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File Server Backup System

written by: Karishma Sundaram•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 4/29/2010

File servers are used to store data that is accessible across a network. They are highly evolved network components, with built-in authentication and access policies. This article looks at the various ways to protect their contents, by using file server backup systems.

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    What is a File Server?

    Files File servers, simply put, are network components that store data files for easy access of other network components in a client-server model. Their main function is to facilitate the transfer of data files from one place to another without relying on physical devices like USB flash drives or optical media. A user who wishes to access a particular data file, merely has to log into the file server, navigate the file system and download the file to their machine. It is essentially a data store that resides on a network.

    File servers often use a special network protocol to transfer data files back and forth; a common one that is use is FTP or File Transfer Protocol. It works differently from the more common Internet protocol, HTTP, in that it uses two connections between a client and the server. The first connection is the control connection, where information regarding authentication and sessions are stored. The second connection is used for the actual data transfer.

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    File Server Backup Systems

    There are a number of methods with which the contents of a file server can be preserved from harm. Most commonly, the file server itself has a backup mechanism akin to a system restore function on a standard personal computer. However, a bigger network, where the file server plays a more pivotal role would require a more sophisticated set of policies.

    A file server backup system is a software application that, once configured, performs backup functions for file servers. There are a number of commercial applications available; these vary greatly, depending on the functions they perform. Therefore it behoves a user to examine all their available options before settling for any particular one.

    If the base operating system is Linux, there it is possible to create a shell script to automate the backup process. Optionally, if the file server is leased from a service provider, then those companies sometimes provide backup services as a part of their package. However, cost becomes a factor in this particular scenario, and all things considered, it may be simpler to use dedicated storage that is separate from the file server.

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    Why Backup a File Server?

    File servers are often vital components of a network. They form part of the backbone and a failure of the file server can result in significant losses. This is mainly due to the fact that most of the other network components use the file server to access data files.

    Backing up a file server is an important part of data security and consistency. For example, a website could use a file server to store their images and downloads. If a file server goes down for any reason, all the files linked to it will no longer be available.

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    Next Generation Backups

    As time has progressed, cloud computing is the new technological revolution. In terms of backups, a cloud could have a significant impact. Clouds could be used to backup file servers and still keep them within the same network. Therefore if a file server fails, users will not have to wait for the data to be restored. It can be directly loaded from a secondary source in the cloud, which essentially serves as a backup.