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Backup backup backup – part 2

So its taken a bit longer than planned to past this second part, mostly due to a busy few weeks at work with installations and meetings. If you read the last blog post then you will remember that I started looking at various ways to backup your computer files, and looked at the following 2 solutions USB hard drives and cloud based. This time i want to take a brief look at On-premise and hybrid solutions.


On-Premise

Before the days of cloud storage services a local on-premise server was the main way organisations backed up there documents. Today this is still a preferred choice of storage.
On-premise servers can come in a variety of sizes and configurations. For those looking for an out of the box solution, manufacturers such as Qnap and Synology offer a range of fairly plug and play servers. These servers are more commonly referred to as a NAS (Network Attached Storage) device. NAS devices can come in a variety of configurations from single hard drives to 4, 8, 12 16 etc. The more hard drives in a NAS the more redundancy this can provide but is all dependant on how it is configured and set up.

An alternative to out of the box NAS devices are software based solutions such as Freenas and NAS4FREE. Solutions like these were typically aimed at people wanting a NAS and using an old computer to run it on. For many years I have been a fan of these solutions and use Freenas in my own office as my main file server. Like many things these have developed over the years and can be integrated into networks.

 

Redundancy

Whether you choose an out of the box devices or a choose a software solution it is important to consider redundancy. Redundancy in the IT world is about making sure that if something fails there is a duplicate. The most common method of redundancy in IT is by using RAID (redundant array of inexpensive disks). There are a variety of different RAID options to choose from the simplest one is mirror where you have 2 drive and the data is mirrored across both drives to set ups where data is broken up across different drives (stripe) and then this is mirrored.  Different RAID options are suitable for different uses and will require different amounts of hard drives. For help understanding RAID it is worth reading this article on PC MAG. Devices from firms like Qnap and Synology generally have a fairly easy set up with menus guiding you on setting up RAID options compared with software solutions like Freenas which can and do require some IT knowledge.

 

Hybrid

One option I have been looking into more is that of hybrid set ups where you utilise both cloud and on-premises solutions to store files. This method of working is starting become more popular as cloud storage is becoming more accessible and affordable.  Hybrid solutions can be configured in a variety of ways, firms like Qnap and Synology allow people to make this easy by providing simple apps that can be installed on their boxes. Personally I feel that a hybrid solution provides the safest way to store files along side being easily and quickly accessible for remote users.

 

Windows

So there is one solution I have missed off talking about and that is a the popular Microsoft server. There are several reasons for not including this, the first being very few churches will have the budget, infrastructure or need for a Windows server. Secondly, its great if that all you have but if you have Macs as well things become more tricky. Thirdly I did not want to start an OS war. There are various server operating systems which can handle file storage but these will need someone who can monitor and make sure they are working as they should. A lot of the solutions above are very much out the box, install a program and enter some details and although this may seem basic for those who understand tech, for those who are not techies and have to use systems like this basic actually can be a lot more appealing.
For those wanting to explore the options of a traditional Windows server, I would highly advise looking at the Server 2012 r2 Essentials. This provides a simpler gui which for those needing to train church staff and volunteers how to do things this would be most helpful.

As with any thing if you are uncertain about what solution to use then do seek advice. At CTUK, we feel it is important to make sure people get the right information.

So that’s a brief look at some options and solutions to backup your data. Personally for those looking for a simple solution then the Qnap and Synology options and well worth a look. Right time to write part 3, which is all about backup in the AV world.

 

Anthony Lear

Anthony lives in Sheffield with his wife Fiona and daughter Naomi. He works for Hawthorn within the event projects team as a Project technician focusing on Video. Anthony is the founder of Church Tech UK, an initiative designed to support, develop and equip those that work and volunteer within a technical capacity in UK Churches.

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