Mac Mini SLServer Backup

Hi all,

I'm contemplating buying a Mac Mini server with Snow Leopard to run as an email server plus other stuff but am interested in a good working reliable backup solution for it. I'm conscious of the single point of failure being the hardware and like to have plenty of good reliable backups, but looking into various blogs / forums, there appears to be an issue using Time Machine for server systems, as in it doesn't backup important stuff :(

What's everyone's opinions of backups on Mac servers - should I be looking at retrospect or similar? Ideally, I want to be able to have a full restore image done nightly, which is rotated, with nightly, weekly and monthly backup points done. As it's mainly email services I want protected, the data size isn't massive, in total no more than about 10Gb, so disk space isn't an issue. I understand I can mirror the disks in the mail server so will do that anyhow, but offsite backups are important, so want something either as a DVD / Blu-Ray disk (slower backup but non mechanical media), or USB / firewire hard drive. Assuming the worst, if I had a new server with blank drives I could just plug in and get up and running with the minimum of fuss.

I'm thinking I might have to set up cron (or the recent replacement who's name has escaped me) jobs to shutdown some of the running services on the machine, prior to backup, and restart them afterwards to avoid any nasty surprises (backing up open files isn't good), but is this easily done? The Mac filesystem appears not to like being backed up onto another filesystem either, so I'm guessing I need to have dedicated removable media for this machine, rather than trying to backup to another.

New to mac hardware / software so looking for some starting points. Familiar with UNIX admin but am going to look at some good manuals for SL and training if I have to.

Any thoughts appreciated.

In order of use at the moment..... :Onyx2R: :Fuel: :O2:

700mhz & 800Mhz Fuel :Fuel:
16 x 600Mhz Origin 3400, located in Texas. (I'm in the UK - hence the reason for sale! Bought in haste, make me an offer!!)
32 x 600Mhz Origin 3400 in the UK
32 x 700Mhz Origin 3900 in the UK
I run many 10.5 / 10.6 servers, but nothing to fancy for backups.

Here are some solutions:
-The desktop way: Time Machine with an external source (NFS can be done with tweaking, SMB is much easier). Time machine can be configured for WHAT is to be backed up. I have one system that purely does /Users/.
-The server beginner way: Super Duper or other external products with scheduled backups to an external source of your choice
-The unix way: write some backup scripts to archive (tar + bzip2) your data and copy it to the storage location of your choice, then add the scripts to CRON with a timing solution of your choice.

I prefer the cron way my self. I do daily (for ex: sub user working directories) and weekly (for ex: the whole user directory).

For external storage, a gigabit NAS server is a good choice. Otherwise I recommend springing for the FW800. :)

If you'd like to write your own script, the very nice overview of the behind the scenes command line approach taken by Carbon Copy Cloner can give you some good ideas, including the creation of bootable images. See

Follow up with reading the man pages for some of the described OS X commands, and you'll be able to set up a range of backup scripts.

Or, as you suggest, there's nothing wrong with using Retrospect.
Time Machine + Caldigit VR backup drive ( ).

I wouldn't recommend Retrospect unless you need multiple backup schedules and different sets of rotating backup media. On a production XServe managing a few hundred Mac workstations, yeah- Retrospect might be the way to go, but a Mac Mini is a borderline disposable server. Invest in a decent external drive, fire up Time Machine, let backupd do the heavy lifting and you're covered in case the Mini implodes.


I've got butterfingers!
if you wanna try the oldschool way ... a cron using ditto or tar would do it, too :D