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DTMark

Server backup solutions

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Can anyone point me in the direction of some decent server backup solutions.

It's for Windows server and must be able to use Volume Shadow copy so as to back up active SQL Server files. It also has to have decent bandwidth available; in the event that we need to pull back 50GB of files from storage it can't run at 1Mbps downstream or it will be recovering for days. The things I've tested have all been compromised in this respect, so while we could use them for DR - in reality it would be 50 times faster to recover from my home machine since we have 50Mbps upstream.

We've used Jungle Disk but it's a bit of a disaster. The interface is buggy, the usage grows exponentially for no obvious reason, the pricing is ridiculous and I discover today that it isn't running at all as the thing at the other end has been running a 'clean up' operation for days. Just as well I've set up server > local machine backups and have local copies of everything.

An alternative would be to use SyncBackup, which is a lovely little piece of software, with something like Amazon storage, so splitting apart the software and the storage. But the pricing of that is indeterminate and so ridiculously complex like all cloud based things that my eyes glaze over and I move on. It looks way too much like a trap. The answer to the question "What would it cost to store circa 150GB per month" is not forthcoming. Actually I wonder how and why anyone proceeds on this basis.

I think Acronis is probably the best option. Any others?

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9 minutes ago, DTMark said:

Can anyone point me in the direction of some decent server backup solutions.

It's for Windows server and must be able to use Volume Shadow copy so as to back up active SQL Server files. It also has to have decent bandwidth available; in the event that we need to pull back 50GB of files from storage it can't run at 1Mbps downstream or it will be recovering for days. The things I've tested have all been compromised in this respect, so while we could use them for DR - in reality it would be 50 times faster to recover from my home machine since we have 50Mbps upstream.

We've used Jungle Disk but it's a bit of a disaster. The interface is buggy, the usage grows exponentially for no obvious reason, the pricing is ridiculous and I discover today that it isn't running at all as the thing at the other end has been running a 'clean up' operation for days. Just as well I've set up server > local machine backups and have local copies of everything.

An alternative would be to use SyncBackup, which is a lovely little piece of software, with something like Amazon storage, so splitting apart the software and the storage. But the pricing of that is indeterminate and so ridiculously complex like all cloud based things that my eyes glaze over and I move on. It looks way too much like a trap. The answer to the question "What would it cost to store circa 150GB per month" is not forthcoming. Actually I wonder how and why anyone proceeds on this basis.

I think Acronis is probably the best option. Any others?

Take a look at Azure server backup calculator to compare cost.  SQL aware so can do DB and Trans log backup also.

 

https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/pricing/details/backup/

 

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We used to have an Azure account until an ancient Skype account MS had elected to link to it got compromised, and we had no alternative but to close the Microsoft account for every Microsoft service, they refused to break the implicit link they'd created and I couldn't risk everything behind the single sign in being compromised, so we lost our developer programme benefits etc. 

Calculator says it's £10.81 per month. None of that AWS silliness about get and put requests.

But there's no mention of any software, and I find myself here:

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-gb/azure/backup/backup-introduction-to-azure-backup

and then

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-gb/azure/backup/backup-azure-backup-sql

and

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-gb/azure/backup/backup-azure-microsoft-azure-backup

Eyes have glazed over. I'd rather potentially pay more per month than have to digest all that. Can't be bothered.

I just want to back up one production server.

Makes me think of that Lilt advert: "I just want to buy a melon".

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It's way too complex. Sorry, I asked for suggestions ;)

https://www.acronis.com/en-gb/business/backup/server/purchasing/

£498 per year with 250GB of storage.

I'm really looking for alternatives to Acronis which might be cheaper but come with the same kind of "click to install, run the wizard, configure and then forget" approach.

What puts me off Acronis is that when I trialled it the downstream speeds were too poor for it to be a DR solution.

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Used a few over the years. Was on Acronis for DR imaging for a long while before I discovered Macrium Reflect - which is cheaper, easier to use and more reliable (specially when restoring to new hardware). Use it for all my servers - workstations too.

For data and SQL backups I use cloudberry to throw stuff onto amazon glacier as it changes, which is insanely cheap storage. Click and forget, very easy to restore files and databases. It's never let me down.

Macrium + Cloudberry = sleeping soundly :)

Edit - Took around 40 mins to restore 20Gb database with Cloudberry a few weeks ago (using the new fast restore option on Glacier) if that works for you?

Edited by Mihnjeeta

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On 22/09/2017 at 13:25, DTMark said:

Can anyone point me in the direction of some decent server backup solutions.

It's for Windows server and must be able to use Volume Shadow copy so as to back up active SQL Server files. It also has to have decent bandwidth available; in the event that we need to pull back 50GB of files from storage it can't run at 1Mbps downstream or it will be recovering for days. The things I've tested have all been compromised in this respect, so while we could use them for DR - in reality it would be 50 times faster to recover from my home machine since we have 50Mbps upstream.

We've used Jungle Disk but it's a bit of a disaster. The interface is buggy, the usage grows exponentially for no obvious reason, the pricing is ridiculous and I discover today that it isn't running at all as the thing at the other end has been running a 'clean up' operation for days. Just as well I've set up server > local machine backups and have local copies of everything.

An alternative would be to use SyncBackup, which is a lovely little piece of software, with something like Amazon storage, so splitting apart the software and the storage. But the pricing of that is indeterminate and so ridiculously complex like all cloud based things that my eyes glaze over and I move on. It looks way too much like a trap. The answer to the question "What would it cost to store circa 150GB per month" is not forthcoming. Actually I wonder how and why anyone proceeds on this basis.

I think Acronis is probably the best option. Any others?

150gb on S3 would cost 3.4 usd per month. 

https://aws.amazon.com/s3/pricing/

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This is timely. I need to address this today as Jungle Disk, the software currently used, is failing all over the place, so we are 'at risk' should the other offsite backup and the onsite backup fail simultaneously.

Can I ask - how did you get to that price above, as I can't see it on that page - there seem to be three or four different things that attract pricing (GET, PUT, storage, speed), it's a lot more complex than "just some FTP space". Indeed it is this complexity that means I've never got anywhere with AWS because the pricing is too "open wallet" or "blank cheque" to consider. 

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58 minutes ago, DTMark said:

This is timely. I need to address this today as Jungle Disk, the software currently used, is failing all over the place, so we are 'at risk' should the other offsite backup and the onsite backup fail simultaneously.

Can I ask - how did you get to that price above, as I can't see it on that page - there seem to be three or four different things that attract pricing (GET, PUT, storage, speed), it's a lot more complex than "just some FTP space". Indeed it is this complexity that means I've never got anywhere with AWS because the pricing is too "open wallet" or "blank cheque" to consider. 

I just took a quick look at it, but I use S3 for storage of several TBs. It never costs more than $30 a month, if that helps.

I concur about the complexity of AWS in general though -  GUI is awful and counter intuitive, particularly the permissions/users part. Takes me about 15 mins to do even simple tasks. But for the redundancy and reliability its hard to fault.

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Just to add, for my backups (including DOSBODS) I use RSync via the host's proprietary system, Vultr Snapshot and then S3, in that order. The S3 backups are backups, and backups of backups.

 

Have you considered something simple like Dropbox Business/ Enterprise?

 

For 3 users and 2TB it will cost £43 a month. So not that cheap, really.

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I have years of backups on Amazon Glacier 0.0045$ per gigabyte. You're then charged a whopping 0.0315$ per GB when restoring. Amazon S3 is more expensive and intended for on demand sharing / streaming.

Agree that it took a while to get my head around using aws, but once done everything can be managed via Cloudberry. Oh, i also used S3 Browser for mapping s3 vaults, but not so much recently as we've gone full ms cloud last couple of years.

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What the AWS website needs is a prominent button "Call us" so as to be able to discuss scenarios and try to map the solutions being offered to the scenario. "I want to backup a Windows server with MSSQL". "Ah, what you need is this, and this, and this, and it will cost £x".

   

There's a review of various options that I came across:

https://www.cloudwards.net/best-server-backup-solutions/

The Carbonite one comes with storage, so no need to play around with Amazon or Azure separately. I might give that a try. The key determinant will be the upstream and downstream bandwidth and speeds. Seems similarly priced to Acronis.

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Right, I've spent all day looking at this.

AWS is out of the question owing to the inability to calculate a price. I have literally no idea what it would cost to backup per month or to restore. There's an awful lot of work needed on that platform to make it credible and usable especially if people are supposed to be using it as their tech platform and reselling the services to clients.

Azure is easy to compute a price for.  But I can't be bothered reading all that guff. I just want a backup solution.

We're not going to be going over to cloud-based web hosting until the cost falls by about two thirds (give it some years for the "buzz" associated with the word "cloud" to fall away), so we can't move anything else onto Azure, it is just way too expensive. If this were not so, we'd have everything on Azure and wouldn't have to bother with our own dedicated servers and the overheads that come with them.

Of the lot, Acronis seem to have this sewn up, there don't appear to be many competing products which wrap the whole lot in one package with nice software and a fixed annual cost that isn't ridiculous. Carbonite is one, but Acronis are better-known, have a nicer UI, and price is similar (c. £500 a year per server).

 

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If it's just windows servers and SQL DBs backing up to local disks or network storage then you probably don't need any specialised software and it can all be scripted in powershell or batch files. Robocopy is good for this.

 

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It's just local files that need backing up. We can't do a bare metal restore because the servers are leased from a DC and we don't have KVM-style access to the machine to be able to effect a complete restore in the event of a total failure.

IIRC it's about 40GB of website files and about 10GB of MS SQL Server database files, currently on a 7 day retention policy.

I thought I'd try the MS Azure backup solution but we can't and now I remember why.

