Poll 2014-06-30 My home backup/archive system involves:
My home backup/archive system involves:
external, removable media (USB drives, etc.)
12 votes (23%)
sync to another, local machine
7 votes (13%)
burning/archiving optical media
6 votes (11%)
cloud sync services (Dropbox, SpiderOak etc.)
6 votes (11%)
non-cloud, offsite storage
4 votes (8%)
tape drives
0 votes (0%)
local fileserver (NAS, etc.)
9 votes (17%)
hope, prayer, luck, and a kiss from Lady Fortune
9 votes (17%)
Reply 13 comments

Backing up != archiving (Score: 1)

by zocalo@pipedot.org on 2014-06-30 15:09 (#29Q)

Pretty sure it's going to vary from person to person, but I have a LOT of digital media, mostly from my photography and videography, and to me archiving is still online, just on the big slow NAS (relatively speaking, it's actually pretty snappy) instead of the fast DAS, whereas "backed" up is a cold, offline storage medium, one copy of which is held off-site. The latter for me are external USB3 HDDs which get replaced every few years, because that's still cheaper than tape, faster than tape, and ensures that I have to re-verify (and occassionally prune) the data when I move it to a new set of drives (I have a few extra steps in the process to avoid fat-finger problems and so on than just copying the data over, and so far haven't lost a single file).

Time Machine locally (Score: 1)

by kwerle@pipedot.org on 2014-06-30 17:00 (#29S)

I use OSX's Time Machine to a local network drive, and I love it.

But I also want to do something offsite, and I haven't figured that part out, yet.

Kiss! (Score: 1)

by zafiro17@pipedot.org on 2014-06-30 17:01 (#29T)

Glad to see Lady Fortune is getting some attention! Somehow it seems like she should be part of any back up solution. Archiving too.

I'm a hoarder (Score: 4, Interesting)

by bryan@pipedot.org on 2014-06-30 21:13 (#2A1)

Twenty years ago, I began saving videos and clips that I downloaded from the Internet. Back then, dial-up modems and crappy video codecs meant that anything you downloaded took days and was a great accomplishment once successfully transferred. Obviously, I wanted to save the downloads, so I started looking for archiving options.

Hard drives back then where far too small, so I started to burn the videos off to CD media. The blank CDRs where cheap and could be bought by the spindle. A few years later, DVD burners became available and were a welcome upgrade (1 DVD could hold about 7 CDs worth of data) All in all, I burned approximately 600 CDs and 400 DVDs. Many of the CDs have started to deteriorate - the thin foil on the top of the disk just flakes off. The DVD media has protective plastic layers on both sides and have endured a little better, but read errors still occur on all of these 10+ year old optical disks.

Spinning 3.5" hard drives are the new best bet for large archives. I could store an entire spindle-worth of CDR disks on a single large capacity hard drive. Of course, loosing one of these hard drives to a failure made relying on a single copy a significant risk. Nearly 100% of all hard drives (around 20 drives) that I purchased with capacities between 80GB and 1TB failed within 5 years. I recovered from nearly all failures by simply storing 2 copies of all the data. Each drive was purchased in pairs - one drive as the master while the other was an offline full copy backup.

I tried creating large arrays of hard drives, but there are significant limitations and costs to doing this in a single system. After experimenting with a number of different setups with large 3ware raid cards as well smaller consumer raid cards, I've come to the conclusion that an ideal system should not include more than about 8 hard drives per computer. Trying to find which "bad disk" is spewing SATA errors to the console in a 16 drive array is just not fun. Scaling storage beyond 8 drives should involve a second computer and a network filesystem over Ethernet.

