How to backup Windows Sever w/ Exchange on-prem and in the cloud?
March 27, 2015 1:30 PM   Subscribe

Our small office is running Windows Server 2008 R2. This one server acts as our file server, our mail server with Exchange 2010, our Active Directory server, AutoDesk License server, etc. I want to have on-prem backup and use a cloud storage for some form of offsite backup, but I can't seem to find the right solution.

Our server has one internal RAID array serving as one primary storage unit for our production side, and there is an external RAID array serving as a storage unit for our design side of the business. Exchange is hosted on the primary store.
Currently backup is done via Back-Up Exec 2012. The two RAID stores are backup up locally to two NAS devices each one being a 6TB NAS. BackupExec runs a full backup of both stores on the weekend, and does an incremental backup each day. Each full backup is approx 1.3 TB and we retain the last 3 sets of backups before over-writing them.
This is ok but if the server closet died in a fire then we are SOL except for old job files that have been archived to our read only vault which is backed up manually to offsite when any new files are moved onto it. As near as I can tell Backup Exec won't let me backup to any existing cloud services. Otherwise I could at least setup a backup job that would at least backup the Exchange store, our Access DB, and the QuickBooks DB to something like Amazon S3.
Do I need to replace Backup Exec? Do I need to run something in tandem with Backup Exec? My NAS devices have built in support for Amazon S3 but backing up the full NAS to Amazon looks like it will be $300-$400 a month.
Crashplan works for my home server, but I don't know that it will play well with the Exchange store. Any help is appreciated.
posted by MrBobaFett to Computers & Internet (6 answers total)
To get a local offsite backup in a similar situation, I just used external hard drives as "tapes," which I did weekly and kept off-site unless needed. This gets you out of the flood/burglary/fire issue. You could use Backup Exec to backup directly to an external drive, or replicate the backup from your NAS to an external drive.

I don't have a recommendation for cloud-based backup, though like you. I'm guessing there's a better solution out there somewhere. My guess would be that you'll have to choose between Exchange native item-level backup, which will be relatively expensive, or file-based backup, which will only backup the backup file(s) or a database dump.

The second option is somewhat riskier in that you're dealing with large files and either they backup provider will do deltas/changes only, which means that if they miss a bit on your 1TB backup, they're useless, or they'll insist on pushing the entire file, in which case you won't have enough bandwidth.

CloudBerry Lab claims a software solution that will backup 1.3 TB of Exchange data to Amazon Glacier for $13 per month. Never used it, and I'd be nervous about betting my business on it, but it's out there.

Given the money you're looking at, you might consider going to Exchange Online. Again, not a user so I can't vouch for it, but I see it as cheap as $4 per user per month. With a 1.3 TB store, I'm guessing you don't have that many people. It might be cheaper to go to Exchange Online than to purchase a native cloud backup solution.
posted by cnc at 2:32 PM on March 27, 2015

Response by poster: Using external drives as tapes that I take home was the old system. I'd rather not do that. For a while we had a VPN bridge to the CEO's house where we had another NAS that we did a critical files backup to, but he turned that off because it was hogging his bandwidth on his cable modem. :-/
I've been hesitant to switch to cloud services over on prem. But I think that is largely related to my control freak nature and decades of mostly dealing with on prem servers for everything.
I'll try to check out CloudBerry.
posted by MrBobaFett at 2:55 PM on March 27, 2015

I'm a big Google Apps fan, but I'd much rather use Office 365 than manage that crap locally any more. (I used to be an Exchange administrator.) Let it go, you'll be much happier.

If you're not ready to take that leap, you might be able to use O365 as a backup directly, using a "long-term hybrid deployment". You'd still use your on-premise servers for some (maybe all?) services.

Finally, if you really just want to stay away from O365 entirely, you might consider deploying MS servers in AWS as a backup environment, and synchronizing data between your on-premise and AWS servers. I don't really have any experience with this, but I do have a bit of experience synchronizing an AWS AD with an on-premise AD and that worked well enough.

Finally (really this time), you might consider migrating to Google Apps! If you have a small enough environment, this isn't really that big of a leap for the messaging components. For your file storage, you could either migrate that to Google Drive outright or configure a server-based synchronization with Drive. You'd still need an on-premise AD server to handle local logins, but you could synchronize accounts and passwords with Google Apps easily enough.
posted by me & my monkey at 4:27 PM on March 27, 2015

To backup what you already have to the cloud: Intronis. As a consultant / VAR service, we sell this to our customers.

To backup locally, use the same Intronis backup program to backup to a local NAS.
posted by deezil at 4:29 PM on March 27, 2015

For a while we had a VPN bridge to the CEO's house where we had another NAS that we did a critical files backup to, but he turned that off because it was hogging his bandwidth on his cable modem. :-/

If you're willing to do this, maybe consider sticking a server or NAS at a local or semi-local colocation facility and backup to that directly. Doesn't necessarily get you out of the Hurricane Katrina scenario, but in that case you probably have bigger problems.

Like monkey, I would strongly consider a hybrid-cloud scenario, even if you stick your own Exchange (backup/disaster recovery) VM in Azure or AWS, before I'd trust an unknown piece of software.

I don't mean to stand on a soapbox, but I'm also a former Exchange Admin, and though I'm out of infrastructure now, I've pretty much given up on most on-premise services. Microsoft, Amazon and Google are flat out better at it that I am. I just don't see any reason to patch, worry about security, update, upgrade, procure, deal with licensing ridiculousness, end of life products, replace servers, deal with failures of all of the above, or show up at work at 3:00 AM because something's busted. Especially not for e-mail, which is a commodity at this point.

Where monkey and I diverge is I think Google Apps is in no way a replacement for Windows file sharing. Maybe not for Exchange either. The functionality is far too basic, and I use a Google Apps account every day for my personal mail and files.
posted by cnc at 8:04 PM on March 27, 2015

Response by poster: Unfortunately most of this seems to be about Exchange which is only a small part of the issue. Mostly of the stuff I'm backing up are production files. Many terabytes of AutoCAD, Solidworks, Photoshop, and Illustrator files mostly.

Office 365 is something we looked at, but have stuck with Office 2013. Which also has nothing to do with server back up.

Intronis looks like something? I'm not finding the info on their site that I need.
posted by MrBobaFett at 2:14 PM on April 1, 2015

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