SQLServerCentral Article

The MidnightDBAs release Minion Backup


A new standard for backup solutions

The sheer number of backups solutions available for SQL Server is impressive, and rightfully so: backups are the database administrator’s single most important job. The only reason the world would need another backup solution, then, is to go the extra mile.

The MidnightDBA team is announcing the release of a new, free backup solution for SQL Server: Minion Backup.  We created Minion Backup (or MB, for short) to be the most flexible, feature-rich backup solution possible.

Minion Backup favorite features

Twenty of the very best features of Minion Backup are, in brief:

  1. Live Insight – See what Minion Backup is doing every step of the way.  You can even see the percent complete for each backup as it runs.
  2. Dynamic Backup Tuning – Configure thresholds and backup tuning settings. Minion Backup will adjust the tuning settings automatically, based on your thresholds!  Tuning settings can be configured even down to the time of day for maximum control of your resources.
  3. Stripe, mirror, copy, and/or move backup files – Minion Backup provides extensive file action functionality, all without additional jobs.  You even get to choose which utility performs the operations.
  4. Flexible backup file delete and archive – Each database and backup type can have an individual backup file retention setting. And, you can mark certain backup files as “Archived”, thus preventing Minion Backup from deleting them.
  5. Shrink log file on backup – Specify the size threshold for shrinking your log file. Minion Backup logs the pre-shrink size as well as the post-shrink size.
  6. Backup certificates – Back up your server and database certificates to multiple locations, with secure, encrypted passwords.
  7. Backup ordering – Back up databases in exactly the order you need.
  8. Extensive, useful logging – Use the Minion Backup log to estimate the finish time of the current backup run, troubleshooting, planning, and reporting.  And, errors are reported in the log table, instead of in text files.  There’s almost nothing that MB doesn’t log.
  9. Run “missing” backups only – Did some of your database backups fail last night?  The “missing” keyword allows you to rerun a backup operation, catching those backups that failed in the last run (for that database type and backup type).  You can even tell MB to check for missing backup automatically.
  10. HA/DR Aware – Our new Data Waiter feature synchronizes backup settings, backup logs, or both among Availability Group nodes; mirroring partners; log ship targets; or any other SQL Server instance.  There are other features that enhance your HA/DR scenarios as well.
  11. Flexible include and exclude – Backup only the databases you want, using specific database names, LIKE expressions, and even regular expressions.
  12. Run code before or after backups – This is an extraordinarily flexible feature that allows for nearly infinite configurability.
  13. Integrated help – Get help on any Minion Backup object without leaving Management Studio. And, use the new CloneSettings procedure to generate template insert statements for any table, based on an example row in the table.
  14. Built-in Verify – If you choose to verify your backups, set the verify command to run after each backup, or after the entire set of backups.
  15. Single-job operation – You no longer need multiple jobs to run your backups.  MB allows you to configure complex scenarios, and manage only a single job.
  16. Encrypt backups – In SQL Server 2014 and beyond, you can choose to encrypt your backups.
  17. Compatible with Availability Groups – Minion Backup takes full backup of Availability Group scenarios. You can not only use the preferred AG replica for your backups, but you can also specify specific replicas for each backup type.
  18. Scenario testing— Dynamic tuning, file delete, and file paths all have facilities for testing your configuration before you rely on it.
  19. Automated operation – Run the Minion Backup installation scripts, and it just goes.  You can even rollout to hundreds of servers almost as easily as you can to a single server.
  20. Granular configuration without extra jobs – Configure extensive settings at the default, and/or database levels with ease.  Say good-bye to managing multiple jobs for specialized scenarios.  Most of the time you’ll run MB with a single job.

“Finish Line Features”

The primary guiding principle we use when designing and coding the Minion modules is what we call “crossing the finish line”.  Those elements of the Minion modules that prevent commonly accepted problems, which provide outstanding flexibility, and which generally add to the awesome are what we call Finish Line Features.

Here are a few of Minion Backup’s Finish Line Features.

File Actions.  You can define whether to copy or move files once the backup completes, but that’s just the basic functionality.  The finish line part of this feature is where you can choose between four different utilities to use for the operations.  And:

  • The fact that you can copy to as many locations as you like. 
  • And that each copy to each location can use a different copy method. 
  • And that you can choose the order of the locations.
  • And that each location can have a separate retention period. 
  • And the fact that we fold the copied and moved files into the file delete routine to begin with. 
  • And that these file actions are logged so you can see how long they take. 
  • And that you can easily write restores against them for dev boxes. 
  • And that each DB and even each backup type can have its own separate locations. 
  • And the fact that none of this takes any extra jobs. 

That’s crossing the finish line.

Dynamic tuning.  This is one of our favorite features.  You can setup thresholds so that your backups use different numbers of files, buffercount, maxtransfersize, etc. when the databases hit different sizes.  So as they grow and shrink they’ll use the parameters you define.  Not only that, but:

  • Every databases can have their own thresholds and parameters. 
  • You can configure these thresholds not only for different databases, but also for different backup types. 
  • You can specify different thresholds not only for different days, but also down to different times of day.  So you can have different thresholds on Monday from 7a to 12p than you do the rest of the day or you can have different thresholds on the weekend during your maintenance window than you do during business hours.

Shrink logs.  You can tell MB to shrink your logs on a log backup.  This alone is very useful, but what makes it a Finish Line Feature is the fact that you can setup MB to only shrink the log if it’s over a certain size, and you can even tell it how much to shrink it. 

  • MB also stores the before and after log size data, including the VLFs in the log table. 
  • As well, if you’re running the log backups on a read-only replica of an AG, you can’t shrink the log.  So MB will automatically discover the primary replica and shrink the log there instead.  Then the log shrink will trickle down to the read-only replicas.

There are plenty more excellent features to choose from.  When it comes to a comprehensive and flexible backup solution, you won’t do better than Minion Backup.

Minion Backup Webinar

Come join us for our webinar on Wednesday June 3 at 12:00pm CT, where we’ll walk you through all the best features and answer any questions you have.  Go to www.MinionWare.net to download Minion Backup, and for webinar information, downloads, documentation, and tutorial videos.


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