Handling backups in the mission office

For things that just don't fit anywhere else.
blm768
New Member
Posts: 8
Joined: Wed May 21, 2014 12:03 pm

Handling backups in the mission office

Postby blm768 » Wed Mar 25, 2015 12:09 pm

I've recently been assigned by the mission president to create a backup strategy for the mission office. As per Church policy, we're supposed to create daily backups to a local storage device and clone the backups to an off-site storage device weekly.

For the time being, I've got a solution that seems to work from a technical standpoint. On the office's backup drive, I've got a batch script that copies any new or changed files from the Documents folder and the Desktop:

Code: Select all

@echo off
setlocal

:: Source and destination directories
set srcdir=%USERPROFILE%
set destdir=.\Backups\%COMPUTERNAME%\%USERNAME%
:: The subdirectories of %srcdir% to copy
set subdirs=Documents Desktop

:: Options for robocopy
set rc_mode=/MIR /R:0 /XJD /FFT /LOG:backup_%%d.log /TEE
set rc_exclude=/XF *.lnk /XF desktop.ini  /XF *.ost
set rc_opts=%rc_mode% %rc_exclude%

for %%d in (%subdirs%) do (
    robocopy %srcdir%\%%d %destdir%\%%d %rc_opts%
    :: if %ERRORLEVEL% > 7, robocopy failed to copy one or more files.
    if %ERRORLEVEL% gtr 7 pause
)

It functions, but it's got a couple of issues. The first is that it may not be maintainable for future users. I don't foresee much need for maintenance because it's so simple, but it could become necessary. The other issue is that if anything goes wrong, the user has to hunt through the robocopy log, which is less than ideal.

Anyway, I've been trying to find a better alternative, but I'm having a hard time finding one that works much better.

I've looked at third-party backup software, but the main issue with most of it is that recovering files requires the original software, which could be an issue if we stop using a particular backup program. Additionally, very few programs seem to support reverse-incremental backup, which appears to be the best type of solution.

The built-in backup function in Windows looks like it would be OK, but it's geared toward an automated backup, which means that the backup disk must always be available. Since we don't have any kind of NAS, we'd either have to buy new hardware or leave a computer running overnight, which would use more power than I'd like.

We could also just have the user copy the files manually. That's the solution that is outlined in the Church's sample backup strategy for mission offices, but considering the number of files we have, copying all of those files would take a considerable amount of time. The manual copy also introduces a significant possibility of human error, and in the end, we may end up back where we started: no backups at all. Our "tech guy" from the stake prefers the manual backup strategy because he distrusts automatic backups, but I trust a polished backup program more than untrained office missionaries.

Anyway, I'm basically just looking for advice. Is there some kind of reverse-incremental backup system that we could use to back up multiple computers without needing a NAS or any special software to restore files (at least from the most recent backup like you can with rdiff-backup)?

russellhltn
Community Administrator
Posts: 20763
Joined: Sat Jan 20, 2007 2:53 pm
Location: U.S.

Re: Handling backups in the mission office

Postby russellhltn » Wed Mar 25, 2015 1:09 pm

blm768 wrote:Our "tech guy" from the stake prefers the manual backup strategy because he distrusts automatic backups, but I trust a polished backup program more than untrained office missionaries.


As a stake "tech guy" and a IT person, I have a certain level of distrust of both. The problem with the polished backup program is how do you know it's still working and hasn't run into a problem? Sure, you can add a check list item to the office routine, but after 500+ days of checking and never finding a problem that step will get skipped. Perhaps when handing off the office tasks to the next person. I'm sure you know what happens next.

So personally, I like a blended approach where someone has to do something, but that something is as automated/goof-proof as possible.

Outside of that, I don't have much in the way of suggestions. (But you might want to pare down the amount of data being backed up. Remember Parkinson's law: "Data expands to fill the space available for storage." With hard drive sizes always increasing, there's probably never been a need to do any purging.
Have you searched the Wiki?
Try using a Google search by adding "site:tech.lds.org/wiki" to the search criteria.

blm768
New Member
Posts: 8
Joined: Wed May 21, 2014 12:03 pm

Re: Handling backups in the mission office

Postby blm768 » Wed Mar 25, 2015 1:34 pm

russellhltn wrote:So personally, I like a blended approach where someone has to do something, but that something is as automated/goof-proof as possible.


That's basically what I had in mind with the batch script. Unfortunately, if something goes wrong, the user probably won't know how to handle it. I had a PowerShell solution that worked "better," but it turns out that it doesn't work so well on Windows 7, and it basically bordered on creating "custom software," which is strongly discouraged for missions (for good reasons, too).

russellhltn wrote:Outside of that, I don't have much in the way of suggestions. (But you might want to pare down the amount of data being backed up. Remember Parkinson's law: "Data expands to fill the space available for storage." With hard drive sizes always increasing, there's probably never been a need to do any purging.


