File Server Redundancy Question

Synology Synology ds101j file servers pr...
September 11, 2009 at 09:26:11
Specs: Win2000/XP
Our company has an office with about 15 XP Pro workstations. Our PDC runs Windows 2000 and is acting strictly as a Domain Controller and some other minor duties. Our Fileserver is a NAS server, specifically a Netgear ReadyNAS+ with RAID. While we do backup the Fileserver I still feel we need more redundancy. If a hard drive dies in the ReadyNAS the RAID setup will keep us up and running, however if the entire unit fails then we are completely down. I thought about getting a second ReadyNAS and somehow having the data replicate itself on the fly. What would be the best way to protect ourselves so that our employees can continue to work even in the event of a catastrophic Fileserver failure. Being cutoff from our files for even 24 hours waiting for replacement parts would not be good for us.

Thanks in advance

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September 11, 2009 at 09:38:07
Solution would be to buy the second unit and have it available to be restored from backup and put on the network. I did similar for years with server hardware when the company couldn't afford maintenance plans.

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September 11, 2009 at 15:16:23
Depends how deep you want to go and your budget. Personally I only use NAS drives as backups and not for File Servers. I use full servers with Windows on them as File Servers because you got more control over ACLs and it has built in replication services but you can do replication across NAS with something like Microsoft SyncToys or I think you can use the replication services in the Active Directory server on NAS systems but this is dangerous because if the Server goes down then your drives will not sync.

The best way to be redundant is to have more than one DC just in case one fails. You would have one on site and one off site (Third Party or at a remote office). Then setup NAS drives at each site. Schedule backups at night to keep your bandwidth up. With this, if the server went down you could modify the DNS records to pint to the off site IP while you work on getting the server back up.

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September 11, 2009 at 17:58:56
Geeze, they cost a lot. Could almost build two lower range servers and operate in HA mode.

Playing to the angels
Les Paul (1915-2009)

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September 14, 2009 at 08:27:23
Ace, so you mean have a duplicate PDC and another ReadyNAS offsite. That is a possibility and certainly would improve redundancy for the PDC as well. The only thing is we still need to be able replicate the ReadyNAS data which I I found can be done with Rsync which is built into the ReadyNAS, so it sounds like you are suggesting we get another ReadyNAS but you are also suggesting a new SDC. I do agree that setting things up the way you describe would protect us pretty good assuming we can find an affordable host for our offsite machines. We don't have another office. I guess we could host them at the home of our boss thru his home cable internet connection with a good UPS but obviously thats not an optimal location.

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September 14, 2009 at 09:14:35
We are talking Windows 2000 and 15 xp clients. This is not a canidate for off site disaster recovery!

There is nothing wrong with having a NAS as a file server.
It is important that it be backed up regularly.

Are your PDC's drives raided?
Are you running tape backups daily?
Are you storing some of those tapes in an offsite secure location?
Do you have replacement hardware? [server drives, mainboard, nas unit, etc]
Do you have a 2nd DC as recommended by MS for Active Directory failover? [both running dns and holding the global catalog]

These are the ground zero fault tolerance considerations. A DR site isn't something even I do with 26 servers and nine sites. It is expensive and time consuming to setup and maintain.

BTW there are no SDC or BDC's in Active Directory. They are all DC's. If you wish to further delineate you then refer to their job functions or what fsmo roles they are holding.

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September 14, 2009 at 14:16:19
I should have added linux as the ha option, it sounds like it is only the file server that is being nas'ed.

Playing to the angels
Les Paul (1915-2009)

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September 14, 2009 at 16:27:47
Wanderer I agree that a complete offsite setup is a bit much.

We do a full backup of NAS daily to two separate external hard drives rotating them daily and using the NAS's built in backup routine. Each evening before we close the boss swaps them and takes the drive with the previous night backup home with him though sometimes he forgets.

Oh and the our existing Windows 2000 PDC is not raided. I actually posed that question in another post as I wanted to know the easiest steps involved to add a hardware raid controller for RAID1 to it because I also felt we needed more redundancy for it. Like our NAS it does get backed up to a rotating pair of external hard drives as well which boss also takes home each night.

We don't have any replacement hardware for the equipment which I agree would make sense to have. We don't have a second DC either. I plan on implementing an online backup routine to at give us some additional protection for the company files on the NAS.

BTW, in addition to its duties as a domain controller our DC also handles DNS for the network as well as of course group policies. Thats basically it. Our Sonicwall handles the antivirus for the network, DHCP and soon to be implemented VPN and also web access control and reporting.

We recently added another XP Pro machine acting as a server for some proprietary inventory software. It is configured with RAID1. It does not have its own backup. Backups are handled thru the network to the backup running on the PDC but I want to add its own external hard drive rotation backup routine directly like the DC and NAS have.

We have been running POP email accounts on our workstations for those that we give email accounts to but I don't like that idea because efficient backup of users PST files are complicated to implement.I have just started implementing a hosted exchange solution via Microsoft Online Services. I felt it was easier to manage then an inhouse exchange server. We have just our first user to it while we test it and hope to have everyone moved over by months end.

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