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Ask Slashdot: It's World Backup Day; How Do You Back Up?

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the hope-and-luck dept.

Software 304

MrSeb writes "Today is World Backup Day! The premise is that you back up your computers on March 31, so that you're not an April Fool if your hard drive crashes tomorrow. How do Slashdot users back up? RAID? Multiple RAIDs? If you're in LA, on a fault line, do you keep a redundant copy of your data in another geographic region?"

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RAID is not a backup solution (5, Insightful)

M1FCJ (586251) | about 2 years ago | (#39534405)

Simple. Redundancy backup.

Re:RAID is not a backup solution (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39534443)

Who needs RAID? My hard drive is so large that I just backup my files in a different directory :P

(Note: this is a joke, but sadly, many actually follow this "strategy")

Automated backup of NAS (3, Insightful)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | about 2 years ago | (#39534583)

All of our important files (even the kids' files) are on the server [] . It backs itself up automatically 3 times per week to external USB drives. I rotate the USB backup drives every few weeks. So we need do nothing special today, as the backup works fine.

Re:Automated backup of NAS (5, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 2 years ago | (#39534749)

Hello Kitty [] USB flash drives.

Drop a bunch in the parking lot.

Use Google to get the data in a couple of days. Latency is a bit low, but hell, it's a backup.

Re:RAID is not a backup solution (2)

maxwell demon (590494) | about 2 years ago | (#39534769)

As long as it is not the only strategy, it's actually a good one: It's easy enough to perform it very frequently, protects you against most user mistakes (accidentally overwriting an important file, for example), and allows quick access to the backup.

Re:RAID is not a backup solution (2)

Pieroxy (222434) | about 2 years ago | (#39534873)

Simple. Redundancy backup.

Agreed a 100%. Here is my backup setup:

First, my computer setup:
1. I have a home server that doubles as a NAS on the basement. It has a RAID-5 array for redundancy.
2. I have various other computers, including my own, my SO's and one server at a hosting company.
3. Documents usually sit on my NAS.
4. Documents for which I need an offline access (of sharing with my SO) sit in a Dropbox.
5. Dropbox is also installed on my home server.

My backup plan:
1. My wife and myself have a "button" on our laptops to run the backup to the NAS. I need to make that fully automatic but for now it's manual.
2. I have an old eee-pc in the attic with a 2TB USB drive attached to it. Every day at 1AM is starts scanning all the stuff I want to backup (that includes documents, music, pics, install directory of my servers - web and mail, svn, etc.) from all online computers (that is my home server / NAS and my server hosted). It backs it up incrementally on my 2TB drive. I keep a version for every day for 30 days, then a version every month for 20 month.
3. at 4AM a script runs that copy incrementally the content of the latest backup to a friend of mine which provides me with an SSH access to a 1TB partition. He lives nearby.
4. My friend has an SSH access to my home server and has a 1TB dedicated partition on my RAID-5 array.

If it's not off site it's not a backup ! (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39534409)

It's a raid.

I use... (1)

kikito (971480) | about 2 years ago | (#39534411)

The backup gem( [] ) + an dedicated server + some cron processes.

Re:I use... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39534461)

Amateur. I take polaroids of my platters and store them in a safe deposit box.

Photographic backups (1)

davidwr (791652) | about 2 years ago | (#39534579)

You joke, but photography can be used to back up anything where the data can be seen under normal light.

If you get really up-close, phonographic records and optical media fit the bill. Paper records (think: Microfilm copies), film, and on-film movie soundtracks also fit the bill.

I've even heard of a way to make the bits on 1960s-era magnetic tape visible under certain wavelengths of light.

As for making a "photographic image backup" of my magnetic disks or solid-state disks, well, if it can be done at all, it's probably destructive and definitely inefficient.

Re:Photographic backups (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39534771)

Sadly, I'm old enough (and in the engineering field) to have actually USED Magnaflux. Back in the day, when most of /. was in on the floor screaming for mommy, we used this on tape (and occassionly disk) to check for missing gaps (or tracks). Great fun to play with. Originally it was kinda distructive, since you could wipe the fluid off but it left a residue, but now they have non-destructive toys for this. Oh I miss those pre-1MB disk and tape drives. NOT. :)

Back up solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39534419)

I back up my important questions by submitting them to Slashdot. If I ever need to find my question about backups again, it's right here on the front page EVERY DAMNED DAY.

Time Machine (4, Informative)

anethema (99553) | about 2 years ago | (#39534423)

Apple hate aside, time machine is an amazingly excellent backup system.

It backs up to a Netgear Readynas configured in RAID 5. Hourly, daily, weekly backups. I've never lost anything thanks to this great system.

In linux I try to approximate this with BackupPC.

It is really an excellent piece of software, though no where near as refined of course. You pretty much only get daily backups though since the kernel in linux does not track filesystem changes so hourly backups would be very prohibitive.

Re:Time Machine (4, Informative)

Ash-Fox (726320) | about 2 years ago | (#39534453)

You pretty much only get daily backups though since the kernel in linux does not track filesystem changes so hourly backups would be very prohibitive.

inotify(7) []

Re:Time Machine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39534741)

You pretty much only get daily backups though since the kernel in linux does not track filesystem changes so hourly backups would be very prohibitive.

inotify(7) []

inotify only lets you add a watch for a single directory. Watching an entire tree, or even the whole file-system, can be done but is quite painful to do at the application layer. It is useful for a program to watch its own private directory of configuration files (for example), but not so useful for a "tell me everything that changed in the file-system in the last hour" case. The application has to manage watches as directories are added, deleted, or moved around. There are only a finite number of watches available, so it may not even be possible to watch the whole file-system without mucking around with max_user_watches.

