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Backup Rotation Policy Ideas

Created: 10 Mar 2014 | 6 comments


I probably consider myself old fashioned when it comes to this type of thing but it has worked fine in the past.

Traditionally my clients have a single SBS 2008, 2011 server, with Backup Exec 2010/2012 Small Business Edition installed.

A certain number of backup drives have been purchased either 5 for a Mon-Fri rotation or 9 for a Mon-Thur with Alternation Fridays (Friday1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

Full backups are done each night to the drivers. The clients data size is not extensive and with the speed of USB3.0 the backups get done overnight with no worries.

Drivers are then rotated according to how many disks were purchased, and happy days! This type of system allows the client to restore the entire system from any given disk, which is one mechanism I like.

It got me thinking though that it the above type of approach does waste a lot of disk space and are there any better ways to manage it? Obviously there are Full, Incremental and differential but how does one still keep the ability restore the entire server from one single USB Drive? If a full backup is done on Friday and then Differential Mon-Thur, then it leaves the client in a vulnerable position if something was to happen to the server on Friday as the only backup drive that has a full copy of the server is located in the office.

I have also been thinking about NAS devices and how it would be great to simply backup to that every night. I could run a full backup, with a secondary job that copies the data to USB drive, but then run into the same problem where by some USB Drives don't have all data required to do a full restore.

What are your thoughts on the situation, and how can I better use what I have already purchased better?

Thanks in advance


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pkh's picture

If your backup window allows you to do full backups, then you should stick to it. This is the easiest to restore. Disks are cheap compared to lengthy restore procedures and fumbling around during an emergency.

If you must use incremental/differential backups, then you should always keep your backup chain on one disk for ease of restore. In fact, BE 2012 requires you to have the entire backup chain available during a restore

Peter Sheridan's picture

Thanks pkh.

What about utilising the storage space more efficiently? For example atm there is essentially only 1 backup on each drive. If i could somehow combine a differential with a full I could probably get around 2+ months of a restore timeframe on the one drive.

Just throwing ideas out there but is it possible in BE Somehow to do a full backup to one USB drive and then differentials after that?

So for example,

Do a full backup on Monday's disk, then all Mondays after that do differentials.

On Tuesdays disk do a full backup, then all Tuesdays after that do differentials.


Using the method above each drive would contain a entire copy of the server, but would allow us to restore data many weeks in the past rather than just a single.

Or another idea...

Say a client had a NAS. A Full backup could be done to that on the first night, then differentials afterwards. Then to achieve offsite protection the entire NAS could be copied to a USB drive. Ideally the copy should be done in Backup exec to allow for proper reporting/alerting.

Once again i'm not sure if this is possible.

pkh's picture

Your scheme will not work because a differential backs up changes since the LAST full backup.  Think about this with reference to your scheme.

If you want to "copy" the NAS, then you need to duplicate each backup set.  You cannot just simply backup/copy the NAS.  See this document

Peter Sheridan's picture

pkh, is it possible at all to synchronise a storage pool on a NAS to multiple USB Drives?

So for example say a Full backup was done to a NAS on Friday and Incrementals Mon - Thursday.

All well and good except for offsite protection. Now yes it would be possible to have 1 USB drive plugged in the entire time but that drive would need to be rotated, so a total of 2 USB drives would need to be used to achieve offsite protection.

Or can i ask you this question...

If i was to hand you a 2011 Small Business Server, BE Small Business Edition, 5x1TB USB Drives, and a 2TB NAS how would you structure the backups?

Assume that,

- The entire server can be backed up during an 8 hour window (so overnight)

- The customer would like to utilise the storage as best as possible and be able to restore back as far as possible.


Peter Sheridan

pkh's picture

How many percent of the profit do I get?

Peter Sheridan's picture

Do you get down to Adelaide, Australia much??