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Setting up a Backup Server
Home or office Backup Server Solution
By Red Squirrel


The Server
The backup server does not really need to be all that powerful. It's job will be to grab entire drives from workstations and store them on the server. However, it's a very good idea to have removable drives on this server. You can buy removable drive trays and the bays, and use a regular IDE drive in them. The backup data will go on these drives, and you can have different jobs on each disk, and even have rotations, depending on how many drives you want to buy.

An offsite backup is also a good idea, in case a disaster happens such as a fire, flood, hurricane, etc. If you live in a place like Florida, you'll probably even want to regularly mail an offsite backup to a relative that lives in an area that's safe from hurricanes. If you can afford it, you can even get a tape drive and have tons of tape rotations and multiple offsite backups, but the drives are rather expensive compared to buying a couple 300GB IDE drives and removable enclosures, but worth it if you want a lot of rotations.

Also, raid could work for extra backup, but since these are removable, it's probably safer to go with non raid. If the drives fail, you pop a new one in and do the backup job. The odds of both the source and backup drives failing at the same time are about as slim as two raided drives failing, perhaps even more slim as it's also on two separate machines. And this is where rotations come in, so at all times you have at least 3 copies of the same data, one being outside of a machine. But this all depends how serious you are about this and how paranoid you are.

I won't get into the hardware part of the server, but here's how mine looks like. Typical computer really, except for the removable drive trays. Also ensure to get a big case, I had to shave part of the removable drive in order for a motherboard capacitor to go through, since this case is not long enough and the drive goes over the motherboard. Cooling is also something to take in mind as you'll have multiple drives running at once, and working hard during the backup jobs. These particular trays have built in fans.

backup server backup server


Software
For intense file transfers you'll definitely want to install some flavor of Linux. The main two packages you want are Samba and Rsync. I won't get into installing these but to make your life easier install a Debian based distro and use apt-get to install these packages. You'll also need cron, but that's pretty much standard on any distro as far as I know.

Samba Configuration
Samba in this case is mostly important as a client but won't hurt to have it run as server so you can see the contents of the backup drives from windows, and even allow you to do some manual backups if you want to archive stuff elsewere on the drive. To connect using samba, you would go like this:

smbmount //destroyer.loc/d$ /mnt/destroyer_d -o username=administrator,password=123456789

Destroyer.loc/d$ is the share name, /mnt/destroyer_d is an existing empty folder (the remote D drive will be mounted there) and then the credentials.

Warning: Because these credentials are in plain text, it is crucial to ensure no one can get on this server. Do not give any type of online access to this server. For extra security this server should only be on when needed (we'll get to that later)

Once this is mounted, you can then use rsync to copy the data to the server's backup drive, which should be mounted first.

So assuming the backup drive is mounted on /mnt/backup_drive you would run this command:

rsync -vru /mnt/destroyer_d /mnt/backup_drive

Check the rsync man page for more options, as you can have it delete old files and do other fun stuff.

Rsync only copies files that are new or have changed, so if not much has changed since the last backup, the job should not take long to complete.





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Latest comments (newest first)
Posted by Onykage on February 02rd 2006 (09:55)
I highly recomend gentoo as a flavor a linux to use with a server. Like debian gentoo has a fetch/make-install script in it called emerge. Just goto /etc/portage/ to have a look on the gentoo site. You can find out all you need to know by pulling the -h (help) option on the emerge command.
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