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Do it yourself NAS

Novell Cool Solutions: Trench

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Posted: 11 Aug 2004

Question: I was wondering if any of the small shops out there had built their own NAS or used a product like rebyte. I'm looking for disk to disk backup. Any tips or sources would be appreciated.

Answer: We found some great suggestions in the Support Forums. Here's what we got so far. Feel free to add anything we missed.

Marcel Cox: Actually, if you have a NW 6.x server, you can turn any computer with enough memory in a NAS by installing NetWare on it. In fact, starting with NetWare 6, you no longer have to purchase individual licenses for each server.

Marcel Cox: The Small Business Suite version is limited in the number of servers you can install. But except for the licensing differences and the lack of clustering in 6.0, the SBS version has the same features as the full version of NetWare 6 and this includes software RAID.

Dave Lunn: Buy an external SCSI enclosure and a drive big enough to hold the volume you want to back up and use the VCU (Volume Copy Utility). It's the fastest you'll get, cheap by comparison to tape and you already have the utility.

Mateo: I have a cheap solution which in my case works very well.

Hardware requirements:
1. Two disks (size depends on quantity of your data and the depth of the archives you wish to have). I prefer disks of the same type and size.

Software requirements
1. Portal up and running iManager with ScheduleTasks (this is essential for running NWZIP in desired intervals) 2.NWZIP.nlm (free)

One disk needs to be mirrored into another. But you can use just two volumes, and play each archive twice, or, flip-flop the destination of your archive every day, (by Schedule Task and nwzip.ncfs of course.)

NWZIP needs to be run with different ncf settings. Each ncf contains settings of all parameters like: paths, range, deep, compression ratio, etc. The limit is a 2Gb zip file.

I am using mirrored disks, but don't like their behavior after the server forces switch-off. They need hours to synchronize again, causing high utilization at the server. I've heard others criticizing mirroring. However, 100% mirrored disks work perfectly and seem to perform just as fast as only one. (This is just another beautiful example of how NetWare understands HDs and handles them in comparison with some "Doors" masterpiece.)

Anyway, you need to consider carefully whether you will use mirroring, raid, or just separate volumes.

Bottom line: You have to study NWZIP, how it works and how to write NCF files for it. But once written, it works like a charm. Cost: two disks (and a little of your time and brain).

Additional Suggestions

Jason Emery

I suggest using a NetWare 6.x server with a large external SCSI hdd or RAID array. Then use Rsync for backups. We do this currently and backup almost 100 servers to a central location consisting of 250GB worth of data. Rsync is fast, will only sync files that have changed, uses SSL, and uses compression to reduce bandwidth requirements. It can also be used cross platform. We use it to backup Windows to NetWare.

Joop van Buuren

If you are looking for small environment solutions (not expensive), take a look at Netdisk from Ximeta.

J.A. de Cocq

A very lowcost (free) simple and good solution is NASLITE (several options SMB . FTP , NFS, HTTP and in Mbit, Gbit ).

It is a single floppy disk (!) based Network Attached Storage (NAS) Server Operating System designed to transform a basic computer into a dedicated file server.

It does work very well with NetDrive. Can be used with an old 486 computer and some old/new HDD's. My advice -- take a look at it .

Bob Cataldo

Here is what I am testing for NAS (more of a WAN solution).

You can set up a PC with VMWARE on it. With VMWARE you can install another server and use that to backup your working server (need a large hard disk). Right now I have tested virtual pc's for NW 6, Windows 2000 server, Redhat Linux, SUSE 9.0 Personal and Mandrake 10. When I need to test, I just "start up" the PC/Server I need.

Right now I have a linux FTP server running under VMWARE. I am using a program called Handy Backup to do a backup from a remote site.

It does a nightly ftp backup. I have it set to backup changed files. It also lets me do a remote restore of files.

Handy Backup has several options which I am still testing - compression, zip backups, encryption and syncronization.

I will be taking one of my old servers or pc's and adding a cheap, large capacity hard disk. I have four remote sites and will use this as alternative backup/disaster recovery plan.

Not a complete backup of the server, but does backup essential files.

Roger Thomas

We use a number of solutions to backup and replicate systems within our environment. One or more may help others.

  • Rsync - as already commented on by another person. Currently we sync up NW, NT and Linux systems via Rsync.
  • Novell Consolidation Manager, this can be used to replicate files between NW servers, with the advantages that it is free and handles all the file attributes. The only issue is that it can not be scripted.
  • For workstations we use a imaging tool from here that can be scripted and can operate while the system is in use. We also use ZENworks to force this process to run at least once a week.
  • TapeWare's backup software is used to backup other servers to disk images held on our central server.

As for the central server, it's a NW6.0 system with 5TBytes of SCSI attached IDE drives. Data that needs to be stored off site is just copied to an external 250GB drive attached to a workstation that is connected to the server via Gbit network.

Jens Wappler I use Backup Express (2.1.5.D) from Syncsort ( It's better as Veritas and CA, but no program is perfect ... Mit freundlichen Gr??en

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