Ask Hackaday: What’s your backup solution?

Here’s some very, very sad news from [Charles] over at The Maker’s Workbench: on July 16th, his house was hit by lightning causing his workshop to catch fire. His family is safe, but unfortunately thousands of dollars in gear has gone up in smoke. [Charles] lost a Reprap, a ton of dev boards, a huge amount of tools including an awesome soldering setup, and his laptop and file server.

Short of taking up residence inside Yucca Mountain, there’s little that can be done to prevent random, disastrous acts of Thor. The only bright side to [Charles]‘ ordeal (if there is one) is that most of his file server – including all the code he’s written over the years – was backed up on the cloud.

Hackaday readers aren’t much for marketing buzzwords like ‘the cloud,’ so we’re wondering what your backup solutions are. If the cloud isn’t for you, is a NAS at home a good idea? rsync will do wonders, but even hard drives at an off-site location fail; maybe tape is the best choice. Of course if you have a laser cutter, there’s always the option of cutting patterns of holes in stainless steel plates and preserving your data for thousands of years.

If [Charles]‘ story doesn’t inspire you to backup often and preserve your data, consider this: the greek poet [Sophocles] wrote 123 plays, seven of which still survive. Put in perspective, that’s like the only songs in The Beatles’ catalog surviving 2,500 years coming from the Yellow Submarine soundtrack.

Comments

  1. Will says:

    I know Charles personally and he’s a good friend of mine. I can’t imagine having to lose all that he did. Fortunately though noone was harmed in the fire. Thankfully he had his stuff hacked up to the cloud.

    I do my PC backups to an external HDD, but that HDD is still in my office. I suppose this kind of scenario will make me start thinking about cloud backup as well. Either that or keeping that External HDD somewhere other than in the same room as my PC.

    • APL says:

      A fire safe?

      • Squirrel says:

        I personally would recommend the family plan from CrashPlan. It isn’t terribly expensive, and allows for unlimited backup from up to 10 computers. (And if you NEED your data back ASAP, they can, for the ‘small’ price of over a hundred and fifty bucks, mail you a hard drive with next-day shiping). We use it at work to back up our network drives, and I’m working on arranging a family plan to back up all of my family’s computers

        That being said, bitbucket offers unlimited private code storage for free, so back up ALL of your code there and don’t worry about it.

        The free dropbox is a decent solution, but their paid services cost too much, IMHO.

      • Squirrel says:

        Oh, also forgot to mention that the free version of crashplan allows you to back up between computers, so you and a friend/family member can each store a HDD at each others’ houses connected to the other’s computer, and automatically have your data backed up to it. I just like their paid service because it’s fairly set-it-and-forget-it.

      • raidscsi says:

        Most (Read ALL), fire safes are rated for PAPER, not Magnetic Media, including Tapes and Hard Drives.

        Offsite or its gone. Even better that most fireproof cabinets, are not water proof…

      • Vanzetti says:

        APL! plus points for that!

        But in regards to cloud storage:
        “bitbucket offers unlimited private code storage for free”

        When the price is free, you are the commodity. Think twice before keeping your business strategy and financially valuable data in “the cloud” unless your encryption is mighty strong!

    • Diego Spinola says:

      I also recommend crashplan (I use it as an Extra Disaster recovery layer)

      • phubner says:

        This. I use the free version of Crashplan to backup all the house PCS to my main PC. I back the data up to a older Drobo, and also use CP to backup this composite data to a friends location. He does the same to my site.

        Remember its not backed up without 3-2-1:
        * 3 copies (the original + my drobo copy + @friend)
        * 2 different media types (ruhroh!only magnetic!)
        * 1 offsite (@friends)

  2. Owar says:

    I am using my home server with Dropbox cloud sync on another two PCs and I believe that is the best solution.And of course I hope that Thor will blast his thunderstrikes on somwhere else than my house.

  3. Sprite_tm says:

    Damn, that sucks… but code can be rewritten, tools re-bought and projects re-made; a human life is a bit less ressurectable.

