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Ask Slashdot: Simple Backups To a Neighbor?

timothy posted about 5 months ago | from the good-fences-make-lousy-backup-devices dept.

Data Storage 285

First time accepted submitter renzema writes "I'm looking for a way to do near-site backups — backups that are not on my physical property, but with a hard drive still accessible should I need to do a restore (let's face it — this is where cloud backup services are really weak — 1 TB at 3-4mb downloads just doesn't cut it). I've tried crashplan, but that requires that someone has a computer on all the time and they don't ship hard drives to Sweden. What I want is to be able to back up my Windows and Mac to both a local disk and to a disk that I own that is not on site. I don't want a computer running 24x7 to support this — just a router or NAS. I would even be happy with a local disk that is somehow mirrored to a remote location. I haven't found anything out there that makes this simple. Any ideas?" What, besides "walk over a disk once in a while," would you advise?

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Colo? (1)

Raven42rac (448205) | about 5 months ago | (#45320337)

A colocation center? Do the initial backup locally then use something to replicate changes in the future?

carbon copy cloner. (2)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about 5 months ago | (#45320413)

I would use carbon copy cloner for the mac. as long as the remote drive appears mounted on your computer every once and a while, it will do the backup. You can configure it to automatically fire when the drive is mounted (also after the designated time period), so the not-always-on thing isn't an issue.

Also not sure about the low-bandwidth restore. maybe you walk over for that one instance. Hopefully it's rare!

Re:Colo? (2)

Frobnicator (565869) | about 5 months ago | (#45320671)

Agreed, since the original comment specifies "a site I own" then colo is really the only one that meets that requirement.

If he were to relax the requirements a bit, there are many good cloud backup services out there that probably meet everything except the ownership requirement.

Most cloud backup companies will be happy to dump a copy to disk and send the package through overnight shipping, or 2nd day, or whatever shipment method you are willing to pay for. You will need to pay for the disk and the shipping and a small fee, but it is much faster than trying to recover via download.

You would need to do the same thing with a colo backup, the only real difference is you are trusting a third party to do all the work. It generally works better that way because they specialize in backup and you are just a single client, so they can do it much cheaper than you could with colo.

Contact your potential online backup company. Ask about the costs to get a copy of the backed-up data shipped to you. The good companies do that kind of recovery disk shipments all the time.

How close? Within WiFi range? (2, Interesting)

toygeek (473120) | about 5 months ago | (#45320343)

If so, any remotely accessible computer (*nix box) with a wifi card will work.

Re:How close? Within WiFi range? (1)

BestNicksRTaken (582194) | about 5 months ago | (#45320403)

if its within wifi range should his house burns down, so will his backup box, and multi-terrabyte backup over wifi won't be fun.

realistically an esata enclosure stored a bit further away than a neighbour is the best way to go (maybe at work?) kept up to date with rsync (locally not over t'internet).

this question has been asked countless times before. search box is top left.

Re:How close? Within WiFi range? (2, Interesting)

rwa2 (4391) | about 5 months ago | (#45320461)

Yeah, better to just have a friend across the country, buy them a hard disk for their server, and swap rsync cron jobs.

Re:How close? Within WiFi range? (4, Interesting)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 5 months ago | (#45320597)

Network speed was identified as a problem by the questioner. With a neighbour, perhaps on the opposite site of the street where a fire is unlikely to spread, a fast wifi link could be used.

On "pro" versions of Windows you can back up automatically to any network drive, including a low end low cost NAS. Doesn't Crashplan support backup to your own NAS as well as their cloud?

Re:How close? Within WiFi range? (1)

rwa2 (4391) | about 5 months ago | (#45320731)

I've sync'd a couple GB per night. Used bandwidth limiting option to avoid maxing out their DSL pipe. Can get caught up on most of my critical stuff over the course of a week or so. Enough for most important documents... and maybe my mp3 collection to boot. I don't bother mirroring my pr0n. Maybe it won't keep up with RAW camera files and video of my crotchfruit, but I generally don't care about those until I spend time to post-process the good ones and upload them to Google+ or GooTube anyway..

Re:How close? Within WiFi range? (1)

BestNicksRTaken (582194) | about 5 months ago | (#45320743)

ok, when someone invents fast wifi we'll look at this again. personally i'll stick with 300mbps esata and walk across the street.

802.11n is plenty fast (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45320773)

If it's the neighbor's house, a couple of 802.11n panel antennas pointed at each other should be sufficient. Even with 3 terabytes worth of data and half-of-advertised-speeds, a full backup is only 2-3 hours...and that's plenty for a nightly backup.

