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Old 26th October 2009, 09:11   #1
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Default Backup Solutions : Windows 2003 compatible External HDD ? Need help !

Need urgent help from technically proficient BHPians again.

I require an external hard disk to periodically (weekly) backup all the data on a server which is connected to about 30 computers. I'm looking at a storage capacity of 1 TB as of today, keeping short-term future requirements in mind. The HDD is required to be compatible with Server 2003 OS, and strangely, none of the websites of the manufacturers - the various that I've looked up - mention anything about such compatibility. They only mention the usual suspects like 2000 / XP / Vista in the compatibility list. This has become fairly urgent now, and hence I need your help guys.

What about normal hard disks which are encased? Will these do the trick? More importantly, are they as reliable as conventional external hard disk drives?

Any suggestions?
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Old 26th October 2009, 10:04   #2
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Any and all hard-disks should be compatible with Windows 2003. The manufacturers generally supply proprietary 3rd-party "one-click" backup software which might be incompatible, but the drive will perform its intended task as long as you use conventional/supported backup methods.

I have a couple of Seagate 1TB external drives myself and they've been doing a good job for some time now.
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Old 26th October 2009, 10:19   #3
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Well, they work as plug-n-play, I mean I can copy and paste data onto them. But there's possibility of error in copying files, and if even one file has an error, the entire backup has to be done again. They can't be used as network backup solutions per se, wherein a backup of the entire data is taken in one shot through some reliable method and there' no chance of error. This, of course, is what my computer fellow says. It's debatable !
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Old 26th October 2009, 10:49   #4
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Get compatible software for creating backup. Any HDD would work just fine.

You can use the Win2003 Backup Utility, it works just fine. Only issue you need to consider is the drives get renamed and while doing a restore, you will need to check on that.

Last edited by Spitfire : 26th October 2009 at 10:53.
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Old 26th October 2009, 11:11   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flyingspur View Post
The HDD is required to be compatible with Server 2003 OS, and strangely, none of the websites of the manufacturers - the various that I've looked up - mention anything about such compatibility. They only mention the usual suspects like 2000 / XP / Vista in the compatibility list.
Manufacturers refer to the compatibility of the programs (one-touch backup, utilities, disk maintenence tools etc.) that they bundle with the Hard-drive. This has got no connection with the working of the hard drive. The same hard drive can be used across various platforms & Operating Systems. I have used my hard drive (Seagate Freeagent Go 250GB) on Windows 7 (beta), 2003 Server, XP pro, XP home edition, Windows Server 2003 etc.

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Originally Posted by flyingspur View Post
What about normal hard disks which are encased? Will these do the trick? More importantly, are they as reliable as conventional external hard disk drives?
Not recommended. The external casings are made of cheap stuff, soldered wires which are prone to damage. Also, when they go bad, they tend to kill the hard drive. One bad wire can permanently damage your hard drive. I've learned it the hard way.


Quote:
Originally Posted by flyingspur View Post
Well, they work as plug-n-play, I mean I can copy and paste data onto them. But there's possibility of error in copying files, and if even one file has an error, the entire backup has to be done again. They can't be used as network backup solutions per se, wherein a backup of the entire data is taken in one shot through some reliable method and there' no chance of error. This, of course, is what my computer fellow says. It's debatable !
All the external HDDs work as plug-n-play. The OS does not differentiate an external HDD from an intenal one (can be verified from Windows device manager). Hence, I do not see a problem in taking backup from Windows 2003 Server. All you need to make sure that you should have appropriate permissions to access the files which you are trying to back up. This is fail safe !


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Any suggestions?
I'll recommend Seagate anyday. This is because of the warranty period (5 years) & their level of support. And no, I am not attached to Seagate by any means but as a user of their HDDs. Visit FreeAgent: USB 2.0 External, Portable & Desktop Hard Drives - Data Backups | Seagate for details.

Western Digital is another brand to look for.
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Old 26th October 2009, 11:32   #6
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I second StreetAddict on that. Please dont go in for External Harddrives for backup. It may be cheap, but you will be having an external data store that can give up anytime.

