One School District’s Backup Story

The Wilson County School System in North Carolina is committed to excelling in all areas of education. But, with 14 elementary schools, six junior high schools, three high schools and two learning centers, the school system needed a way to centralize backup of all of their invaluable data.

It seemed impossible to efficiently backup emails, 14,000 student records, teacher assignments, class work, financial information and all of the other data saved on the system’s servers.

But, in March of 2006, Brian Wagner, senior LAN engineer for Wilson County Schools, heard that another nearby school system was using STORServer to backup its data. Unhappy with his current data backup solution, Wagner researched several different backup providers, and decided to try STORServer, a backup appliance that manages backup, archive and disaster recovery. It’s platform neutral, LAN-friendly and includes a fully integrated server, software, disk, tape and support.

Wagner had been using a disk-to-disk-to-tape backup and recovery solution to back up the data on each server. “The decentralized backups of the previous solution were a huge pain,” said Wagner. “We relied on 20 different people at 20 different locations to load the backup tapes, and more often than not, they weren’t loaded. It was common for a teacher or administrator to need data recovered, but the tapes were two weeks old and their data couldn’t be found. It became a reoccurring event and was always a huge mess.”

Wilson County Schools had frequent hardware failures that they didn’t know about. Three to four drives had to be replaced every year under the old backup system.

“Under the old system, I spent countless hours of time trying to shuffle through tapes for restores,” said Wagner. “If someone needed their data recovered, we had to go through piles of tapes to figure out which one had their data. We’d spend hours searching for the right tape, and at the end, the data was often never even backed up in the first place. Fortunately, the STORServer Backup Appliance tells us exactly where our file is, so recoveries that used to take hours, now take 10 minutes at most.”

The school system has also saved a lot of money; they had been spending $2,000 a year in tapes before STORServer, so over the past few years, they have saved at least $6,000. More importantly, there will be an additional savings since they won’t have to make any new tape drive purchases in the future. Wagner estimates that Wilson County Schools have saved roughly $36,000 just by eliminating new purchases of tape drives and tapes for new servers.

Since implementing the STORServer Backup Appliance, there have been a couple of data loss scares. In one instance, they lost two hard drives and all of the data on the server.

“With the old system, we probably would have lost everything,” said Wagner. “There would have been a strong possibility that a lot of the lost data was never backed up in the first place or the wrong tape was put in. But, all we had to do was purchase new drives and then restore all of the data with the Appliance. We were only down one day thanks to STORServer.”

In addition, the technical support from STORServer has been hassle free, which is very important to Wagner.

“The two things I like most about the STORServer Backup Appliance solution are its simplicity and the incredible technical support we receive from STORServer,” Wagner said. “If we have a problem, we know exactly who to call and they always take care of the problem right away.”