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Easy, Reliable Distributed Storage and Backup?

Soulskill posted about 6 years ago | from the grandma-needs-those-pictures-of-her-cat dept.

Data Storage 222

RichiH writes "Most of you are the free IT staff of friends and family, just as I am. One of my largest headaches is backing up their data. What I am looking for allows for off-site storage on multiple server machines running Linux, has Linux & Windows clients that Just Work and require zero everyday effort (although a large-ish effort to set them up is just fine), allows for granular access control, is versioned and will, ideally, allow me to grab data automagically (think photo pool for your family where your mother, sister, etc., share each other's photos). This is something I've been trying to find for years, but I've never seen anything even closely resembling what I want. With the Wall Street Journal handing out its Technology Innovation Award to Cleversafe recently, I was once again reminded of this particular itch which needs scratching. Before I deploy it, I want to ask the Slashdot community for its opinion on that piece of software, and on potential alternatives. How do you solve this problem?"

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Git... (1)

paul.schulz (75696) | about 6 years ago | (#25254875)

Git and the git-web web based tool are very useful for maintaining a tree of archived data, and browsing it.

Re:Git... (3, Informative)

quinks (1172373) | about 6 years ago | (#25254921)

Yes, because storing thousands of jpg images and other binary data is exactly what git was intended for. Get people to store their data on Samba fileservers. Set up home directories in their name as well as shared directories accessible by everybody or Samba groups. Use ACL if you need to. To backup, use rsync and OpenSSH, write a few batch scripts and hey - presto! Instant solution that'll even work with cheapo webhosts and your home linux box as backup servers. Versioning can be done for any amount of time by using rsync's backup feature, and you can allow people to browse old versions within Windows Explorer connected to a Samba share in that way.

Re:Git... (1)

tsa (15680) | about 6 years ago | (#25254927)

Yep. I have something similar at home too. Works well.

Re:Git... (2, Interesting)

marcello_dl (667940) | about 6 years ago | (#25255111)

actually, for my own digital assets repo - see signature - i see two features of git which might be handy, atomicity of commits and hashes which avoid storing duplicates. git has "plumbing" commands which might help. Still haven't explored it.

BTW if you have enough band you could do away with a doxroom instance on a host, don't forget to backup files and db and remember it's alpha quality.

Re:Git... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25255439)

I've been considering doing this for a while but I can't find a cheap webhost that offers plenty of storage (say 500GB).

All the hosts I've looked at offer cheap slow servers with little storage, or expensive fast servers with lots of storage. A cheap single processor server with limited network bandwidth and one big disk would be more than adequate, but I can't find one.

Does anyone have any recommendations?

Re:Git... (3, Insightful)

RichiH (749257) | about 6 years ago | (#25255067)

Being easy to use (as in, not more than 3-5 mouse clicks, total) is one of my main concerns. Git definitely fails in this regard.

Re:Git... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25255263)

Oh well, shouldn't be to difficult to place the git commands into a file and run that with a single click.

Mozy? Duplicity? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25254877)

How about Mozy [mozy.com] ? I really like Duplicity, but it's probably not for these users if they're asking you for help.

Re:Mozy? Duplicity? (4, Insightful)

Firehed (942385) | about 6 years ago | (#25255013)

No Linux client, AFAIK (though I do run it on my MBP). It's become rather impractical for me as a photographer though, as sometimes I'll shoot enough photos that my internet connection would be completely maxed out for days on end trying to sync up the new data - and I have a decent-for-cable 1Mbps upload rate.

rsync to Amazon S3 might be an option, if only for cross-platform capabilities. No versioning though, but outside of Apple's Time Machine (obviously useless for Windows and Linux), you're not going to get that without some major headache. Any remote system is going to be horribly slow for the first sync with any typical internet connection, and quite possibly problematically slow for photographers, media horaders, and in general people with big hard drives.

Re:Mozy? Duplicity? (2, Informative)

shadow349 (1034412) | about 6 years ago | (#25255429)

rsync to Amazon S3 might be an option, if only for cross-platform capabilities. No versioning though

cough ... JungleDisk [jungledisk.com] ... cough

Re:Mozy? Duplicity? (1)

TuaAmin13 (1359435) | about 6 years ago | (#25255499)

JungleDisk looks good.

I have no idea what type of cost that's going to incur after a while though. It's probably going to be like an additional cell phone bill per month, which I don't know is feasible.

Another option I kind of thought of--can you buy a server from a datacenter at a one time fee, put in as much storage as you want, and then just get charged for bandwidth? The up front costs of that would be fairly high, but it seems like it would be the cheapest long run cost, IF you could find some place willing to do it.

Re:Mozy? Duplicity? (1)

isorox (205688) | about 6 years ago | (#25255711)

rsync to Amazon S3 might be an option, if only for cross-platform capabilities. No versioning though, but outside of Apple's Time Machine (obviously useless for Windows and Linux), you're not going to get that without some major headache.

Server running opensolaris/*bsd with ZFS, rsync to that, create a snapshot every day.

The Realms of Science Fiction (0, Flamebait)

warewolfsmith (196722) | about 6 years ago | (#25254881)

What you are seeking is still in the realms of science fiction, and would probably cost a bomb as well. Good luck with your search, please let us all know if you find this digital nirvana.

Re:The Realms of Science Fiction (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25255213)

An amazon S3 backup tool could work for him. He could even roll his own with rsync

Easier than ever. (0, Troll)

Odder (1288958) | about 6 years ago | (#25255685)

He could just stop using windows. That solves the backup problem for most people.

Use the pr0n method! (4, Funny)

dogganos (901230) | about 6 years ago | (#25254895)

Rename your data to 'Barely legal college girls having first time sex - XXX Vol1/256.r001' and use p2p to spread them all over the world!

Re:Use the pr0n method! (0, Offtopic)

estarriol (864512) | about 6 years ago | (#25255135)

Mod parent up! Clever + funny = win.

Re:Use the pr0n method! (3, Funny)

kdemetter (965669) | about 6 years ago | (#25255387)

It's funny , but it might be practical in way.

