Maintenance /Backup/ Disaster Recovery


Senior member
How often do you clean your PC and back up your files?

Well if your system looks like this your due for a failure very soon.





A simple air can and a vac will keep your system running great, and use alot less power.

Backing up your data and have a good disaster recovery is good thing to have.
Today all people pictures and files of music and finances, are kept on there system.
To recover data from a bad drive can start at 1000 bucks and can go up to 5000 or more. No joke.

Symantec Backup Exec System Recovery 8 Desktop Edition - Retail  $50 bucks.
Backup4all  Pro to back up your files to a external drive $50 bucks.
Western Digital Elements WDE1U10000N 1TB USB 2.0 External Hard Drive - Retail  $110.00 Bucks.

Total of $210.00 plus the air can, and time.

Here is a little story we are putting out in a trade magazine in NYC.

Is Your Backup Reliable?
Time and time again, we are called in to assist a business who’s Disaster Recovery Plan has failed miserably.  Invariably a pattern of incomplete planning and misunderstandings about the nature of DRP emerges.  A little extra effort and attention combined with the guidance of an experienced service provider could easily have prevented those chaotic and costly failures.
Dr. Moskowitz can attest to how easily one can fall prey to a broken DRP and the costs involved with trying to piece back together lost and missing data.  He was confident his data was backed up. Unfortunately when his main server died it destroyed the drive integrity as well.  Imagine his disdain when the backup dataset turned out to be empty.  Fortunately we were able to send the original drives to a recovery center and they were able to manually recover the data directly from the platters. Sadly, the price tag for that service peaked upwards of $20,000.  What went wrong with his DRP?  What could he have done differently?  How can one know they are truly protected?  Hopefully this article will provide some food for thought and help you to avoid a few landmines.

Is Your Backup Reliable?
Ron Brockelman has over 20 years experience working with and mastering computer technologies.  The last 15 years have been focused heavily within the medical imaging field serving major hospitals across North America with their DICOM and image archive needs.  Recently he has partnered with Solution64, LLC in an effort to scale the support and capabilities of a large, full service IT department into the budget constraints of today’s small business needs. 

Is Your Backup Reliable?
Over the last 25 years I have seen the computer transform from a novelty geek gadget to the irreplaceable, ultra-necessary workhorses that sit in every business office today.  And although the technology has changed tremendously over that time, certain key aspects have remained constant.  Recovering from a crash or system failure has always been at the top of that list.  Most business owners have in place some form of Disaster Recovery (DR) policy.  Unfortunately, experience has shown that a large number of those policies prove incomplete and uncertain right at the very moment they are needed the most.  The business owner is left struggling with excruciating delays and costly reconstruction.

‘What’, ‘How’, and ‘Why’
Probably the biggest cause of a failed Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP) lies with how the business owner perceives the DRP.  Most view such policies as an expense and therefore look for the cheapest solution possible, unaware that the money saved up front is miniscule to what it is going to cost when the system fails.  Another failing in creating an effective DRP is, not understanding fully the depth of a comprehensive and complete recovery plan.  No doubt all reading this would agree that backing up data is crucial to recovering from a failed system.  Yet how many are truly familiar with the various methods of backup available?  Differential, Incremental, Offsite, Online, Tape, DVD, USB drive, all have their time and place but, which is appropriate for your business needs?  Should you use an expensive yet time saving redundant server plan or would a simple system image suffice? Just exactly how “bullet-proof” do you want your DRP to be?  In order to answer these and other pertinent questions, let’s take a closer look at the different components of a DRP.

Data Backup
As important as backing up the data is, equally as important would be where that dataset is being stored.  A data set is of little use if it was in the server when the system burned up.  Additionally, make sure the data set is locked up as well.  The very nature of backed up data is that it is likely extremely confidential and easily exploitable if it falls into the wrong hands  so backup the data and then move the dataset to a safe and secure offsite location.  If you want to be extra safe make a copy of the dataset and store it at another separate location as well.

System Backup
Data is useless without the system infrastructure to manage and access that data.  In the event of a total system failure; locating licenses and CD’s, rebuilding the OS, installing all patches, drivers, and applications can take days at best if built from scratch.  The question you have to ask yourself here is how long can your server be down before your business starts to suffer.  If you must be up within minutes then a second server mirrored or clustered to your main server will provide a seamless and instant fail over but that comes at a premium.  More than likely a simple image of the system drive will allow you to have the server up and running within 1-2hrs at a price that won’t blow your budget.

