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Home Data Backup Solutions

SyphyreSyphyre A Dangerous PastimeRegistered User regular
I'm looking for any information people have on good home backup solutions. Directories of pictures, tons of pictures, weddings, birthdays, special events, visits to other cities. Music, game saves, personal billing documentation. I want to have a good backup of ALL of this.

Here's the preferable solution. Some sort of Raid-1 (mirroring solution) with two hard drives. Dirt simple, but adequate. I don't need five nines up time, I need a way to store my data in case my personal computer crashes. Are there good network appliances for this? Something standalone? Or should I build a dirt cheap computer, throw on Ubuntu, and leave it forever? Hardware or software raid if so?

Looking for comments and suggestions from the fellow geeks in here.

Syphyre on


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    an_altan_alt Registered User regular
    There are a bunch of NAS RAID appliances for a few hundred dollars. I haven't looked into it for a while so I'll let somebody else suggest a model. The problems with building a dirt cheap computer are that it's not dirt cheap if you don't have everything laying around and the power consumption isn't really justifiable to keep a couple of drives running.

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    SyphyreSyphyre A Dangerous Pastime Registered User regular
    an_alt wrote:
    There are a bunch of NAS RAID appliances for a few hundred dollars. I haven't looked into it for a while so I'll let somebody else suggest a model. The problems with building a dirt cheap computer are that it's not dirt cheap if you don't have everything laying around and the power consumption isn't really justifiable to keep a couple of drives running.

    Yeah that's what I figured as far as the computer route goes, so I was hoping someone would have some recent experience into the network storage solutions :)

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    SaarSaar Registered User regular
    I've been using a DNS-323 at home for a few years and while the storage is limited and D-Link hasn't updated the firmware in quite sometime the box is solid and there's nice community support. If you go this route you might want the DNS-320 for a bit more umph.

    Since I feel like I'm outgrowing the DNS-323 I've put in an order for the Drobo 4 Bay DAS. This will be hooked into my media server which is accessible from everywhere (so no need for the NAS) and the expandability is interesting.

    If you want to go for larger NAS take a look at Synology's offerings. I use a DiskStation DS410 at work (small office) and it's been nothing short of solid.

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    DibbitDibbit Registered User regular
    Syphyre wrote:
    Yeah that's what I figured as far as the computer route goes, so I was hoping someone would have some recent experience into the network storage solutions :)

    There are a few solutions, depending on what you need, so, question and answer time:

    what are you trying to protect against:
    1)If you're primary worry is versioning, that is, accidently overwritting / deleting /changing files and then figure out you didn't want to do that ~2 seconds after you pressed confirm then:

    windows vista & 7 have something called shadow copies / previous version. It keeps a backup of the last few changes many of your files, so you can always "restore from a previous point"
    I think you might need the professional or ultimate edition of windows for this to work. Also, something to keep in mind: this doesn't work over networks, and it is very minimally configurable.
    if you have a recent version of windows, you can see if you have shadow copies of files by right clicking on them, and selecting properties -> shadow copies / previous versions.
    Get Ye to an Apple storey, buy something called "time machine," It will do this, and make full backups too.

    2) If you're worried that your Hard-disk will go out in a blaze of glory, but pretty positive this is the only thing that'll happen, then I can recommend getting a NAS.

    NAS (Network Attached Storage) devices are basically mini-harddisks that sit on your network, or sometimes, are attached by USB (that's the budget conscious way of doing things)
    There are quite a few good ones, I haven't tried the ones SAAR has recommended, but I can give some general buyers advice:
    get a NAS with Windows home server, this will make your life about 300% easier. Windows home servers have an integrated daily backup tool that works in the background, automagically. It's as close to time-machine on mac you can get.
    (but has a way worse name)
    Windows home server, in theory, is also a free download, so if you're feeling adventurous, go download it and plop it on an old computer.
    Be warned that this will probably turn out to be expensive to run, as those specialized NAS devices (potentially) use less power then a full blown computer.
    Now, about RAID:
    Almost all NAS devices will have software raid, and I wouldn't bother trying to find a hardware one. The bottlenecks are already so numerous (it's on a relatively slow network, even if you have wired) that you won't get any performance gains.

    Abit about RAID numbers:
    never get RAID 0, not even if this wasn't for backing up stuff. RAID 0 is really, really bad. If you don't trust me on this, I'll explain in a later post why.
    RAID 1 requires at least 2 hard-disks, and just puts the content on both of them, it's abit of an older system, but will work if you only have modest space needs.
    RAID 5 is an upgraded version version of RAID 1, it requires at least 3 hard-disks (if you put in 2, it'll just work like RAID 1) but is a better solution.
    RAID-X / eXtendable RAID / Super-duper RAID are custom manufacturers implementations of RAID 5 with some other options, most of the time, they're fine.

    Electricity & noise:
    NAS devices are never turned off, checking how much power they use is not some "tree-huggy green thing" but can actually save you money pretty quickly.
    (leaving a normal desktop computer on 24 hours a day for a month consumes between 50-100$ of power, and that's if you have a relatively normal one, not a liquid cooled monster)
    NAS devies are also going to be either in closets, or in the room, and if they make alot of noise, it can get irritating quite fast.