It's possible to put data in images , so why not in a video.

You just take something highly demanded ( could be porn , could be a movie ) , and punt your data in it , well encrypted and without anyone knowing it.

The file gets shared because of the content people want to see , and if you ever lose your data you just lookup the file via P2P , and you have it back.

Re:Use the pr0n method! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25255275)

www.mozy.com

Re:Use the pr0n method! (1)

electrictroy (912290) | about 6 years ago | (#25255383)

What an excellent way to backup my photo collection! I'll get to work on it right away.

I can tell you how I solve it in a business (5, Informative)

jimicus (737525) | about 6 years ago | (#25254913)

I can tell you how I solve it in a business context, but whether or not it could be scaled down to personal I'm not sure.

The problem: 2 sites each with 70-100GB of data needs offsite backup with similar criteria to your own. Bandwidth available to these sites is 2-4Mbps. The only OS involved is Linux, though I'm sure Windows could be shoehorned in somehow. A third site which has a tape streamer and someone to take tapes offsite is available. Data protection legislation means that storing it with a hosted service is illegal unless I encrypt it myself before sending it offsite - I'm only aware of one tool which claims to be able to do this and still send data as a binary delta (it uses the rsync library) and that tool is still not particularly common in Linux distributions and not very widely used. I'm nervous of trusting my backups to a tool that isn't on heavy use, particularly if strong encryption is being employed.

The Solution: A server in the third site and some judicious scripting with rsync allows it to mirror the data in the other two sites. The first sync is fairly painful, of course, but provided you don't have too much data regularly changing subsequent syncs aren't too bad. The server is backed up to tape which provides versioning capability so if someone only realises that they lost a file a week after the fact it can still be restored,

Initial effort to set up was pretty great but now it's done it JFW and requires no brain power whatsoever to run on a daily basis. I can make the data available over the VPN (of course the access speed will be dog slow) more-or-less immediately and I can make it available at LAN speed by copying it to a hard disk and courier it to the remote office in under 48 hours. A full restore of 100GB across a 2Mbps connection will take at least 4-5 days.

But that's plain replication (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25255057)

You're merely proposing data replication again.

TFA mentioned Cleversafe, and specifically wanted feedback on that "dispersal" approach as it seems better than simple replication.

If I understood TFA correctly, he proposes to develop (although he wrote "deploy") something similar, hence wants feedback on the idea first.

Silver Bullet for file ownership/ACLs? (2, Insightful)

Gazzonyx (982402) | about 6 years ago | (#25255179)

For storing permissions and the such, are you using a .tar container? My biggest stumbling block with my backup scheme is storing ACLs and permissions.

I've got a few ideas about doing it, but they're all kludgy or force me to walk away from my rsync scripts which are really fairly mature at this point. Furthermore, I need to get deltas downstream and packing everything in to one file pretty much defeats that purpose at the several gig level unless I'm running an rsync server to calculate the diffs. These kinds of things become problematic due to the infrastructure I'm working with.

I'm really starting to lean towards running everything over iSCSI, but then I've got to get the VPN thing going which could require some re-subnetting at either end of the tunnel. Needless to say, I'd prefer to avoid that or any other solution that requires messing with stuff that Works Right Now.

Have you dealt with these issues at all, or at least know what won't work? I'd appreciate any insights before I use a brute force method.

Re:Silver Bullet for file ownership/ACLs? (2, Informative)

jimicus (737525) | about 6 years ago | (#25255287)

Recent versions of rsync fully support POSIX ACLs (including, if asked, setting up ACLs on the receiving end that don't make any sense because they refer to uids that don't exist - though you could work around that one with a common authentication mechanism such as LDAP) - I've not tried to get Windows working so I'm not sure how well that would work.

Be warned that full POSIX ACL support hasn't made it into every Linux distribution yet - IIRC Debian Etch's rsync doesn't, for instance. If you're paranoid, you could add a line to call getfacl before you call rsync in your existing script script - shouldn't require more than one line.

Two questions (3, Informative)

Geoffreyerffoeg (729040) | about 6 years ago | (#25254929)

You're asking two questions. The first is that you want backup, so that all their data just gets thrown somewhere and they lose the last few days' work their hard drive dies. You don't even necessarily want this on the network; just back up to a DVD-R every so often, and take every month's DVD-R offsite (a friend's house, a bank's vault, whatever). There's lots of backup software for this. Most can do fancy stuff like incremental backups. You can probably find something opensource you can host for your friends and family on a decently-available server.

The second question is networked file storage, where you don't care about automatically archiving files, but you do want frequent access and a good UI. For this I recommend something like Dropbox [getdropbox.com] , which has good support for OS integration and a web interface.

Re:Two questions (3, Informative)

RichiH (749257) | about 6 years ago | (#25255015)

Actually, I was asking one question. I need both rolled into one. And requiring me to be on site is not feasible. Ideally, they don't even notice that Backups are being made.

Re:Two questions (5, Insightful)

Geoffreyerffoeg (729040) | about 6 years ago | (#25255085)

If you try to roll backup and distributed file-storage into the same application, you're not going to get anything useful. Aunt Sally is going to want every single file including her OS and her tax returns backed up, in case her hard drive dies, but only wants the photos -- and only some of the photos, actually -- to be visible to Grandma Suzie. If Suzie can see every file on Sally's computer, and the entire history of each file, she's not going to be able to browse the photos in a way that's at all intuitive.

And worse yet, if Sally wants to send out links to her photos to fifteen of her friends by e-mail, she needs some sort of interface to mark parts of her backup as world-readable but the rest (like her passwords and e-mail) not. If the network backup program even lets you do this, it won't give Sally a UI that she'll be able to figure out.

You can certainly get network backup services: Mozy was mentioned in an earlier comment.

If you rethink your requirements in terms of your goals, you'll probably find that both rolled into one isn't what you want, and not just because a product doesn't exist at the moment that does that — a product that does that can't possibly have a good UI. If they shouldn't notice or care about how backups are being made, how are they going to figure out how to share photos with each other?