An API like gimme_filesystem_changes_since_i_last_checked() is the kind of thing needed for an sane incremental backup program. I suspect Time Machine would do something like this (don't know for sure, since I'm a Linux guy...)

Re:Time Machine (4, Informative)

jo_ham (604554) | about 2 years ago | (#39534589)

I'll second this. I use Time Machine too. I don't have any fancy NAS box for it (due to budget mostly) - I just use an external firewire disk right now, and it has been used once due to a full internal drive failure (restoring the iMac back to the state it was in an hour before the failure) as well as the occasional single file recovery.

Most back up systems work well for full system recovery - Time Machine is not unique there - but it's the single file recovery tool that really makes it shine. It's very simple and intuitive to use.

It is totally "hands off" though - you have to trust that it actually is doing what you tell it to, beyond the menu item that gives you a summary of what it's up to (total being backed up at that moment, last backup time etc). It doesn't have a "show me a list of files backed up at x time" feature without the use of third party tools, so people who really want peace of mind may find that annoying.

Re:Time Machine (1)

MacGyver2210 (1053110) | about 2 years ago | (#39534629)

I've never lost anything thanks to this great system.

The real question is have you ever actually needed it?

I can say "I never drove my car into a volcano thanks to my awesome GPS!" but if I was never in danger of driving my car into lava, it would be a pretty pointless statement.

Re:Time Machine (1)

sensationull (889870) | about 2 years ago | (#39534659)

Windows has had Volume Shadow Copy since XP which does the same kind of thing, it just does not have a flashy interface.

Don't forget restore, is just as important. (5, Informative)

goombah99 (560566) | about 2 years ago | (#39534671)

Backup is only half the problem. Restore is the other half. And indeed that's where I've usually had the most problems. The third problem is validating the restore. You always worry that you are either going to overwrite something on the restore target or miss something on the restore source and end up in an inconsistent state.

Time machine is revolutionary because it is so simple and seems to be almost flawless. I've had lots of backup systems over the years including dump 0 but everyone has been plagued with issues that arose when things were off normal. I've cobbled all sorts of things like rsync and cpio but the only thing that comes close to working as flawlessly as time machine is a NetApp.

At work where I can control the remote servers securley on a closed network I am able to use time machine for a remote backup. But at home I don't have a remote server I can target for the remote backup.

TO do a remote bakcup at home I use Crashplan. I looked a lot of competitors like Mosy but settled on crashplan for two killer reasons. The giant problem with all these commercial backups is that while the incremental backups are simple over the net, the restore of a whole hard disk cannot be done over the net. You have to pay them to burn DVDs and send them to you. ANd that assumes you know what time period you want to recover.

  UNlike all the other methods crashplan lets you pick a buddy who runs crash plan and then you can back up your disks to each others computer. If you need to to a massive restore you just drive over to your buddy's house and pick up the drive, bring it home, and restore locally. This also solves the problem of the first dump being too large to send over the net as well. You do it locally then drop the drive off to your buddy.

Brilliant!! plus with crash plan you pay for the app once not monthly.

I've used it for years now and it works very well and it very easy to set up. All your files are encrypted so buddies can't read each other's drives.

The only flaw with crashplan is that it runs in java so you have this instance of java running 24/7 and not to put to fine a point on it: java sucks. I don't know if it is crashplan or other things that run in the JAVA VM but over the week it bloats up to 600MB to 800MB. THe workaround solution is to kill the java VM every few days. Empirically crashplan is robust enough to survive this and restart. But that's a really awful solution.

Re:Time Machine (4, Informative)

digitallife (805599) | about 2 years ago | (#39534717)

I have (and still do) use all sorts of various systems for backups both at home and at work, and Time Machine is by far the best. Completely invisible, automatic and smart. You can turn off your computer mid-backup and it just continues when you turn it back on. It is so much better than the alternatives, I'm surprised how little limelight it gets.

Perhaps just as important as the backups: it has a great UI to access said backups! One click gives access to a file at any date in the past you want.

Re:Time Machine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39534815)

Time Machine is amazing - the easiest restore I have ever done. Using it with Apple's Time Capsule, though is not so amazing. It works great until around month 18 when the thing finally overheats for the last time and burns out. "Server-grade storage" with really poor thermal design.

How Do You Back Up? (5, Funny)

mooingyak (720677) | about 2 years ago | (#39534425)

With a loud beeping noise.

Begging the Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39534431)

No, really, this begs the question. Do you back up? (Captcha is "paranoia". Are you trying to tell me something, Slashdot?)

RAID (5, Insightful)

Ash-Fox (726320) | about 2 years ago | (#39534433)

How do Slashdot users back up? RAID?

Can we moderate this article flamebait?

Re:RAID (1)

Elbart (1233584) | about 2 years ago | (#39534449)

Not under this management, no.

Multiple routes (2)

Alan Shutko (5101) | about 2 years ago | (#39534445)

I currently sync my files across three computers, each of which does a time machine backup. The files are also backed up via Jungledisk to Amazon S3. Occasionally I do full-disk images of things.

Files that would be inconvenient to lose, but which are not irreplaceable, are stored on a Drobo (redundant drive enclosure). This includes, for instance, my music library which could be reripped from CD.