    Wireless /wired:
    you'll find that with NAS devices, wireless falls JUST a bit short, it'll be abit too slow, abit too unreliable, and backups / mounted network drives will fail just a little bit too often.
    It works, but I recommend getting ethernet cables.

    I've personally had a Netgear ReadyNas and an Asus Mini server. The Asus one was better in every way. I don't really have any experiences with other devices.

    Again, just buy time machine, there are other possibilities, including building linux boxes and doing all kinds of nifty synchonizing stuff with them.
    It's not worth going that route.

    3) If you're worried about anything that's not a hard-disk crash
    NAS are sometimes considered poor backup devices for the following reason: If something happens to the room where your computer is in (theft / fire / romantic passions)
    it's going to happen to your boring Grey box that's a computer, and your boring black box that's the NAS next to it.
    You might want to think about online cloud storage.
    Online cloud storage stores your stuff "somewhere" and hopefully, that's safer then where you are.

    there are a few, but I only know Dropbox.
    Dropbox works fine, it synchronizes everything you put in a certain directory.
    you can also sync folders between different computers, wether it's PC, MAC, or iPAD.
    It's not really a backup solution, but if your files are in the dropbox, they're pretty safe, and you can access them anytime, anywhere you have internet. (there's a website interface to get to your files, pretty handy)
    Amazon also has backup solutions, as do others, but I'm afraid I don't know that much about them.

    There's of course DropBox, Amazon and co.
    there's also Mobile me, also known as .MAC, also known as iCloud services.
    This obviously only works on your mac and iOS devices, and nobody knows where it's heading, since Apple might be closing it down, or not, in the future. I would not use this until it's clearer what'll happen.

    4) the golden olden ways
    Well, don't bother with tape / CD backups, in theory, it's great, but no-body has ever liked switching these things out and archiving them.

    Well, hope this helped abit, sorry I can't really say "go buy this thingie" but it really depends on what you need.

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    SyphyreSyphyre A Dangerous Pastime Registered User regular
    Thanks for the full report on the possible solutions. My concern isn't versioning, it's just loosing gigs of memories and personal data. I didn't think about possible cloud solutions though. That's not a bad idea. I'm not certain if you have to pay for them or for a certain amount of space, etc. Plus if I want to do a massive dump, it's over the net, blah blah, upload bandwidth here is crappy.

    I'm thinking the NAS sounds like the best idea. I wouldn't keep it in the same room as my computer. My router is in a cabinet in a different part of the house, I'd keep it there. I'll look into the Asus storage that you mentioned. I don't really care much about Raid 1 vs 5, as I've said I don't need uptime, just backup in case my HD screws the pooch (which is the biggest problem I've had in the past, I've had more than one die on me and one of them couldn't recover all of what I wanted.

    Thanks for the advice!

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    Square PairSquare Pair Registered User regular
    edited August 2011
    I would also recommend a NAS. I currently have a 2 TB Black Armor and it works fine. All the computers on my home network have a file in which their backups are stored. When we are traveling we can access the NAS to show pictures without carrying them around on our laptops, access documents, whatever. I have the single hard drive NAS - but there are doubles that would serve as a redundant storage in case one of the hard drives go out. You can also pay a monthly service to back up everything. Depending on your knowledge level and time availability - might be easier to just burn a DVD backup.

    Square Pair on
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    EchoEcho ski-bap ba-dapModerator mod
    edited September 2011
    For a software solution:

    Run it on all your computers. You have several options:

    * Back up to any other computer on your network
    * Back up to any other computer on the internet running Crashplan (some people use this to run off-site backups for their buddies)
    * Back up to Crashplan's cloud thingamabob (paid)

    You can select to just back up important folders and end up with backup copies of them on several computers.

    Echo on
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    SporkAndrewSporkAndrew Registered User, ClubPA regular
    I can second CrashPlan. I'm running it on my HTPC, my wife's laptop and my mum's computer which is in a separate city. The laptop backs up to the HTPC, the HTPC backs up to my mum's and my mum's to my HTPC.

    The upshot is that when I was visiting my parent's I could quickly restore full-resolution photographs from a recent family trip straight to her PC instead of looking at compressed Facebook versions, and I had quick access on my home PC to the 400gb of old family videos that my Mum spent hours digitising.

    The PC to PC is free, and you can set it to throttle back the bandwidth when either PC is in use so you don't flood your connections.

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    SyphyreSyphyre A Dangerous Pastime Registered User regular
    Interesting, I'll have to look into crashplan. That may work just great.

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    smokmnkysmokmnky Registered User regular
    For cloud storage is pretty awesome, They also let you back up external drives. $5/mo or $50 a year for unlimited space and files (i.e. they don't care if it's MP3 or .MOV or some huge photo)

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    K0dosK0dos Registered User regular
    Even if you get a nas it is a good idea to have some sort of offsite backup in case of fire, theft, etc. The first backup will take a very long time but after that it's not a big deal.

    I use jungle disk which backs up to Amazon servers. They were bought by another company that has raised prices and changed things so it's not the best deal anymore. I know people that us carbonite, which is $50 or so a year.

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