Re:Two questions (1)

rnswebx (473058) | about 6 years ago | (#25255129)

I wish I had mod points. Well said.

Re:Two questions (1)

RichiH (749257) | about 6 years ago | (#25255257)

Well, this ideal app would treat the directory with private stuff differently than the the one containing photos.

Also, all the end users see is a local directory where they can put stuff into. Nothing more, nothing less. All complexity would be hidden and only visible to me.

Re:Two questions (1)

Angostura (703910) | about 6 years ago | (#25255351)

You need Mozy for the backup. You need Dropbox for the sharing. Unless you simply want to alias all of their files and folders into the Dropbox,

Re:Two questions (1)

dbIII (701233) | about 6 years ago | (#25255247)

DVDs are not paticularly reliable. I've seen dozens that can't be read. Tape is pretty expensive but I've seen quite a few tapes from the 1980s that can be read (if somewhat expensively).

Forget about portable hard drives for anything other than temporary storage. Enough dust will kill them off if nothing else.

Allmydata tahoe (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25254933)

Have a look at http://allmydata.org/trac/tahoe which might provide what you're looking while being way simpler to setup than Cleversafe.

Dropbox (5, Informative)

operator_error (1363139) | about 6 years ago | (#25254949)

Ars technica did a nice review of Dropbox, titled, "How Dropbox ended my search for seamless sync on Linux" (but it works on OSX 7 Windows too) http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20080914-how-dropbox-ended-my-search-for-seamless-sync-on-linux.html [arstechnica.com]

Re:Dropbox (4, Insightful)

Firehed (942385) | about 6 years ago | (#25255033)

Dropbox is absolutely fantastic as a sync tool (and also has some degree of versioning), but there's no practical way as of yet to make it into a full-system backup. When 'watch folders' show up, it'll get a lot closer, but like any web-based system, it becomes impractically slow for anyone dealing with lot of data. Even digital snapshots add up quickly with the resolution of the point-and-shoot cameras, never mind if there's an actual photographer shooting RAW.

Re:Dropbox (0)

Foodie (980694) | about 6 years ago | (#25255075)

Sounds like a combination of HP Mediasmart Server + Dropbox is a good solution. Use the MSS/WHS to perform daily backups of the clients automatically, provide user accounts and storage space, has web share and DLNA capabilities. Then add Dropbox to backup that MSS to another remote box. This way, you get daily backups, and can do full system restore, while you can also get daily or weekly backups of the MSS into a central location.

Re:Dropbox (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25255469)

How much does it cost? The one thing dropbox's pricing page [getdropbox.com] doesn't mention is the price.

Re:Dropbox (1)

Klaus_1250 (987230) | about 6 years ago | (#25255689)

Seems very interesting, but this disturbs me:

Dropbox cooperates with government and law enforcement officials and private parties to enforce and comply with the law. We will disclose any information about you to government or law enforcement officials or private parties as we, in our sole discretion, believe necessary or appropriate to respond to claims and legal process (including but not limited to subpoenas), to protect the property and rights of Dropbox or a third party, to protect the safety of the public or any person, or to prevent or stop any activity we may consider to be, or to pose a risk of being, illegal, unethical, inappropriate or legally actionable.

If I read this correctly, your data is anything but secure or private, as Dropbox can use any arbitrary reason to give your data to any party.

online backup (2, Interesting)

derekcohen (952533) | about 6 years ago | (#25254967)

what's wrong with getting an account with Connected/Iron Mountain - easy to use intelligent online storage that doesn't cost a lot - saved my bacon many a time

JungleDisk with Amazon S3 Storage (3, Informative)

kefa (640985) | about 6 years ago | (#25254977)

Have you considered the JungleDisk client that works with the Amazon S3 storage cloud? This has backup clients for Windows, Linux, and Mac and with suitable configuration of 'buckets' would allow you to do most of what you are trying to achieve. Okay so it's a pay-for service (albeit cheap) but it does provide the all important off-siting, strong security/encryption and unlimited capacity.

Re:JungleDisk with Amazon S3 Storage (1)

RichiH (749257) | about 6 years ago | (#25255039)

I have. But I don't want to put the data in anyone else's hands.

Re:JungleDisk with Amazon S3 Storage (1)

kefa (640985) | about 6 years ago | (#25255251)

I understand your sentiment but at least with JungleDisk the data is encrypted by the client on *your* machine so Amazon don't have access to any of your data. True, they can still lose it for you, but it really does take the effort/pain out of off-siting. I guess I'm just worried about losing 10+ years (and 400GB+) of music and photos when my house is burgled/flooded/raised to the ground.

Re:JungleDisk with Amazon S3 Storage (4, Funny)

giostickninja (1141347) | about 6 years ago | (#25255513)

raised to the ground.

Wow. How far below ground is your house?

Re:JungleDisk with Amazon S3 Storage (2, Informative)

crt (44106) | about 6 years ago | (#25255483)

From a privacy perspective, Jungle Disk [jungledisk.com] encrypts your data with a key you control prior to upload - no one else can read it. From a security perspective, you can read their Security Whitepaper here [amazonaws.com] , but suffice it to say they take security really seriously.

As far as redundancy goes, your data gets stored in multiple Amazon datacenters around the country, which provides redundancy and high availability. At the end of the day, it's a far superior solution to anything you can cook up at home.

Of course there is a small cost involved, but at $0.15/GB it's quite inexpensive for what you are getting.

wimps (4, Funny)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | about 6 years ago | (#25254991)

"Only wimps use backup. Real men just upload their important stuff on ftp, and let the rest of the world mirror it."

God

Re:wimps (1)

pjameson (880321) | about 6 years ago | (#25255243)

Are we calling Linus God now?

Re:wimps (2, Informative)

RoceKiller (699407) | about 6 years ago | (#25255403)

I think this is the quote you where looking for:

"Backups are for wimps. Real men upload their data to an FTP site and have everyone else mirror it." -Linus Torvalds

Re:wimps (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25255489)

"Only wimps use backup. Real men just upload their important stuff on ftp, and let the rest of the world mirror it."

