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Best Filesystem For External Back-Up Drives?

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the just-mirror-to-the-internet dept.

Data Storage 484

rufey writes "I've recently embarked on a project to rip my DVD and CD collection to a pair of external USB drives. One drive will be used on a daily basis to access the rips of music and DVDs, as well as store backups of all of my other data. The second drive will be a copy of the first drive, to be synced up on a monthly basis and kept at a different location. The USB drives that I purchased for this are 1 TB in size and came pre-formatted with FAT32. While I can access this filesystem from all of my Windows and Linux machines, there are some limitations." Read on for the rest, and offer your advice on the best filesystem for this application."Namely, the file size on a FAT32 filesystem is limited to 4GB (4GB less 1 byte to be technical). I have some files that are well over that size that I want to store, mostly raw DVD video. I'll primarily be using these drives on a Linux-based system, and initially, with a Western Digital Live TV media player. I can access a EXT3 filesystem from both of these, and I'm thinking about reformatting to EXT3. But on Windows, it requires a 3rd party driver to access the EXT3 filesystem. NTFS is an option, but the Linux kernel NTFS drivers (according to the kernel build documentation) only have limited NTFS write support, only being safe to overwrite existing files without changing the file size). The Linux-NTFS project may be able to mitigate my NTFS concerns for Linux, but I haven't had enough experience with it to feel comfortable. At some point I'd like whatever filesystem I use to be accessible to Apple's OS X. With those constraints in mind, which filesystem would be the best to use? I realize that there will always be some compatibility problems with whatever I end up with. But I'd like to minimize these issues by using a filesystem that has the best multi-OS support for both reading and writing, while at the same time supporting large files."

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Ext3 (0)

epedersen (863120) | more than 3 years ago | (#30539804)

It is open, and the driver is available for windows. And I don't see it just disappearing, so nothing can read it.

Re:Ext3 (5, Informative)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 3 years ago | (#30539856)

I personally go the other way. Sure, there's an Ext3 driver for windows, but from what I've seen it's not that good. On the other hand, I've used the NTFS driver on Linux quite a bit and it's worked pretty well. More importantly, I have confidence that the NTFS driver will continue to get better.

Re:Ext3 (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30539928)

This is like deciding if to anally penetrate your partner, or let your partner anally penetrate you.

Either way, you're still a Mac user.

Re:Ext3 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30540378)

Then, using NTFS must be recieving and using ext3 must be giving.

Either way. Macs suck.

Re:NTFS linux driver will always be quirky (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30539976)

yeah.. everybody and their mother has had confidence that the ntfs Linux driver will improve, but the same can be said for windows as an operating system ;)...

Re:Ext3 (2, Informative)

xSauronx (608805) | more than 3 years ago | (#30540034)

yeah, i use linux and have my exteral drive formatted as NTFS

honestly, i cant recall having a single write-related problem and i do raw DVD video often enough. linx NTFS support has been solid for me for well over a year now.

Re:Ext3 (1)

TheShadowzero (884085) | more than 3 years ago | (#30540238)

Yep, this is my experience too. The ntfs-3g module is definitely the way to go, let's you read, write, create new files, do whatever you want. The only limitation I've come across with it is if you try to access a drive that was turned off with hibernate (ie you hibernate your windows and then load up *nix and try to read the drive...doesn't work) but I feel like that's an obvious limitation.

Re:Ext3 (1)

Bacon Bits (926911) | more than 4 years ago | (#30540380)

I haven't researched it, but I'd be willing to bet that the additions added to NTFS since Windows XP (volume shadow copies among other things) may not be supported by the Linux drivers. Not a huge problem, but something to keep in mind.

Re:Ext3 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30540192)

Except you can't write new files.

Re:Ext3 (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30540392)

I personally go the other way.

homo.

Re:Ext3 (1)

clang_jangle (975789) | more than 3 years ago | (#30540152)

Yes, or HFS+ will work too if you use HFSExplorer for windows, as Linux has very good support for HFS+.

The solution.. (5, Interesting)

Anrego (830717) | more than 3 years ago | (#30539806)

is to stop being so diverse! Pick a platform and stick with it!

Ok, in all seriousness.. here's what you do:

- buy yourself a cheap (~200) box
- hook all your drives to it
- use whatever file system you want (JFS, XFS would be my recommendation)
- share it over your zoo of a network using nfs, samba, etc..

