Friday, 18 September 2009

Backup Best Practices

If the data on your server was lost, what would you do?

At some point, everyone will lose data. It is often at this point you will realise how good your backup strategy is. There are several data loss scenarios to consider...

Hardware Failure
Hardware is becoming more and more resilient, but it will never be 100% perfect. Although better quality components cost more and reduce the risk of failure, failure can never be completely eliminated. Backing up your data will allow you to be prepared when it does happen. A common misconception is that backups are not required when a server has mirrored disks or RAID. This is not the case!

User Error
Users can often delete or overwrite important files accidentally. Sometimes they realise this immediately, other times the error is not detected until much later when the file is next needed. Having a backup which enables you to retrieve files from a long time ago will help in this situation.

The end result of these can be the same as a hardware failure: an unusable box and no data. Did you know: In the UK, a home or business is more likely to flood, than have a fire? (source: Environment Agency). You probably have a burglar alarm and fire extinguishers, yet flooding is more likely than fire. No matter how good your hardware, it won’t withstand a fire and will almost certainly be affected should it flood.

It may sound daunting, but a good backup plan is simple, requiring only a few factors to be taken into account. There is no perfect solution, rather a best-fit which balances the needs of the business or individual against the budget available.


Ensure Sufficient History

Say the only backup available to you is last night's copy. If an important file was deleted several days or weeks ago, you will have no backup containing that deleted file. Part of the process to decide a backup plan should include consideration of how far back your backups may need to go.

Offsite Storage
It is vital to have some form of offsite backup. Keeping all your tapes neatly on top of the server is no good. If a fire engulfs the server room, you're left with nothing. Having an offsite backup which is two years old is also little use in most circumstances. Fire safes do not necessarily guarantee that the tapes or devices stored in them will be usable after a fire. It is important as part of an offsite rotation routine, that there is always at least one tape offsite and that all the tapes are not in the same place at the same time (that could be when the fire strikes, destroying all hardware and backups)

Test Your Solution!
If you have a solution, do you know that it works? Does somebody check regularly to see that the backup is working? Have you tried to get data back so that you are happy that the solution works? Do you know which tape contains the data you need? Many people find out their backup hasn’t been working when a disaster happens.

Friday, 11 September 2009

Quad Online Backup - First Sale!

Quad is proud to announce the first sale of its online backup solution, QuadBackup.

Before its official launch, our good customer, Arches Housing Ltd, had been helping us to trial the software. They had been looking for a reliable way of storing their backup off site, instead of the weekly tape drop-off at Quad by courier. When QuadBackup was in its final phases of testing, we set it up at Arches to give them an idea of how it would work.

We had been monitoring the testing, and all had been going very well. Whilst finalising how to launch the product, we received a call asking to restore a folder which had been accidentally deleted some time ago. As it happened, the oldest tape (two weeks) was offsite at Quad, so we restored the folder from it which had around 150Mb of data in it. Using QuadBackup, however, we restored over 750Mb of data as the history went back for several months.

Needless to say, Arches were delighted at this and have snapped-up the QuadBackup.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Clearing the Visual Studio Web Cache

Working with Visual Studio 2008 on websites with other developers, I was continually annoyed by the message :-

Confirm Save To Web Server
A more recent version of the file [filename] has been saved to the Web server by [username] on [DateTime]

Do you want to replace the server file with your local file?


I didn't want to replace the server file with my local file. In fact, I wanted to update my local file with the one from the server if someone else had changed it!

This situation got steadily more annoying as more files were changed on the site, meaning that it took many clicks of "no" (would be nice to have had "no to all") just to exit Visual Studio (2008). This message appeared whether or not I had changed a file.

Extensive searching on the internet, within help files and looking at options did not reveal anything which helped me.

Finally, I pieced together the following which worked for me, and hopefully will work for you.

It appears Visual Studio (version 2008 at least) saves a local cache of files in the following folder :-
For Vista and Windows 7:-
For XP:-
C:\Documents and Settings\%username%\Local Settings\Temp\VWDWebCache\

Here you'll find a folder for each website you have opened to edit. Essentially, it is a cache of pages for each website. Whichever one is giving you the problem, delete it and the messages will stop!

I think an option to keep files cached or not should be made available in Visual Studio as I think other people must want to use it the same way as we do. Or an option to refresh the cache or delete it entirely would be a step in the right direction.

Hope that helps you, it took a while to get to the bottom of this, but as usual I found a solution!

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Dore House Industrial Estate - New Blog

Quad has started a blog specifically for Dore House Industrial Estate. View it here.