Re:Multiple routes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39534471)

Über nerdy. Perfect for Slashdot.

Re:Multiple routes (1)

safetyinnumbers (1770570) | about 2 years ago | (#39534663)

My process is similar. Rsync from laptops to low-power nettop (or unison for files I like to have synced across machines). I use the -backup option so that old files get archived, not deleted.

From there, the files are copied to external drives and also to S3 using the standard ubuntu backup, dejadup (so cloud backups are encrypted at my end).

The main negatives of my system are that much of the process is still manual and it requires some setup, especially due to encryption. And I don't verify it enough.

rdiff-backup and duplicity (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39534447)

rdiff-backup over ssh to a trusted server in a different country.
duplicity (rdiff-backup's encrypted brother) if the server is not trusted.

Both are network friendly (use rsync algorithm) and support incremental backup by default.

Re:rdiff-backup and duplicity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39534513)


I do complete backups over ssh4096 to 256 trusted servers in alpha centauri every microsecond.

RDiff local, fireproof lockbox in other building (1)

isopropanol (1936936) | about 2 years ago | (#39534667)

I do rdiff-backup of plain files and cp --sparse=always of iSCSI shares and VM images to internal SATA drives in an eSATA cradle. Those drives are stored in a fire and waterproof lockbox in our detached workshop. Given our high ground location (flooding is very unlikely, so is landslides, no underground mines and low sinkhole probability ), anything bad enough to destroy the computers in the house and render the contents of the lockbox unuseable probably is bad enough that I don't care about the data.

At work most of our customers have their heads in the sand... It's like pulling teeth trying to convince them to at least use a USB drive.

Oh yeah, one of those iSCSI shares is a time machine backup... which can be copied to physical disk if a baremetal recovery is required.

Poorly. (2)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | about 2 years ago | (#39534455)

Between 3 active computers I use, there's enough redundancy since they're rarely in the same place. SpiderOak manages absolutely, completely vital stuff (currently my thesis drafts).

But there's no real, constructive and useful pattern to it yet. The problem is less backups and more change management. Keeping copy-on-write sane on Windows is difficult, and migrating my servers XFS partition to ZFS is problematic since I need just tons of storage to do it which I presently can't afford.

The issue is far less "backups" and more "making them meaningful". Backing up is useless if I overwrite the media with the important changes, or it takes forever to dissect a working copy of the data.

cron job (4, Funny)

ILongForDarkness (1134931) | about 2 years ago | (#39534459)

My weekly backups: something like:

0 0 * * 0 /home/me/

#### #####
cp -r home/me/* /dev/null

I haven't missed a backup yet :-)

Re:cron job (1)

i.r.id10t (595143) | about 2 years ago | (#39534693)

Goes pretty quick too...

I use (software) RAID-1 for my /home directory, just reinstall the OS and apps. If my raid totally dies I guess I'm mostly screwed, but truly important stuff like tax returns I keep a copy on a different box (also w/ RAID /home) and a paper copy in a fire resistant safe.

Re:cron job (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39534715)

I do use a cron job for backup, but use 'sync' to an external hard drive every hour and on shutdown. Once a month I make a copy of everything important onto DDS tape.

Re:cron job (3, Funny)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | about 2 years ago | (#39534723)

My weekly backups: something like:
0 0 * * 0 /home/me/

#### #####
cp -r home/me/* /dev/null

You should make a script to match this. Then test it...

ZFS Raidz2 with RSYNC off site on long range wifi (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39534463)

All in the subject!

Crashplan (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39534467)

I have a local repository and also subscribe to crashplan central.

It's brainless and easy.

Dropbox (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39534501)

Any data that's actually valuable is in my Dropbox - so it's "backed up" on 2 of my computers, a work(university) computer and on their "cloud" systems as well.
It's free and protects in almost all disaster scenarios, such as the house burning down, all my computers getting stolen, etc.

All that doesn't fit in Dropbox is just something produced by others. If a disaster strikes and some a music album or computer game that I bought is not recoverable anymore, I'll have no moral regrets in getting a backup copy that some pirate has put online.

Depends (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 2 years ago | (#39534507)

For our personal computers, we use Time Machine - but manually triggered.

For the media server, I've got a second disk and a once-a-day cron job.

Offsite... well, okay we're not really there yet. So we're covered in case of hard drive failure, but not a catastrophic fire.

(I am assuming this question is about home, not about work)

shell script (2)

Ken_g6 (775014) | about 2 years ago | (#39534509)

I basically use this shell script once a week:

bpaths=/some/paths /to/backup
for d in $bpaths ; do
        dout=`echo $d|sed -e "s/^.*\///"`
        echo Backing up $d as $dout
        ionice -c3 rm -f "$drive/bkup/$dout.*z"
        ionice -c3 tar -c "$d" | gzip -c | ionice -c3 openssl aes-256-cbc -salt -out "$drive/bkup/$dout.tgz.aes" -pass pass:"WouldntYouLikeToKnow"

I then copy the data to my USB drive on my keychain if it's plugged in. (Hence the encryption.) I also have a scheduled task on my laptop to copy the data from my desktop the next day.

Re:shell script (4, Funny)

Ken_g6 (775014) | about 2 years ago | (#39534657)

I just noticed I needed quotes around the bpaths variable assignment. Furthermore, my backup script has been broken since January!

Thanks, Slashdot, for making my look at my script!