As a bonus, your file server box could double as a media center, and replace your WD TV Live dealie.. (probably not though.. right)

Irregardless, I think you're way better off with this approach vice trying to find the magical widely supported cross platform file system with large file capacity.

You also might want to consider RAID vs. your monthly sync. Yes, RAID isn't a backup.. but for something like this where
restoration would be possible, but just a pain in the ass.. mirrored raid can be a lot more convenient. You can always have
a third external to back up your irreplacable data on a semi-annual basis..

Re:The solution.. (4, Informative)

Dynedain (141758) | more than 3 years ago | (#30539852)

Thats exactly what I did. Threw a couple of external drives on a Mac Mini. Formatted as HFS+ and did software array. Then using afp and smb provided the contents as shares to the Windows media center and various client machines on the network.

Sure, software raid over USB is slow, but the bottleneck is the network so it doesn't really matter.

Re:The solution.. (1, Offtopic)

dieselpawn (1302503) | more than 3 years ago | (#30539858)

Irregardless, I think you're way better off with this approach vice trying to find the magical widely supported cross platform file system with large file capacity.

What's the difference between irregardless and regardless?

Re:The solution.. (0)

Seraphim1982 (813899) | more than 3 years ago | (#30539894)

It's the same as the difference between flammable and inflammable.

Wikipedia says... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30539924)

Posting anon cuz this is TOTALLY offtopic and I hate getting negative mods, but Wikipedia sums it up pretty well in the first sentence [wikipedia.org] :

"Irregardless is a term meaning regardless or irrespective, which has caused controversy since it first appeared in the early twentieth century. It is generally listed in dictionaries as 'incorrect' or 'nonstandard'."

Re:The solution.. (0)

Demena (966987) | more than 3 years ago | (#30539926)

Regardless is "regardless of the reason given" Irregardless is "regardless of any possible reason" Regardless is comparative, irregardless is superlative. That cover it?

Re:The solution.. (5, Insightful)

rpresser (610529) | more than 3 years ago | (#30540012)

It might if irregardless was actually a word.

Re:The solution.. (1, Insightful)

babblefrog (1013127) | more than 3 years ago | (#30540120)

I've seen it used multiple times in this discussion. That makes it a word.

Re:The solution.. (5, Insightful)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 3 years ago | (#30540278)

I've seen it used multiple times in this discussion. That makes it a word.

ummmm. okay. "Fugnutish". Let's keep it going a few more replies and I gots my new word :)

Re:The solution.. (3, Funny)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | more than 4 years ago | (#30540366)

Irregardless, you're new word is stupid.

Re:The solution.. (1)

samurphy21 (193736) | more than 3 years ago | (#30540162)

It means "without lack of regard".. GOD!

Baltimore Orioles number one!

[OT] Words (1)

Nutria (679911) | more than 4 years ago | (#30540356)

It might if irregardless was actually a word.

Normalcy didn't exist until the 1850s, even though normality was 150 years older. (I'd never heard of normalcy until U.S. History class...)

Re:The solution.. (4, Insightful)

uglyduckling (103926) | more than 3 years ago | (#30540130)

Irregardless is nonsense caused by confusion between the words irrespective and regardless.

Re:The solution.. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30540376)

Utter rubbish.
Irregardless is a perfectly cromulent word.

Re:The solution.. (0)

Anrego (830717) | more than 3 years ago | (#30539936)

There isn't one.. it's basically like irrespective

Which is why I use it.. I have a gene that compels me to torture tech writers.. tis also the reason I use these half hearted ellipsis..

Re:The solution.. (5, Informative)

multimediavt (965608) | more than 3 years ago | (#30540054)

WRONG!

Irregardless [reference.com] is not a proper English word. Its usage has *ALWAYS* irked me from when I was a small boy to now. To use common vernacular, it's a mashup of 'irrespective' (one negative; prefix) and regardless (also, one negative; suffix). 'Irregardless' is a double negative and is thusly illogical by construction and would only be understandable to people born in the U.S. since 1970, and those less literate in the U.S. prior to that.

On my words that aren't words list it's right up there with 'impactful'.

Re:The solution.. (1)

bertoelcon (1557907) | more than 3 years ago | (#30540092)

WRONG!

Irregardless [reference.com] is not a proper English word.

It sure looks like a word [reference.com] to me.