    I backup my workstation to my server automatically every time I shut it down. My server does an incremental backup to a 2nd HD, so if I ever find out I’ve overwritten an important file a month ago, I still can get it back. That won’t save me if my ouse goes up in flames, though, so I also backup my conmplete server to a machine somewhere in a server room in Germany. If both manage to burn down somehow, I think I’ve got bigger problems :)

    One of the things I learned from ressurrecting backup disks from paniced friends is that if you do backups, make sure they happen automatically and they are checked every now and then. Most of the HDs I’d to recover were backed up, but not recently because the backup had to be run manually…

  4. linuxkid97 says:

    It’s all backed up to a file/web/ssh server, but i should back that up to cds

  5. Mel says:

    My solution for high-value backups is .zip on CD-ROM in a safety-deposit box at the bank. The safety-deposit box part could be a lot of trouble to got to for routine weekly or daily backups, but it doesn’t seem so hard that I couldn’t do it if I really wanted to.

    How about people in some local user’s group putting together a mutual backup escrow, where they’d hold on to copies of each others backups?

    • Sneakernet cloud?

    • Eric says:

      It doesn’t have to be local, and it doesn’t have to be a sneakernet: https://tahoe-lafs.org/trac/tahoe-lafs

    • adcurtin says:

      CDs degrade pretty fast, in just a couple years. I wouldn’t want to rely on that for backups.

      • Bill Gander says:

        What kind of CDs are you using? Point taken that CDs will degrade over time, but I have many of my old audio Apps and wavs on CDs from 1998 and they all still read fine. These were Dysan too, not exactly top shelf discs.

        I use a multi hdd backup system with 2 offline at any given time. As the price of storage drops, I just move up to the next thing. I have no faith in the cloud. I don’t really have that many possessions and those that I do have are mostly rescues (crap I’ve fixed to use). I guess if I had a fire, It would be an upgrade to my gear lol. Hope dude gets his stuff replaced.

      • maydaypc says:

        CD not reliable??? Currently I’m moving to a new place. When I check my data I realized that I have CDs 15-year old and readable, however I have no HDD in working conditions after 15 years. And I’m really worry about my data, and searching cheap and reliable solution

      • adcurtin says:

        I’ve used many brands of CDs, memorex, verbatim, etc. Some good, some crap. It’s also highly dependent on the burner you use and the speed at which you burn. In 1998, you were probably using a nice slow burner which did a good job of burning the data to the disc. Recently, 48x and 52x burners are a dime a dozen.

        I find that when I burn some CDs, they work is most modern drives, but some older drives will have trouble reading them. When I burn DVDs, I have problems much more often (probably because we’re pushing the technology much harder with DVDs). Often times if a disc is burned in a laptop drive, it will be almost useless (at least in a laptop drive) after a short period of time. I’ve burned dual layer DVDs (worst case scenario, but maybe a common choice for backups because they’re large) discs that passed verification right after I burned them, but the next day or two they failed (the disc just sat there, not in the sun or anything.)

        CDs are probably fine. I would do an integrity check or something of the old CDs, and maybe back them up somewhere else, just to be safe.

        As for durable and cheap, pretty much you’d have to use hard drives in raid (5 or 1, depending on how cheap you need).

  6. Brian says:

    I too have a lot of valuable data like photos, documents, etc. I recently invested in an ioSafe external hard drive. It is a USB drive that is both fire & waterproof. I then use backup software to sync it to my most important files that runs nightly. So far I haven’t had to test it’s toughness, and I hope I never do, but it makes me feel better about not losing my data. I have also contemplated one extra level of safety by backing everything up to a second external drive and then keeping it in a safety deposit box. Of course I would have to manually update it here and there, but I would be sure to not lose most of my stuff. I wish Charles good luck getting his life back in order.

    • Olivier says:

      Looks very interesting. Is it possible to change the HDD in those ioSafe drives ? Do you know the brand of the HDD inside ?

      • Brian says:

        They are not designed to upgrade the drive. This site shows what they look like inside:

        http://www.thebestcasescenario.com/?q=node/391

        I imagine you could maybe swap the drive, but there would be no warranty afterwards for sure. The drive brand that is used in mine is a Hitachi. So far it has lasted for a year and a half with no issues. If the drive ever dies, then I will try to upgrade it, but til then I’m just going to hope it holds up against whatever may come!

      • I actually wrote that review of the ioSAFE HDD on TBCS. Unfortunately I tore that one apart for post burn testing. I did test their USB 3.0 Drive as well and ran it through a actual bonfire that I built. It also survived but I never got around to replacing it. You can not swap the drives because they are sealed in water proof static bags. Removing the cover breaks the awesome warranty and data recovery plan that ioSAFE has.

