The hottest trend in enterprise server backups has become disk-to-disk (D2D) or disk-to-disk-to-tape (D2D2T) backup. There are numerous advantages to using a disk-based backup system such as Microsoft Corp.'s System Center Data Protection Manager (DPM), but a major downside is that DPM is a server-based product and, like any other application, it has a certain degree of volatility that must be accounted for. For example, disk volumes could become corrupted, a system board could fail or the system could contract a virus.
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My point is that as great a product as DPM is, there are a number of things that could potentially cause a DPM server to fail. As such, using DPM volumes as your sole backup mechanism is risky at best. I therefore recommend using a secondary backup system to periodically back up your DPM server.
But this raises the following questions: Which products are suitable for backing up DPM, and what actually needs to be backed up? Microsoft supports three different methods for backing up a DPM server. You can back up your DPM server to a secondary DPM server, back the DPM server up to tape or you can use a third-party backup solution.
Backing up Data Protection Manager to tape
If you're going to use a tape-based backup as your secondary backup technique, Microsoft recommends that you create a dedicated protection group to protect the DPM server itself, and then back up your dedicated protection group to tape.
The actual method of creating this protection group varies a bit depending on whether or not SQL Server is installed locally on the DPM server. If SQL Server isn't installed locally, you'll have to install the DPM protection agent on the SQL Server before you start.
With that said, open the DPM Administrator console and choose the Protection option from the navigation bar at the top of the screen. Then click the Create Protection Group link found in the Actions pane. Windows will now launch the Create New Protection Group Wizard.
Click Next to bypass the wizard's Welcome screen and you'll be prompted to select the protection group members. Then expand your DPM server and select the DPMDB check box, as shown in Figure 1: Selecting protection group members in Microsoft Data Protection Manager. If your SQL Server isn't installed locally, you have to expand your SQL Server and select the database that DPM uses. Now add the DPMDB object to the new protection group.
Click Next and you'll be taken to the Select Data Protection Method screen. Select the I Want Short Term Protection Using option and choose the Tape option from the drop-down list. You'll also have to assign the protection group a name while you're on this screen.
Click Next and you'll be taken to a screen asking for your short-term goals. Microsoft recommends setting the retention time to two weeks. Click Next again and a summary of the choices you've made will appear. Assuming everything looks good, click the Create Group button to create the new protection group.
If you want to protect your primary DPM server with a secondary DPM server, the technique is fairly similar to what I've just explained. Essentially, you'll have to install a protection agent onto your primary DPM server and SQL Server (if it's separate from your DPM server). From there, you'll have to back up the SQL Server databases related to DPM, as well as all of the volumes and replicas on your primary DPM server. Microsoft has a great article on the subject that can be found on its website.
About the author: Brien M. Posey, MCSE, has previously received Microsoft's MVP award for Exchange Server, Windows Server and Internet Information Server (IIS). Brien has served as CIO for a nationwide chain of hospitals and was once responsible for the Department of Information Management at Fort Knox. You can visit Brien's personal website at www.brienposey.com.
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