In a small business environment backups are just as critical as in any other business. If not more critical for larger businesses with dedicated technical staff. One issue with backups is the time delay between a file accidentally being deleted or over-written and when it can be restored. Fortunately, MS Windows Server 2008 and forward offers DFS with Replication. This technology allows for file replication between two servers (or more). For example, if a file is deleted from Server A, there is a variable delay before it is removed from Server B. This gives a user time to ‘retrieve’ the file from Server B. When they save it to Server A, as usual, the new version/updates will be replicated to Server B.
This may seem a bit confusing. So, let’s take a look at it from a different angle. The branch library in your neighborhood shows their inventory lists a copy of Alice in Wonderland. You request to borrow this book, but it can not be found. So, a librarian will request a copy from the central library to satisfy your need. If they are well managed and this is a popular book, the central library will order a replacement copy of the missing book. In this example, the local branch is Server A and the central library is Server B, with another copy of the book.
Microsoft offers a two-step solution to make this possible. The first element is referred to as DFS or Distributed File Services. DFS is one means that the Windows Server Operating System can present to the end user a single listing of available shared files across multiple servers in a single location. This makes finding files across projects, departments, servers and sites much easier. Similar to how many smart phones will collate and merge the phone book in the phone with the address book in the e-mail application into a single view.
Once DFS is set up, Replication can be added. The replication component will allow users to read and write files in a shared folder on the server. The server, as a member of a replication set within a distributed file system, will push a copy of the file to other servers in the same replication set. When a file is changed, the same replication process occurs. This is a great process for a company with multiple locations that needs to keep files current, updated and locally available, across sites.
Many of us are employing a similar solution with our workstations and laptops. Cloud services such as DropBox, Google Drive and OneDrive from Microsoft grant us similar capabilities to keep files between our workstation in the office, our laptop and even our home computer all in sync. Issues to consider, before using these services for your servers include:
- security of data stored in a cloud solution
- DFS-R is available at no additional charge on your existing servers
- For high volumes of data these services can become expensive on monthly or annual subscriptions
If you have a need to have data synced between multiple sites or you wish to have an automated ‘live backup’ of your critical files, please contact Daniel at Indy’s I.T. Department, today. Our number is 317-560-4443.