God

Actually, it was Linus who said that.

Update from OP (2)

RichiH (749257) | about 6 years ago | (#25255009)

I looked at Cleversafe, trying to get through the PR bubblespeak. It seems they are emulating disks, not offering integrated _backup_. As saving from my mom's SD card to a distributed online disk via a DSL line is not feasible, I will most likely need to scratch that idea.

you haven't thought this through (4, Informative)

speedtux (1307149) | about 6 years ago | (#25255011)

Backup isn't the same as sharing. And do you want actual replication or merely fault tolerance to node failure? Actual n-fold replication means you're going to pay n times the amount of money for storage. And why do you insist on one application to do everything?

My suggestion: set up automatic backups to one of the many backup services on the net. They worry about how to replicate your data, you don't have to. For the same service to support both backup and sharing is hard and it's probably a bad idea. It's much easier if you know that the backup service simply cannot access the contents of any of your files.

For sharing, use services designed for that: Flickr Pro, Picasa, Google Docs, whatever. They are designed for sharing, they know about users and permissions, and they can only publish what you actually upload to them.

As for Cleversafe, the idea is as old as forward error correction, but the economics and management never seem to quite work out. And basically, you're getting the same functionality from hosted storage: Amazon, Google, Box.NET, etc. are already figuring out how to keep your data available and secure, and are probably doing a better job than you could do with a homebrew system.

Re:you haven't thought this through (1)

RichiH (749257) | about 6 years ago | (#25255051)

I did think this through. I want distributed backups with several, for lack of a better word, working copies checked out on different machines.

I don't need to worry about encrypted backups or anything as all machines involved will be under my control. If any machine is compromised, I lose confidentially, anyway.

That a homebrew solution would suck is a given. This is why I asked /. for readymade solutions.

Re:you haven't thought this through (4, Insightful)

Geoffreyerffoeg (729040) | about 6 years ago | (#25255117)

I want distributed backups with several, for lack of a better word, working copies checked out on different machines.

Aha, now I figured out why we're all misunderstanding you. Those aren't backups. "Backups" to my ears means that you copy the entire contents of your disk or your Documents folder nightly onto tape or some other archival medium, so that in case of hardware failure you have something to restore from. Potentially you also keep prior versions around. The tapes are stored in a corner somewhere because they're never actually accessed except in an emergency, and they're destroyed after a few months.

What you want isn't backups, since it doesn't make sense for different people to share backups any more than it makes sense for different people to share a single networked hard disk or networked home directory. You just want a distributed file storage system, with automatic syncing / commits.

Re:you haven't thought this through (1)

RichiH (749257) | about 6 years ago | (#25255245)

Indeed. But as it should support versioning etc, we are back at it being a backup. Not in the sense of 'grab tape, stow it in bank', though.

Re:you haven't thought this through (1)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | about 6 years ago | (#25255463)

wait so what you want is concurrent versioning to be dealt with by some sort of system?

if you don't want user to have to learn about the subversion controls (because it can be a real GIT to use sometimes), then many programs implement similar functionality using plugins.
e.g
Web2.0 OpenOffice.org collaboration & document management extension [openoffice.org]
OOoSVN

I would setup an SVN/cvs/git for everything then find extension tools to deal with each use case as the need for transparent svn access becomes apparent

Re:you haven't thought this through (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25255347)

seeing your uid, i can tell you're not a reel geek. real geek cred doesn't come from purchasing a service online, it comes from learning how to set up the same service for yourself, and without having to pay someone else a monthly fee.

whomever relies on you as a computer guy, i can tell you don't enjoy working with computers and finding new ways to get more functionality.

yeah, we all only have so much time in the day, and how we like to spend it differs, but TFA was asking about which software might be useful, as long as the only hard part was the initial configuration. something with a steep learning curve that 'just plain works' is okay, in other words he wasn't looking for shortcuts.

many other posters suggested that while he'd like an all in one package, that really two pieces of software fit the bill better than one, because a nice simple UI that can be taught in seconds for sharing photos etc, isn't synonymous with regular remote backups of data.

Re:you haven't thought this through (1)

nikin (638522) | about 6 years ago | (#25255545)

Something like CrashPlan (http://www.crashplan.com) may be just what you're looking for. There are Home and Business systems, Win, Lin, Mac and Solaris options. The home option allows for backup online to their service or, through a buddy system (read other family members in your case) you can backup to multiple offsite locations (family computers) for free. Basic client is like $60 and that's it if you do the BYOB method. It's fast, it's fully encrypted prior to leaving your computer, it's smart (no duplicates, accessible anywhere, tons of options: scheduling, realtime backup, network and cpu throttling, great compression, storage quotas etc) and they are readying a new rev that will speed up transfers around 400%--according to a recent blog post (http://crashplan.blogspot.com). It's a nobrainer to setup. I've got a small business setup with them for about 30 systems and the server side is just as easy to setup. Their support is free, fast, efficient, effective, and curteous. They don't support bare-metal restore and are clear about that but I don't think you are looking for bm. I have restored several times with great success. Backup sucks for reasons we are all all-too aware of. Obviously, each situation requires a unique solution, which explains the plethora of vendors and methods out there. It's important that each constituent understands the full capability of whatever system you end up implementing, and the limits therein. Good luck.

rdiff-backup and chironfs (3, Informative)

Delgul (515042) | about 6 years ago | (#25255019)

The subject says it all:

- rdiff-backup to backup your data one backup server.
- chironfs to clone the file system to another remote server.

rdiff-backup runs on *nix and windows (with the help of Cygwin).

Once set up, rdiff-backup needs virtually no maintenance. If needed, setup Nagios to warn you if things run afoul.

Used this for years, never disappointed me so far!

Re:rdiff-backup and chironfs (1)

happyslayer (750738) | about 6 years ago | (#25255717)

haven't used chironfs (I'll check it out), but rdiff-backup has been working at a medical clinic for off-site backup for 10 months without a glitch.

