Butler University implements 3-2-1 backup of 900 TB of data across three different locations

Butler University


Virtual machines protected


More efficient storage utilization


Tiered backup system

Previously, we were backing up the minimum amount of data possible. Now, we have the capacity to store much more than that, while providing three tiers of backup protection and isolation with off-site and cloud-based copies.

Jim Patrick, Infrastructure Architect, Butler University

Protecting scattered data

Butler University's IT team was tasked with managing backups for hundreds of virtual machines and physical servers on campus, but their storage and backup solution was cumbersome and inefficient at scale.

While on-site backups were executed by a local server, secondary backups were being copied to over 20 LTO tapes per week and taken off site by a third-party vendor. This system required hours of weekly operational support, frequent troubleshooting, and additional service costs. The tape library was also more than 10 years old and did not support transfer speeds fast enough to complete backups overnight, requiring Butler's IT team to minimize the amount of data backed up on a weekly basis. Finally, the cost for additional backup licenses limited the number of systems that Butler University could back up.

Streamlined backup with Active Backup Suite

To address their storage needs, Butler University's team chose a combination of Synology hardware, software, and cloud solutions to completely replace their tape backup system.

Using Synology's Active Backup for Business software, Butler centralized backup tasks for both their physical servers and over 250 virtual machines. This tool allows the team to set up and monitor backup tasks, quickly restore lost data, and minimize downtime for critical systems. The university's primary backup target for this data is a 12-bay Synology NAS with two expansion units totaling over 400 terabytes of storage capacity on campus. The hardware is located separately from the school's data center for increased protection in case of a fire, flood, or natural disaster.

Using Synology's Snapshot Replication software, Butler automatically generates intermittent snapshots of their on-campus backups and copies those snapshots to a second Synology NAS located off-site. In case of data loss or a natural disaster at their main site, Butler can quickly perform a failover to the off-site unit and get services running without needing to wait for data to be transferred back to the main campus.

Finally, the entirety of that off-site NAS is backed up to Synology C2 Storage, a cloud solution that integrates with their Synology hardware to provide a third tier of redundancy in Butler's backup strategy.


Workflow diagram for Butler University

Reduced IT workload and total storage requirement

With Synology, Butler University was able to save hundreds of hours per semester in operational overhead, cut down on monthly licensing costs, and increase total storage capacity, all while expanding the number of devices they backed up on campus.

With almost 900 terabytes of total storage capacity spread across three physical locations, their team is able to achieve a complete 3-2-1 backup strategy with ample storage headroom. Additionally, by leveraging the deduplication feature in Active Backup for Business, the university is able to back up 266 terabytes of data into just 84 terabytes of storage space, further expanding their long-term backup potential.

Through Synology's license-free software, Butler is also able to back up as many devices as necessary without worrying about per-device licensing costs. "Previously, we were backing up the minimum amount of data possible," says Jim Patrick, Infrastructure Architect at Butler University. "Now, we have the capacity to store [much more than] that, while providing three tiers of backup protection and isolation with off-site and cloud-based copies."

The Customer

Butler University is a nationally recognized university that has been integrating the liberal arts with professional education since 1855. U.S. News and World Report ranked Butler the No. 1 Most Innovative School, No. 1 for Undergraduate Teaching, and No. 1 Regional University in the Midwest. Butler also received national rankings for first-year experience and study abroad programs.

United States

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