Re:The solution.. (1)

multimediavt (965608) | more than 3 years ago | (#30540292)

Ok, do I really want to get into a philological discussion on a computer website? NO! Will I ask you to explore how words become part of an official language, and that even bad ones, or improper ones (like those with double negatives) make it into vernacular, dialect, and then possibly the root language? YES! Would I also remind you to look at the 'Usage' and 'Origin' sections of any definition? YES!!!!

Anyone can make up any word, have it spread through a local or regional vernacular, then get it picked up by an entire dialectic group, but if it makes no logical sense it's still ridiculously stupid to use and shows that its user has a poor grasp of written and spoken language as communication.

I know that language changes over time, but 'irregardless', no matter how 'popular', is illogical and thus does not convey meaning, and is thus NOT A WORD! And, I'm out!

Re:The solution.. (5, Funny)

molarmass192 (608071) | more than 3 years ago | (#30540268)

You're words are truthy enough, but your assuming that synergistic words like irregardless don't have impacts on english as we know it. The facts is that people will use words like that wether we like it or not. This is truely, the case when it comes to American's use of language. Sadly, theirs very little we, as people far more litterate than the average people, can really do about that. If people used grammer checkers, then you and me would not see so many people authoring bad words and having a negative affect on english as it is known and practised today but should be editted and spokened tomorrow.

"What's the difference..." (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30539966)

"ir" HTH! HAND!

Re:The solution.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30540016)

Irregardless isn't a word. That would be the main difference.

Re:The solution.. (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 3 years ago | (#30540096)

Dictionaries consider "irregardless" as incorrect. Then again, dictionaries follow language, they neither create nor limit it.

Nonetheless, it seems most people use "irregardless" in a satirical sense; using it explicitly because it is considered incorrect.

Most likely you should interpet "irregardless" in a satirical way; i.e. "not really regardless".

Again; the word isn't defined by any source generally considered authoritive any other way than "incorrect", so the writer may have intended to make the word mean whatever he thinks it means ;)

Re:The solution.. (1)

NitroWolf (72977) | more than 3 years ago | (#30540176)

No, most people use it because they think they sound smart when they use a big word. The problem is, it's not a word and thus they just sound like an idiot to the very people they are trying to impress when they say or write irregardless.

Re:The solution.. (5, Funny)

Tanktalus (794810) | more than 4 years ago | (#30540344)

No, most people use it because they think they sound smart when they use a big word. The problem is, it's not a word and thus they just sound like an idiot to the very people they are trying to impress when they say or write irregardless.

As a former coworker once told me, "Never use a large word when a diminutive one will suffice." I think he was showing off.

Re:The solution.. (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 4 years ago | (#30540390)

Or to put it another way, dictionaries are descriptive, not proscriptive. If the word "irregardless" is used enough, it becomes a part of the language, and to be honest, I've heard it (and even slipped up and used myself) enough times that, whether or not it is currently considered a proper word, it's probably well on its way to being one.

Re:The solution.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30540286)

users I.Q.

Re:The solution.. (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30539864)

Irregardless, I think you're way better off with this approach vice trying to find the magical widely supported cross platform file system with large file capacity.

Irregardless is not a word.

Re:The solution.. (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30539876)

Irregardless is not a word.

- Yes, I'm a tech writer.

Re:The solution.. (3, Informative)

Keruo (771880) | more than 3 years ago | (#30539922)

One shoud never consider raid vs synced copies, use both simultaneously. They protect against different data-loss threats which aren't mutually exclusive.

Re:The solution.. (3, Interesting)

uradu (10768) | more than 3 years ago | (#30540022)

Or get a cheap NAS like the D-Link DNS-321. While certainly far from the bee's knees in terms of performance or number of bays (2), it can be had for under $100 and has been hacked to death to run all sorts of other stuff on it. Plus it's nice and quiet and doesn't use much power. And it's kinda purdy.

Re:The solution.. (2, Informative)

jeffehobbs (419930) | more than 3 years ago | (#30540198)

I second this (DNS-323 myself). Runs like a champ, very low-power, files
available to every machine (and a WD TV Live) from any room in the house.