Re:shell script (4, Informative)

nightfire-unique (253895) | about 2 years ago | (#39534841)

Just a suggestion; you shouldn't delete any backups prior to writing (and possibly verifying) your new backup. Imagine what would happen if your disks failed during your backup. It's more likely than you think; it's a period of intense I/O. I've personally had it happen during raid reconstruction.

You might consider timestamping your backups, and deleting all but the most recent 3 after a successful backup.

Something like:

/bin/ls -1tr "$drive/*.tgz.aes" | head -n -3 | xargs rm "{}" \;

.. should clean up them nicely.

Suspenders AND belt (2)

Mister Mudge (472276) | about 2 years ago | (#39534521)

My house is full of Macs, so I use Time Machine for on-site backup - each machine has its own Time Machine drive dedicated to it. Each machine also runs nightly image backups using SuperDuper onto yet other drives dedicated to that purpose.

All info is also backed up offsite. I use CrashPlan Pro, which backs up over the net to their servers somewhere in the American Midwest (Milwaukee?) - in the event of a fire or a giant sinkhole opening up under my house, I can get the full contents of all my computers shipped to me within a few days on external hard drives.

Re:Suspenders AND belt (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39534865)

I use Time Machine attached to the several Airport Express routers I have scattered about, they're great for diffs and lost files but clunky for bare metal restores which are useful when one of Apple's 'updates' acts up.

I use SuperDuper for those. On my laptop which has an SSD and a 1 TB spinning rust drive, I use SuperDuper to clone a copy of the OS X drive to a partition - if the SSD hoses itself, I can instantly boot off the other drive. Pretty snazzy, I think.

External Hard Drives (1)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | about 2 years ago | (#39534525)

With two copies for redundancy. Don't use cloud solutions because I don't trust them. Well, unless you count mailing shit to myself and using Gmail as a cloud backup solution, anyway.

Let the government back up for you (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about 2 years ago | (#39534527)

Encrypt any important data that you don't want to lose, and keep it close to crazy terrorist rants in plain text files. With all the government snooping going on, in the interests of our security, the government will secretly make backup copies of it for you. Their experts will try to decrypt it, and be baffled by the message hidden in your wedding video.

In case of a disk crash, just ask the government politely to give you a backup copy of your data. They will kindly oblige.


Backups are for the weak ! (4, Insightful)

captain_dope_pants (842414) | about 2 years ago | (#39534529)

Live on the edge guys...

When you boot up in the morning and it takes a little longer than usual, the heart beats a little faster and you think "OMG is the machine going to fail? My data will be gone". Or perhaps there's an electrical storm to liven your day up - "If that thunder gets any closer I might have to shut down the PC, but if lightning hits then everything's toast !".

These scenarios, and many others, all get the blood pumping in fear. If the computer /does/ boot or you /don't/ get toasted by bolts of electricity then the sense of relief is wonderful !

Try it - it's fun ;-)

External Enclosures (1)

SrLnclt (870345) | about 2 years ago | (#39534531)

For personal machines, imaging to an external USB/Firewire HDD is the only way to go. Drives are so large and cheap these days, I've got several of them in a rotation. Using blank optical disks, tape, etc.these days for personal use is just silly. Occasionally use some free online storage or other removable media for small amounts of important things I may be working on at any given point in time.

At the office (small business) someone setup the server for the cloud using Carbonite before I got there. Probably a good idea to have off site storage for business. I may get them an external enclosure to backup occasionally for more redundancy and quicker recovery time if they loose everything.

CrashPlan (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39534539)

Great offsite backup:

For a couple dollars a month it's a great deal.

Why backup anything? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39534545)

You can always download new and better porn from the internet. Everything else of importance can fit on a CDROM.

BackupPC & CrashPlan+ for teh win (1)

JayAEU (33022) | about 2 years ago | (#39534547)

I use a combination of BackupPC and CrashPlan+ Family Unlimited to keep the data on all my systems safe. Works like a charm.

Tahoe LAFS (4, Interesting)

swillden (191260) | about 2 years ago | (#39534551)

I use a secure distributed grid. The software is an open source tool, Tahoe LAFS ( [] ). The grid is composed of ~15 servers contributed by different people all over the world. There are a half dozen servers in various locations in the US, about the same number in Europe, and the remainder in Russia and the Ukraine.

My files are AES256-encrypted on my machine, split into 13 pieces using Solomon-Reed coding, any five of which are sufficient to reconstruct my files, and then those 13 pieces are distributed to the servers in the grid. I run daily backups, but since uploads to the grid are idempotent, only the changed or new files are stored. I also run a bi-weekly "repair" operation which checks all of my files (all versions, from all backup runs) to see if any of their pieces are lost. If so, it reconstructs the missing pieces and deploys them to servers in the grid. The individual servers in the grid are fairly reliable, but problems do happen, so repair is important.

I get about 100 KBps net upload rate, so this isn't a good solution for backing up terabytes, and the occasional "surge" in my data generation (usually caused by a day of heavy photo-taking) often causes my "daily" backup to take a few days to run, but all in all it works very well.

Should my server ever die, I only need two pieces of information to get all of my data back: The grid "introducer" URL, which will allow me to set up a new node connected to the grid, and my root "dircap", which is a ~100-byte string containing the identifier and decryption key for the root directory of my archive. That directory contains the decryption keys for the files and directories it references.

Since this grid is all volunteer-based, the only cost to me for this backup solution is the hardware and bandwidth I provide to my grid (I provide 1 TB of disk and grid usage consumes a fairly small fraction of my Comcast connection), plus the time I spend administering my server and checking to see that my backup and repair processes are running. Oh, and I also contribute (a little) to the Tahoe LAFS project, but that's due to interest, not a requirement.