But what if you don't need all of the data online all the time? Instead of keeping all the disks spinning all the time, why not place the drives into external USB enclosures and only turn them on when needed? This system worked great for me - up to about 20 drives. You see, USB doesn't have enough power to run a 3.5" hard drive. So 20 external USB enclosures + 20 wall wart power adapters + 20 power cables + 20 USB cables + daisy chaining multiple USB hubs and their associated power adapters = one giant rats nest of wires. I tried to salvage this system with a custom made wooden cabinet with 18 front mounted switches, an series of internal USB hubs, and individual cubby-holes for each drive. It worked, but the low speed of USB2 (less than 20MB/s) as well as incompatibility of the external USB enclosures on drives larger than 2TB has caused me to abandon this system.

My latest attempt at archival is simply storing caddy-less hard drives on the shelf. It's so simple, I have to wonder why I bothered with any of the other approaches. Now that hard drives have ditched the IDE ribbon cable for SATA connectors, a new breed of USB enclosures have sprung up. These devices are USB3 (nearly as fast as the drive itself), can easily be upgraded (to support multi-terabyte drives), and simply accept a bare drive into its slot at the top of the unit. Increasing storage capacity is simply a matter of buying another drive or two. I did, however, end up purchasing several dozen hard drive sleeves (just a few dollars each) to protect the drives from dust and minor vibrations while on the shelf.

Re: I'm a hoarder (Score: 1)

by reziac@pipedot.org on 2014-07-01 04:43 (#2A6)

I like that last idea of yours... can you point us at some specifics (eg. site that sells 'em) so we know what to look for? cuz I hadn't heard of a basically "bare shelf" system available commercially.

(Tho I have done the "several HDs scattered around the desk" method...)

Re: I'm a hoarder (Score: 2, Informative)

by bryan@pipedot.org on 2014-07-01 06:00 (#2A7)

The most common model of this type of hard drive dock is the Thermaltake BlacX line. The original models all have over 600 reviews at newegg. The updated USB3 version has fewer favorable reviews, but many other manufacturers have now come out with similar products.

Re: I'm a hoarder (Score: 1)

by reziac@pipedot.org on 2014-07-03 05:25 (#2AT)

I like the little cases -- seems to me they'd do at least a little shock absorption in the event of leaping off the shelf.

I bought one of those docks (different make) back when they were fairly new, but it never did agree to work. No idea what its issue is. Friend got the same one and it worked fine. I guess I'm just lucky!

What I've kinda been thinking of doing is having a whole pile of HDs more or less enclosed and all with USB connectors on a hub, makes 'em all accessable pretty much on demand. Hadn't occurred to me to use a dedicated cabinet, tho -- might be easier to set up for cooling and cables than, say, using an old PC case.

BTW the RSS feed does not contain any links to Pipedot, only links pointing at TFAs.

Re: I'm a hoarder (Score: 1)

by reziac@pipedot.org on 2014-07-03 05:29 (#2AV)

I've been really wondering about what happens when USB2 and USB3 meet. I've read many reviews telling of corrupted and lost data where the common factor seems to be mixing USB2 and USB3. Not what you want to experience with backups!!

Re: I'm a hoarder (Score: 0)

by Anonymous Coward on 2014-07-04 03:17 (#2B8)

I think you can buy the same thing with eSATA if that concerns you. And most corrupted backups can be prevented with some good habits. Calculate checksums, generate parchives, really do anything more than copy and forget.

Bit of everything (Score: 1)

by zafiro17@pipedot.org on 2014-07-01 10:18 (#2AA)

I'm pretty judicious about what I keep, but I've still got stuff i'd hate to lose: scanned versions of all important documents in case of fire (birth certificate, marriage license, passports, etc.), the full manuscripts to seven editions of three books I've written, offsite backups of my websites and their databases (in case of disaster on those servers), and some correspondence, plus every resume I've ever produced. But the biggest treasure is my photo collection - I went full digital in about 2005 and scanned all my old physical photos and then destroyed the originals. On the same list goes old genealogical pics I've scanned and incorporated into a family tree book, and some other basically priceless stuff. I'm at about 200G of data, I think.

