAGLE_TECH: With drive prices fairly low, Pasha's HDD swap works well. I’ve had only one failure with the cartridge-locking mechanism. They’re reliable, large capacity, and internal so there's no extras.

GJANI: Restoring most current data on HDD swap can be difficult. But restoring it from DLT can be much quicker.

JOHN SHEESLEY: I got soured on DATs pretty early. We had one at our local police department, and we used it to back up our NetWare server that ran the Computer Aided Dispatch system. The tape drive regularly ate the tapes or swallowed them and refused to cough them back up. At one point the server had crashed, destroying the volumes and the mirrors completely. We went to the tape to restore, but of course it hadn’t taken. Fortunately, Ontrack's Data Recovery got the data, but that's another story.

GJANI: What software is good to use for backup with NetWare?

EAGLE_TECH: I used ArcServe 6.x and am currently using Veritas Backup Exec 8.5. Each has its good and bad points.

JOHN SHEESLEY: ArcServe? Did someone say ArcServe? Wait until I put on my earmuffs to block the blood curdling screams.

BWILSON: We're using Backup Exec, as well.

JOHN SHEESLEY: Backup Exec is another good choice, but, actually, of all the software choices available, ArcServe is probably your best shot. But that's really not saying much. I’ve found what ArcServe does best is cause Abends on a NetWare server.

GJANI: I've worked a little with Backup Exec, but I was wondering if there is anything better?

JOSE.WABO: What about Arcserve?

JOHN SHEESLEY: As for ArcServe, it's been one of the mainstays since NetWare 3.x. I’ve heard lots of good things about Backup Exec 8.5, however.

EAGLE_TECH: We switched about a year ago to Backup Exec 8.5. Is there another package you value more than those two?

JOHN SHEESLEY: NovaStor has backup software available for NetWare, but I have no experience or exposure to it. And of course, you can use Legato Networker, although that doesn’t run natively on NetWare unless I’m mistaken. Does anyone know for sure? Doesn’t Legato require a separate NT box?

EAGLE_TECH: I'm checking on Legato now, John.

JOHN SHEESLEY: One thing to be aware of with Backup Exec 8.5, though, is some problems that the newest support packs (SPs) have been having with Backup Exec.

EAGLE_TECH: I've seen an improvement in the software since Veritas bought it from Seagate. You’re right about the SPs. Just updated to SP, and I am testing the newest one.

Setting up Backup Exec
GJANI: What is the best way to set up Backup Exec with a NetWare server that currently has no back scheme?

JOHN SHEESLEY: There are two files that Backup Exec uses, and you must delete them from your server before applying the support packs. These files are MM.NLM and FILESYS.NLM. If you don’t remove them prior to installing the support packs, your server may abend. There's documentation about this problem in the readme file that accompanies the support pack.

Backup Exec 7.3 versus 8.5
GJANI: What are the differences between Backup Exec 7.3 versus 8.5? Is there a major change?

JOHN SHEESLEY: Gjana, I’ve never used 7.3, so I can't tell you about that.

Backup strategies
JOHN SHEESLEY: There are several strategies you can use when backing up your network. You can use a differential tape strategy or incremental strategy. You should make sure you create at least one full backup per week. Using the incremental strategy, you then back up only the data that has changed since the previous backup. This is very fast, but can be a real pain when it comes to restore. For example, if you have a failure on day six of your rotation, with an incremental tape backup, you must restore your full backup and then walk yourself through days one through six. Not bad if you’re billing customers by the hour, but if you’re salaried, then that’s a different story.

A differential backup strategy still employs a total of seven tapes—one full backup once a week and then six additional backups. The difference is that a differential backup backs up all the data that has changed since the last full backup. So, when crash time happens, you need to grab only your last full backup and the last differential. This is also nice because we all know how semi-reliable tape can be sometimes. If you have a bad tape in the middle of an incremental backup, you’re pretty much hosed.

BWILSON: Rotating differentials with full backups on Fridays is the scheme we're using.

What about hot-swappable servers?
PASHA: Did anyone think of hot-swappable servers? They are fast and reliable.

EAGLE_TECH: You folks must have a lot of extra money, Pasha.

PASHA: Well, most ISPs here can have something like that, and they do not have too much money.

JOHN SHEESLEY: Pasha, if you can afford it, mirrored servers or clustering is definitely the way to go. Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t be doing a backup!

