Why Should I Have a Backup Schedule? Using Backup Devices, Utilities & Schedules in Windows Server Environments

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Most large enterprises have certified network administrators that fully understand the importance of scheduled and systematic backups, and have years of experience implementing systems. However, there are countless smaller businesses, startups, or even school districts and colleges that can’t afford high paid administrators, and are stuck relying on employees, interns, or inexperienced administrators to protect their critical data.

If you or your company are in this situation, don’t feel bad. You are most definitely not alone.

Whether your business is dependent on data storage, i.e: web hosting, or your Windows server simply stores the companies financial records and employee documents, protecting that data is of equal importance. Hard drive failures, damage due to electrical surges or storms, or even disasters like fire, hurricane, flooding, etc. can in an instant wipe out that important data - then you’ll realize why you should have had it backed up. Don’t get caught in a situation like that - back up!

Windows Server Built in Backup Utility

You may be surprised to learn that backing up data isn’t a very complicated or difficult procedure. It does, however, require a few resources, a little time, and a lot of organization. Once you have implemented a backup schedule and solution, it is highly important that everyone in your organization understands how it works so that they can make the process as simple as possible.

Windows, kindly, includes a tool for scheduling backups that actually works quite well. In most server environments no other software should ever be required. This utility can be accessed by going to: Start -> Accessories -> System Tools -> Backup. We’ll go into the nuances of using this utility in the next article of this series.

Backup Devices

The backup device and storage media that you will use in your Server environment is entirely dependent on how much data you need to backup, as well as how often that data is being modified. Things like text documents don’t take up very much storage space, whereas images, music, and video files take up an excessive amount of storage space. You will need to determine how much data there is to backup (in MB or GB), as well as how much of that is modified on a weekly and daily basis. This will help you select which backup device you should use:

DVD-RWs: Rewritable DVDs make some of the simplest storage media because of their low cost, reasonably high capacity, and small size. DVD-RWs come in sizes of 4GB and the more expensive dual layer 8GB.

External Hard Drives: External hard drives come in capacities as high as 2TB (2,000GB) and that number is steadily rising, as the price per gig is going down. Although a higher cost than internal hard drives, external HDDs can prove to be a reliable and high capacity storage method. Most enterprises, however, do not prefer external hard drives for a number of reasons, such as physical dimensions, high failure/error rate, and decreased portability.

Tape Drives / Magnetic Tapes: Typically unfamiliar to those who haven’t done enterprise level data backups, one of the most common ways of backing up data is with magnetic tapes. Magnetic tapes have a lot of advantages: they’re highly portable, fast, durable, and can be rewritten far more times than DVDs. Internal tape drivers, either SAS, SATA, or SCSI attached, are the way to go. The cost of the tape drives, though, is a deterrence to many. They range anywhere from $300 USD to $1500 USD, and that is just for the basic spec. The price variance has to do with the interface, speed, tape size, and number of tapes. Tapes aren’t typically that high in capacity - around 40GB - but some tape drives can write to multiples in a backup session. Tapes are recorded linearly, so there is no formatting or file organization to concern yourself with.

This post is part of the series: Understanding Backups in Windows Server Environments

In this ongoing series we examine the importance of doing data backups, what backup devices can be used, different types of backups, and how to schedule and implement a backup system that keeps your information safe.

  1. The Importance of a Backup Schedule for Windows Server Environments
  2. Backup Systems & Scheduling - Normal, Differential, Incremental, Oh My!