This article is aimed at ICT staff and Systems admin staff. This information may be useful when reviewing disk space usage for the school's SEQTA instance and backup and disaster recovery plans.
It is the school’s responsibility to ensure that the backup and disaster recovery procedures are in place and tested for the SEQTA system. See below sections on External backups and VM backups for more information.
- Database snapshots are taken periodically and stored internally on the SEQTA VM. Where available these can be used for point-in-time data recovery and database rollbacks, and restoration of data on a working system. These are not used for backup and disaster recovery (which is managed by VM level and external backups). Internal backups are stored internally on the SEQTA VM which means if the VM becomes corrupt or there is insufficient disk space for which to store them, they may be unavailable.
External backups are managed in-house by the school. SEQTA provides an external backup mechanism which can be used to backup the database and user files on a drive share provided by the school. To set this this up we require the address of the network share that is on a separate device from the SEQTA VM, the username and password and write permissions to the location. Backups cannot be saved to Google drive, Share point or the file.
- VM backups are managed in-house by the school. For effective disaster recovery a full backup of the VM is required, this give you the full flexibility to restore the system in case of disasters. This still locks up the data inside the VM and you'd be responsible for creating a consistent backup, but it is the most secure option. There are commercial backup solutions available for VMware and Hyper-V.
Most clients choose incremental hypervisor backups using products that utilise agentless VM snapshots – such as Veeam (including Community Edition), or Datto. SEQTA recommends this practice as it gives the school full control of restoration in the case of a catastrophic failure, as well as minimal interruption to SEQTA availability.
Agents are unable to be added to the SEQTA VM due to the inherent support, security and stability issues.
Backup rotation and frequency
The frequency of the database snapshots are outlined below, this may be subject to change in future. These database snapshots are deleted once they reach the full rotation (eg. daily backups are taken for 7 days 'daily1', 'daily2' etc. then on day 8 'daily1' will be overwritten). The exception is the yearly backup, there will be one backup kept for each year.
In total there are 50 backups in a rotation. At present, this is set the same across the fleet any cannot be changed.
Please note that insufficient disk space may result in snapshots to fail. Where available snapshots can be used for point-in-time data recovery however for aforementioned reasons are not a backup solution.
Database snapshots are taken at the following times:
- 5x hourly backups (snapshots of the database): 5 times a day - 6:30am, 1:15pm, 3:30pm, 8:30pm, 11:30pm
(Before School, after morning timetable changes & absentees, after school, after most staff and students home submissions)
- 14 x daily backup rotations: 2:00am
- 12 x weekly backup rotations: 1:15am Monday morning
- 9 x monthly backup rotation: 1:00am on the morning of the first day of the month
- 10 x yearly backup rotations: 0:15am on the morning of January 1st
- Midnight (default) - School's may choose to allocate space on an external drive/share for Database snapshots and or User file backups. These can be set to a custom rotation as per the schools requirements. See below for more information.
- The sync runs at midnight. The sync is not part of the SEQTA backups.
Setting up external backups
SEQTA provides a backup mechanism to allow schools to backup the SEQTA database snapshots and/or user files to a file share. To use this function, we require a password protected SMB3.0 compatible. The school will need to manage the maintenance, retention, and storage on the file share, and these backups will depend on the reliability of the network share.
- Server IP:
- Full domain:
- Password (can be phoned through or emailed via a https://onetimesecret.com link (or similar one-time viewing system) to firstname.lastname@example.org
While entirely dependent on school policy, schools typically keep four combined (user files and database snapshots) weekly backups and six daily database snapshots as a minimum. The school should then store and retain those backups according to the School's retention policies and obligations.