I do monthly CD or DVD burns, each starting with the present and going back as far as the medium will reach, so each disk overlaps the previous by a stretch, allowing for multiple copies of that stuff in the middle. Once a year I take the disks to my folks' place for offsite storage. I know CDs and DVDs have a shelf life too, but it's better than nothing. I also religiously backup my machines to external hard drives - the Mac is the "official storage place" for all important data, so it's the device I'd grab if I had to quickly abandon the house, or something. I back up twice to two separate external USB drives, and store the two drives in different locations.

But I just got a NAS, and that's forcing me to change everything. First of all I've added a lot of ISOs and MKV video and so on - I've decided not to back any of it up. If I lose my movie collection, who cares? But now the NAS is the central, official repository for everything I have in digital form. It's FreeNAS with 4, 1TB WesternDigital Red drives in a RAID-Z formation. And I'm experimenting now with how to back up what's on the NAS. Pulling data off the NAS over my network to, say, the Mac, where I replicate it to an external USB drive is turning out to be slow given my crappy router and wireless network. I'm experimenting with mounting the external drives to the NAS itself and running a cron script that mounts the drive, rsyncs the data, and then unmounts. Then I just have to remember to attach a drive every Sunday evening at 5PM or something like that.

I'm lastly tempted to get an account with something like rsync.net or something to automatically rsync to an offsite server. But I'm feeling too cheap to pay a monthly fee for the service and kind of reticent to put stuff like my passport scans on someone else's server. And the price per gig for offsite storage of my photos, for example, is a bit much.

Still experimenting here, but in the mean time I still plan on burning monthly disks. They've saved my bacon on many, many occasions!

Re: Bit of everything (Score: 0)

by Anonymous Coward on 2014-07-01 14:21 (#2AD)

For a true emergency only backup, Glacier's prices are fantastic. Pipe a tarball to your favorite encryption tool before upload if you're concerned about security. There are some tools you can use to automate the uploads, but it isn't a turnkey solution at all yet.

Re: Bit of everything (Score: 1)

by genx@pipedot.org on 2014-07-02 02:26 (#2AK)

I have a file server (old computer stuffed with a few HDs), the important parts of it are backed up on the backup system with is just a Cubieboard with a 2,5" 2To HD attached to it. Also /etc and /home/.Mail of other computers are backed up there.
For the things I "work" on, they are version controlled (there is a subversion server too on the Cubieboard), so that makes a kind of backup (one with history on the svn server, several others without history on each computer where I do svn updates from time to time.

There are many weak points in this system. I do not do any offline backup/archive because I am too lazy and for the reasons below. So almost everything is online all the time and could be destroyed by a major trouble on the electrical network. Well, I hope that as they are in different parts of the house, on different electrical cables, on different UPS, there is a chance that at least one survives.

I do not feel very confident with offline backups either.
I have seen too many HDs which fail at the moment you power them on after a long time without being used.
CDs/DVDs degrade too quickly.
I may like tapes but althought tapes are cheap, tape drives are unbelievably expensive (and if it breaks, you need to find another drive compatible with your tapes, and that drive should be compatible with your new computer; it reminds me I still have ZIP disks somewhere around, but even if I could find the drive, there is no more // port on current computers; you see the kind of mess it can become in the future).
I considered Glacier and such, but the awfully complex pricing seems designed to screw you (and with automated scripts, it is easy to make huge mistakes), and depending on your internet connection, it can be very long to perform your backups (especially if you encounter transfer errors) and very long to recover data when you need it.

Cloud (Score: 1)

by lhsi@pipedot.org on 2014-07-01 13:11 (#2AB)

I don't really use a computer at home; I have kids so have little tree time meaning most of my "computer" use is actually just using a smartphone or tablet.

As I have kids I have a lot of photos and videos, taken from my phone and backed up online automatically. Occasional I copy them over to a netbook to free up space on the device.