Basic data from my backup:

  • 2.5 GB of original data (including the application)
  • mysql-autobackup script to dump daily, weekly, monthly copies of all relevant databases
  • Average daily diff is about 25-35 MB
  • Off-site server
  • cron job to run a custom script

The results are that it's been running without a hitch for 10 months, and I've used the backed-up data to create a mirror of the medical clinic site in less than 3 hours.

For me, that's all I need: The ability to take my backups and go from clean machine to fully functioning system in less than a day.

It's been working so well that I've been quietly offering the service to some of my other IT customers who need to get up and running quickly.

Legal and confidentiality issues are the biggest obstacle. The medical office data is covered because of previous arrangements and agreements. For other customers with these issues, you can set up a similar layout that works within their requirements.

If you had Windows & Mac - Mozy (1)

tkrotchko (124118) | about 6 years ago | (#25255041)

If you had only Windows and Mac, I'd opt for Mozy (http://www.mozy.com) which is owned by EMC. It's $50/year for unlimited storage and their agent is unobtrusive and backs up even open files.

The downside is that it limits upstream bandwidth to 1Mb/s, so your initial backup might take a week. But after that, it takes 3 minutes a night and it does it without prompting. I've strong-armed my immediate family into using it because it also allows me to monitor remotely the status of all backups.

It's seriously good stuff.

Re:If you had Windows & Mac - Mozy (1)

penguin_man101 (744204) | about 6 years ago | (#25255139)

Another vote for Mozy. If you want to try it out, up to 2GB is free.

Tape? Its old, but it is still useful (1)

mlts (1038732) | about 6 years ago | (#25255045)

As an alternative, use tape. It may not have the shine of offsite backups, but if you need data backed up reliably, one easy option might be a DLT or another recent capacity tape drive. Combine a backup program that does encryption (bru, amanda, zmanda) and then set up a contract with Iron Mountain.

Then, if you do a basic tape rotation schedule, periodically running recent tapes offsite, you should be protected against known disasters. And, because the tapes are encrypted with a high quality and long passphrase (this is assuming), if the tapes get lost or stolen, they won't do an attacker any good.

On the low end, if tape is too expensive, there is purchasing external mini hard disks that only require power via the USB ports, combining those with TrueCrypt or another sturdy encryption program and using those instead of tapes.

Use rsnapshot (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25255055)

Get 4 x 1TB disk and minimum RAID 6. Install Linux. Install rsnapshot [rsnapshot.org] , which offers:

* Filesystem snapshot - for local or remote systems.

* Database backup - MySQL backup

* Secure - Traffic between remote backup server is always encrypted using openssh

* Full backup - plus incrementals

* Easy to restore - Files can restored by the users who own them, without the root user getting involved.

* Automated backup - Runs in background via cron.

* Bandwidth friendly - rsync used to save bandwidth

You may also find CentOS [cyberciti.biz] or Debian [cyberciti.biz] tutorial useful.

Good luck!

Have you tried. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25255065)

A few years ago, while browsing around the library downtown, I
had to take a piss. As I entered the john a big beautiful all-American
football hero type, about twenty-five, came out of one of the booths.
I stood at the urinal looking at him out of the corner of my eye as he
washed his hands. He didn't once look at me. He was "straight" and
married - and in any case I was sure I wouldn't have a chance with
him.

As soon as he left I darted into the booth he'd vacated,
hoping there might be a lingering smell of poo poo and even a seat still
warm from his sturdy young rear end. I found not only the smell but the
poo poo itself. He'd forgotten to flush. And what a treasure he had left
behind. Three or four beautiful specimens floated in the bowl. It
apparently had been a fairly dry, constipated poo poo, for all were fat,
stiff, and ruggedly textured. The real prize was a great feast of turd
- a nine inch gastrointestinal triumph as thick as a man's wrist.

I knelt before the bowl, inhaling the rich brown fragrance and
wondered if I should obey the impulse building up inside me. I'd
always been a heavy rimmer and had lapped up more than one little
clump of poo poo, but that had been just an inevitable part of eating rear end
and not an end in itself. Of course I'd had jerk-off fantasies of
devouring great loads of it (what rimmer hasn't), but I had never done
it. Now, here I was, confronted with the most beautiful five-pound
turd I'd ever feasted my eyes on, a sausage fit to star in any fantasy
and one I knew to have been hatched from the rear end in a top hat of the world's
handsomest young stud.

Why not? I plucked it from the bowl, holding it with both
hands to keep it from breaking. I lifted it to my nose. It smelled
like rich, ripe limburger (horrid, but thrilling), yet had the
consistency of cheddar. What is cheese anyway but milk turning to poo poo
without the benefit of a digestive tract?

I gave it a lick and found that it tasted better then it
smelled. I've found since then that poo poo nearly almost does.

I hesitated no longer. I shoved the loving thing as far into
my mouth as I could get it and sucked on it like a big brown cock,
beating my meat like a madman. I wanted to completely engulf it and
bit off a large chunk, flooding my mouth with the intense, bittersweet
flavor. To my delight I found that while the water in the bowl had
chilled the outside of the turd, it was still warm inside. As I chewed
I discovered that it was filled with hard little bits of something I
soon identified as peanuts. He hadn't chewed them carefully and they'd
passed through his body virtually unchanged. I ate it greedily,
sending lump after peanutty lump sliding scratchily down my throat. My
only regret was the donor of this feast wasn't there to wash it down
with his piss.

I soon reached a terrific climax. I caught my cum in the
cupped palm of my hand and drank it down. Believe me, there is no more
delightful combination of flavors than the hot sweetness of cum with
the rich bitterness of poo poo.

Afterwards I was sorry that I hadn't made it last longer. But
then I realized that I still had a lot of fun in store for me. There
was still a clutch of virile turds left in the bowl. I tenderly fished
them out, rolled them into my handkerchief, and stashed them in my
briefcase. In the week to come I found all kinds of ways to eat the
poo poo without bolting it right down. Once eaten it's gone forever
unless you want to filch it third hand out of your own rear end in a top hat. Not an
unreasonable recourse in moments of desperation or simple boredom.

