Setting Up Proper Backups

Note: This is simply the way I setup backups, not everyone in the world is going to agree with me, and you don't have to do everything I do step by step, learn from it as a foundation, make changes as you see fit for your situation.

One of the most common things I see when I am taking care of new customers and setting up there backups is how
there backups are setup wrong. Some have even had horribly expensive backup systems setup where there last computer tech "told" them they needed, in other words the old tech made some $$$.

That kind of stuff drives me nuts! in this how to, I'm going to explain how I setup my customers on their backups.
This example will show how I setup a business, but you can easily use it for home backups as well.

I will go over Do's and Don't's and explain why I do the things I do.

First let take care of some myths I keep hearing people say about there backups and what local computer stores tell them to do.

Myth 1:
You have to backup your entire drive, no matter how big!
The Truth:
Like hell you do, the only thing you need to backup is what can't be replaced. So all my pictures, and doc's, things I created I need backed up, I don't need to backup files that will be put back on when I reinstall the software. When you backup the things that can easily be put back onto a system (Example: Quickbooks, you only need to backup the company files, not the entire quickbooks program!) you end up making your backup much much larger, which in turn requires more time to backup, and larger backup media (in most cases, a external hard drive). Now some people might say, well if my system crashes I want to be able to restore my whole system. Now thats sounds like a good idea, but for starters I always have mirrior hard drives setup if possible, but besides that if your system is infected with spyware or a virus or even data corruption there is a good chance thats going to get backed up as well, plus when your system gets older and your motherboard or something fails, and the only option you have is a new system, restoring windows isnt really an option. To me i would rather do w reinstall fo windows then resotre my backup, this way I know I have a fresh clean system, and my files ready, but again not everyone will agree with me, this is just how I feel about it after seeing so many pointless LARGE backups over the years.

Myth 2:
You have to take your backups off site.
The truth:
Have you not read the news? all these laptops, and hard drives, tape backups getting stolen. Not to mention on a hot summer day you forgot to take it out of your car and you have a dead backup. The only reason people take backups off site is in case of a fire or flood. Have they never heard of a fire/water proof safe? They are not very expensive, and can be bolted to the floor, now you are protected from theft/fire/flood and your backups are where they should be incase of a data disaster, by the machine the data needs to go on! Not back home on you kitchen counter cause you forgot it. (I've seen it happen!).

Myth 3:
Backup systems cost tons of $$$
The truth:
No they don't! When you go and look around for a backup system on the internet or from a local computer company they always try and sell you these very pricey backup systems. The point is most people only need one kind of backup. They need there files backed up and safe, that's it. I will be going over how I do this and how it doesn't cost very much. A little know how can carry you a long way.

Ok now I will go over how I setup my backup systems. Every thing is setup automatically and runs without user input.
First off the software of my choice for doing backups is Genie Backup Manager - I have been using this software for a while now and I really like it, one great thing about it is the email feature, after backup is done I have it email the right people so they know the backups are good on a daily basis, if any backup fails my customer calls me and I go find out why.

Now the hardware I use is 5 external Seagate hard drives (They have a nice 5 year warranty), and I use a fire/water proof safe.
You don't need a large safe, the one I picked up at my local Costco was about $230. Now why 5 hard drives? I mark each one for each day of the work week, Monday - Friday. First off you can never have to many backups, but this also gives us the option of going back up to 5 days in case we need to for backups. 4 of the drives remain in the safe at all times, while the one for the current day is hooked up to the system (I will go over this more in a bit) Now here is a trick with the safe, don't place the safe in the middle of a room, keep up to a wall. If the place was to burn down the walls will burn away moving the fire away from the safe faster, if the safe is in the middle of the room your just going to cook it like it was in a oven in the event of a fire.

Ok so now we have the software and the hardware to get the job done. As you can see it didn't cost us a month's pay. In total depending on prices everything we need combined should be well under $1000. And now this is for a business, for home (like mine) i only use 2 external hard drives, on avg. this lowers the cost by around $300 as the drives are normally $100 each.) Now we just need to get everything setup and config. Which isn't very hard, just takes a little time. So lets begin.

Ok in this example i'm going to use a setup of one of my customers I just finished. So in this case we have a server machine and 4 workstations. So we are going to install the backup software (you can use what you like, even the built in windows backup, no matter what software you use try to get one that can email you when the backup is done) on all 4 workstations.
On the server we will have a shared folder, and in the shared folder will be a folder for each workstation where the backups will go. So on all the workstations we config the backup software to backup the whole user profile (XP: C:\Documents and Settings\Username, in Vista: C:\Users\Username) By grabbing the whole profile we keep the backup as small as possible since we don't need everything, also this grabs all favorites, docs, email, normally just about everything the user has made. We then config the backup to store the backup on the server example path: \\server\share\workstation_folder_name. Once that is setup we config the backup to run every night on a set time, in my case I set it for 7 pm, the business closes at 5 pm, change this to fit your needs. So we set this up on all 4 workstations, now at 7 pm every night the 4 workstations will backup to the server. I also have the backup software set to shutdown when done. No point in having a system run all night long when no one is using it.

So at this point the workstations are done, not to hard huh? Now we need to setup the server. This is nearly the same with only a few small changes. We have one of the external drives hooked up, this will give us a drive letter (normally E:, depending on the system) We now config the backup software on the server to backup the workstations backups plus anything else we need backed up off the server to the E: drive (or what ever letter the external drive is) and we set this on a schedule to run say at 1 am. (this gives plenty of time for the workstations to finish there backups.) And of course we have the backup software setup to email the status of the backup every night. That's it, no very hard is it?

So lets recap what we have here. On all 4 workstations when the people leave you have them leave their systems at the desktops, and let the people know anything they want backed up has to be put inside my documents, or on the desktop.
Then on the server is the same way, so all the person in charge of the backups has to do every morning is come in, unhook last nights drive, put it in the safe and plug in today's drive, and then not worry about again till tomorrow.

So now we have a fully automatic, protected backup system in place. Each workstation and server is setup to email who ever you wanted so everyday they will know if there was a problem with the backup, other than that the backups are now a set it and forget it situation, the ideal situation.

For home users with only one computer you can do something similar but more scaled down, but still automatic and protected.

Again this is simply how I do things, I have a lot of customers and I cant be running around checking and doing backups all day. I need them all running automatically and I only need to worry about them when something fails. so take my example and learn from it, change it to your liking and situation, make it your own. But just know you can have a truly automatic, protected backup system in place without spending a ton of money and thinking you need to be doing it everyday.

If you have any questions or comments drop a post in the forum!