Backup and Redundancy

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Old 12-27-03, 09:47 AM
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Backup and Redundancy

Ok, I've got to come up with a good backup system for my parents paint store running some specialized software - made just for the paint industry. Here's the basic setup - a main server computer (nothing special - Duron 700) that runs this Genesis software across a network of 2 other computers used to enter and process invoices, etc. About 8 years ago when the whole system and software was purchased, the server (which also acts as a workstation for order entry) came with a Tape backup - of course, seeing as how tapes are now hard to come by, and the tape drive itself is getting very old and unreliable, they purchased a CD burner. The biggest problem with the CD burner is that we don't have a good system or program for running backups. Right now we are just using a batch file the runs Xcopy to copy the complete hard drive to disk. Yes, the entire hard drive fits on one disk - about 500-550Mb right now. So, not a lot of information, but if we lose it - or even have to go back a day or 2 - it's a real pain to get it back.

So, in the next couple of months I'm going to be helping them find a new POS system (probably just the software as the computers are still running fine) and hopefully help them find a good backup system to go with it. We want to try to stay under $500 for the backup system, but this is all relevant to the type of system and how reliable it is. I was thinking RAID or some type of redundancy, but a good backup that can be put in the fire-proof safe would be nice too (only about 50 cubic ft - not huge.) My other thought was an off-site solution, but the only internet service they have at the moment is dial-up - so I don't think that's going to work.

Any other thoughts on this? Any other information needed?

BTW, one of my next projects is to move the server to a closet or storage room somewhere and setup more of a traditional network setting - right now all of the network hardware and the server itself are under the front counter (not my idea, this is the way the original installer from Genesis setup the system - btw, we were not impressed in any way with their support and installation.)

Thanks for the input.
 
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Old 12-27-03, 01:38 PM
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Considering that all that really needs to be backed up is the data, not the programs, a dial-up to an off site storage may not be so bad.

When I think of how some credit card verification systems work by dialing out to some information source when the card is swiped, it seems that you could back up off site easily for low volume. The system could dial the off site server after each transaction and send the back up data. For that matter, a small volume of pure data will move quickly over a telephone line, so daily back up off site might not be so bad.

Having RAID in a separate room would be a good step as well. You could run the POS units as dumb terminals off the server and avoid the duplication of equipment. LTSP is a good example. http://www.ltsp.org/ The applications run on a powerful enough server, and the terminals just follow along. You could drop a CD in at night and do a differential backup; and just carry the CD home each night. With a differential backup you only need to restore from two backups: the full and the most recent differential.

Hope this helps.
 
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Old 12-27-03, 03:16 PM
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Having RAID in a separate room would be a good step as well. You could run the POS units as dumb terminals off the server and avoid the duplication of equipment.
That's basically what I have setup right now - with the exception of the RAID setup. Except that we use the Server as a POS terminal as well. The other stations are just dumb terms - basically just boxes that start from floppies. So, what I intend to do is setup the server in a network closet (possibly with a RAID setup) and use some of the computers I've collected over the years as terminals. Then setup my backups to run every night automatically - whether they be CD's, tapes, online, whatever is cheap, easy and reliable (I know, in the computer world, the 3 don't go together ), but that's why I'm asking here. Believe it or not, my biggest problem is going to be finding a good room or closet for the network equipment - after all, this is only about a 2400 sq. ft. building (half of that being warehouse) and there's not much office space - I'll figure something out.

Thanks, keep the ideas coming.
 
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