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Backing up computers across a network

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Brian Abbott23/08/2021 12:31:10
492 forum posts
93 photos

Hi all,

Appreciate this is nothing to do with model engineering but could do with some advice..admin's, please delete if your not happy with this..

Any IT guys able to offer some advice.

We have a number of computers that need backing up.
Currently we back up each one once a week onto an external hard drive.

I am looking for some sort of rack mounted solution that i can backup to across a network on a daily basic,

Anyone have any advise before i call in the pro's


pgk pgk23/08/2021 12:48:22
2603 forum posts
293 photos

When I had my Practice, we had several PC's around the place used as workstations from the main server. The server was set to back itself to a second internal HD every night but my paranoia is such that we also ran 2 backup CD's - one for the fire safe and one off site and lastly used each workstation in turn as another across the network i named them by the days of the week. If the server went down it was possible to turn one workstation into a temporary server to keep us running. Finally once we had very 100Mb internet in our part of the land I added a remote overnight backup to my house as well.
Even the best raid backup system on site isn't secure if the place burns down.


HOWARDT23/08/2021 13:09:52
932 forum posts
39 photos

Raid is ok but really need multiple stand alone copies, say spread over five or seven days, each day create a separate copy on different disks or other media. Thus if you get hit with ransom ware you hopefully have a clean backup. I have always had two independent copies, remember hardware can fail as well, but that is just home working. Also don’t rely on external cloud services totally, these have gone down before now and lost customers data.

Peter Sansom23/08/2021 13:27:02
110 forum posts
2 photos

For network backups, you could purchase a NAS (Network Attached Storage). Otherwise backup to a disk attached to another pc, I use a Raspberry Pi with a couple of disks attached.

Andrew Entwistle23/08/2021 14:07:14
106 forum posts
200 photos

Have you considered backup to NAS (e.g. Synology) which in turn is backed up to a cloud service such as onedrive, dropbox etc? This has worked well for me for the last decade or so

Speedy Builder523/08/2021 14:29:42
2649 forum posts
218 photos

Just as important and needs documenting and testing is the restore / re-build procedure.

Stuart Bridger23/08/2021 16:17:12
540 forum posts
29 photos

As "one of the pros" I worked in backup and storage for over 20 years. I would say that home grown backup solutions are not the way to go. This is one time to get in the "pros". As others have said, it needs to be implemented, documented and restore regularly tested. I have too many "war stories" of data loss and inability to restore data when it is really needed. There a lots of network backup solutions out there, but also remember you need copies offsite as well. What if you have a fire? A simple copy is NOT good enough, If you have bad data (virus, corruption, etc) having an exact copy of bad data on your backup drive is not good enough...
Your solution will be determined by two objectives RTO and RPO Recovery TIME and Recovery POINT
The first how quickly you need your data back and the second, how much data you are prepared to lose. I.e. if you backup daily at 7PM, your RPO is 24 hours. The smaller both these values the higher the cost, but this has to be compared against the value of the data.

One of the worst situations I encountered was an administrator who was religiously changing the backup tape every day and putting the tapes in a fire safe. I was called to help to restore data following a disk failure. I test read the tape before restoring and the date on the files was 8 months previous. There was no backup process running on the server. So the tapes had been changed daily, but nothing had been written to them

Iain Downs23/08/2021 16:26:10
860 forum posts
756 photos

Have you considered a 'cloud' backup option? the Data is stored on someone else's servers, which also gives you disaster recovery.

I use crashplan and have about 3.8TB stashed away for 10 quid a month or so.

You can also use an off the shelf (including free) backup from each machine to a central one (just stick more hard disks in one, they're cheap). and then back that up to the cloud.

It may take a while to catch up with your current storage, but with modern internet connections, it keeps pretty up to date.

As Stuart says, it's not entirely simple, as there are trade offs, but cloud is a useful option to consider.


Stuart Bridger23/08/2021 16:37:37
540 forum posts
29 photos

Iain, agreed cloud backup is very viable. I use Carbonite to back up my files from my home PC

pgk pgk23/08/2021 17:25:24
2603 forum posts
293 photos

Cloud storage considerations depend on what the computers are used for as well as speed of upload available. With my system it was never connected to the Internet unless uploading to home for a short period. I used a non networked PC for web access preferring to keep my data air-gapped. You also have to consider things like internet failures just when you want access to the cloud store.

As pointed out any backup solution needs checking that it has backed up and can be re-used. In the early Xenix days i had a tape backup system provided by the Software support guys... cycling a new tape every day of the week. They put down my worries that things weren't right to my paranoia, claiming that the tape system was verifying the write. Yes it was. it was verifying the garbage it was miswriting, and the only clean tape was the last one of my 7day cycle when the system crashed. We lost a whole week of data and outstanding accounts with the hassle of claiming compensation and the work trying to recall and enter patient details. Fortunately, the diaries were still paper.


Peter Cook 623/08/2021 18:19:49
307 forum posts
88 photos

+1 for Andrews suggestion of a Synology NAS as a backup device on the network.

I use one as my main backup. It backs up everything (operating system, programs and data etc.) once a week. It also backs up (using Synology's cloud station drive which behaves like cloud storage on the local network) every data file each time it changes. That may be overkill, but as it keeps - in my case five versions - it can be terribly handy if I accidentally delete something, or mess up an edit.

Recovery of a file is just a right click away, and does get tested ( far too often!)

Brian Abbott24/08/2021 22:31:02
492 forum posts
93 photos

Good evening everyone,

Firstly, thank you all for taking the time to reply to my plea.

I have today spoken to a company who has suggested using Synology.

Currently, all our computers run very independently, they have suggested that we set up a server from which we can pull the information, this will provide a single point of storage and backup.

All seems to make sense, just awaiting their recommendations and costs.

Thanks again.

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