It is fairly important to bring this subject up once in a while to emphasize the importance of having a backup off the appliance even if you experience no problems for years with a solid performing KACE appliance. What are some reasons people decide not to back up their appliance?
- Lack of time to set it up initially.
- Nothing will go wrong with the appliance.
- The assumption that it is not that important "right now".
- The lack of resources. (e.g. not enough disk space, waiting for resource to arrive or be setup)
- The assumption that an existing set up is a proper backup (e.g. VMWare Snapshot, offboard storage to external NAS).
- The assumption that leaving it on the appliance Samba share is sufficient back up.
- It's too complicated to set up a proper backup.
The reason why snapshots are not an ideal backup procedure is that they take up a lot more disk space than just off loading files from the SDA and can easily run out the disk space if you capture a snapshot frequently. Along the same line, even if the appliance is configured using an offboard/external storage, this cannot be considered a valid backup. If the disk fails it could corrupt the offboard SDA data.
There are many other reasons as to why setting up a backup for the appliance is often placed on the back burners, but none of these reasons are good reasons to not back up data off the appliance. None of these reasons can help restore an appliance when it fails and data is lost. Unfortunately, when an appliance fails it is never an expected failure. Data loss usually happens when you least expect it. The loss of data could be devastating, depending on how much data it contains or the critical needs for it to accomplish the objective task.
What are some scenarios that an appliance could fail and lose data?
- Power outages are common scenarios that can cause systems to fail if a sufficient/working backup power battery (or power generator) is not in place.
- Hardware failures such as a hard drive failing are extremely common scenarios (RAID is not a backup configuration).
- Misconfiguration of the appliance.
An example of a misconfiguration of the appliance would be if the appliance was configured to use an offboard/external storage resource but years later reconfigured to use the internal storage. Prior to the migration from an internal storage to an external storage, there is an existing internal database. When switched to an external storage the SDA starts to use an external database that manages/references data on the external storage for the SDA. The internal database is no longer used or updated. Typically, an external storage space would allow for equal or much larger disk space storage than the SDA internal storage.
The problem is that
the data store configuration wizard allows for the user to revert back to the
onboard storage with the options to use either the "Copy data offboard
storage to appliance" or "Revert to the original data…". If the data stored on the external storage is
larger than the SDA original internal storage, there is no way to migrate back
on to the original internal storage.
The "Copy data from offboard storage to appliance" from the
wizard screen will not allow existing external data larger than the available
SDA internal storage from migrating over.
The same wizard will allow the user to select "Revert to the original data…" option, however, this will destroy the existing offboard database that is used for referencing/managing all the data located on the external storage. Switching to "Revert to the original data…" will revert the SDA appliance to use the original (most likely outdated) internal database. This breaks the SDA connection from the external storage and then all files on the external storage (e.g. WIMs, pre/postinstallation tasks) are no longer accessible. By the way, there is cautionary information stated in the SDA administrative guide, so always read/reference the administrative guide when possible. If in doubt, please do not hesitate to reach out to the support team for assistance.
When is it important to back up the appliance? It should ALWAYS be important to back up data off the appliance!
What is a proper way to back up data off the SDA? Glad that you asked, because there is a very well written article on how to best backup the SDA:
Here's an additional written article with the same information but formatted differently:
Be the hero, backing up data off the appliance on a regular basis can one day save the day!