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[ The PC Guide | System Care Guide | Backups and Disaster Recovery | Backup Scheduling and Media Rotation Systems ]

Scheduling Considerations for Multiple PCs

Ideally, each PC should have its own backup unit, media sets and schedule. However, this isn't always practical. If you have a lot of PCs that are on a network, you can certainly consider the use of network backup to make the backup of the various machines much easier. Some companies have many machines, however, that aren't on a network, and they need to be backed up periodically, but not very often.

One way to approach this system is to use a portable tape backup unit. If you have 40 PCs, you can use a portable unit that attaches to the parallel port and simply rotate through them, backing them up one PC a night. This isn't nearly as good as having a separate unit on each PC, because a long time will pass between backups. But it is much better than nothing and it saves thousands of dollars.

Another problem is the media. Many QIC/Travan drives use tapes that cost about $30 each. Since it is unsafe to use the same backup tape all the time on a machine, in case the system fails during the backup or a virus gets onto the backup, you really need 2 tapes per machine as a minimum. This means about $2,400 in media for 40 PCs. However, there are two ways to cut this cost substantially:

  • Tape Sharing: If you buy a large-capacity drive, you may find that many PCs don't need a tape to themselves. You can simply use the same tape on more than one PC, and append the second or third's backups to the end of the tape.
  • Offset Rotation: Let's suppose you have 40 PCs to back up, each one getting their own tape. Buy 41 tapes, then backup PC #1 to tape #1, PC #2 to tape #2, etc., all the way up to #40. Then, when it is time to rotate back to backing up PC #1, use tape #41. PC #2 then next is backed up to tape #1, PC #3 to tape #2, etc. This system ensures that you are never wiping out your current backup while making a new backup, so you eliminate the risk of a hard drive crash in the middle of a backup. While you are recording the backup to tape #41, tape #1 is still around in case something bad happens.

Next: What To Back Up

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