Make that 802.11*AC* (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45320859)

802.11ac offers gigabit wifi capability with a sufficient setup [wikipedia.org]. We're talking some serious antennae arrangements, but even mutltiple Terabyte drives should be back-upable with 802.11ac and line-of-sight situations (like to a neighbor's house).

It's the goverments fault (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45320353)

Your inability to find a workable solution to your problem is the goverments fault.

Ron Paul 2016!

Re:It's the goverments fault (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45320421)

We need to improve the government so they don't make these faults any more. Throw more money at the problem. Raise taxes. That's should make it better.

Ron Paul 2016 ... so the Republicans lose half their base!

Re:It's the goverments fault (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45320555)

Typical statist idiot. Read a fucking economics textbook you moron.

Ron Paul 2016!

External Wifi Antenna (4, Informative)

SirSmiley (845591) | about 5 months ago | (#45320355)

A neighbour? Why not hook up an external panel antenna to the side of your place aimed at their place and have a NAS with wifi on it (may need external antenna for your NAS as well but maybe not). Then you dont even have any wires to worry about and its still on your network...encrypt the NAS in case of possible break and enters..

Re:External Wifi Antenna (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45320407)

I'd say something along these lines. The only problem I can see is that most consumer-grade NAS solutions can be kind of sketchy. They often are some kind of cheapass proprietary housing with a couple regular HDD's in some oddball file system, so it can be problematic to pull data off of them if (when) the housing fails on you. You also don't usually have any RAID options or other redundancy on them, device management is usually kind of lame, encryption non-existent, and even when they are advertised as being (for example) gig capable, they rarely can actually handle much sustained read/write at max throughput.


I'd say look for a little bit more expensive solution aimed more at SOHO and mid-sized businesses where you have a properly managed chassis. Or grab a power efficient desktop (hell, go raspberry pi if you like to tinker) and toss a linux distro on it. If you don't need to do a lot of backup, you can consider some type of 'wake on LAN' setup as well. That will also give you the option of using a variety of backup medium, from internal SDD and HDD in various RAID configurations to external HDD if you desire, and can do things like encryption, backup scheduling, etc.

Cobian Backup (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45320357)

Setup a ftp server, through a virtual machine if I was paranoid. Use Cobian Backup a great free back up program.

I personally use it to encrypt and save my projects directory

rsync? (3, Informative)

Giant Electronic Bra (1229876) | about 5 months ago | (#45320361)

I mean that would fit the bill in terms of being a fairly easy automatic setup. Just rsync your machine to the remote backup at midnight every day, or you can even do it ever hour or ever 5 minutes if you want. Obviously any scheme can run into "you have too much data to deal with RIGHT NOW" but there's no cure for that. I guess the other option is sneakernet. You might swing something with a neighbor that involves using wireless. If the guy next door can pick up the signal from your router you could locate a NAS box in his place, etc. This of course presumes you really trust your neighbor...

Re:rsync? (2)

ToasterTester (95180) | about 5 months ago | (#45320517)

We did something similar we got to portable drives that can connect to internet. They have a minimal Linux that we could term into, we then setup a rsync to pull the files from the servers. So no matter where the drives were plugged in if they could get to the internet they could get to our server and rsync files. So three of the company exec's took a drive home so we had multiple backups of key files.

Re:rsync? (1)

ls671 (1122017) | about 5 months ago | (#45320573)

Definitely rsync. I backup 500 GB of data over slow links to remote locations. Granted, it might take you a couple weeks to set the first remote images but after that, it only takes a few minutes to update the images.

Don't forget to use the backup dir options to keep a copy of deleted files or files that have changed. You can deleted them after a while. I delete them after 14 weeks.

Use cigwin and rsync under Windows, for Mac, look at:
https://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/20983/arrsync [macupdate.com]

that's roughly useless without rotation (3, Informative)

raymorris (2726007) | about 5 months ago | (#45320633)

"rsync at midnight". At 8:00 AM, discover that your filesystem got hosed at 10:00 PM, so you now have two copies of garbage.

Do not just sync periodically. Approximately everyone I've seen try that method got screwed in the end. They'd discover that they got rooted two weeks before, they'd overwritten an important file two days before, etc. You must ROTATE and then sync to be doing anything more than pretending that you have a backup.

The attributes of a good backup system:

Backups must be fully automatic, otherwise you'll stop doing them regularly.

Backups should be rotated. A midnight backup is useless if you are hacked at 11:55 PM, or discover a problem 2 days later. You must have access to older backups.

Backups must be offsite. Fires and burglars will take your backup if it is on site.

Backups must be accessible. As OP said, spending two weeks downloading your data isn't acceptable.

Backups must be tested. Our experience with web servers indicates that approximately 60% of backups provided by hosting providers don't actually work when you try to restore them

To meet all of the above requirements, we use an enterprise grade system called Clonebox. Other systems may be more applicable for home use.