I'm very, very happy with this solution.

BTW, the grid could use another 20 nodes or so, if anyone is interested. There's a fair amount of trust required of new members to the grid, though, so it might take us a while to vet new members. The trust is required not because other members of the grid might have access to files that are not their own, but we need to verify that new members will behave appropriately -- providing their fair share of storage and bandwidth, and not consuming too much.

Anyone interested should check out the grid's policies and philosophy at: [] . If all of that looks good, join the mailing list, introduce yourself and we'll consider allowing you to join the grid.

ZFS (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39534553)

Ugh.. Apple's Time Machine is complete crap, totally inefficient.

ZFS is where it's at.

Re:ZFS (3, Informative)

zippthorne (748122) | about 2 years ago | (#39534685)

Indeed it is not as efficient as it could be. However, using it is only slightly more complicated than "buy a usb hard drive and plug into computer"

An efficient, totally ideal process that no one actually bothers to use because it's either too complicated, or because it isn't actually licensed for your platform or whatever, is no backup system at all.

Also, ZFS is a filesystem that can be set up to preserve version information. It's not a backup while it's on the same disk....

Re:ZFS (3, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 2 years ago | (#39534881)

I use both. Time Machine back up to a deduplicated RAID-Z volume. When Time Machine backs up a file (e.g. a VM disk image or an 8MB stripe from a sparse image) with only a few small changes, the decuplication kicks in and means it only takes up a couple of blocks.

Backup Questions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39534555)

Hasn't this been covered ad nauseam? Not to troll or anything but it seems like a third of all Ask Slashdot questions are backup questions, and the responses to these cover close to all the special cases.

Re:Backup Questions (1)

PPH (736903) | about 2 years ago | (#39534597)

We figured most people have lost track of the original thread by now. So this is a backup.

Re:Backup Questions (1)

Teun (17872) | about 2 years ago | (#39534753)

Maybe, but since then a flood in Thailand caused a shortage of large HD's and the price of a fifty pounds box of used floppies has dramatically crashed.

So my question is what limit has WinZip for splitting large files over many disks?

Screw that (1)

WindBourne (631190) | about 2 years ago | (#39534561)

I am far more interested in World IPv6 day. We need to get moving over to that.

Multiple places (1)

LilWolf (847434) | about 2 years ago | (#39534567)

Each of my computers has a dedicated external hard drive where I push backups on a regular basis. I have one external hard drive stashed away at my parents where I make an backup of my laptop every time I visit them. My laptop pretty much has all of my important data so it serves its purpose. All the hard drives involved in this are encrypted of course.

On top of that my most important text documents(not necessarily important in the way of having personal information, but a lot of work put into) are backed up to Ubuntu One as well as Wuala.

Given how infrequently a lot of my data changes, I find the backups adequate.

Thumbdrive (2)

tomhath (637240) | about 2 years ago | (#39534569)

Think through what you're backing up and why. For most people a thumbdrive should be sufficient for personal data; software can be reinstalled as needed. If you have more data than will fit on a thumbdrive you need to look at what's important.

Really large volumes of data almost always are static; usually music, eBooks, or video which can just be backed up once on a DVD and put away. No need to keep copying that stuff over and over.

Backing up software projects is another issue. A remote versioning site is best. Working in Java you'll need all the space you can afford; for a language like Python an old floppy drive is sufficient.

RAID 5 + external hard drive (1)

Sgs-Cruz (526085) | about 2 years ago | (#39534605)

I use just a three-level hierarchy:

1. Photos and documents are on my RAID-5 array (4 × 1 TB Hitachi enterprise drives) in my desktop, backed up occasionally (every month or so) to a Toshiba 1 TB eSATA external drive sitting on my desk

2. Music, movies, TV shows, are on the RAID-5 array, not backed up

3. Windows and programs are on my 80 GB SSD, not backed up.

So I'm not protected at all against my house burning down, but this has worked for me for the past 10 years. (For my old system, which ran 2003–2010, it was a WD Raptor, not an SSD. And the RAID 5 was 4 × 200 GB.)

Areca (1)

Max Threshold (540114) | about 2 years ago | (#39534611)

I really like Areca Backup. It has a fairly straightforward GUI and you can easily back up groups of files to different backup locations or media. If you run a differential or incremental backup, the GUI presents a "logical view" of that backup against the last full backup or series of backups. Now, if only I could find some easy way to tag and organize 20,000 mp3s...

More important (3, Insightful)

elrick_the_brave (160509) | about 2 years ago | (#39534615)

World backup day? How about world test your restore day? All the backups in the world don't mean anything unless you test your restores and know your data.

Re:More important (2)

pclminion (145572) | about 2 years ago | (#39534743)

So, how does a home user test the restore? Seems like chicken-and-egg. To test the restore I need to wipe the drive. To wipe the drive I better have a working backup. To know I've got a working backup I need to... test the restore?

The Tao of Backup (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39534631)

Killthre... I mean The Tao of Backup []

My backup schedule (1)

rikkards (98006) | about 2 years ago | (#39534641)

Mon, wed Fri: Ghost Backup of OS and C: drive to a separate drive
Tue, Thu: filecopy of all required files (Pics, mp3s, important data to same separate drive
Daily scheduled task that runs and will mirror said separate drive to another drive that is mounted as Y:. This drive is stored at work and is fully encrypted using truecrypt. Usually bring it home on Mondays but if I forget, it will automatically run any other day

rsnapshot (5, Informative)

Wagoo (260866) | about 2 years ago | (#39534661)

rsnapshot [] seems to work pretty well for incremental rsync'd backups for me. It uses symlinks to maintain the older snapshots, to save on total filesystem usage. It can do rsync over ssh for backing up remote servers/pushing local vital data to a safe remote location.