If your current system does not allow you to upgrade the hardware, you can probably go in for an additional system ( new/existing ) and can have a Samba share mounted for the backup( Use linux , so there is no additional cost/licensing issues involved in it ).
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Old 26th October 2009, 11:35   #7
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The Windows backup method will be bulletproof. If you want more, go with an rsync or Bacula solution for ultimate flexibility. Assuming your computer guy knows about rsync or Bacula, you will not have a single problem with the data.
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Old 26th October 2009, 11:52   #8
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Backup methods in order of best among each other

a) Windows Backup
b) Bacula
c) Rsync

However, for backup I would urge to pickup a external drive. However, try to as much bigger size you can pick of 2.5" HDD rather than 3.5" HDD siblings. Though, I believe in India 500GB is the max size 2.5 is available.

Cheers
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Old 26th October 2009, 12:33   #9
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I will not recommend Bacula, if you are looking out for a simple backup system. If you looking at using LTO tapes or some enterprise class rigid backup system, then YES will be my answer.

Because, it require bacula client to be running in each system to be backed up and needs to be monitored with some kind of alerting. You also have a Catalog service which will be handy during a restore ( requires a DB to be running ).
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Old 26th October 2009, 15:55   #10
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Again, thanks a ton for your responses. Trying to comprehend and understand all that you guys have contributed. Will get back to you all after a word with my computer fellow. Need an external drive for the job as backup is taken and drive is kept in a safe and secure place.
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Old 26th October 2009, 23:59   #11
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since it is a professional setup, have you setup any budgets for this project.
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Old 27th October 2009, 13:03   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SirAlec View Post
since it is a professional setup, have you setup any budgets for this project.
Well, what was in mind was basically finding an external HDD on which the data on the server could be backed up reliably every week !! In that regard, 5-7k for a 1TB external HDD was what was the expected expense.
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Old 27th October 2009, 14:31   #13
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You can go for any wide range of desktop external HDD. Do not, i repeat do not assemble it. (you know with box and hdd, they are very cheap)

Buy from WD or Maxtor. WD is very good with warranty (right at your door step).

But problem with equipment such as HDDs are that even if they are replaced free of cost when failure, you are stuck with loss of data.

Hence, for mission critical setup we always recommend NAS box mostly with RAID 5. But they are expensive solution.

Last edited by SirAlec : 27th October 2009 at 14:33.
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Old 27th October 2009, 14:54   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SirAlec View Post
You can go for any wide range of desktop external HDD. Do not, i repeat do not assemble it. (you know with box and hdd, they are very cheap)
Understood. Definitely not going for assembled.

Quote:
Buy from WD or Maxtor. WD is very good with warranty (right at your door step).
But the problem is none of these say on the box that they're compatible with Windows 2003 Server. I'd bought one, my computer fellow said it's not compatible and backup can only be taken via copy paste and errors can occur in the process so it's not very reliable. Sold that HDD at minimal loss, but didn't want to make the same mistake again.

However, from what you guys have suggested, any external HDD will do, and it's the backup software which matters. Is that right ? And if so, then using any external HDD (compatible with XP/Vista) coupled with Windows Backup / Bacula / Rsync will serve my purpose, is what I've understood. Correctly, I hope.

Quote:
But problem with equipment such as HDDs are that even if they are replaced free of cost when failure, you are stuck with loss of data.

Hence, for mission critical setup we always recommend NAS box mostly with RAID 5. But they are expensive solution.
Wow, never thought of that. Going to have to educate myself about this now, and maybe consider it as a long-term solution. Thanks.
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Old 27th October 2009, 15:10   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flyingspur View Post
However, from what you guys have suggested, any external HDD will do, and it's the backup software which matters. Is that right ? And if so, then using any external HDD (compatible with XP/Vista) coupled with Windows Backup / Bacula / Rsync will serve my purpose, is what I've understood. Correctly, I hope.



Wow, never thought of that. Going to have to educate myself about this now, and maybe consider it as a long-term solution. Thanks.
Correct, it's the software that matters.

Also, RAID5 is not the best idea for backing up, it is for data availability 100% of the time. A RAID5 array can take the loss of one complete hard disk and yet not lose any data. However, 2 disks failing at the same time will cause complete data loss.

Your best bet for backups is still offsite and offline backups on a USB/Tape drive. You get into paranoia territory once you're talking about offsite+offline backups, but that's the surest way to keep data safe. Even a networked backup location is open to attack if the network in your office is compromised.

However, a RAID5 array for the office + offsite backup is the best combination. Apologies if this is becoming confusing
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