    • Olivier says:

      Thanks for your answer :)
      They looks very well done, but Hitachi HDDs aren’t for me, I got way too much troubles with them (and also with Maxtor/Seagate). It would have been great to have some WD HDDs. Too bad they can’t be replaced.

  7. James says:

    I have become increasingly more paranoid about backups since my son was born last year. All our records of him are digital and I hate to imagine them getting lost.

    After having several drives fail on me over the years, my main desktop is RAID1 (1TB). I also have a 1TB RAID1 NAS.

    Every night I have a vbs script that runs at 2am and zip’s all my important files up to the NAS using the WinZip command line add-on (you can also use 7zip). Once finished that script copies the resulting zip of my most important stuff to a 100GB USB drive, on the desktop.

    I have two of the 100GB USB drives and each month I swap them with my off-site backup contact (father in-law)

    Additionally I burn all my static content (photos etc) to BluRay monthly.

    So in the event of a hardware failure, I have two copies of everything and if someone breaks into the house I have my off-site copy.

    My off-site copy would be cloud based, but I’m in Canada and Rogers limit us to 60GB/month.

  8. Most people here know I work for Pivos, a small consumer electronics company. I formerly worked for Dell, and have done consulting for other companies. One company I used to consult for is Patriot Memory. One of their products is the fast (yet quite spendy) Javelin S4 NAS. They are capable of replicating between multiple S4s.

    On my farm, I have a long range 350mbit wireless backhaul. I live on 5700 acres, and out of necessity my internet is delivered to the business office, and then to the house and workshop half a mile away via this backhaul. My house, Workshop, and Business office each has an S4 with 4x 2TB drives in a Raid 5. They sync nightly. Essentially, I have my own little distributed cloud. Important files are encrypted then backed up to a Dell LTO4 drive, and taken to the bank by my accountant twice a week.

  9. Jack says:

    A lightening strike here wasn’t as bad, but I lots lots of electronics. Everything on UPSes was OK, but things that weren’t was toast, including most light bulbs.

    Backups, … I try to do the 3-2-1 of backups. 3 copies, 2 different media, 1 offsite. Before using ‘crashplan’, it was (copy 1) origional file, (copy 2) on DVD or another disk, (copy 3) DVD offsite.

    Currently it is Crashplan, (1) Origional file, (2) on an external drive on local ‘server’, (3) in Crashplan cloud. My only reason for crashplan is it is cheap, easy, cross platform, and I needed a quick solution.

    Use any solution you need. Crashplan is OK, and you could set up a external drive at a buddy’s house across the country (and do the same for them). … Or any solution you like. BTW, with crashplan I figure 3 media are disk, disk, and ‘cloud’. If you do a disk at a buddies house, I suggest adding another copy of DVD, but that is my paranoids speaking. Also, Crashplan is not limited to 3 copies. Do whatever is right for you.

    Just because you are paranoid, doesn’t mean they are NOT out to get you!

  10. zuph says:

    Resiliency and non-attachment.

  11. Bliss says:

    Thank God that I am live in a country where standardized lightning rods are mandatory.

    • Whatnot says:

      Yeah I don’t quite get that part, where was his lightning rod? He’s also into tech, surely he understands you need one.
      And now I wonder if he even had a smoke alarm.

      • Anon says:

        Many buildings in the US don’t have lightning rods – they’re especially rare on houses.

        People here are kind of stupid when it comes to spending money on things to protect yourself in the future…

      • Lightening rods are not that common in the Southern part of the united states. My home was grounded though but this strike was just too large. The fact that it hit the roof and completely bypassed a 100 foot tall pine no less than 10 feet away has puzzled me. The strike was so large that it fed back into the system and popped breakers in peoples homes over a mile away. My next door neighbors main 200a breaker was tripped and several people I know who lived in the area lost their phones due to the strike.

        We did have smoke detectors in every room in the home, they were linked together and as far as I know, they went off as expected. I was not home at the time of the fire, but was a few miles down the road at my grandmothers eating dinner with her.