Re:The solution.. (1)

Tynin (634655) | more than 3 years ago | (#30540042)

Pretty much my exact same suggestion. You can go fancy or go cheap, but you need a spare server you can stuff your big disks into. Personally I have a pretty extreme setup for my home file/media server. boot drive is 2 drives software RAID 1 with ext3 (wanted to go ZFS, but couldn't get it working on the boot partition, gave up due to time constraints). Then 8, 1TB drives in a software RAID 6 running ZFS. With 1gb switchs being so cheap it isn't a problem accessing large files over the network. I don't bother with backups, trying to keep 6TB of data backed up is just too much work (for things like DVD's from my personal collection, which is the purpose of this server, I can just rip them again. I do keep backups of personal pics/vids/files) I'm putting my hopes on that RAID 6 and ZFS will cover all my bases (short of the machine being physically stolen or my house burning down), it would take a lot of things failing all at once to take it out.

Re:The solution.. (3, Insightful)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 3 years ago | (#30540056)

+1 to this answer.

This is what SAMBA is for. My home network has a mix of Ubuntu, Mac OS and Windows. It just serves to all of them without problems.

I'm using a small silent PC as the server. Plug the USB drive into it, plug the USB turntable into it (and the cassette deck into the turntable) for ripping LPs and tapes, it's lovely.

SMB over wifi serves fast enough to play MPEG4 video on the laptop and keep the toddler amused.

Re:The solution.. (0, Offtopic)

Idimmu Xul (204345) | more than 3 years ago | (#30540058)

Irregardless, I think you're way better off with this approach vice trying to find the magical widely supported cross platform file system with large file capacity.

Please take note, irregardless is not a word! [irregardle...taword.org]

Thank you.

Re:The solution.. (1, Informative)

bertoelcon (1557907) | more than 3 years ago | (#30540110)

Yes it is. [reference.com]

Re:The solution.. (0, Redundant)

amRadioHed (463061) | more than 3 years ago | (#30540134)

Irregardless of that website, "irregardless" most certainly is a word.

Re:The solution.. (1)

NitroWolf (72977) | more than 3 years ago | (#30540194)

Irregardless of that website, "irregardless" most certainly is a word.

And you would be wrong.

Even disregarding the fact that it's not a word, the simple fact that the "ir" prefix negates the "regardless" should indicate to you that the word you think you're using isn't really a word at all. But then again, that's expecting intelligence and critical thinking from someone using "irregardless" in the first place, so I suppose that is kind of stupid in and of itself.

Re:The solution.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30540088)

You also might want to consider RAID vs. your monthly sync.

No. Do the RAID with internal disks (so you have a file/media/whatever server), then use external disks for the backup of said RAID system. In fact, two disks are fine: one is stored elsewhere, the other at home for regular (monthly?! Do your data never change?!) backups. From time to time, swap the external disks. In one of the worst cases (complete loss of all disks at home), there is still the external drive with only one or several weeks of data missing, unless it died meanwhile ...

Re:The solution.. (1)

Godji (957148) | more than 3 years ago | (#30540188)

If you're taking the separate machine route, you might as well put Solaris on it and run ZFS. Having all your files checksummed, guaranteed correct, and self-repairing is a whole new world. Just avoid the latest Solaris release [guinpen.org] ; the previous one works perfectly however.

here's an easy solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30540204)

I bought a LaCie 1 gig drive with an ethernet connection a few years ago. Dunno the file system, prolly Linux with Samba. Just plug it into network.

Everything connects to it including the last DOS 3.1 box needed for a legacy database.

And it was only $200. You want mirroring? Buy a second and copy over the first with a batch file whenever you get nervous.

Don't bother (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30539822)

If you're like me, you won't be happy with the compromises you have to make when picking a multi-platform filesystem. I'd outline them, but you've done a great job of doing so above. So, what to do?

Get thee a cheap, cheap Linux box, format your drives EXT3, and all other machines access over the network. It's the only way you'll get the interoperability you want, without making compromises on max file size, cluster sizes, etc.

NTFS (4, Insightful)

Hamsterdan (815291) | more than 3 years ago | (#30539824)

THat's what I use here. for MAC, there's NTFS-3G (free) or Paragon ($ but faster on writes).

I use NTFS on both my machines (Win/OS X/Linux) without any problems.

NTFS-3G is also available for Linux.

Re:NTFS (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 3 years ago | (#30539842)

Exactly my answer as well. NTFS-3G works find. Never had a problem with it under Linux nor under Mac OS X. It overcomes the limitations. I only wish it weren't a Windows file system. There needs to be a "universal file system" that is supported by all OSes without added software or hassle or patent/license problems.