JECASSERLY: Clustering would be better, wouldn't it?

JOHN SHEESLEY: Clustering would be better, yes. However, there's no real effective clustering solution for NetWare right now. I mean, they have it, but it's pretty kludgy if you ask me.

PASHA: But a mirrored/clustered server will give you extra time to restore from backup.

JOHN SHEESLEY: Pasha, yes, you’re right there; and it's critical to have some type of failover if you’re in a mission-critical environment, like we had at the police department.

GJANI: When you restore a file, will file attributes restore to what they were originally?

JOHN SHEESLEY: Gjani, the files should restore to their original attributes. I have noticed problems with restoring NDS with ArcServe sometimes, however.

Can I copy Novell to another drive?
WELL: Is there any software that can copy Novell and data to another hard disk completely?

EAGLE_TECH: Ghost for NetWare 2.0 or Server Magic work well.

GJANI: Would something like "Ghost" software work with NetWare?

EAGLE_TECH: Recently had a 3.12 server lose the systemboard with no parts support. Server magic'ed the drive to image, and then reimaged to another box.

JOHN SHEESLEY: Eagle, you’re right there. It's always nice to have a ghosted copy; however, for a fast restore, you must make sure you have identical swappable hardware. A different disk controller or NIC can cause you to have to reconfigure things. Sometimes that’s not always easy to do in a rush.

EAGLE_TECH: This isn’t true for regular ghost as it does sector-to-sector copy. It doesn’t understand NetWare partitions. Ghost for NetWare resizes just as the regular ghost does for Win9.x/NT drives. But you’re correct. This strategy would not work for rush jobs.

WELL: Where can you get Ghost?

EAGLE_TECH: You can get it at Symantec.com.

GJANI: Symentec sells Ghost.

WELL: It’s not a freeware?

EAGLE_TECH: No. Visit http://www.symantec.com/sabu/ghost/index.html.

Backup rotations
JOHN SHEESLEY: With backups, don’t just rely on your regular rotation of tapes. It might be a good idea to create more than one set of rotations and keep a set off-site. If your building burns down, having data on tape won’t help much when the tapes are melted in the middle of your server room.

EAGLE_TECH: Rotate through three sets, and a fourth goes off-site in a fireproof safe.

JOHN SHEESLEY: Eagle, that’s a good minimum recommendation for rotations. Also, you don’t want to rely on one set of tapes with mission-critical data. I’ve seen many times where tapes, even new ones, even though they verify as being okay during backup, won't restore when you need them.

EAGLE_TECH: Keep a full backup for each month and an annual full backup, as well.

PASHA: Keep in mind that safes are fireproof only for some period of time, not forever.

JOHN SHEESLEY: Pasha, you’re right. Even though they're fireproof, they’re not heat proof. The temperature may rise high enough inside a fireproof safe to damage the contents, especially that of tapes.

EAGLE_TECH: True, Pasha. We keep a copy off-site and in a safe. Plus, I take a set home.

Backup tips to live by
EAGLE_TECH: John, for a newbie, what would be the two or three best tips for backing up?

JOHN SHEESLEY: 1) Back up, 2) back up, and 3) back up. Actually, 1) make sure you do your backups on a daily basis, 2) make sure you have a good rotation schedule with your tapes, including storing them off-site, and 3) test your backups and disaster-recovery strategy occasionally to make sure that what you want to do, or what you think you’re doing, actually works.

Thanks for coming
MODERATOR: I'd like to thank our speaker, John Sheesley. Always a pleasure!

JOHN SHEESLEY: Thank you to everyone for participating tonight.

MODERATOR: And tonight it looks like Eagle_Tech won the meeting! Good job. That means you need to win two more meetings to get in the lead for that Novell Study Set.

Don't forget tomorrow afternoon's meeting. Mike Jackman will discuss Extending Battery life for Laptops. Also, don't forget Thursday night. Tim Lee of buypogo.com will discuss Bluetooth technology. The meeting starts at 9:00 P.M. EDT, 1800 GMT. Goodnight, everyone. Thanks for coming.
Our Guild Meetings feature top-flight professionals leading discussions on interesting and valuable IT issues. You can find a schedule of Guild Meetings in your weekly TechProGuild Notes TechMail, or on the Guild Meeting calendar.

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