      • Tim e. Domain says:

        Nobody will read this, but the strike took the path it did because your home is well grounded and wired to the grid. The tree was not. Lightning actually comes from the earth to the sky, but you can’t see the ionized channels opening up, so…

        If you have distant outbuildings, earth buried fiber or wifi point to point is pretty cheap if you shop around. 100′ or more can make all the difference…

        PS – about insurance: Never make small claims. When something so big that it would swamp your life happens, make a claim – but if you bother them for nickle and dime stuff (IE, <$5k-10k), kiss your rates goodbye.

      • Whatnot says:

        Ah I see, well I can’t fault you for not being home obviously, or for the odd regional habits.
        Reminds me of those californian houses they build on sandy slopes without foundation in an area known for mudslides..
        Or in britain those houses they put up on floodplains..
        You see a lot of those odd decisions all over in places where you expect people to know better.

  12. M H says:

    If going to engrave your data – why stainless steel? (What is the expected lifespan of that vs. other materials).

    Seems like most metal artifacts don’t last very long (in an historical scale), they tend to get melted down and recycled. (e.g. consider all the Greek bronze statues, many of which we only have preserved through Roman copies made of stone).

  13. polossatik says:

    for most people the really “important” stuff that take diskspace are pictures/video.
    invest together with a friend you trust in 2 nas boxes, and share them . aka keep a copy on your nas and the friends nas trough Rsync over ssh, and he/she does the same. the amount of data you need to replicate after initial setup is for most people most of the time rather limited, a few GB’s / month.
    I did not found a really good “out of the box” solution yet to make sure you can mount encrypted volumes remotely (or are notified if it’s down due a reboot of the nas), it seams possible using a linux box as nas or using NAS4Free . if anyone has any pointers on how to do this without exposing the admin interface or going over physically…

  14. Ben says:

    Time machine and windows backup to a raid 1 DNS-320 NAS. Areca from NAS to a sneakernet USB drive that I store at work.

  15. M4CGYV3R says:

    My building’s fire alarm was pulled at about 3AM last night. I grabbed my phone, my backup drive, and headed out the door. I have a clone of this drive at work and at another friend’s house, and every time I do a major backup, I swap those drives with the latest backup drive. The hardest part about this is getting people not to use your backup drive for their own storage.

    There is always the possibility you will lose the data since your last clone(usually no more than a couple weeks) though for code and smaller files I also have a datacenter-hosted linux server I routinely FTP stuff to.

    “The Cloud” is an annoying buzzword that basically just means ‘not here’.

  16. Adam says:

    rsnapshot backups locally, with the latest snapshot encrypted once a month, copied to a portable drive, and stored in my (locked) desk at work. Offsite backups are critical.

    rsnapshot is awesome — look it up.

    • giacomo says:

      Listen to this man. I do exactly this, except I don’t bother with physically locking my desk at work. My offsite disk is encrypted. I use a keyfile stored on my main machine to automate the backup process. The key is also stored in a few secret places for restore purposes (with parents, strategic flash disks, etc). If all else fails, I have the passphrase in my brain somewhere.

      Granted I only have the one offsite disk so if lightning strikes my house as I’m doing the backup, I’m hosed. Not too worried. The really important stuff exists on disks scattered between my family and I.

  17. Mike M says:

    I have two DNS 321 NAS drives, one at the office and one at home. The home and office networks are tied together via a hardware VPN using 2 linksys RN042 VPN routers. Software on the server does an rsync type backup to the offsite drive. It’s not very complex (no backdated versions). This article just reminded me I need to look into some better solutions. I already have an S3 account that I do nightly, weekly, and monthly backups of my VPS. I was thinking of using something like Cloudberry to do ‘cloud’ backups, but I prefer not to send corporate data to some offsite server not in my control.

  18. 0.zer0 says:

    Carbonite….

    …is for suckers… ^_^

    • Jack says:

      It may be, but anything that works is good, especially for the un-initiated. The general marketed tools are OK, even if not good, for these folks.

      Think of what your grandmother could easily use, without you needing to get it set up for her. That is the way I view the ‘general market’.

      Geeks are another level, and we can take care of ourselves, even if some of us choose not to.

