Hello world,

In our network, we have multiple servers and some of these are Virtual Machines. In order to back these up, we use a Disk-to-Disk and a Disk-to-Disk-to-Tape strategy, using BackupAssist v5.

Let’s look at how we do this.

Windows Server #1: SBS 2003 – This is our main server, domain controller, print and file server. We have three backup jobs:

  1. Full backup to USB HDD – backing up the complete system, Exchange Server and mailboxes, file system to USB HDD
  2. File Replication of the filesystem to Server 2 (Mirror mode) – to ensure that our file system is also backed up to an additional location
  3. Rsync our file system to an offsite location

Windows Server #2: Windows Server 2003 – this is a VM host machine running the free VMware Server, and also has a DLT4 tape drive installed. We have two jobs running here:

  1. File replication of our VM guests to a local disk – we do this by using the File Replication job in Mirror mode to mirror the entire directories of our VM guests to a separate internally installed hard drive.
  2. Tape backup – backup the system partition, the mirror of the VMs (that were created by the previously described job), the mirror of the file system from Server 1, plus the backups of the VM guests (described later), to tape.

On Server 2, there are three VM guests:

  1. Linux machine #1 – our source code repository – which is backed up as part of job #1 on the host, Server 2. We also have a scheduled rsync job that syncs the source code repository to an external site.
  2. Linux machine #2 – our issue tracking system – which is backed up as part of job #1 on the host, Server 2. We also have a scheduled rsync job that syncs the database to an external site.
  3. Windows Server #3 – our CRM system – which runs BackupAssist and does a filesystem backup and a SQL Server backup to the host, Windows Server #2. This is then picked up in the Tape job as previously described.

Notice that the 3 virtual machine guests do not need an internal system backup from within the guest because the host is backing up the entire guests, so a bare-metal restore would simply involve copying back the VM guests to a new server and running them from there.

When backing up the VM guests, we suspend the virtual machine to ensure that all data is flushed to disk. For more information about how to backup VM guests, please refer to this document: BackupAssist Usage Scenarios Guide

The next thing I’m going to investigate is whether it’s possible (and practical) to Rsync our guest VMs offsite. That means to say, as well as backing them up to tape, to have an additional job to sync them to a remote server via the Internet.

I’ll keep everyone posted on how it goes!

Regards,

Linus

Posted by Linus

5 Comments

  1. Surrey Wedding Photographer April 4, 2011 at 5:59 pm

    Hi Linus, was just wondering what your thoughts were to which is the better backup technique: Disk-to-Disk OR Disk-to-Disk-to-Tape strategy?

    Thanks!

  2. Wonder how many people actually even do the 3 backup steps? Most people think that backing up to external HDD is enough. There’s too much security treat these days to rely only on 1 or 2 backups.

  3. Most people think that backing up to external HDD is enough. But I was just wondering what your thoughts were to which is the better backup technique: Disk-to-Disk OR Disk-to-Disk-to-Tape strategy?

  4. Hi Shy,

    As far as a better backup technique this is mostly dependent on personal preference. While someone may find backing up to external hard drives better for their situation, someone else may find tape better.
    The only real rule I give out when asked questions like this is ‘are you comfortable in being able to restore your data using this method?’ If you’re comfortable then it’s likely you’ve got the right backup strategy for your situation.
    It’s also a good idea to run your backup to multiple locations/media in the event of a major disaster you have that extra layer of protection.

    Thanks,
    Stuart
    BackupAssist Support Team

  5. “Wow, I just booted a virtual machine from its backup files. Veeam FTW. Seriously, this is innovation at its finest! Beyond impressed.” And “v5 is awesome, instant recovery works like a charm!”

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