Chapter 6. Protecting File Servers

The Internet has no such organization; files are made available at random locations. To search through this chaos, we need smart tools, programs that find resources for us.

Clifford Stoll

In Chapter 1, "Data Protection Concepts," we talked about the fact that data is at the core of our jobs as information technology professionals. So why is data protection one of the most neglected activities administrators have? We've worked at a variety of jobs in our combined careers; it's safe to say that in nearly every one of those jobs, proper data protection gets more lip service than actual priority. Oh, tape drives (or libraries) and software are purchased and installed, backup jobs are configured, and the occasional media test may even be performed. More often, though, the first real test of the data protection measures comes during an emergency. We've even worked in places where time and money is spent ensuring that server hardware has redundancy features in lieu of proper data protection measures, a practice we call magical thinking.

Administrators (and their managers) who engage in magical thinking about data protection usually engage in a chain of logic that looks something like the following:

  • We've heard that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

  • Backups are expensive, time-consuming, and inconvenient; they take away resources that could be better used on real work.

  • If we can prevent our servers from having downtime, we don't have to worry ...

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