Ron via writes to “via E-Bitz:” 

“I am looking for a decent solution for backing up a SBS 2003 Server with about 30 GB of user data.  The current Seagate Travan system is both slow and unreliable.  (Lifetime warranty on tapes?  HA!)  Would you suggest that I try the Iomega Rev system or get 2 to 3 USB HD’s? 

What do you use?  If you have tried harddrives, have you run into any software difficulties?  I am sure I’m not the only person curious about external drives as backup solution.”

Dear Ron:

You are not alone in looking for a reliable and cheap backup solution.  Tape drive manufacturers HAVE NOT stepped up to the plate in providing reliable and REASONABLY priced tape drives to keep up with the monster drives we are throwing into our servers.  In my own case I wasn’t ready to go to a usb harddrive solution and I was anticipating backing up my main server AND a member server so I plunked down 3 grand on a Sony Quad tape loader.  Yup you read that right, $3 thousand smackeroos.  Works wonderfully  [it better at that price].  But it’s not your normal SBS backup solution by any means. 

What’s the best backup?  One that works.  One that you’ve tested.  One that the client will remember to change out. 

Do people use usb enclosure harddrives as backup media?  Yup, sure do and they work.

Do people use IOMEGA Rev drives work with SBS?  Per Eliot’s tests yes, haven’t checked back with him if he’s using them a lot [and I need to check for that reg key for Mike  from the newsgroups who can’t find it on his system]

As far as the travan drive, you do have the hotfix right? 

Too bad Iomega or some other vendor didn’t come up with a “guaranteed to work with SBS” external backup system.  Something like a SBS branded SAN, or a SBS branded Iomega solution.  I mean like aren’t we big enough of a marketplace now to start having vendors position themselves to be more plug and play than they are now?  We have HP with SBS and Trend pre-installed now, don’t we?

Now before you ask, Ron, I’ll ask the question….can DVD’s be used as a backup media?  I don’t know about you but a “normal” backup of a SBS box… I’m going to doubt that it fits on a DVD, even one with all sorts of compression and junk.  And I just know that on my desktop, cd/dvd rom burning is not a trivial task on this box, it does take resources.

If I didn’t have my 200 gig/400 gig compressed Sony quad loader tape drive and I was backing up 30 gigs of data?  I’d probably throw in an usb2/firewire card and go for those usb/firewire harddrives.  I actually have a unit or two around the office just to aid in migrating.

Thanks for writing in Ron.  Keep us posted.  You can find me on the blog or in the newsgroups most days. 


10 Responses to From today’s mailbag… Ron asks about backups

  1. Anthony says:


    Do you backup to disc and then to tape or just straight tape?


  2. Susan says:

    I personally still backup to tape. But so would you if you had the Quad Sony tape drive 😉

  3. David Robertson (Australia) says:

    I am happily using the IOMEGA REV USB drives to back up my SBS system. I use 4 cartridges. On Sat I do a full Server Image using the supplied GHOST. I use two cartridges on a rotation. Every day I do a ntbackup two cartridges on a rotation.

    I only have about 10Gb of data so I am more than happy with the speed and reliability of the REV system.

  4. David Robertson (Australia) says:

    Further to my post above, just remember that the REV drives do not do hardware compression (AFAIK) and ntbackup does not do software compression, so you don’t have a lot of capacity in reserver if you have 30GB of data now.

  5. Paul int the UK says:

    Over the past year we have been selling V2i, this was originally a product by Powerquest, sadly they have been taken over by Symantec <spit> The support is now rubbish, but the product is still great, they also do an Small business version. We various types of media to backup to, depending on the storage required, from USB external disks, to dumping it to an external disk, and then dumping the compressed image back to tape with NTbackup. The nice thing about v2i is that it can be done whilst system is in use, and makes a superb snapshot of a running system. Even better the restore of a single file or entire server is a breeze.

  6. Ron says:

    Thans for posting my question to the site!

    The server in question cost less than 3,000. The back up budget is about $600.

    Unless someone comes up with a better solution in the next few days, I’ll pick up two USB2 hard drives.

    I’ll keep you updated on installation difficulties and the results of a test run.



  7. Andy Doyle says:

    After spending out on a couple of Sony tape drives I quickly found how much of a pain they were.

    Now after expanding to 12 servers I sat down and wrote a .net windows service that runs on my admin workstation. Every evening it remotely executes NTBackup (yes I know!) on all 12 servers and verifies that the backup completed okay through the event logs. Then once every system has finished, it copies the backup file, one by one, to our mirrored NAS servers; logging all actions in the event log and failures through offsite notification. Looking at it now, I constantly have 2 months of backups available that I can restore files from in a matter of seconds. Couple that with DFS/FRS on the W2K NAS servers and the bosses are happy that we’re protected in case of the worst 🙂

  8. Kevin Weilbacher says:

    Andy, would you be willing to share your .net script?

  9. Ron says:

    I settled for 2 120gb Western digital external HDD’s.

    I misquoted the size of the data. It is 13GB data.

    This gives total sets of under 20GB. Each external HD holds roughly 1 week of data.

    Data restoration is easy and quick. (This was especially useful when the motherboard on the new Dell 400SC started to fail.) It took under 1 hour.

    I wish everything were this easy.

  10. Jason says:

    Do you use SBS Backup to backup the main server and the member server? If so how?