I've already done some paring, including moving pictures to a directory that's not backed up. Unfortunately, there's a whole lot of stuff that's left, and I'm not sure what's safe to delete because many of the files have been modified fairly recently. With some more clean-up, we might be able to make backups pretty quick, but without an incremental solution, it would still be slow enough that the user wouldn't want to wait for it, and if the user isn't around when the job finishes, any errors will probably be ignored.

On the subject of using a NAS for backup (which would improve convenience and increase the probability that people will actually do backups), I'm trying to figure out how we can get a sufficiently inexpensive NAS. In theory, I could just set up a Samba server on a Raspberry Pi and attach a flash drive to it. Transfer speeds would be very limited, but if the backup is incremental, it should be OK as long as we don't have any huge files.

russellhltn
Community Administrator
Posts: 20763
Joined: Sat Jan 20, 2007 2:53 pm
Location: U.S.

Re: Handling backups in the mission office

Postby russellhltn » Wed Mar 25, 2015 2:28 pm

blm768 wrote:On the subject of using a NAS for backup (which would improve convenience and increase the probability that people will actually do backups), I'm trying to figure out how we can get a sufficiently inexpensive NAS. In theory, I could just set up a Samba server on a Raspberry Pi and attach a flash drive to it. Transfer speeds would be very limited, but if the backup is incremental, it should be OK as long as we don't have any huge files.

I'd just go to Best Buy (or whatever you have there) and get a hard drive that connects to the network. Stright forward.

Something like this. (Although I'd disable/not set up the true cloud function, just let it run as a NAS.) I mean, by the time you buy a drive, Pi, case power supply, etc, I don't think you'd be any cheaper. This is a single-box solution that has support.
Have you searched the Wiki?

Try using a Google search by adding "site:tech.lds.org/wiki" to the search criteria.

User avatar
pete.arnett
Member
Posts: 234
Joined: Thu Dec 23, 2010 7:33 am
Location: Sunny South Florida, USA

Handling backups in the mission office

Postby pete.arnett » Wed Mar 25, 2015 4:30 pm

E-mail from a TSR in the Missionary Department, late in 2014

"We have been testing a corporate cloud-based solution (Microsoft OneDrive), which we hope to implement in mission offices in the very near future. We would ask that the mission not purchase a Network Storage Device at this time."

blm768
New Member
Posts: 8
Joined: Wed May 21, 2014 12:03 pm

Re: Handling backups in the mission office

Postby blm768 » Thu Mar 26, 2015 9:38 am

pete.arnett wrote:"We have been testing a corporate cloud-based solution (Microsoft OneDrive), which we hope to implement in mission offices in the very near future. We would ask that the mission not purchase a Network Storage Device at this time."


That would work extremely well. If they're actually going to roll that out, I guess I'll just go with our interim solution for now.

Do you know whom I could contact to find out what the deployment status is?

User avatar
pete.arnett
Member
Posts: 234
Joined: Thu Dec 23, 2010 7:33 am
Location: Sunny South Florida, USA

Re: Handling backups in the mission office

Postby pete.arnett » Thu Mar 26, 2015 2:38 pm

contact the "Global Service Center" and ask them to open an issue (ticket) for a TSR in the Missionary Department to contact you

blm768
New Member
Posts: 8
Joined: Wed May 21, 2014 12:03 pm

Re: Handling backups in the mission office

Postby blm768 » Thu Mar 26, 2015 2:46 pm

pete.arnett wrote:contact the "Global Service Center" and ask them to open an issue (ticket) for a TSR in the Missionary Department to contact you


Sounds good. Thanks!

User avatar
pete.arnett
Member
Posts: 234
Joined: Thu Dec 23, 2010 7:33 am
Location: Sunny South Florida, USA

Re: Handling backups in the mission office

Postby pete.arnett » Thu Mar 26, 2015 3:11 pm

The attached network diagram is from the COMPUTER GUIDE FOR MISSION HOMES AND OFFICES, Updated March 14, 2014

You may want to ask for a copy and let me know if they have updated it

We were looking at a NAS like
Seagate Business Storage 1-Bay NAS 2TB Drive
Model Number: STBM2000100
Suggested Retail: $189.99
Attachments
Mission Office IT Model Dated 2014 03 14.jpg
(127.55 KiB) Not downloaded yet

User avatar
pete.arnett
Member
Posts: 234
Joined: Thu Dec 23, 2010 7:33 am
Location: Sunny South Florida, USA

Re: Handling backups in the mission office

Postby pete.arnett » Thu Mar 26, 2015 5:35 pm

From the Missionary Department, 26Mar2015

"No ETA just yet. OneDrive is fairly new to church workforce so we are currently working out the bugs so it can be useful outside of workforce."


Return to “Other Meetinghouse Technologies”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest