Backup media choices for FreeBSD servers

Derek Ragona derek at
Tue Apr 24 00:20:58 UTC 2007

At 07:01 PM 4/23/2007, L Goodwin wrote:
>I need to implement an automated backup facility on the FreeBSD file 
>server I'm setting up for a client. It will have a software RAID 1 
>Mirror/Duplex that is made available to Windows XP SP2 and Windows Vista 
>Home Premium users as a Samba share.  I also plan to create system 
>recovery disks (disk images) for the server and each Windows client.
>This leaves backing up user data on some schedule. I've read "Backup 
>Basics", but have some questions:
>Which is best backup media for a FreeBSD file server, based on known 
>issues (or lack of) with each format? I need to decide between the 
>following formats:
>  a) CD-R (or CD-RW?)
>  b) DVD-R (or CD-RW?)
>  c) Streaming tape (which format/standard?)
>Which is the best method for backing up data files on a Samba sharer FreeBSD?
>Handbook says dump is the only way to go.
>Is it possible to have a Windows client perform the backup files on the 
>Samba share to a local Re-Writable CD or DVD drive? If the answer is YES, 
>what are the pros and cons of a UNIX-based (data-file only) backup vs. a 
>Windows-based one?
>Please add to my list of pros and cons:
>Windows Backup:
>PRO: Backup can be restored to a Windows drive while server is being fixed?
>CON: Users might forget to replace backup disk after using optical drive.
>FreeBSD Backup:
>PRO: Out of sight from users (server is in a storeroom).
>CON: Cannot restore backup to a Windows disk while server is being fixed?
>These are some of my other considerations:
>  1) Cost is a primary concern. Budget does not allow for a multi-drive 
> solution. Best if client does not handle backups (change discs/tapes), so 
> a solution that permits storing several backups to same disc/tape preferred.
>2) I only want to back up user data (not the OS). Current user data 
>occupies less than 1GB of drive space, and is expected to grow at a modest 
>3) I do NOT have a writable CD or DVD drive (but can buy one if not too 
>4) I have an external SCSI connection, but very little "shelf" space.
>5) The server does not have room for another internal device (except if 
>swapping out the existing ATAPI CD-ROM drive).
>6) I have an Ecrix Corporation Model VXI-1A SCSI internal tape drive that 
>I assume is obsolete (comments appreciated). Anyway, I don't have room for it.
>7) Have not yet settled on a backup schedule. May be weekly or monthly or 
>ad-hoc, but daily is probably out of the question. The RAID 1 array is 
>expected to provide some degree of protection in leieu of daily backups. 
>Plan to back up all documents each time, rather than implement a 
>two-tiered backup process.

You already have RAID 1 so you need more of an offline, removable media 
solution.  You need to choose between CD, DVD, or tape.  That is a cost and 
capacity issue, you need to do some price comparisons and choose what fits 
your budget.

You can backup and restore all files UNIX and Samba/windows from the 
FreeBSD but not vice-versa.

You would do well to setup some automated task, as in a cron job to do the 
backups.  You will need a human to change whatever media you choose, and 
move it off-site occasionally too.

For FreeBSD, be sure to backup /etc /usr/local/etc.

You can use dump/restore, tar, pax, cpio, or one of the ports such as bacula.

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