Re:NTFS (1)

rhavenn (97211) | more than 3 years ago | (#30539996)

Any of the open source file systems are "universal". The problem is adoption and the MS marketing machine would hang them out to dry. Personally, ext2 works fine for the most part. However, I had issues getting Windows to work with it. FreeBSD can read from it, but write can be problematic. The "best" is FAT32, but this has issues with larger disks. NTFS is probably 2nd "best", but it's overly complicated to implement for just some external storage. By implementation I mean the actual writing of the fs driver, not the use of NTFS-3g or whatever. NTFS is a complicated file system with a lot of layers for security, etc... which are superfluous for a basic USB disc.

Personally, ext2 or UFS would be my choice. USB external storage doesn't require performance. If performance is required you're running SATA or eSATA and shared via NFS, SMB, WebDAV or FTP and the filesystem doesn't really matter as it's permanently connected to an OS.

Re:NTFS (2, Informative)

rpresser (610529) | more than 3 years ago | (#30540028)

UDF fits that bill, doesn't it?

Re:NTFS (2, Informative)

elh_inny (557966) | more than 3 years ago | (#30539930)

I second this choice.
For some zealots it's hard to admit but the performance is really good, you have commercial backing of the biggest software company on the planet.

Recently a commercial company (Tuxera) was formed to provide commercial support for NTFS-3G and provide paid-for version of the driver for MacOS and Linux in addition to the free NTFS-3G.

So the future and cross platform access is looking really good.

On the other hand, if I were just a little bit more adventurous, I would much rather use Sun ZFS for storage to have even better reliability, flexibility than with equivalent hardware RAID. But this pretty much requires a separate NAS box running OpenSolaris just for that.

For me and many other garage hackers that just doesn't cut it, all I have is one laptop running a really fancy looking BSD and two external drives (NTFS) and some backup scattered over the Internet...

All I'm hoping for is that one day Apple will reintegrate ZFS support, it's already been promised, implemented and now ditched...

Re:NTFS (2, Informative)

rhavenn (97211) | more than 3 years ago | (#30540018)

I second this choice.
For some zealots it's hard to admit but the performance is really good, you have commercial backing of the biggest software company on the planet.

You only have commercial backing if the OS you're running it on starts with Windows and doesn't include Linux, Solaris, BSD, AIX, Haiku, Amiga OS, etc... in the name.

Re:NTFS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30540074)

Hmm. My experience with NTFS on OS X is that writes can be exceedingly slow, depending on the application doing the writing. Mathematica is a principal offender, but there are many others. This goes for both NTFS-3G and Paragon drivers.

Re:NTFS (1)

samurphy21 (193736) | more than 3 years ago | (#30540166)

Recently? They have write caching and such on NTFS-3G now.. trickled down from their commercial Tuxera project.

Uhm... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30539834)

Have you been living under a rock? NTFS has been writable on Linux for a long time now, using NTFS-3g - most distros come pre-bundled with it nowadays, and there's a Mac version as well.

Under a rock? (0, Troll)

Petersko (564140) | more than 3 years ago | (#30539960)

"Have you been living under a rock? NTFS has been writable on Linux for a long time now..."

Oh yeah, because the determining factor of one's general awareness is whether or not one knows that NTFS is writeable on linux.

I knew that, but I certainly didn't hear the announcement on a TV ad during "House".

Re:Under a rock? (1)

nhytefall (1415959) | more than 3 years ago | (#30540086)

Well, this is /. .... so, um, yeah.

Fat32 and VLC (3, Informative)

caubert (1301759) | more than 3 years ago | (#30539882)

VLC can play rar-compressed-splitted files beautifully, So 4GB is not a very big problem

The best is... (5, Funny)

FreemanPatrickHenry (317847) | more than 3 years ago | (#30539888)

...ReiserFS. I hear it's killer.

Re:The best is... (1)

Shazow (263582) | more than 3 years ago | (#30539910)

Reiser4 is the killer one. My laptop can attest to it. :/

Re:The best is... (3, Funny)

uglyduckling (103926) | more than 3 years ago | (#30540138)

Yeah, but it's murder getting support.

I wouldn't.... (4, Interesting)

fak3r (917687) | more than 3 years ago | (#30539912)

I wouldn't limit myself to a certain filesystem, I'd run a dedicated NAS like FreeNAS and share it over the network via SMB (windows), AFP (apple) and whatever for Linux - all set. Plus as mentioned above, you can run Firefly media server, a bittorrent server, a DAAP server (itunes sharing), etc (all included in FreeNAS. http://freenas.org/ [freenas.org] ) on the same box. And since filesystems don't matter in this config, you can use ZFS to make a RAIDZ pool of your drives. It's what I do now.