When you try to sign up for an account, you get "You can’t sign up here with a work or school email address. Use a personal email address, such as Gmail or Yahoo! or get a new Outlook email address" so you have to create a new GMail account first. This is actually for real. I suppose they want you to create an Outlook mailbox.

When we used Azure before I probably got past that because we were logged in under my personal MS account and that's what the Azure account became "attached to".

And in turn, when an old Skype account linked to that got compromised, we had to close every Microsoft service to be on the safe side and shut the entire account which had to include Azure.

I can't have Azure linked to anything else for security reasons nor can it live behind the same login as anything else. This is basic stuff. These "single sign-ins" are handy but ultimately dangerous in scenarios like this.

So we can't use Azure. Business users cannot sign up, Azure is apparently only meant for personal and home users who want to build their first web page or make a blog but it's not for business. This sort of thing should win some kind of award for extreme idiocy.

I do find myself thinking more and more "Microsoft, what the hell are you doing?"

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If you are just backing up local files why not just run live local replication to a secure server (physically and electronically) to a local device - something like a mini server in a fire safe? It would provide you with a lot of flexibility and direct control of everything you are running. 50GB is peanuts in such a scenario.  Could take snapshots too and just store then on SD cards / disks and have those stored in alternative location as a fallback in case real disaster strikes.  Something like freenas would provide you with good raid protection if stored on a single server or you could go full replication route and actually have a  warm server with current filesystem all ready to go on a separate server. 

Edited by onlyme

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6 minutes ago, onlyme said:

If you are just backing up local files why not just run live local replication to a secure server (physically and electronically) to a local device - something like a mini server in a fire safe? It would provide you with a lot of flexibility and direct control of everything you are running. 50GB is peanuts in such a scenario.  Could take snapshots too and just store then on SD cards / disks and have those stored in alternative location as a fallback in case real disaster strikes.  Something like freenas would provide you with good raid protection if stored on a single server or you could go full replication route and actually have a  warm server with current filesystem all ready to go on a separate server. 

That is exactly what we have. One server sitting doing nothing all day every day with a complete copy of the web and SQL files and web server config that we can failover to if the web or database server dies. Or if both die. It's not seamless but it doesn't involve much more than moving the IPs from one box to another. A piece of kit called SyncBackup mirrors the files every 5 minutes. The cost of that resilience is about £200 a month IIRC which is what the 'spare' server costs (on top of what the production ones cost).

This is for offsite backups.

 

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12 minutes ago, DTMark said:

That is exactly what we have. One server sitting doing nothing all day every day with a complete copy of the web and SQL files and web server config that we can failover to if the web or database server dies. Or if both die. It's not seamless but it doesn't involve much more than moving the IPs from one box to another. A piece of kit called SyncBackup mirrors the files every 5 minutes. The cost of that resilience is about £200 a month IIRC which is what the 'spare' server costs (on top of what the production ones cost).

This is for offsite backups.

 

Ok that's good, you already have a lot of resilience.  But this is for your local files right, have you considered storing them locally in a hardened environment? It might be an option worth thinking about.  Or do you need geographic separation for contractual reasons?

Edited by onlyme

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The main reasons for the offsite storage are in case both the network links to the DC (in London) get severed one day and it drops offline, the DC catches fire, goes bust, a malicious compromise which wipes out everything on site and so forth.

The SyncBackup software is very good and is very capable of acting as the backup software client but it would need storage space somewhere to put the files which needs to offer fast upstream and downstream. This rules out, for instance, a dead cheap VPS box in America.

I thought this would be easy but Amazon isn't priced and so therefore would be an "experiment" but I want a solution; Azure isn't possible to sign up for as Microsoft don't want business users on the platform, so I give up. We'll just pay Acronis the £500/yr and be done with it. There is very little else like it and to be fair it's not that expensive.

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Sure you have this in place already but might be worth reviewing your supplier's and your TOS with customers too - how much you could reasonably be expected to do in the face of what would be pretty disastrous failures outside of your control - you may already be shedding any liability but expectation levels as well should be well anchored and not taking any personal/company liability for total failure of other systems (or whole facilities) would I have thought be entirely fair with appropriate force majeure clauses reflecting those imposed on you by any hosting/services you have.

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If you want to take backups and store them offsite securely then tape and a secure fireprooof store is still one of the best and cheapest solutions  though it does require some manual effort from system administrators. In addition your data is not going to get hacked, wiped or corrupted by a virus or suffer any other type of remote electronic compromise while in storage. This cant be said for any of the cloud based or mirroring solutions which dont have any air gap. My preferred backup solution is still a copy to disk first and then tape second before removing the latter offsite daily.

As for cost the simple question to all people who balk at the expense of backup and DR solutions is how much would it cost your business a day to be without its IT systems and how long do you think it could survive without them.

Personally I would not trust any backup solution where I could not own and physically hold the backups on some form of offline media.

Needless to say ithere is no point in holding such off site backups if you dont regularly test restoring them

 

Edited by Virgil Caine

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