I stored the turds in the refrigerator when I was not using
them but within a week they were all gone. The last one I held in my
mouth without chewing, letting it slowly dissolve. I had liquid poo poo
trickling down my throat for nearly four hours. I must have had six
orgasms in the process.

I often think of that lovely young guy dropping solid gold out
of his sweet, pink rear end in a top hat every day, never knowing what joy it could,
and at least once did, bring to a grateful shiteater.

Bacula? (5, Informative)

up4fun (602118) | about 6 years ago | (#25255071)

http://www.bacula.org/ [bacula.org]

Runs pretty tight (low bandwidth), supports channel encryption and datastore encryption, can even create Bare Metal Recovery disks. I have a server room with LTO3 tape drives that I use to backup my clients' incremental data changes nightly, including Linux, Mac and Windows clients and servers. I have VPN's out to each client, so don't use the built-in channel encryption, but I maintain a keypair for each client.

Backup only, but I /could/ present a maintained volume as a share over the VPN. Bacula supports disk and tape volumes as backup stores. I've personally had no need to do that to date.

We're not talking terabytes here - my ISP would pwn me if that was going on, but I do circa 20G of data changes every night from clients. Some of them are laptops that are not always on or connected. Most are friends and family PC's, so it backs up when it can. I have to do almost no maintenance apart from changing a tape occasionally. The backup client is tiny and unobtrusive, even when running. On Windows it uses VSS, so it is reliable.

I have had a number of panic phone calls (esp from my kids at Uni) who have lost a thesis or the like and are utterly amazed when, after a few clicks over the phone they look at their webmail and yesterday's version is in their inbox. That's what it's all about! I am the god of lost data! Which, of course, works for me.

Re:Bacula? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25255209)

- plural of baculum.

Do you know what a baculum is? It is the penis bone found in most male mammals with the exception of humans.

Great product naming!

Re:Bacula? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25255277)

this is why open source software often gets renamed when it gets popular.

everyone has to be clever about a name that hasn't been taken...

Amazon S3 (1)

MosesJones (55544) | about 6 years ago | (#25255101)

There are a bunch of people offering this sort of service (or build your own) on Amazon's S3. It has the advantage of being accessible to everyone, has the security built in and you only have to worry about the data not server availability.

Backup not on the cloud just doesn't make much sense to me these days.

If I might plug a favorite project! (2, Informative)

Gazzonyx (982402) | about 6 years ago | (#25255197)

Check out S3Backer [googlecode.com] . It lets you mount an Amazon S3 bucket to your Linux/Mac/BSD/*NIX box. GPL F/OSS as icing on the cake.

Why not keep it simple? (1)

rnswebx (473058) | about 6 years ago | (#25255113)

I think this may have been said before, but what's wrong with setting up a basic samba server on one of your machines, and then simply using cron (Mac/Linux) or scheduled task(Windows) to dump the backups across the WAN via rsync/scp? (Depending on how important managing multiple versions of the same file is, perhaps using cron on the server-side do some SVN magic would make sense.)

You'd be able to allow multiple users access to other folders with simple Samba ACLs, and it'd all be right on their desktop with an interface they're used to. As far as maintaining the backend, simple rsyncs between your linux servers keep everything up to date in the case of node failure.

The solution also allows for easy drop-in replacement in terms of switching target backup/sharing servers. All you would need to do is email your new rsync script and tell LuserX to put it in XYZ directory. There'd be no walking them through configuring a new backup application they've probably never seen before.

Clean and simple, but certainly not feature-rich.

clouds everywhere! (1)

demmer (623592) | about 6 years ago | (#25255137)

RichiH obviously is more a Stallman guy asking for a diy and possibly opensource solution, that kept all his family data on privately owned systems...

so why all the jungle/dropbox/flickr answers?
has slashdot sunken that deep?

what i do:
- a fileserver with raid5 at my place and one at my parents'
- nightly rsync replication of their data to my server and my data to theirs over ssh

- ... so we always have two copies of the data and local redundancy

- allows fast access to all data even huge amounts in the hundreds of gigs dimension and also if internet is somehow slow or down
- this of course is no backup in the classic meaning! however rsync does not delete data on the replication site if you don't tell it too, so you kind of have protection against mistakenly deleted data too (unlike with only raid)

Online backup / file sharing (1)

dongola7 (698011) | about 6 years ago | (#25255145)

For backups, I'd recommend one of the many online services. I used to do backups using a custom shell script, but you really can't beat the online services in terms of ease-of-use. Personally, I use Mozy. It's $55 a year for unlimited storage, but they offer 2GB free (and for a lot of folks, that's really all they need). If you have a lot of computers, you can set up a single account to manage all of them.

As for file sharing, if all you're doing is sharing photos, I'd recommend a site like flickr. For other stuff, dropbox seems to work well.

AFS? (4, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 6 years ago | (#25255199)

AFS is only about 20 years old, and supported on Windows, Mac, and most flavours of *NIX, so it might not be sufficiently mature for your needs, however it does provide the following capabilities:
  • Remote storage with local caching.
  • Snapshots, allowing coarse-grained versioning.
  • Replication on the server.

As well as all of the standard things you'd expect from a networked filesystem (ACLs, authentication, and so on).

If you set up an AFS cell with your volumes replicated across a few remote servers and get your clients to connect to this cell then it should be fine. Set a cron job to take regular snapshots, and dump them to some offline medium periodically.

planet/population rescue kode saves changes (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25255217)

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Linux-based NAS with built-in applications (1)

golodh (893453) | about 6 years ago | (#25255225)

It sounds as if the author of the opening post is looking for a Network-Attached Storage device that will function as a server, is based on Linux, and comes with pre-loaded applications.

I found and tested the predecessor of the following device (which I can recommend on basis of a year-long test of a sample with N=1): Bubba (see http://excito.com/bubba/about-bubba.html [excito.com] ). A Swedish NAS device. I have to note that it's certainly not "distributed" in the sense that it's easy to mirror data across multiple devices (I didn't try and wouldn't know an easy way of doing that). It's basically a server, so you'd still need to take care of backups yourself.