Re:I wouldn't.... (3, Informative)

Barny (103770) | more than 3 years ago | (#30540036)

I used to use freeNAS, but after a while I just wanted more than what it was offering.

I switched it for a windows home server (server 2003 SBE based), mainly for the backup features, and what with the freeNAS machine being the only non-windows machine left in my house it didn't matter that it lacks full compatibility with unix.

But yes, freeNAS is damn good at what it does, have set up some nice diskless server systems with freeNAS running from a USB stick and having all the client machines on the network sharing their drives with iSCSI, freeNAS would collect them all, turn them into a big redundant storage array, and share them back to the network, works well :)

Re:I wouldn't.... (1)

careysb (566113) | more than 3 years ago | (#30540076)

Earlier this year I was looking into NAS drives and on at least two of the manufacturers' product info, they mentioned that some files cannot be copied to their device, e.g. MP3s. Anybody else encounter this?

Re:I wouldn't.... (1)

euxneks (516538) | more than 4 years ago | (#30540396)

Mod parent up. Ext3 doesn't work nicely with Mac OSX (last time I checked anyway) and I hear bad things about NTFS on external drives (besides which, it's a microsoft technology - fuck em)

ZFS, supported equally on your OSes (3, Informative)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 3 years ago | (#30539916)

Via FUSE you'll get consistent features and useability across all 3 OSes. Of course moving zfs drives between those OSes isn't something I've tried, but in theory it should work fine.

Not what your asking for, but Id put a FBSD samba server up with ZFS drives. You can still mount them on other OSes later if need be via FUSE.

Re:ZFS, supported equally on your OSes (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30540062)

Sharing a zpool between different OS installations doesn't work: First of all, you have to be careful when chosing the zpool version you'd like to use (they're not downwards compatible!). While this can still be solved, the zpool must know of which device(s) it consists, and they will vary from machine to machine (particulary when using an external drive, but it doesn't work with internal disks and two different operating systems booting on the same box either).

Re:ZFS, supported equally on your OSes (3, Informative)

Mr. Protocol (73424) | more than 3 years ago | (#30540158)

Sadly, if you create a ZFS tank on a Solaris box and then move the tank physically to a FreeBSD 8.0-RELEASE machine, it won't even see that there's a tank out there. Apparently GPT table layout is different on FreeBSD or something.

Won't stop you from serving ZFS over NFS/Samba/whatever, but you can't move the tank itself around. I know, I tried. Booted FreeBSD on a machine with a Solaris-issue ZFS tank, and it was like it wasn't there. It saw the drives fine, just not the tank.

Re:ZFS, supported equally on your OSes (3, Informative)

Mr. Protocol (73424) | more than 3 years ago | (#30540282)

I should mention that the tank on disk was ZFS v4, so it was not a case of the Solaris tank being of a rev level higher than what FreeBSD could handle.

My setup is similar (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#30539946)

I backup to portable USB hard disks. My backup machine is my eeepc 701. It runs ubuntu. I use this machine because it has fast USB and wifi interfaces. I have written a short shell script which runs on the eeepc. It uses rsync through ssh to copy user data from all the machines in the house to the external disk. I ignore the single windows machine in the house. If its user wants it backed up they can store their files on the server.

I initially tried backing up through a workstation runing netbsd but I found the USB interface to be too slow, by many orders of magnitude.

Re:My setup is similar (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#30540032)

Oh and to answer the question I use ext2 on the external disks. I don't see a need for journalling on a backup device.

NTFS is becoming the lingua franca (4, Informative)

FreelanceWizard (889712) | more than 3 years ago | (#30539956)

Honestly, if FAT32 won't do what you need, NTFS is pretty much where you'll need to go. NTFS-3g [tuxera.com] gives you stable read/write capability on Linux and OS X as a FUSE driver; in fact, many distributions have NTFS-3g in their repositories. There's also native NTFS write support in Snow Leopard if you want to risk turning it on. I personally haven't had any issues with it, but some people have encountered file corruption when using it, so you might want to be wary. It is worth noting, however, that many embedded devices won't read anything other than FAT. If you plan on hooking this drive up to, say, a DVD player to show pictures, NTFS won't work for you.

Like it or not, Microsoft file systems are the lingua franca of file transfer on portable drives these days, merely due to the installed base of Windows computers.

