I think it's worth stepping back for a minute and asking "Why do I backup?" "What do I need to do with my backups?"
For example, is it disaster recovery: I get into work in the morning and find there's been a fire/flood/burglary/whatever and all my servers are dead
Is it "I've just deleted all my course work; please can you get back last night's backup?"
Or, "I want to go back to the version of files I had 3 weeks ago - please can you help?"
Can you use different backup techniques for different data sets? For example, if you say "we will only keep 1 week's worth of data for student home directories" then you could probably set up a box with a couple of 2Tb drives and use robocopy to copy to these. The benefit of that is that most of the data is static so once you've got a week's worth of backups in place, it takes much less time to do the backup each night because you're essentially doing a differential backup but with the benefit that the "Monday" folder holds all the files as they were on Monday so it's really quick to restore.
If you can do something like this, then you free up your tape system to do things like the SQL databases which need to be kept for longer and can't be backed up with robocopy.
You can configure your servers to backup system state to disc and then copy that off somewhere safe later - again, this might help spread the load.
Of course, this won't work for everyone (if you've got nowhere safe to put a disc backup which is a fire-safe distance from your servers then there's no point!) but sometimes just thinking about a complete change can help find a solution.
we have a NAS with an AIT autoloader attached. we do D2D2T;
Differential on all server except exchange and sims every night,
Full on exchange and sims every night,
Full on all servers at the end of every week(Friday).
Backup starts in the evening and takes a few hours most to do the backup to disk, replication to tape takes allot longer. we're currently borderline filling the 7 AIT3 tapes. Since installing the D2D2T we're never actually needed the tapes, there really only for disaster recovery now.
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