Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Guidelines for a good Backup plan

I had to restore a file this morning using my B2D job. While I had no problems and everyone is happy I found it to be the perfect opportunity to go over my backup plan. It can’t hurt.

I backup 3 data types:
Email (Domino Server)
User data (aka files)
Active Directory

I’m using Backup Exec for all my backup jobs and most of the time I’m happy with the performance.

Domino backup is done using the Domino agent. Using this article as a reference I backup the Lotus\Domino\Data folder. Weekly cycle to tape with daily full backup to disk provide a strong backup. One important note that helps me keeping the backup in reasonable size is old users nsf files. When a user leave the company we still need to keep the mailbox (compliance, compliance, compliance) but it is not changing and there is no point in backing the same file every day. I have this folder with old nsf files that I backup once a quarter or after an employee left and the file was moved (that require shutting down the server so waiting for few mailboxes to pile up is a smart move).

User data files like emails change on a daily basis but unlike a mailbox that is one file that changes daily, there are thousands of different file that only few of them get changed daily or even weekly. I personally do not like the differential backup schema so I keep a full backup over the weekend and daily incremental backup on top of it. I also keep a full daily backup for important directories, those with critical data and frequent changes. Just in case. That is one of the big advantages of a small shop.

Active Directory is in IT perspective the most critical backup. Using this as a reference guideline it is important to understand the core idea: System State backup is the heart of AD backup and MUST be properly backed up.
Active Directory MUST be backed up in FULL BACKUP mode.
A good backup includes at least the system state and the contents of the system disk. Backing up the system disk ensures that all the required system files and folders are present so you can successfully restore the data.

One last aspect of a good backup plan is testing. You should recover random files on a regular basis. You do not want to be in the position where someone deleted an important file and you can’t restore it!

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