  19. kalashnikovator says:

    My solution… actually Borders on insane and involves some of the most important documents being encrypted and printed then duplicates stored in several locations of a secretive nature. But thats only for the more important stuff. Other stuff is backed up by Sharing it Open Source :)

  20. Arthur says:

    For hard copy documents, a safe rated for several hours in a fire. For software, photos, and scans of documents, tarsnap.com. It’s tar compatible back up over Amazon storage. Run by someone I have a high regard for, although I’ve never met him. For instance, he has no formal SLA, but for every hour there’s a problem with his site he usually refunds you a day’s cost. My crypto keys for tarsnap are on the memory stick on my key ring, and off site in both digital and hard copy form.

    On site back ups are fine for accidental deletions, and machine crashes, but they don’t work for house fires or serious burglars who strip every bit of computer kit. (Been there, lost that.)

  21. Patrick says:

    What are the legal ramifications of storing a backup for a friend?

    In some countries you have to decrypt data when
    ordered by the authorities. It will be very difficult to do so if you don’t have the key and your friend decides not to cooperate.

    What if the backup contains files which can get you in trouble? Classified documents, illegal mp3’s, child porn, etc, etc. Will a judge believe the “I’m keeping it for a friend” excuse, unlike your parents after they found your hidden cigarettes?

    • Jack says:

      I understand that Crashplan will let you backup your compressed encrypted data to a friends drive (or to the crashplan site). It doesn’t give the key to your friend.

      Given this, the authorities could get the data, but it would be up to the authorities to decrypt it.

      Other backup softwares may have this as an option. But I do suggest encrypting backups before they leave YOUR site if you have any thoughts. If you roll your own, it would be a good idea too.

      • Patrick says:

        If your friend is British, he could go to jail in such a setup.

        If you encrypt offsite backups, where do you backup the key? Cant keep it at home, because then you wont be able to recover from you backups after a disaster.

  22. xorpunk says:

    TLS FTP to a university on a OC line.

    WHY NOT CLOUD: Cloud vendors bail as soon as their profit margins drop, and also implement storage and encryption policies poorly, usually storing keys on local databases ripe for sqli leaks.. Government standards are as effective as the US employees who wrote them..

    WHY NO SSD OR USB FLASH: Centralized and no existing proper wear leveling. Add major inflated pricing

    WHY NO MAGNETIC: Centralized and poor wear leveling, not as bad as flash and ssd with wear leveling and cost, and second efficient to cloud

    Clouds with proper crypto and transfer security with legally binding life-span agreements are the only way.. good luck finding that

    FYI: 7zip solid self-extracting with 256BIT AES=perfection.. Always hash

  23. deadlyfoez says:

    Hey, Does he need any help? Is there a donation page set up where we can donate funds, tools, and clothing? I’d like to help however I can.

    • I can forward emails, or you could email him yourself.

      Seeing as how Charles is only down to an ATMega164-based ‘duino, I figure a few HaD readers could go through their junk drawer and help him out.

    • My personal email address is listed in the post on my site. http://themakersworkbench.com/node/452 I am very humbled by everyone’s generosity and appreciate everyone’s thoughts and kindness. If you would like to donate something to the recovery, you can email me for a mailing address. I also have a sparkfun wishlist which can be found here. http://sprkfn.com/w45235

      • RobinJood says:

        I’m guessing you didn’t have a contents insurance policy?

      • I did but it will cover most of the cost of refurnishing the new home. The total contents lost in my workshop and photo gear totals greater than what it is going to cost to refurnish the new home.

        I was a PC hardware reviewer for a few years and gathered some nice hardware in that time. I lost a couple thousand in high end PC power supplies alone. The one thing I am having major issues with valuing is the loose components that I had stored in 8 36 drawer store houses. I had enough stuff there to build 10 or so Sanguinololu 1.3a boards, multiple RAMPS boards, and just tons of spare parts that I have added on to orders from Digikey and Newark over the years. I pretty much had every Cerebot and chipKIT board Digilent made and Arduinos dating back to the one with the serial connector. I sifted through everything over the last few weeks and I have managed to salvage a few wrenches, some LEDs that were in a bag in a box that somehow survived, and a LED flashlight Patriot Memory gave me at their CES booth a few years back. MY desktop milling machine, RepRaps, and drill press were all damaged beyond repair.

        When I mentioned RepRap to the representative from the insurance company he just looked at me like I was crazy. Most of that stuff would not be covered under a normal policy from what I am gathering. You have to purchase some kind of specialty or add on package that would cover things built by the policy holder.

  24. drumthumper says:

    Charles is a close friend of mine as well. Like Will, I cannot imagine going through this.