Re:that's roughly useless without rotation (5, Insightful)

Giant Electronic Bra (1229876) | about 5 months ago | (#45321071)

While I'm not arguing with your analysis, rsync is still a perfectly valid way to create offsite recovery copies of your filesystem, which is what the OP appears to desire. As ls671 noted, you can also use the backup dir option. You can also backup the remote server in whatever way you wish, which adds another layer. Along with backup dirs you can get a perfectly fine father, grandfather, son recovery set using something as simply as tar (though star will work better). Still rsync by itself will protect you from physical loss of your drive (theft, fire, etc).

The point being, rsync isn't 'useless' at all, even just used on its own, and we really don't know all the other components of the OP's data protection strategy. Obviously we could devise some elaborate plan for him using various tools that would provide for every eventuality. Go ahead and do so. Frankly I assumed he was sophisticated enough based on his question to supply himself with those answers.

Re:that's roughly useless without rotation (3, Informative)

module0000 (882745) | about 5 months ago | (#45321215)

Clonebox is fine for home use...it's not enterprise grade though, please don't represent that it is to the droves of slashdot readers.

This is why Clonebox and similar solutions are not "enterprise grade":
1) no deduplication
2) no media lifecycle management
3) no encryption keys that you control
4) you do not control *where* the data lives

You said "enterprise grade" - reason #4 alone clobbers that assertion.

If you want to get "enterprise grade", please consider backup systems aimed at, well, *enterprises*.

Some examples for you:
1) Bacula (open source, requires an IQ above a demented bee to admin)
2) Symantec Netbackup (expensive, IQ required)
3) Commvault (expensive, minimal IQ required)

Clonebox may work *great* for you and your business - by all means keep using it! Nothing wrong with plugging it either, but please don't plug it as "enterprise grade". Somewhere some new-hire slashdotter may take that as gospel and cost him or herself their job in the future - or at the very least look like foolish in front of their peers when they parrot it.

Still use Crashplan (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45320363)

I use Crashplan - it doesn't need to be on all the time, and your neighbours computer doesn't need to be on all the time (the one that has your USB disk plugged into it).

Crashplan just works!

if walk disk over gets too boring, then (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45320365)

parkour disk over once in a while.

Oh, if I only had a brain... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45320369)

Follow the yellow brick road, moron. You can't ask for "the cloud" and then say you don't want to use "the cloud". Morons like you want Windows without Windows, and are holding back Linux development all over the place.

Re:Oh, if I only had a brain... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45320819)

Not sure what you mean.

Blast Radius? (0)

jddj (1085169) | about 5 months ago | (#45320387)

Aren't you and your neighbor both sitting in the crater of just about anything bigger than a firecracker? I don't think of "next door" as off-site backup. Especially when you're talking burglary as a possible risk - you and neighbor probably have about the same odds of being hit.

Drop an encrypted disk in a safe deposit box at the bank.

Re:Blast Radius? (1)

jonbryce (703250) | about 5 months ago | (#45320785)

But what are the odds of both being hit at the same time? For severe weather events, then obviously correlation will be pretty close to 1, but for burglary, correlation might actually be negative, if the burglar wants to move in, take some stuff, and get out of the area as quickly as possible before being caught, then they will probably pick only one house in the neighbourhood, and if they pick yours, that means they won't pick your neighbours.

Suppose it takes 1 week to recover from a burglary, and the probability of being burgled in any particular week is 1% - that is about 1 burglary every two years which is pretty high. If the correlation between you getting burgled and your neighbour getting burgled is 0, then the probability of both getting burgled in the same week is 0.01% or once every 200 years.

Re:Blast Radius? (1)

jddj (1085169) | about 5 months ago | (#45320981)

I wasn't thinking of burglary as a problem in need of the backup, but instead, your data getting into the hands of a stranger. You're basically doubling your risk of that happening, assuming your link is secure, and your neighbor is solidly honest and has a secure PC.

Instead, you could drop your encrypted disk in a safety deposit box and have physical security, encrypted data-at-rest and no network exposure during the backup process, no need to wonder how secure your neighbor's network/PC is.

Here in Atlanta, we had a 500-year flood at the same time California was experiencing massive wildfires.

Mudslides, earthquakes, floods, tsunamis, neighborhood-flattening gas leaks, the SWAT team trying to take out James DiMaggio/MOVE/David Koresh, or even the dipshit down the street burning leaves in a drought could take out both your houses.

The likelihood is small, but the consequences of failure are large. These are black swans. They don't usually happen...but they don't never happen either.

