Backup Solutions

Many of our clients have been sold a complex and expensive tape backup system as part of a server upgrade. In the most extreme case, an enterprise-class device, costing several thousand dollars, was installed for a ~15 person shop. This is almost always a bad idea, especially in a small business, because not only are they expensive, but they're a hassle to use, and consequently backups don't get done on a regular basis or at all.

Every situation is unique and there's no "one size fits all" solution, however, the pieces we've gathered give us the flexibility to handle every situation we've encountered with just a little customization. This solution has been developed and tested extensively in many different small businesses and it's the same system we use for our own backups, so we know exactly how well it works.

Our requirements:

The basic configuration consists of SyncBackSE software running scheduled backups on your server and 2 external USB drives. There are too many options and combinations in SyncBack to cover all the possible scenarios so this is just an overview.

SyncBack has a simple interface that lets you select which folders and files you want to copy or exclude, as well as a filter system that allows customizing for your needs. They've also "built in" a list of things you'd normally want to avoid backing up like temporary files, temporary internet files, and various system files. Therefore, it's easy to make sure you backup the important stuff like user's folders, documents, drawings, shares and email while ignoring things you can easily download or update if you need to. This saves both time and disk space.

You can also run custom commands before and after a backup. We typically use this feature to defragment the server's drives for better performance and the USB drive for faster backup times. If you have applications that use Access, SQL, or other databases this feature is perfect for starting your database maintenance script before backing it up.

Once the backup is complete, SyncBack sends an email with the results and an optional log file. In most cases, we don't send the log file if the backup was successful.

For simple offsite backups, we recommend switching the external USB drives once a week and storing it in a safe location, usually the owner's home. This gives you some protection in case of disaster and reduces the wear a single external drive would get. If one of the drives fails or you need a larger one, they're available in most office supply stores or large retailers.

To get a better idea of all the available features, you can download a 30 day trial of SyncBackSE.