Local backup server uses Linux software RAID for good measure (5x1TB RAID 5 + 10x2TB RAID 6).

Backups - and It's also Earth Hour .. Day. (1)

QuasiSteve (2042606) | about 2 years ago | (#39534683)

It's also the day of Earth Hour - a day on which, for one hour, people around the world turn off the lights. []
I wonder how many here personally partake.


As for backing up goes, I'll just re-paste here what I said in a recent other Ask Slashdot question:

It's not really 'managing' my data.. it's a storage/backup solution. The difference is that if I 'managed' my data, I wouldn't have tens of thousands of digital camera photos in a bunch of folders with meaningless names, but just a few that are actually worth saving to me. It's not that I'm saving all the others for future generations either, I just don't have the energy to go through so many photos and delete all but the best (the very best I've already shared anyway).

But if it's just storage/backup...
1. Every write made to the main HDD is mirrored via a mirroring RAID setup. Pure mirroring, I don't want to deal with RAID levels that use parity/etc. that may save some space but are a PITA to rebuild (and must be rebuilt - a simple mirrored HDD mounts just fine when taken out of the RAID).

2. Files are written to a versioning filesystem, so that if I delete something that I later regret, I can get an older version back (presuming things didn't run out of space and it had to be overwritten with new data).

3. Files saved to a specific area are further synced with a cloud storage solution. These are basically files that I need to be able to access from any location at any time (short of the cloud hoster folding/etc.) asap in case of an emergency. There's very few files that qualify, so bandwidth and monthly caps aren't an issue. I did upload about half a GiB worth initially, though.

4. Every night the computer does a differential backup to an external, also mirrored, HDD, over the network. This is a set that is in a completely different area of the house, so if I manage to trip and splash water all over everything here, the others are fine.

5. Every 2 weeks (used to be weekly) I bring one of the HDDs in the mirroring set in the other room to an off-site location (basically a storage locker). From that off-site location I bring back another HDD and put that into the RAID, and force an update of that HDD from the other one.

So -if- one of my main HDDs dies, there's always the other one. If they both manage to die at the same time, I've still got a daily backup in another room. If that dies, that has another one. If those both die, I still have a 2-weekly backup in an offsite location. If that one's dead as well (what are the odds??), then all my most important stuff is also in the cloud. If that cloud storage solution goes belly-up at the same time and data can't be retrieved? Well, I'm screwed. But life does go on - people whose houses burn down often don't have such a rigorous backup method in place, and they pick up again as well.

That said...
6. Of very important photos, I've got prints (a Kodak booth does better than your home inkjet) or even negatives (the better photography stores can point you in the right direction for that). Of very important documents, I've got print-outs (laserjet). Of very important video? Nothing. Of very important (music) recordings? Also nothing. I have no such 'very important' of the latter two - but I think you get the idea: I would have gotten those transferred to film and/or tape. The reason is that those can easily be seen by human eyes or played back for human interpretation - digital data not so much.

Re:Backups - and It's also Earth Hour .. Day. (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | about 2 years ago | (#39534839)

Yeah, it's the day where you switch off electricity to save power while your computer is busy overwriting the old backup with the new one. ;-)

Backing up as we speak (1)

travisco_nabisco (817002) | about 2 years ago | (#39534689)

My solution is mirroring data from the computer to a NAS with RAID, then a harddrive I take offsite with all the impossible/hard to replace data.

Ironically a Harddrive in my NAS died two days ago, so I have had to do a rebuild and as a result bought a new external hard drive that is big enough for all the data, even the easy to replace data. So currently my NAS, which rebuilt the array successfully is copying all of its data to a new external harddrive.

Free Backups! (2)

Tablizer (95088) | about 2 years ago | (#39534699)

Chinese espionage hackers do it all for us free. They copy our stuff over to their side. It's as off-site as you can get.

RSync/SSHFS/EncFS (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | about 2 years ago | (#39534701)

For laptops, I use a scheduled rsync to a central server mounted using sshfs. For offsite, an rsync to an EncFS filesystem on a portable drive. If bandwidth limits ever get reasonable, I'll switch to using DropBox or SpiderOak, but the bandwidth limitations remove that as a solution for all but important data.

Datasette (1)

burni2 (1643061) | about 2 years ago | (#39534703)

Datasette, compact cassette .. works great, never lost a program.

I use dropbox (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39534721)

I just put all my stuff there. Rest, like music, movies, e-book and adult films I can just re-download

I use vitalEsafe's shadowSafe BDR (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39534725)

I use vitalEsafe's shadowSafe ( product. Local AND offsite block-level (not file level) complete machine point-in-time backups. Uses Microsoft Volume Shadowing Services, so you can make "hot" backups (backups while running) of MS SQL, MS Exchage, MS SharePoint, Oracle, Pervasive databases. If I have a catastrophic failure, they will ship my backups to me on external drive. Backups can be restored to bare metal (no operating system required) and can be restored to different hardware. 200GB restore to empty machine takes approximately 1.5 hours. vitalEsafe supplies external backup hardware, all software, remote/onsite installation, secure offsite storage, and daily monitoring of my backups. It isn't cheap, but it is a very comprehensive product that covers all the bases.