It's a metal box the size of a lunch-box, contains a HDD, a PowerPC processor, two ethernet interfaces, and comes pre-loaded with Linux 2.6 (Debian Etch), and has a web-based control interface for adding users (see http://excito.com/bubba/about-bubba.html [excito.com] ). It can act as a server (Samba), torrent and email downloader, and router (if you want). It's got decent tech support through this forum (see http://forum.excito.net/ [excito.net] ). You can buy the box with or without HDD.

Nevermind the website (they brought in a consultant who made something I really dislike), the box and its applications are solid. Have a look and see if it's what you need.

Wuala (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25255229)

Not sure if I understood your request correctly but check out Wuala. Great for storing and sharing information in a secure manner over the internet.

rsync and dyndns (1)

MMC Monster (602931) | about 6 years ago | (#25255239)

First set each computer up with a dyndns account so that remote administration is easy.

Then set up folders in each computer for each member of the family. For each family member's main computer, make symbolic links to other family members picture folder, etc.

Set up a schedule to use rsync to copy the contents of the folders on a daily basis.

While you are at it, I suggest adding one more computer to the mix that will copy the home folders for all family members and keep them in a svn folder so they can call you to undelete files.

Try JungeDisk (1)

pmeinl (1378123) | about 6 years ago | (#25255283)

Try JungleDisk http://www.jungledisk.com/ [jungledisk.com] It uses Amanzon S3 Storage.

Mozy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25255285)

What about Mozy? http://mozy.com/ [mozy.com] 2GB for free, or $5 a month for unlimited storage. Does versioning and is really easy to use.

JungleDisk (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25255289)

I use JungleDisk to backup everything to Amazon S3.

BackupPC (1)

squidinkcalligraphy (558677) | about 6 years ago | (#25255307)

BackupPC might do what you're after. From the blurb:

high-performance, enterprise-grade system for backing up PCs
BackupPC is disk based and not tape based. This particularity allows
features not found in any other backup solution:
  * Clever pooling scheme minimizes disk storage and disk I/O.
      Identical files across multiple backups of the same or different PC are
      stored only once (using hard links), resulting in substantial savings
      in disk storage and disk writes.
  * Optional compression provides additional reductions in storage.
      CPU impact of compression is low since only new files (those not already
      in the pool) need to be compressed.
  * A powerful http/cgi user interface allows administrators to view log files,
      configuration, current status and allows users to initiate and cancel
      backups and browse and restore files from backups very quickly.
  * No client-side software is needed. On WinXX the smb protocol is used.
      On linux or unix clients, rsync or tar (over ssh/rsh/nfs) can be used
  * Flexible restore options. Single files can be downloaded from any backup
      directly from the CGI interface. Zip or Tar archives for selected files
      or directories can also be downloaded from the CGI interface.
  * BackupPC supports mobile environments where laptops are only intermittently
      connected to the network and have dynamic IP addresses (DHCP).
  * Flexible configuration parameters allow multiple backups to be performed
      in parallel.
  * and more to discover in the manual...

Re:BackupPC (1)

gardyloo (512791) | about 6 years ago | (#25255575)

BackupPC is nice. Its pooling strategy is very good, it works brilliantly and painlessly when backup up linux -> linux (though I have to re-try it Windows -> linux), and their UI is what a lot of the other solutions need for people to browse/restore their own data using a web browser.
    Its devs are responsive, too!

Re:BackupPC (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25255733)

Thats what I use. I have a Linksys NSLU2 + ext. HDD running Debian and backuppc. It makes backups of 2 servers. Making backups is not super fast and concurrent backups are just too slow. But basically I set it up a few years ago and it is making backups ever since without any maintenance.

Oh, I choose an NSLU2 with USB HD so I can build it into a small water-/fireproof box and keep it in my cellar or in the shed. It should be safe there in case of a disaster..

SyncToy (1)

paylett (553168) | about 6 years ago | (#25255369)

For the slightly more mundane task of just backing up from one PC to another, I've started using Microsoft's free SyncToy [microsoft.com] tool on family and friend's networks.

It's simple. It works.

A Free Open Source Backup Tool... (1)

onitzuka (1303967) | about 6 years ago | (#25255395)

... might be what you need.

I wrote the open source backup tool "Gazoo!" [miteyo.org] to perform fast reliable backups using rsync. Think of it as a command-line TimeMachine. ;-)

Give it a whirl! Never loose a file again! :-D

www.jungledisk.com (1)

Phurge (1112105) | about 6 years ago | (#25255411)

www.jungledisk.com - does all you want, its cheap and its hosted on Amazon's multiple servers.

Our Stuff... a bit of a rambling post (3, Insightful)

ka9dgx (72702) | about 6 years ago | (#25255433)

I think that the issue is faced by far more people than is readily apparent... it's the need for a VERY easy to use tool to share Our Stuff with Our Family. If my Mom and sisters were able to share all their photos with each other by carrying a USB drive around when they see each other... the most important thing they have on their computers would be backed up... the need for social file sharing is huge... we just don't have the tools to do it well yet. Something that does auto-discovery of stuff, remembers previous decisions, and just goes to work making copies in the right directions is what we need.

Online service (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25255465)

I use Spideroak ( https://spideroak.com/ ). They do backup and sharing like you need.

CloudBackup is what I use (2, Informative)

scottm52 (544690) | about 6 years ago | (#25255471)

I just didn't want to deal with it. I use cloudbackup.openrsm.com [openrsm.com] and have them buy an account. It can do a whole network of Linux, MAC, and Windows machines with one account, or just a laptop. The client software is free and does network drive of the backup space too. I figure easy and my friends paying for it works. It's saved my butt a couple times too.

AhSayOBS (1)

kyouteki (835576) | about 6 years ago | (#25255485)

AhSay's free version of their Offsite Backup Server (http://www.ahsay.com/en/freeedition/ahsay_free_edition_index.html) does versioning and, well, everything you're really asking for. I use this at work with about 20 clients, and it's rock solid.