    I personally use Crashplan, along with my free dropbox and box.net accounts.

  25. addidis says:

    I try to post all my code and projects online for others. In the process they are there for me if and when I ever need them. I dont see a point for paying for backups when google docs will allow you to upload any thing you want.

  26. decker49 says:

    I’m using the [darcs](http://darcs.net/) DVCS to synchronize my data between two laptops and an external hard drive.
    That way, there are three copies of any file, plus the version history is also backed-up.

    Darcs is patch-based, not revision-based, so it should be fairly easy to sync the files I need to any new hardware I get.

  27. Travis Kneale says:

    http://www.bacula.org/en/

    You can do a almost bare-metal recover. with bacula and yet can still accces all revisions of a file and restore only what you need.

  28. William says:

    I used to use Moy but after their price hike I switched to crash plan. And you can cross backup with a friend or use online storage with affordable pricing.

  29. einballimwasser says:

    You should stop talking about backup solutions and help the makers workbench with your money!

    Prove that you are a valuable part of the maker and DIY community and help him! Even 50$ (€) from 50 people will help him to rebuild a lot and start from scratch!

  30. Josh says:

    Definitely a reason to make sure you have a good back up plan in place. After reading the update on his website, I have to ask, does he not have insurance?

    • rue_mohr says:

      I’m sure the insurance company will understand the $4000 for the reprap and plastic supplies.

    • Yes we had insurance but at this point it is looking like there will only be enough $$ to furnish the new home we have to find. I may have enough $$ left over to buy a Arduino mega or a Pi but even that is uncertain at this point.

    • I back up everything important on Box and all of my important code is on Git, Google Drive and some folders on my web server. Most of my photos were backed up on my old photography webserver and dropbox. I also managed to salvage a few drives from my file server and my HTPC so that saved a ton of data from being lost as well. I did lose some stuff but not anything near what I would have lost if I had not had stuff in the “Cloud”

  31. Jarel says:

    Personally, I have a VPN tunnel between my server at work and my main PC at home. A crontab job is run twice a day (lunch and at night) on both machines (immediately after a “set ntp” sync, of course) that mirrors the delta of a designated directory. They both run a FTP daemon that only accepts connections from the other machine. It helps that I’m my own boss AND the only IT guy. (Why waste money when I can do it myself better?)

    It works really well and I never have to worry about this sort of thing… unless both places catch fire at the same time. :(

  32. NewCommentor1283 says:

    1) share ideas in real life conversations

    2) share science in real life conversations

    3) make some free and give away

    4) upload schematics and code to the public in such a way that only a limited bandwidth is paid for by the creator (H.A.D., youtube, torrent, ect)
    … let the world do the hard part of sharing and backingup

    5) explain to other people about the non-internet ways of sharing information, otherwise all future ideas are at the peril of
    1: the internet, and
    2: people’s minds(everyone dies eventually)

    6) find someone that wants to do the same and employ many hours of labour showing/teaching/explaining everything, so if your brain goes corrupt, your friend serves as a backup XD

    7) relax in the feeling that your devices are not controlling you, you know what you need to know, in order to do it again from scratch.

    8) relax in the feeling of ZERO worry about data, if it exists in other’s minds, the digital can be re-produced if the original creator dies.

    PS: im NOT a Copyist, i swear, i just share a few of the values
    (share information, esp. when free, legal, and beneficial to do so)

  33. Chris says:

    I have 2 NAS boxes at home, both set up with mirroring in case of disk failure. I sync data between the two NASes. This is how I keep my data (mostly family photos) safe. They are located in physically different locations (but not miles apart), so a fire is very unlikely to destroy both NASes.

    For hardware replacement I have a good insurance; It’s only stuff, anyway.

    • Chris I had very good insurance as well, but after the ins company analysed everything there will not be enough personal item replacement $$ to even begin rebuilding my workshop. Furnishing a new place to live is going to consume every dime of that money. I also lost about $20k in Camera gear which I am going to have to replace out of pocket. (Which wont happen for a while.)