Words of caution (5, Informative)

RenHoek (101570) | more than 3 years ago | (#30539970)

I have ~6TB on external USB drives and I've been doing this for a few years now. I have a few words of caution about NTFS. If you get an USB drive that for example spins down or if you turn your USB drive off without properly dismounting it (or if Windows crashes), you might see this line:

Delayed write failed!

And on two occasions that meant that Windows fucked up the file allocation table or whatever it's called under NTFS and I lost the _entire_ disk.

Windows loves getting its fingers into that table whenever you mount a USB filesystem. It's not like it tries to keep its write cache empty. Nooo.. every file access needs to be continuously recorded in that thing.

Anyway, be careful when you use NTFS on a USB drive. Alternatively use EXT3, which you can still mount under Windows using:

http://www.ext2fsd.com/ [ext2fsd.com]

(Note that these experiences are under Windows XP, I have no clue if Vista or 7 does any better, I assume not.)

Re:Words of caution (2)

Hamsterdan (815291) | more than 3 years ago | (#30540150)

Weird, because on both XP and 7 (on two different machines), the external USB drives are set for quick removal by default (meaning cache is disabled by default).

Re:Words of caution (3, Informative)

compro01 (777531) | more than 3 years ago | (#30540302)

Turn off write caching for the drive and this problem goes away. It's supposed to be off by default (at least on removable drives, but some IDE/SATA-to-USB bridges show up as normal fixed drives rather than removable for whatever reason), but I've found it seems to turn itself on for whatever stupid reason.

Re: Turn off write caching! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30540324)

Make sure you have write cache disabled! There's even a warning in Windows that having write cache on will cause data loss in this kind of case. I have it off and I've never encountered this issue. It should be set to disabled by default.

Re:Words of caution (1)

euxneks (516538) | more than 4 years ago | (#30540372)

However, it's a bitch to get ext3 mounted on OSX. - it would be better to just do something like was suggested by other posters, a freeNAS or freeBSD setup and share the drives over the network.

network it (3, Interesting)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 3 years ago | (#30539974)

I realize that there will always be some compatibility problems with whatever I end up with.

Not if you use a network filesystem, such as Samba and NFS for the Windows and MacOS machines. Then on the Linux fileserver side, use whatever filesystem you want, and any OS can talk to that server.

Re:network it (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#30540010)

You think there are no compatibility problems between a Linux fileserver running Samba and NFS, and a Windows machine?

First of all, the stock NFS implementation available in 2003 R2 doesn't work as well as you might imagine...

And Windows clients frequently have compatibility issues with Samba servers all the time, especially when Microsoft releases updates to the client software. Esp. when it comes to things like domain membership, and file permission.

That said, the compatibility snags are minor compared to raw filesystem compatibility across multiple OSes.

Re:network it (2, Interesting)

zmollusc (763634) | more than 3 years ago | (#30540178)

I have been using freenas on old boxes aggregating old disks ( I always want to get every last hour of use out of hardware before throwing it away) for a few years now and I find that the windows clients (98/2000/XP/Vista) work really well, much better than ubuntu samba. Thus i use nfs sharing for linux and smb for windows from the same freenas.
I am rather crap at setting up samba and the freenas makes it all nice and simple for numpties like me.

FreeBSD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30539984)

A cheap box running FreeBSD with ZFS, NFS and Samba.

NTFS (1)

goatherder23 (1189859) | more than 3 years ago | (#30539990)

I use NTFS on mine.

Windows obviously works, linux works well with NTFS-3G and I believe you can get NTFS-3G to work in OS X via macfuse.

FAT32 (1)

greymond (539980) | more than 3 years ago | (#30540006)

You want something that will be read by your Linux, Windows and OS X machines? um, only one option I can see and thats FAT32. Any of their own systems, such as NTFS, get you only browsable directories by one or two of the other boxes.

I have a few suggestions (2, Interesting)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#30540100)

If proprietary filesystems are on the table, how about VxFS [wikipedia.org] ?

Another possibility is to use FAT with cross-platform backup software. Maybe you don't need a filesystem at all: if this really is for backups... why not just create lots of extended partitions on the device and use TAR ?

AKA tar cf /dev/sdbXX -V 'VOLUME_A' /backup

That's crude and hard to keep organized, but also effective. Also, Some proprietary backup products that will work on a FAT filesystem, and not require large file support, even to backup large files

Or utilize a tool such as WINRAR that allows you to "split" a RAR file across multiple archives in chunks of a certain size, then store these files on a FAT filesystem.

