Disaster Recovery

A back-up and archive solution for a small office with Microsoft SBS 2003

Network administrator Brad Bird details a backup and archival strategy for a small shop using Microsoft Small Business Server 2003 R2.

I have a monthly network administration and support contract for a small business customer with roughly thirty office desktops, five remote desktop users, and five roaming sales force users. I've come up with a back-up and archive strategy using Microsoft's Small Business Server (SBS) 2003R2.

The challenges are fairly routine as far as ensuring patch updates, virus and spyware protection, e-mail connectivity, etc. I will discuss the back-up implementation to show how SBS handles this.

Hardware

  • 1 1TB Thecus NAS device
  • 2 Dell RD1000 removable drives for local backup with 300GB drives
  • 1 SBS 2003 R2 server
  • 1 Server 2003 Enterprise Domain Controller
  • 1 Server 2003 Enterprise ISA Server
  • 1 Server 2003 Enterprise Application Server

What to back up

  • SBS 2003 server and Domain controller must be backed up entirely with any shared data regardless of where the data is stored.
  • ISA server configuration must be backed up for quick reconfiguration if necessary.
  • Key program folders must be backed up daily on application server
  • Servers need to be restored to production as quickly as possible in the event of a disaster

Implementation

  • SBS 2003R2 is backed up entirely including DFS mount points and any network shares on Thecus NAS device using SBS Backup daily differential Monday to Friday to local RD1000 devices.
  • Once complete, the SBS backup is archived to the Thecus using an automated robocopy script.
  • Windows Server 2003 Domain Controller system state and incremental backup occur daily Monday to Thursday and a full backup is performed on Friday.
  • Once completed, the domain controller backup is archived to the Thecus using an automated robocopy script.
  • ISA server configuration is exported daily to one of the SBS shares and a full backup is performed weekly to an empty local drive.
  • Once complete, the ISA server backup is archived to the Thecus using an automated robocopy script.
  • The application server key directories are backed up directly to the Thecus NAS device. The weekly full backup is performed directly to the Thecus NAS device.
  • Once completed, the application server backups are archived to an RD1000 drives on one of the other servers.
  • "Tapes" are sent to a storage facility weekly.

Challenges

1. SBS does not support backing up to a USB device as a supported back-up location.

Solution: Create a UNC share on the removable device and connect as if it were a network location (\\servername\share).

2. Too much concurrent disk activity to the Thecus NAS device produces data integrity errors causing backups to fail or, worse, allowing them to complete but restored data is unusable.

Solution: Backup heavily used servers to local RD1000 USB drives and back up only small loads to Thecus.

3. SBS back-up filename is not consistent.

Solution: in robocopy script, move the backup file sbs****.bkf to the UNC share on the RD1000 \\server\share\weekday\weekday.bkf.

4. Space limitations on the RD1000 removable drives must be respected, particularly on the device attached to the SBS server. Use existing hardware.

Solution: Instead of copying the Monday night backup to the archive, move it (using robocopy /mov). Verify each day if there is an existing back-up file on the "tape" for that day. If there is, delete it.

5. Maintain a back-up archive in case of disaster.

Solution: Backups are archived to the Thecus NAS device with robocopy scripts using schedule tasks.

6. Keep the archival solutions as simple as possible for training and documentation.

Solution: Used batch files and existing available robocopy commands to archive with simple script to check for existence of files:

If exist "\\server\share\weekday\weekday.bkf" del "\\server\share\weekday\weekday.bkf"

Backup and archival is a task most network administrators face. What do you think of this strategy? Have you faced similar challenges?

About

Brad Bird is a lead technical consultant and MCT certified trainer based in Ottawa, ON. He works with large organizations, helping them architect, implement, configure, and customize System Center technologies, integrating them into their business pr...

7 comments
gallaso
gallaso

Brad, Seems like to you have too many "moving parts" as they say, so the more complex the solution the easier it is to break, unless you have time to baby sit the whole thing. I realize that this may have come about to save money, but is it? How much time have did you spend to get this solution together? Time is money! If the client is willing I would look at a backup solution like Backup Exec or others. This will save you time and if it breaks you would know where to go, the app.

sjh_vt
sjh_vt

Windows Home Server can be a great backup system for a small shop. Add a few USB hard drives and offsite backups become very easy.

iwm21
iwm21

We use SAN and NAS storage and we try to backup the user's areas and shared data for each group onto the storage. The storage then replicates to it's fail over device and we carry out 'trickle' backups to a.n.other media (removable hard disks or tape) which is then handed to the groups. KIS (keep it simple) One problem for us is we are very heterogeneous so "one size fits all" doesn't quite work but we try our best (don't we all)

brad
brad

Hi StealthWifi. You are absolutely correct. In the post perhaps I was not clear. What I mean by "tapes" is the USB drives. They are sent offsite weekly. We cycle through 5 drives.

StealthWiFi
StealthWiFi

5. Maintain a backup archive in case of disaster Plese elaborate, my interpretation is that you are just keeping a simple archive. If the building catches fire and your using your usb NAS system it's gona roast and your client is SOL. For any real DR plan you need to keep offsite copys, talk with your client to determine how much data they feel they can lose then make your offsite system with that. If they are small enough move your backups to Blu Ray and keep them offsite (even WinRar them to certain sizes and burn on Blu Ray is better than nothing) Blu Ray has wonderfull 50GB disks. Cheers,

noah.shabman
noah.shabman

A bit off topic question. Why do you have a separate domain controller? Why not the SBS server?

StealthWiFi
StealthWiFi

Whew good to hear, you had my heart pumping for a minute there LOL. Speaking of we had a bit of a storm this week at my office and the power lines were torn down. Long story short break room cought fire but was contained, relaly makes you think about your DR plan. Fortunatly with my setup the fire would only have taken out less than a months worth of data (the accepted ammount for this company). Cheers,

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