  34. Sasha says:

    Backblaze.com :)

    I back up all the stuff on my laptop to them, as well as everything on my external hard drive which is cloned from time to time to another one sitting on the other end of my table. I have to sort that out one day :/

  35. rue_mohr says:

    - raid 1 on house fileserver, periodically sync’d with raid 1 in shop

    – monthly dvd backups of critical material

    that said its been about 5 months since the last dvd update

  36. Necromant says:

    Heh, my setup is a nice 1 TiB RAID Mirror.
    Critical data is backed up to a DVD-RW in packet mode (mysql dump + code + some other stuff, which is less then 4GiB) Initially done for fun that provides me an extra layer of backup.
    Finally, once every week an incremental backup is created, encrypted and sent up to a yandex.ru cloud storage.
    Here goes the code and description for my DVD-RW backup system: http://ncrmnt.org/wp/2012/01/31/pktcdvd-and-backups/

  37. John says:

    Duplicity (compressed, GPG-encrypted, snapshotted backups) stored on Amazon S3.

  38. Hirudinea says:

    Sorry for your loss, but I think that an idea for a hack here would be an automatic CO2 fire suppression system.

    • I don’t think that would be legal for residential use. Imagine if it malfunctioned in your sleep and you suffocated to death.

      • JB says:

        “I don’t think that would be legal for residential use. Imagine if it malfunctioned in your sleep and you suffocated to death.”

        Sorry for your loss. I can’t believe the insurance company won’t cover everything you had (I really dislike insurance companies)

        On another note, if my hacked CO2 extinguisher system malfunctioned and I died in my sleep, I seriously doubt I’d care about any legal consequences ;)

      • Hirudinea says:

        Actually I was thinking about something like this…

        it’s dry chemical though, not CO2. A ton of baking soda might work for a home system.

    • cgimark says:

      CO2 would be illegal, but you can install sprinkler systems and some areas are now making it part of the home building code. The cost isn’t prohibitive and even retrofitting and older home isn’t too costly. The sprinklers are the type that use a low melting point alloy to block the water , fire melts the alloy and out comes the water so no electrical stuff is involved, just pipe them into the homes water supply.

      • JB says:

        I also believed these systems would be a good idea and also inexpensive enough as protection against fire. That said, they would be a bad thing for a hot oil fire as water won’t extinguish it.

  39. Vonskippy says:
  40. johnny says:

    A safe backup solution that I use.

    Have a server in your home and a trusted friend which also have a server.

    Backup on your friend server. He will do the same.

    I do that, and prefer it to the so called “cloud”. I know who has my data and I trust it.

    We do not backup a lot of things (no photo, film, huge stuff), only codes or work that do not take such space.

  41. Torwag says:

    First of all

    It would be Odin the god father, not Thor the guy with the hammer….

    Beside all the good tips here there are two more general tips which I figured out the hard way…

    1. A data crash/loose is not the end of the world, 99% of your data is not really as important as you believe. Sure it sounds bad that your 10 year old code is gone… but ask yourself, did you touch it for the last 10 years? So you are really sure you would miss it for the next 10 years?! So, if you have a data crash…. wait a few month and notice how less you actually miss.

    2. If you do backups, do it plain and without additional layers (tar/zip, encryption, splitting, etc.). If the shit hits the fan, you want your data back and not notice that you had for month a problem in that complex toolchain which corrupts all your backups.

    So my current backup method is to rsync plain really only the most important stuff to a file-server. This runs a RAID system and from time to time I save the really really important stuff (this are actually only images) to an external hdd which sits in a safe at my parents home otherwhise.

    Prevention of data-loose beside a RAID and hardware would be IMHO a own dedicated partition on the HDD for this data… thats gives you less read/write access to the filesystem and hence less possibility of a corruption during a crash.
    Plus, data recovery is easier and more sucessfull if e.g. the data does not share the same filesystem with billion of junk-files like web-cache. Linux is good in that since it allows you to mount different partitions into your preferred way of folder structures….

    Many people also miss to check for the health status of there harddisk. A NAS 350m deep in a mountain is save from environment but check the HDD status every now and then and replace the disks regularly even if it does not show errors… luckily the low prices and increase in storage let many people upgrade frequently just because of market pressure and advertisment.

    • Torwag says:

      That to say, I want to add I am sorry for Charles loose and hope he can recover quickly from this nightmare.
      I know loosing the workshop and data is bad, but I guess more hurting is the loose of family stuff connected to memories and I wish him and his family all the best.

