Q

A small environment networking solution

What's the most economical and effective solution for backing up a small or a remote office? Backup expert W. Curtis

Preston has a few suggestions that will save you money and time.

A SearchStorage submitted this question to W. Curtis Preston:

I am gathering information for the decision makers. Following is the office situation:

Small Law office
Three PCs running Windows ME
No networking set up -- 3 stand alones
CD drives in all three PCs but are not CD-RW

We're looking for the most economical and effective backup process for the office. Can you recommend a solution?

Ideas that have been discussed are:

Zip drive -- do we need one for each PC or are there zips that can be shared with all three?

External CD-RW -- same basic question as zip plus do we COPY or send files to WinZip?

We believe that we need something other than COPY files on diskettes through the A drives because of:

1. Time to do the COPY process and,
2. Some of the apps used don't BACKUP all the modules in their processes (timeslips) and won't even do those processes to serial diskettes, they push the user to CD.

Curtis Preston responded:

Forget CD/RW, zip, Jaz, etc., you need something automated. Anything that depends on your swapping a tape or zip drive will just not happen reliably. I would check out one of the data vaulting services. These products can automatically back up your PCs remotely to their site across the Internet.

If you're willing to invest a little bit and get a lot, I'd look at the " Mark I."

It's a single server ($2,999) that does everything for a small office, including backup. You add a user and they automatically get a file share, Web site, secure POP/IMAP, Webmail accounts, PPTP account for VPN access and an account on its Exchange-like product that allows you to do shared calendaring, etc. with Outlook or other Exchange clients like Ximian. PC magazine gave it "networking product of the year" last year. I've seen two in production and was really impressed.

The following is cut and pasted from their Web site and talks about the Mark I. It's the smallest one with an included hard drive for backups. I've highlighted the really cool points.

Hardware:
Minimum AMD AthlonT XP 1700+ processor
256 MB ECC memory
2 x 80 GB Ultra DMA/100 removable hard drives (use one for disk backup) 
Three 10/100 NIC ports
Hardened and ruggedized Linux-based UNIX kernel
*SMB/CIFS and AppleShare IP compatible file services, UNIX NFS
*SMTP, POP3, IMAP4, WebMail
*Exchange replacement software that allows shared calendaring with
Outlook
Journaling file system 
Transparent proxy 
FTP/anonymous FTP
MySQL server 
*Realtime Blackhole List (RBL), email SPAM-blocking tool 
DDNS (Dynamic DNS) 
Remote user management tools 
*Apache web server with CGI scripting Perl 5.0, PHP and SSL support
*Supports virtual hosts 
*Web content filtering 
*Auto-configuring firewall 
*PPTP support
NAT (network address translation) 
*DNS (domain name server), DHCP and LDAP servers 
*Intelligent backup software 
*SystemER 2-minute disaster recovery system 
*Web control interface

Editor's note: Do you agree with this expert's response? If you have more to share, post it in one of our .bphAaR2qhqA^0@/searchstorage>discussion forums.


This was first published in August 2003

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