Full disclosure: I'm the CTO for vitalEsafe so I designed and very much believe in our product.

How I backup (1)

chr1st1anSoldier (2598085) | about 2 years ago | (#39534727)

I put the car in reverse, check my mirrors, then floor it.

AMANDA and Windows Backup (2)

D'Arque Bishop (84624) | about 2 years ago | (#39534729)

I have two systems I use.

For my servers, I use AMANDA [] with encrypted virtual tapes to do nightly backups. Shortly after the backups run, cron calls a shell script in order to copy the virtual tapes to an offsite location via rsync.

For my desktop PC, I don't need to back up as often, so I do a weekly backup via Windows Backup to a TrueCrypt volume on an external hard drive. When it's not being used to back up my PC, I keep the external hard drive at my office. I figure if something happens where both my office and home are destroyed, then at that moment I've got bigger problems to worry about than my data. :-)

Just my $.02...

Weekly local backups (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39534755)

I use Duplicity to do incremental encrypted backups to an old computer that I only keep around for this purpose once a week, or more often if I have data that I really don't want to lose before next saturday. I'm planning to get a second backup disk to keep at a friends house and sync with my local backup once a month or so, but I think I'll wait with that until disk prices are sane again.

Rolling 11's fwiw.. (1)

SuperCharlie (1068072) | about 2 years ago | (#39534765)

I just wanted to throw out a decent rotation system I used for making backups when I had some pretty important data to keep track of.. it works with 11 sets and goes like this.. you get 11 sets of whatever..tapes, drives, thumbs..your media... you label them mon, tue, wed, thu, fri1, fri2, fri3, month1, month2, month3, month4 (we didnt do weekends.) The rotation is pretty obvious..and allows you to go back any day this week, any friday of the month and any month for 4 months. We did this so we could roll back far enough to be sure if we started copying corrupt files or whatever we could have a good clean point to recover from. You can of course add sat and sun and plop months on the end for longer times.. but we never needed to roll back farther than 4 months.

mozy (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | about 2 years ago | (#39534777)

very little is worth backing up. That which is gets uploaded.

GoodSync (1)

fongaboo (813253) | about 2 years ago | (#39534779)

I cannot praise this versatile little free* program more. I have given up on personal RAID. I can't afford RAID 5, which is the only RAID I might feel assurance from. I started playing with the original consumer Promise cards and dealt with the headaches. Even the Medea RAID 5 units I used at work became a hassle. I learned the hard way not to trust these plug-and-play RAID 1 units offered by LaCie and the like. I had one where the controller circuitry failed, but both internal drives (and ostensibly the data on them) were intact... But they were housed in an proprietary format, so I had no way to get the data off even if i pulled the drives out. I sent it back to LaCie and even though they noted that it was just the controller they replaced, they still nicely formatted the volume, destroying all data. I have since taken too keeping two physical drives of the same size in separate enclosures and have them incrementally update one to the other nightly. The app I use to do this is GoodSync (Win/Mac). It's really low-profile/low-overhead and very configurable. My nightly updates are just a simple A->B incremental job. But I also have a job that connects to my colo server via SFTP as a midpoint, effectively allowing me to run my own Dropbox-style file locker. For this it has the ability to handshake with the server whenever any file changes in the specified local folder. I then run the client on multiple machines. Additionally it has ability to work with commercial cloud services, such as Azure and Amazon, but I haven't tried those. *There is a pay-version, but I haven't found anything yet that I couldn't do with the free version.

backups and backups of backups (1)

ballyhoo (158910) | about 2 years ago | (#39534781)

zfs or hardware raid on all servers. bacula for all MS windows systems and all servers which are switched on most of the time. Apple Time Capsules for all the macs. regular backups of all phones. auto-sync of all address-book and calendar info over icloud.

as you ask, why yes, i have lost data in the past due to lack of backups. ain't gonna happen again.


Crashplan (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39534789)

I use Crashplan, my home computers backup to a external hooked to a netbook in the the basement, the netbook backups music and media to my desktop.. The critical data, like photos and client work also gets backed up to a bare sata drive in a dock that I take to my office on a weekly basis. So even if my house gets toasted or flooded at least I am no missing much. I wanted to use crashplan's cloud service, but it would take forever to get all my data offsite.

Back up system (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39534797)

I have an old (Athlon 900MHz) spare computer which boots each night at 3pm and grabs the data to a mirrored LVM volume. Once it's done it waits another 15min then shuts down. Munin tracks the SMART values and alerts me if a disc is failing. The system itself supports 6 SATA-drives that are easily swappable.

time machine + rsync = win win (1)

v1 (525388) | about 2 years ago | (#39534803)

I've been using rsync to back up 1/2 dozen machines here for some time now. Great for both local and remote (internet) backups. My mom's imac is 300 miles away. She has a little 500gb firewire drive locally backing up with time machine, which gives her instant recovery as well as application-spicific recalls (get that email back or that address book card back easily for example) as well as versions. Then a custom made cronjob to rsync to my server here runs nightly for offsite in case of fire/theft/etc. That's really the best of both worlds there, highly recommended. No recurring costs.

I just don't backup (1)

Gorobei (127755) | about 2 years ago | (#39534805)

Seriously, who cares about what happened 5 years ago?

When did you last look at that porn clip you downloaded in 2002? How many emails do you really need to keep for more than a month? Would Battlezone 2 even run anymore if you tried it?