  42. Ben E. Hill says:

    We built and operate a datacenter that a lot of small businesses are using for a dr site. Some of our customers just needed a location to just store files off site just in case, they are using the Qnap NAS, one onsite at the customer’s office and one offsite at the datacenter with most using 1tb drives and doing block level replication between the two. Some of our customers have taken it to the next level and create a VM image of their server and push it up to the remote NAS for a faster turn up should anything happen to their server at the office.

  43. hotplate says:

    I’m surprised nobody has mentioned Tarsnap yet – http://www.tarsnap.com/

    The pricing is extremely good and Colin has been an utterly exemplary operator of the service so far. I like it a lot.

  44. hotplate says:

    See also, very sound advice from jwz on backups: http://www.jwz.org/doc/backups.html

  45. ChrisinKY says:

    I use a Windows Home Server, it backs up all my home PC’s auto-magically (including bare-metal recovery options). The WHS has 4 drives, each is a mirrored pair. I have the manufacturer’s RAID utility installed to alert on disk errors (SMART).

    Both my kids have been born/lived through the digital age (oldest is only 6). So ALL our family photos (Sears photo CD’s with reproduction rights) + digi cam photos are on the server as well as all home videos are on there.

    I back it all up to Amazon’s S3. I’ve been doing it for years, haven’t really looked at the free/cheaper solutions (I only pay on average about $15 a month as it is now). I do rest better knowing that Amazon knows what the heck they are doing..

    I’ve had to restore from S3 once, my OS drive died on my first WHS, and it contained the mappings to how my files were stored on the other hard drives, and I had no backups of the server itself, lesson learned and I do RAID now…

    Chris

  46. Ragnar says:

    Three external harddrives, on of them offsite.

  47. ds2ktj says:

    Personally I use insurance (which would cover the lost tools), a ReadyNAS NV+ (yes it’s older now but new when I got it and still has excellent performance) coupled with a portable drive. The ReadyNAS NV+ is backed up to the portable with the push of a button. The portable in turn is stored “offsite” in a bank safe deposit vault (the rent really isn’t that expensive on these and if you have something valuable that you want to keep anyhow it’s not a bad idea). In the next year or so the NAS might be moved into a FireResistant safe with a 90 minute 1900* rating along with keeping the offsite backup.

    I personally looked into “cloud” backups but I have way too many digital images (i.e. the old shoebox of digital negatives) to make cloud storage cost effective.

  48. signal7 says:

    personally, I do it the same way I manage the servers at work. any computer with critical data has a raid array to protect against drive failure. beyond that, I have two external hard drives that carry acronis backup images – one is on site, the other is offsite at a remote location to protect against fire, etc.

    this setup is not cheap! most people wouldn’t want to buy 4 drives for each system and spend added cash on areca raid controllers.

  49. cgimark says:

    Sorry for the losses you experienced. Lightning rods are not a cure all to prevent lightning damage, they prevent damage by draining off the local charges before a strike takes place, not by directly taking the strike themselves. If the storm is bad enough the charge can build up so fast that nothing is going to stop it, that would explain why the pine tree next to the house didn’t stop the strike. Without a source for the charge to drain it builds up sort of like a capacitor till something shorts the connection, that being the spark that jumps the gap between the clouds and the earth and then the whole things becomes a plasma arc flowing in both directions, more like AC then DC like many people think of lightning. Lightning actually has a frequency that is unique enough to pick up with detectors able to distinguish it using RF methods.

    On the backup ideas, cloud is best for serious stuff you can’t lose. Those making backups on site with hard drives, media, etc are foolish to rely on that because during a fire, tornado, etc those can all be destroyed. If you do have to use the external media method, take the media somewhere else, family, friends. Flash drives for archival storage should be places in a thick metal box to prevent data loss from cosmic rays, yes it does happen.

    Also don’t overlook paper. Paper has worked for archiving for centuries. Learn from their mistakes and use acid free, archival grade papers for things like photos. Store them in light tight boxes with some uncooked rice inside, the rice will absorb any moisture that accumulates and release that moisture if the air becomes too dry, perfect for maintaining humidity at the proper rate.

  50. that guy whose name escapes me says:

    Blu-Ray 25 or 50 GB disks. I make backups on these then place them in either a sealed pvc pipe or some other container and bury them in my garden, short of a nuclear weapon, they won’t be catching fire anytime soon.

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