FAT is the most cross-platform, oldest. But has known issues with fragmentation, and lack of journaling, effects reliability.

You could divide your backup volume into 2 partitions: one DOS/FAT partition with the bootable image and files required to 'load a virtual machine' that can see the files on the other partition in the preferred data format such as ZFS or FFS (e.g. pre-allocated eager zeroed thick VMware VMDK with 'split into 2gb files' enabled).

Then you just make sure the system you plug the drive into can boot a VM, with your "backup/file access environment"

Shocking (1)

Zoidbot (1194453) | more than 3 years ago | (#30540108)

It's a shocking bad state to be in in 2010... Something needs sorting. You can try UDF, but there are so many revisions, finding one that works for everything is a challenge too.

Tape (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#30540142)

I've found tapes to be brilliant for backups, especially if you want to do a regular backup weekly or monthly and have access to several backups from the past. Granted, it is very expensive for an individual or family, I've only had good experiences with it.

What about a backup server? (3, Interesting)

mlts (1038732) | more than 3 years ago | (#30540174)

As an alternative to an external disk that goes to multiple machines, this might cost some, but perhaps consider a backup server?

The advantages to this setup:

1: The server initiates the backups, and can warn you in case something can't be read.
2: Most backup software stores snapshots, and some deal with the full/incremental/different cycle by using synthetic full backups. This makes restores to a certain point in time pretty easy.
3: More sophisticated backup software allows you to transfer backup sets to another media. This way, you just plug in a drive, do a transfer, and you have an offsite archive.
4: If one of the backup client machines gets hacked or malware installed, existing data stored on backup media cannot be altered.

The disadvantages:

1: You will need an active computer which is significantly more expensive than a hard disk.
2: Amanda/Zmanda for open source, Retrospect, Backup Exec, for commercial. The software costs a hefty chunk of change.
3: You have to make extremely sure that the backup server box is locked down tight. If someone compromises your backup server, they got data of every box you have. If you can, perhaps consider buying a router to put the backup server behind and only allowing the vital ports incoming.
4: Backup servers should have some redundancy for stored data. Because there is so much data stored from multiple boxes, a failure of a drive hurts more than on a normal machine.
5: Restoring a machine may vary in difficulty.

Replace the WD TV thing (2, Interesting)

NitroWolf (72977) | more than 3 years ago | (#30540242)

Replace the silly little WD TV Live media player with a mITX system that's about the same size. Install Linux and XBMC and be done with it. You'll have the best possible media player on the planet, as much storage space in any configuration you want and the ability to expand everything when the time comes. No hassle, you'll have constant online backups available and you'll have a killer always-on media center.

IBM's HPFS (1)

Theovon (109752) | more than 3 years ago | (#30540272)

IIRC, NTFS is a descendent of something called HPFS, which is what IBM developed for OS/2. At least as recently as Win2K, Windows would mount and use HPFS partitons, and also I recall that Linux could read/write that as well. Look into that.

Check Tuxera NTFS (2, Informative)

replicant_deckard (447694) | more than 3 years ago | (#30540296)

If you need Linux/Mac/Windows interoperability then we recommend NTFS for both Linux and Mac users. Instead of the old NTFS kernel driver you may want to check our open source NTFS-3G. It has read/write, and tons of options:
http://www.tuxera.com/community/ntfs-3g-advanced/ [tuxera.com]

If you need just high-performance NTFS read/write, this is our offering for Mac users:
http://www.tuxera.com/products/tuxera-ntfs-for-mac/ [tuxera.com]

If you need high-performance for a commercial Linux application or device, you may want to check this:
http://www.tuxera.com/products/tuxera-ntfs-commercial/performance/ [tuxera.com]

Regards,

Mikko Välimäki
CEO, Tuxera Ltd

Why not use a ReadyNAS device (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30540346)

2 disks, redundancy, heck buy a cold spare HD and you will be protected better than two USB drives

FastFileSystem + DirCache (1)

frambris (525874) | more than 4 years ago | (#30540364)

Works just fine on the Amiga...

Ooh, wrong century... sorry

Openfiler anyone? (2, Informative)

lacourem (966180) | more than 4 years ago | (#30540370)

Personally I like Openfiler. It can be picky about the hardware though. With that said, the speed is great, and I can mount iscsi on linux and windows. Has been stable as hell for me to boot.
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