When did you last get audited by the IRS? Screw that, my accountant should have copies anyway, and most info was electronically reported anyway.

Between the cloud, my iPhone, 4 synced home boxes, a drop box for some important stuff, Google, I can recover anything non-trivial.

Reverse (1)

Kneo24 (688412) | about 2 years ago | (#39534811)

I back up by putting my car in reverse. Or by walking backwards. Duh.

Time Machine - it just works (1)

derfla8 (195731) | about 2 years ago | (#39534825)

Time Machine to a 4 TB drive on my main computer. For my wife's machine and my laptops, Time Machine to a 2TB Time Capsule. Haters can hate, it just works.

3 layers (1)

headhot (137860) | about 2 years ago | (#39534827)

Rsync to a local Drobo with Drobo RAID, a Local fiber channel array with RAID 5, and to a remote NAS with RAID 5, every night.

Non Sequitur (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39534837)

For my employers: There's a DFS off site copy. There's a nightly Rsync copy to a standby system. Then the nightly tape job runs. And, I'm in the process of shoehorning a nightly Acronis imaging into the mix.

At home: Three PCs no backups. And, I just suffered a hard drive failure and total loss on one of them... Perhaps I should setup the NAS I've been contemplating for the past few years.

For Linux - Back in Time (1)

tangent3 (449222) | about 2 years ago | (#39534849)

It's like the Linux version of Flyback or Timevault. []

Multiple HDs w/Limited Data (1)

BoRegardless (721219) | about 2 years ago | (#39534851)

For a single computer only, it can be fairly inexpensive with 2-3 TB HDs.

1) Clone the entire working drive once every one - two weeks, so I can go back to a working OS if the OS is corrupted as that takes a day to reinstall all OS, Apps & Utilities and migrate data back. Hence, this is a recovery point for the entire HD on the time period one picks.

With cheap 2-3 TB hard drives, one could actually clone the HD every day for a lot of people & then overwrite such that you had a complete 2 weeks of cloned HD contents that continually gets overwritten.

2) Then, daily backups of changed files to a 2-3TB HD that gets swapped with a HD kept in a different location.

My system (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39534869)

I back up everything about once every 2 month to a RAID external drive. I also keep extra copies of really important stuff on a flash drive, REALLY important stuff (as in I couldn't function without (so mostly video game save files...)) are backed up AGAIN in a hidden folder on a computer at a family members house. Also about every 2 years or so I back up everything again, wipe my computers built in drive, and replace it, and then put everything back.

The backup drive has another bonus, I never delete my backups from it (I've heard that can cause drives to go bad faster) so if I ever want to check an old version of a file, I can just find the month I want and open it.

The chances of me losing anything are almost zero.

bup + ssh (1)

puhuri (701880) | about 2 years ago | (#39534883)

Earlier I used backup2l to first make local backup and then rsync to server. The only problem was it was wasting disk space on each host, specially laptops.

Recently I moved to bup [] , provides more efficient backups with very small local storage. Now I have in every laptop, desktop and my email server (all running either Debian or Ubuntu) in /etc/cron.daily/bup-backup:

echo Backup starting at $(hostname) $(date)
bup index -u /var/mail /home /var/lib/mysql
bup save -r -n $(hostname) /var/mail /home /var/lib/mysql
echo Backup ending at $(hostname) $(date)

Because I do not want remote root logins on my file server at home, there is a need for small tweak in /root/.ssh/config:

User bupups
Compression yes

Now as each system backups to the same bup archive, deduplication is taken care automagically.

Each month I rsync /home/bupups to external USB drive that is stored in different place in case of fire or other mishap it will be protected. At some point I've considered installing a low-power server at my father-on-law place for automated off-site backups; will keep the off-line copy in any case.

Of course, I do not much care about taking backups from movies, music - expect maybe some kids love; but they are already on some USB drive to entertain them while travelling...

To a time capsule and external drive. (1)

DynamoJoe (879038) | about 2 years ago | (#39534885)

The machines needing backup do so wirelessly to a Time Capsule whenver they're connected. I also do a full image to an external hard drive every once in a while (I lie to myself and say it's biweekly but it's really more like bi-whenever-I-remember-it). Even with the recent increase in HD prices there's no real excuse to not have backups.

DD Backup - Fastest Recovery in Town (2)

c_oflynn (649487) | about 2 years ago | (#39534897)

My backup for a multi-boot laptop that other solutions (e.g.: running from one OS) don't seem to work for:

1) Buy a second copy of your main hard-drive + USB Interface (SATA enclosure)
2) Boot Linux on computer using CD
3) Use dd to mirror entire HD to external HD. Run before you go to bed, setup to shutdown when done. Save stdout/stderr somewhere like a USB flash drive.
4) Wakeup to a backup.

The advantage of this is when your hard drive fails, recovery is about 60 seconds away. Swap out one hard drive and you are done. Or you can recover specific files by just using the backup HD like a normal external HD, since everything is just under normal filesystems. If you'll be on business for a while take your second hard-drive with you (try to store somewhere it won't get stolen with laptop).

I actually keep two mirrors, partially because of travel and wanting to have one backup with me. This also makes sure that if your computer fails half-way through doing the mirror due to a power surge it doesn't fry your original + mirror. Keep one at a friends house or similar.

Hard Disk then into the Microwave (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39534899)

Into the Microwave in case of an EMP from the Sun? The Faraday cage will protect the drives.... :)

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