Backing up with Windows Server 2008

Why Backup Data?

Needless to say, backing up data is a very important part of any information system. Without a working and up to date backup of the necessary information you are playing Russian roulette.

There are many potential threats to data, such as

  • Hard drive crash
  • Viruses
  • Environmental disasters (fire, flood)
  • Users (accidentally or deliberately deleting files)

Backing up with Windows Server 2008

Windows Server 2008 comes with an improved version of the ntbackup utility. This utility keeps the security, account and file meta-data in tact.

This backup utility allows for five types of backups

  • Normal – this creates a complete backup of all data, setting the ‘archival bit’
  • Copy – creates a copy of all data, leaving the ‘archival bit’ alone
  • Daily – copies only the files which were modified that day, leaving the ‘archival bit’ alone
  • Differential – copies all files that were created or modified since the last normal or incremental backup, leaving the ‘archival bit’ alone
  • Incremental – copies all files that were created or modified since the last normal or incremental backup, setting the ‘archival bit’

The backup utility can be access by clicking the Start button, selecting Run, typing ntbackup.exe and clicking OK. Whilst this utility is very simple compared to other third-party software, it is quite large and I recommend you get a good understanding of how it works before implementing it in any solution.

This utility can also be controlled through the command line, which makes automation easier.

PLEASE NOTE: Users can’t have files open during the backup process, open files won’t be backed up. For this reason backups usually occur out of usual business hours.

Creating a backup routine

The backup routine needs to support the information system, but a good method is to incorporate normal and differential backups.

For example the following weekly backup routine can be used.

  1. Monday – Differential
  2. Tuesday – Differential
  3. Wednesday – Differential
  4. Thursday – Differential
  5. Friday – Differential
  6. Saturday – Differential
  7. Sunday – Normal

The each number 7 backup should be kept separate for 4 weeks, and if necessary an additional monthly backup should also be kept.

Backup media

The backup can be stored on another hard drive, an external hard drive, DVD media, tapes etc. Each holds their own advantage.

For example, the external hard drive option offers a good solution to a small business. It allows for the backup to happen automatically and be taken off site.

Storing the backup

An off site backup is an essential requirement for any backup solution. Each weekly full backup needs to have an secure location where it can be stored off site. Some information systems are backed up over the Internet/network and stored elsewhere.

The important factor here is that both copies of the data aren’t going to be affected by the possible risks. That is, if there is a fire or flood will be copies of the data be compromised?