It's doable.... (1)

cptdondo (59460) | about 6 years ago | (#25255515)

I do this commercially. I ship a small embedded box with custom firmware that works as a samba client and runs a VPN back to my server.

Then I run rsnapshot to rsync the remote.

That way the clients don't have to do any installation at all, I can admin my box remotely without any local representation, and it will work with any system as long as it supports samba.

The only setup required on the local site is a userid for the backup client.

The devil, of course, is in the details.

Re:It's doable.... (1)

happyslayer (750738) | about 6 years ago | (#25255725)

What equipment do you use for the embedded box? I'd love to do the same for my customers.

sshfs (1)

cenc (1310167) | about 6 years ago | (#25255525)

Google it for more info, it will do everything you are asking for in a secure manner.

Have you looked at BackupPC (1)

Xylaan (795464) | about 6 years ago | (#25255581)

It supports rsync, ssh, tar, and SMB. Performs pooling which reduces the number of stored files. Only issue is it uses the local account password file, so you'd have to set up an account for each user you wanted to give direct access too. http://backuppc.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net]

EP! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25255609)

SVN (1)

dheltzel (558802) | about 6 years ago | (#25255613)

I use SVN to backup my sister's important stuff to my home server. It was easy to teach them to commit changes and add new files to be versioned because I installed Tortoise SVN on their Windows computers. It has full versioning and can use an encrypted link if that's important.

Everything else just seemed like too much work to implement.

Evidently... (1)

yttrstein (891553) | about 6 years ago | (#25255633)

You've not purchased a Mac in the last five years.

Our Solution - (1)

jchawk (127686) | about 6 years ago | (#25255649)

I run a company called Real Pro Data Solutions, LLC.

You can check us out at - http://www.realprodata.com/ [realprodata.com]

We run on open standards and can provide assistance with setup. We have solutions that will work on all of your platforms, Windows, Linux, Mac...

We're a small business so you can always work with the same people who helped build the company!

And you can actually call and talk to us! :-)

Datumguard will backup windows and linux servers (1)

datumsoft (1327471) | about 6 years ago | (#25255703)

My company also struggled with an easy to use and robust offsite backup solution that backed up Windows servers with exchange along with our Linux and Unix servers running MySQL and other services. Backups were always a large headache for us and our customers. About two years ago we started testing multiple backup systems and running large scale recovery scenarios for our company and our customers. We needed it to be dead simple to use for both customers and administrators, offer revision control, encrypt the data, compress the data, and be able to store the data for up to 7 years or longer. In our quest to find and implement the ultimate solution we started our own company offering offsite backup, and we had over two years of testing and breaking many other solutions. Now we are the company our customers look towards to ease the stress of their backups both large and small. http://datumguard.com/ [datumguard.com]

Sounds familiar (1)

ThreeGigs (239452) | about 6 years ago | (#25255745)

Don't most businesses already do this? On laptops, I used roaming profiles, and synched My Docs with the user's home directory on the server. All additional backups, versioning, etc. were handled on, and by the server.

Downside is it's not a complete solution, as any data stored in Program Files or Common Files dirs wasn't mirrored.
Upside is that it's simple network management, and even lets you use login scripts.

I don't think you're ever going to find a 'simple' (as in 3 clicks) solution usable by non-techies with versioning. Backup, yes. Sharing, versioning....not so much. It looks like you're simply going to have to be the server admin, and let the server deal with the versioning, multiple sites, and sharing.

Mozy for backup (1)

isoga (670113) | about 6 years ago | (#25255751)

Hi

I've been using Mozy.com for back ups. The client is totally unnoticeable after it's installed. It just runs some time each day when you are not using your PC. Handles large files like .pst nicely as well. They give you 2GB free or unlimited for 5USD/month and bonus space if you refer people :)

https://mozy.com/?code=WAQ9DM/ [mozy.com] and scroll down to 2GB free offer.

What i do/have tried. (1)

pjr.cc (760528) | about 6 years ago | (#25255785)

What I personally use is all linux so it may not be much use to you however, i've gone thru several iterations of a simple script for my machines.

Originally it was just a usb connected drive at home and work that got rsynced to (it would look for an lvm volume with specific name and if it existed, kick it off). The first iteration of the script basically just rsynced the data across and once a week did a dump. The second iteration took lvm snapshots on top of that (with some minor automated management) and added rsync -d to the mix (deletes files on the target that dont exist on the source).

The next iteration was a much bigger change (and probably the smarter one) so basically it would rsync and snapshot files that didnt come from (or had changed from) packages that existed on the machine. i.e. it would go thru all the files on my harddrive, if it was from a package it would leave it alone (getting the OS back is simple then just overlay the backup stuff on top). a little while ago i switch to zfs for the external drive (my only real regret is zfs will probably never be a part of the linux kernel) and thats been pretty good cause zfs is a brilliant filesystem.

In the OSS space i've played with things like afs, coda, drbd and things that wrap around svn and cvs (how I wish lvm had replication in built).

But, having worked in the big-boy space for a long time i've seen alot of commercially available implementations most of which are available cross platform. Some are based on backup solutions (netbackup, backupexec, backbone, etc) and some work at the storage level.

One implementation I was mostly impressed with though was using falconstor. Its basically a block-level replication software that connects to iscsi volumes and is really quite impressive in the way it manages backing up data. The company itself had mostly rover types who were in the office maybe once a week, the rest of the time their volumes would sync across links of varying speed (even over vpn) and was able to be configured not to chew up the entire link space. It all spoke back to an iscsi storage device (equalogic or emc with its iscsi head, i cant remember) and was also snapshotted occasionally. The best part about it was they never really had to deal with it, it just seemed to work 99.99% of the time.

So far i've found the OSS side a little friendlier to those who know how to use them (mostly because they're just so much easier to modify), while the commercial side do everything you expect them to with varying degrees of success without being flexible enough.

Of course, the one definitive thing i've found with people is that you'll always find someone who'll end up saving data in odd locations then get cranky when you cant restore it because you just weren't backing up c:\windows\temp ;).
The whole "you can please some of the people some of the time" holds true 99% of the time.

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