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O'Reilly: Using NFS for Networked Backups

Mar 14, 2003, 07:00 (9 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Glenn Graham)

"Arguments abound between system administrators as to the correct way to back up a network of Unix hosts. Some argue that tapes are the answer, while others lean toward more modern means, such as rewritable CD-ROMs. No matter the method, the end goal remains: to back up hosts over a network, in a manner that is conveniently indexed and easily retrieved.

"During the late 80s, I decided to cut costs by using a spare server running NFS along with a single 500MB tape drive loaded with 1/4" DC6525 tape cartridges. The idea was simple and performed well. I dedicated three tapes per host and performed a revolving backup of each host three times a week. The only problem was that the media was cumbersome and, in many cases, unreliable. Gone are the days of DC6525s; they've been replaced by more expensive, complex devices.

"Over the past year, I've been revamping my network of 24 hosts. Before I began, I considered writable CD-ROMs and other commercial products. After comparing the cost of commercial products to mass storage drives, I concluded it would be more economical to construct a central NFS server running Linux. Based on my original model, I replaced the tape drive with two hot-swappable SCSI drives running RAID. This allows for real-time backup, removable data, and future expansion..."

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