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Backup & Recovery: Inexpensive Backup Solutions for Open Systems Paperback – Jan 13 2007
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Inexpensive Backup Solutions
About the Author
W. Curtis Preston has specialized in designing data protection systems since 1993, and has designed such systems for many environments, both large and small. His lively prose and wry, real-world approach has made him a popular author and speaker.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The best aspect of BAR is the author's obvious expertise in this subject. He does a good job sharing lots of his knowledge with the reader. Probably the most valuable conceptual framework I learned in BAR is the difference between backups and archives. Pages 696-7 summarize this nicely: "Backups are the secondary copy of primary data... Archives are the primary copy of secondary data." In this section and elsewhere, Preston describes how archives are the repository one should create when answering ediscovery requests and similar queries -- not backups. This is an extremely powerful idea and I plan to see how my employer deals with this issue.
The second best aspect of BAR involves multiple chapters on backing up various databases. One can usually find similar coverage in single books on specific databases, but having all information in one book is useful for purposes of comparison. Chapter 15 provides an overview of the entire problem by discussing terminology and features found in many databases. This chapter helps storage admins understand the database admin world. Of particular note was the coverage of Microsoft Exchange, which the book calls a specialized database. I had not thought of Exchange in this light, but it's true -- especially when Microsoft indicates future versions will have SQL Server replacing Extensible Storage Engine. I only read chapters on SQL Server, Exchange, and MySQL.
The third best aspect of BAR includes OS-specific chapters on bare-metal recovery. Although my OS of choice (FreeBSD) didn't merit its own chapter, I felt the material in the bare-metal section was robust enough to help me perform this work if necessary. I really only read the chapters on Windows/Linux and ignored Solaris, HP-UX, AIX, and Mac OS X.
BAR is a good book, so why not five stars? First, I thought the chapters on open source backup options (especially ch 7 on "Open-Source Near CDP") were weak. I wanted to learn a lot more about rdiff-backup, for example, but the tool merited about 5 pages and introduced only the simplest possible invocation. Rsnapshot was also undercovered. It seemed like too many pages were spent on utilities I would probably never use (given newer options) like dump and cpio. I was also not confident I could get very far with Amanda, BackupPC, or Bacula given the detail given to each open source product. (Regarding BackupPC -- I had to guess it was open source and then only found out the truth when its Web site at sf.net was mentioned late in the chapter!)
Second, some topics never really made sense. For example, I still do not understand how snapshots actually work. Calling it a "picture" means nothing to me. Snapshots are mentioned throughout the text, and the explanation that finally appears near the end of the book in a miscellanea chapter doesn't help.
Third, I would really have liked to hear more about services offering backup to the Internet, like Amazon's S3 and others. This MUST be covered in the next edition.
Finally, although the book has lots of advice, it would have been nice to have had a case study chapter where multiple example enterprises demonstrate their backup and recovery solutions. After finishing the book I have lots of ideas floating around, but seeing how a one-person, 100-person, 10,000-person, and 500,000-person environment implement BAR would be greatly appreciated.
Preston though, succeeds, and succeeds with flying colors. What I was struck by most of all, after reading it, is his clear breadth of knowledge in the subject of backups. Each of the different databases alone do things differently, and have a lot of different concepts, and vernacular to describe it.
He starts the book with the basics, what backing up is all about, why you do it, and what to consider. What are you backing up and why? How often, and using what method? Roll-your-own solution scripting with unix utils like dd, cpio, or tar, go with an open source solution such as Amanda, Bacula, or BackupPC, or consider various commercial solutions. And lastly, don't forget testing and verifying your backups. Preston doesn't let anything through the cracks.
I have worked on Unix for years and years, but my sweet spot is working with databases. So I read the chapters on Oracle and MySQL very carefully. In both cases I learned something new. For instance during an Oracle hotbackup, did you know that changes to datafiles are *NOT* frozen. Learn how Oracle reconstructs your data using a hotbackup, by reading his careful discussion on the topic. Databases are not simple beasts, and the backup considerations are not trivial. Nonetheless, I would recommend this book as your reference for doing database backups on any of these platforms.
Lastly I like the writing style. He calls it "champagne backup on a beer budget". Good stuff. You'll find this book interesting to read, full of detail when you need it and pointed when necessary. Go pickup a copy.
The author starts out by discussing "The Philosophy of Backup" which covers why backups are so important and how you to find a solution that both meets your needs and your budget. Chapter two goes over what to backup, how often and at what levels. It also discussed what types of disaster to be prepared for, automation, storage, testing and things to look out for on various OS's.
Chapters 3-7 cover open-source backup utilities. In chapter three the author discusses and provides examples of how to use basic utilities such as dump, cpio, tar and dd for Unix systems, ntbackup and System Restore for the Window's crowd, ditto for Mac, and the GNU versions of tar, cpio, and rsync. Chapter's 4-6 discuss Amanda, BackupPC and Bacula. Chapter seven digs into near-continuous data protection and how the open-source community is achieving this, and what tools to use.
By chapter 8 and 9 the author is discussing commercial backup solutions. This section is different from the last in that it doesn't really discuss specific tools and how to use them, but rather it discusses the features of commercial products. This section also covers the various types of backup hardware on the market in an effort to help the reader decide what media best meets their needs.
Chapters 10-14 covers "Bare-Metal Recovery". The author takes you through the process of a bare-metal recovery with Solaris, Linux, Windows, HP-UX, AIX, and Mac OS X.
By chapters 15-22 the author has moved on to database backups and takes you through the various solutions for Oracle, Sybase, IBM DB2, SQL Server, Exchange, PostegreSQL, and MySQL. Finally the author wraps up the book with VMware server backup solutions and discussing data protection.
I found this book to be a very interesting read. I especially enjoyed the open-source, bare-metal recovery, and database sections. The author does an excellent job of taking the reader through all of the steps including example syntax needed to perform a backup and restore with the various tools discussed. Another high point is that the author includes current tools and techniques. This book holds lots of real world wisdom and I would recommend it to any system administrator, developer, or user who is interested in protecting their data.
If you ever are faced with a technical problem in your IT career, turn to O'Reilly publications and pick a book on the topic. The cover of this book fully describes its content: Inexpensive Backup Solutions for Open Systems.
I was recently faced with the task of backing up MySQL databases, along with setting up reliable backup tools on client's Linux server and Windows workstations. The book helped me find all the answers; it's filled with good and practical information and is supplemented with a "healthy doze" of real life examples and anecdotes.
A good number of backup tools are discussed along with configuration examples and automation procedures. Oracle, HP-UX, Windows, Linux... All you need is here.
Backup & Recovery is still a go to book, but it is showing its age and could use a new edition. A lot of info is still pertinent like backup strategies but software vs been updated and new tech isn't covered.
This version updates the 7 year old predecessor. The previous book was very good and widely respected in the UNIX and Linux community. Now Preston has expanded the coverage to include windows and MacIntosh OS-X - of interest to many enterprises with heterogenious environments.
For me the updated Linux/Unix coverage was very welcome. The well organized and accessible content had immediate application to myself and a client. Beyond accessibility there is also enough depth to keep out of trouble and with lots of references it points you to sources for details beyond the context of the book.
A great book on backup but a new edition should be done soon to keep it up to date.
If you are specifically looking a Bacula you might also consider Network Backup with Bacula [How-to].
Hope this helps someone!
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