Mac/Thunderbolt Backup Solution Needed

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Minuteman3, Dec 2, 2013.

  1. Minuteman3 macrumors member


    Jan 30, 2009
    I have a client where we have a nifty Windows server solution working. We use a Mini running Parallels and attach a Promise 4 disk container with the entire Windows VM located on the Promise device. Has been working perfectly for almost two years.

    However ... our VM is getting quite large and is about to get a lot larger. Right now the VM is just shy of 900GB and will soon begin growing at the rate of about 1GB a day/5GB a week.

    The drives in the Promise device are currently 1.5TB and I plan to simply upgrade those to 2 or 3 TB and we should be ready to go for the daily operations.

    My problem is ... backup. I need two backups ... one of the entire VM to use in case something gets messed up and one for off site security. For the onsite BU I can use the two additional drive bays in the Promise and something like SuperDuper or maybe even Time Machine. Lots of choices.

    BUT ... the offsite BU is a problem. Using on online service is cost prohibitive plus the fact that the amount of data to be moved daily would consume a lot of bandwidth from our internet connection. We have been using a TB portable drive but backing up that much data even over TB seems to take several hours and it's tough for the non-techie onsite staff to do.

    So, I was thinking my best solution would be to get an enclosure of some kind that supports hot swap drives. Have the staff put a drive in every day at close of business, schedule a clone of the VM in the evening, then swap out the removable drive the next day and so on. With a hot swap drive and a scheduled "clone" operation, it would be pretty easy for the non-techie staff to do.

    Is there such a device? It could be TB or FireWire with the current Mini. I would consider a current generation MacPro to replace the Mini because I could use the internal drives for the VM (vs TB) and connect via eSata in addition to USB/Firewire.

    Thanks in advance for any suggestions on the hardware necessary to support this.

    Or, if there are any other ideas on how to accomplish this I'd love to hear them.


  2. deconstruct60 macrumors 604

    Mar 10, 2009
    Back up a VM image with SuperDuper or Time Machine is bad idea. To those two it is one big giant blob of data. They would generally do very bad things with large opaque containers that incrementally changed inside.

    More straightforward way to look at the problem is that you need a Windows backup solution and targeted resources for that Windows back-up program to target for back-ups.

    You can do something like add another Ethernet interface to the Mini and use that as a conduit to a back-up volume target for the Windows back-up volume locally. Depending upon the software could mirror that to an offsite at the same time or just with some snapshots.

    5GB incrementals per weeks isn't quite the threshold that screams tape back-ups. A 3-4TB target and windows backup program pushing 5GB incrementals to the disk each night it won't be a daily disk swap. To be save perhaps a monthly swap to offsite but copying all 900GB every night isn't particularly necessary.

    You VM should be able to mount either local direct attached storage or some iSCSI/network volume as a target.
  3. AidenShaw macrumors P6


    Feb 8, 2003
    The Peninsula
    Agree completely. Backing up full images of VM virtual disks simply doesn't scale. (Why back up 300 GB of data when only 100 MB has changed?)

    Windows can make a backup of a huge VM in seconds, and clone that backup.

    Get Apple OSX out of the picture, and either run Windows natively or on Hyper-V on top of Windows.

    Or use ESXi and use something like Symantec Netbackup to do VM-aware backups that use volume shadow snapshots to intelligently backup the changed bits without stopping or slowing down the VM.

    These packages have already solved the issue of only backing up the changed bits, and replicating only those changes to offsite copies.
  4. goMac macrumors 603

    Apr 15, 2004
    Why not use a RAID 1+0 solution? Get a second Promise array or LaCie JBOD and mirror, or get a Drobo that's slower but has that built in.

    If you don't need historical backups just mirror everything.

    Offsite is a problem... Why back up the entire VM offsite? Can't you just back up what the VM is serving?
  5. haravikk macrumors 65816

    May 1, 2005
    Have you considered CrashPlan? There are probably other services out there that offer similar features but they're the only one I'm familiar with. Their software gives you pretty control for setting regular local backups, but to perform a less frequent (e.g - scheduled to run overnight) backup to their cloud service (for money) or to another remote machine that you own (free).

    I don't think it does Time Machine style incremental backups except via their cloud service, so you might consider using Time Machine for local backups and CrashPlan for the remote ones, but it's fairly efficient and the GUI is fairly easy to work with, plus if you decide cloud backup would be easier then it's easy to switch.

    You could also consider rsync for remote backups too; if you don't mind a bit of terminal work it's fairly easy to set it up to run automatically on a schedule, just make sure to install a newer version than the one bundled with OS X, as newer versions compare files a lot more efficiently and start backing up faster (older versions like the one bundled with OS X would load the entire file list ahead of time, using up tonnes of RAM, fine for small local operations, horrible for remote ones).

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