Integrity Validation
All the backup in the world is futile if you cannot effectively restore that backup when needed.  You would not believe how often I am called in to help restore from a crash only to find that the backup dataset is corrupted or incomplete.  The only way to truly know that your backup data/image is reliable is to actually go through the full recovery process.  The easiest method to accomplish this would be to take a second computer and perform the restore process on it.  Not only will this give you confidence in the reliability of your DRP it will also provide you with a clear understanding of how long the recovery process will take.  This knowledge will help you to decide if your current DRP is adequate or if you need to look into expanding your DRP technologies.  Above all else…do not perform this recovery testing on your existing live server.

Wrapping it up
I breezed through these topics rather quickly.  I hope you have been motivated to take a closer look at your DRP policy.  Remember that your business performance and survivability could very well be linked to a successful and thorough recovery plan.  Don’t view it as an expense but rather as a necessary insurance policy to protect and ensure the well being of your business.  For a more in-depth and comprehensive analysis I recommend you work closely with your local technology expert. 



Senior member
It doesn't matter what your system looks like. You can vacuum it every two weeks and still have your disk die on you. You can run a RAID 1 or RAID 5 and have the controller die on you while rebuilding from a failed drive. You can have a tower of backup tapes only to discover, come restore time, that the final instruction in your backup script, which was supposed to be a 'retension', was actually 'format'... And you can have a dozen valid backups that go up in smoke together with your PC if your house burns down.

The essence is, you need to backup. You need to backup offsite. You need to backup automatically - physically moving tapes is going to get skipped sooner or later. You can count on experiencing data loss at the worst possible moment. Life is like that. You need to verify that data is restoreable. Not just readable. You need to be able to restore it.

In the past, I was pretty involved in the alterative windows 'shell' world. I witnessed several projects that had multiple years of work invested in them, being dropped because the developer lost ALL his program sources in a disk crash. If you work with computers, you're going to experience data loss sooner or later. It may be just a file that is accidentally deleted, or it may be your house burning down. You need a plan B, a plan C and possibly a plan D and Plan E.



Senior member
I used to run a raid array, but with the price of drives and machines why?

My own scheme works ok -

My local desktop is used as a desktop and only a handful of files are stored here.  Almost everything of any value is on one of two servers. 

The one is an XP machine that handles everything except the web page files.  It does all my local file serving, and does the FTP file chores, stores all images and documents.  It runs only a 250gb main drive, plus a 1.5tb storage drive.  There is an older array in that machine too... but its just about obsolete.  The array is a pair of 120gb drives in RAID 1

The second server is a linux machine running SaMBa over it.  Its got the same hardware, but no array.  So that means a 250gb boot drive and a 1.5TB storage drive.  That machine handles all the web pages and also does the chores for network authentication as the primary domain controller. 

I simply have the two 1.5TB drives cross pollinate their data to each other from Windows to Linux and Linux to Windows....

This takes a good bit of time to do, so I have it set up to do at about 3am.   

Anything goes down.... its 100 percent backed up.

As for crud in the machines... nada, none.  I run filtered intakes, and that removes enough of the dust and crud and cat hair that all I need do is clean filters every so often ... like twice a year.  All the machines run 24/7 and the one ran for perhaps... oh .. 5 years with no cleaning or anything, with less dust than you'd see on an un-filtered machine in a few months of use.



Active member
The pics would lead me to suggest that pc is sitting on a carpeted floor.. raising it to the desktop would stop most of the crap getting inside.



Senior member
Oh yeah, well I have a DMX-4 in my bedroom, and another at my hosted DR site in Chicago, connected by an synchronous mirror over dedicated fiber.

:icon_scratch:  Just kidding of course.  Why do you have such paranoid systems for your home computers?  My desktop has been running almost nonstop for like 5 years.  It's been cleaned twice I think.  It's all stock except an extra hard drive.

nathan a

Senior member
...I just keep hard copies of my important stuff. The writings etc I need are printed out and in various file folders (there aren't too many). Irreplaceable music - i.e. my own - I have on CDs etc. My important photography is all done on film. Three cheers for old fogies  :eek:ccasion14:


Senior member
My 8 year old mac G4, that I run my recording studio on, was zapped by a power surge last week during the power outtages we had up here in the Northeast.  It completely fried my power supply.  Luckily I'd alredy backed up almost all my music stuff, but.... it's good that you bring this stuff up.  You never know when you're computer will go down.

Luckily it was a cheap $250 fix and the computer is back up to running as good as the day I got it.  Always good to be prepared though.

erik (I'm tying this on a PC) ;-)