Y'know what's another huge risk, probably way more likely? Your backup failing. I remember being part of an IT project where an ancient SCA data drive went down on a database server. They had to get a replacement for the legacy hardware from the manufacturer's parts inventory, and spent 36 hours rebuilding the drive from backup tapes before figuring out that the database data itself had never been part of the server backup, because you'd have to disconnect the database to do that.


crashplan might still work (5, Insightful)

j-beda (85386) | about 5 months ago | (#45320397)

Crashplan certainly does the "neighbour backup" quite well, and I think it is smart enough to wait around until both machines are online at the same time to do its magic, if you don't want to have the "destination machine" having to be running 24/7. You can use it to do the initial backup to an external drive and then walk that drive over to the neighbour's place for the subsequent incremental backups. One used to be able to buy a "Crashplan+" license which had a few more features like multiple backup sets for different destinations, but I don't see any way to get that type of license without signing up for a cloud backup subscription. Perhaps if you sign up for a few months and then cancel the cloud backup subscription part, your software might retain the "+" features.

Crashplan encryption/privacy (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45320621)

As an added bonus, Crashplan encrypts the data before it leaves the/your client, and so many privacy concerns can be put the rest.

Most other solutions will not have scrambling of data (e.g., straight rsync), or you're rolling your own protocol/system and so it may not be as secure as you think it is.

Re:crashplan might still work (2)

Enry (630) | about 5 months ago | (#45320821)

Crashplan is really nice on both ends. The client doesn't get in the way of trying to back up, and the server on my linux box barely notices.

I'm backing my wife's laptop and my mother's desktop to the Crashplan cloud along with my basement server as a 'just in case'. It's been working really well so far.

SubjectsInCommentsAreStupid (2)

lesincompetent (2836253) | about 5 months ago | (#45320411)

1) Convince your neighbour to be a part of this;
2) Dig a small trench stretching from your garden to your neighbour's;
3) Lay a properly protected CAT6 ethernet cable;
4) profit?
Should 1) fail, do it surreptitiously.

Re:SubjectsInCommentsAreStupid (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45320591)

i had a neighbour convince me to do something like this.

everything was dandy till he appeared on christmas eve with a repairman trying to fix his gear...

by the 26th his stuff was on the driveway...

Re:SubjectsInCommentsAreStupid (1)

TWX (665546) | about 5 months ago | (#45320761)

If you're crossing utilities rights-of-way with your trench then you could be in trouble without getting a permit from the municipality. You also need to know the actual depth that low-voltage needs to reach (which may be in 2' increments per utility, so you may have to go six or eight feet down to avoid the high-voltage electrical, telephone/cable, and natural gas elevations) and have to spend considerable amounts of money with both properties requiring building permits.

Don't get me wrong, pulling in a 2" or bigger conduit with a couple of copper cables and a multipair fiber is a great solution for both now and future-proofed installations, but it's expensive to start and probably not worth the hassle, even if it turns out that no real permitting is required to do it, especially when one can simply swap between a couple of hard disk drives or removable media or could run a private wireless bridge between locations.

crashplan (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45320427)

You mentioned you tried crashplan, not sure if you looked at it closely enough.

Crashplan has been packaged for NAS type devices.

One of it's capabilities is that you can run a copy of the software on multiple machines, and you can do backups between those machines. You can even do your initial 'seed' backup locally, and then move the hard drive to a remote machine.

I think crashplan can actually do everything you are looking for quite easily.

The only problem I have with crashplan is that it is fairly bloated java and does not deal well with a hard drive which has lots of files on it. Way too many resources used.

Mirrored backups are not necessary (1)

sandytaru (1158959) | about 5 months ago | (#45320431)

I used to be obsessive about having mirrored backups to an external drive. Over the years, I realized that my personal computer is not a business server and doesn't need to be treated like one. So my backup plan keeps only the most critical files in Drop Box, and the less critical stuff (things that can be re-downloaded, re-installed, or remade) gets packed up once a week in Windows backup.

So my suggestion is have two external hard drives for large format media and keep one in a safe deposit box at the bank, and rotate them out any time you need to back up something new (e.g. new install file, new batch of movies, or whatever.) For small files that get updated regularly, like documents or photos, then a cloud solution is still best.

Re:Mirrored backups are not necessary (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45320643)

You had difficulty with potty training, didn't you?

Assuming Next Door (1)

grimthaw (2884377) | about 5 months ago | (#45320437)

Assuming it is a next door neighbor it sounds like something a neighbor and i did during highschool:
-Merge the 2 LANS with a fibre switch at both ends.
http://www.netgear.com.au/business/products/switches/smart-switches/smart-switches/GS110TP.aspx [netgear.com.au]
-Remove the internet account at one property and increase the bandwidth at the other property so there is only one gateway OR statically assign IP addresses for both properties so there are still 2 networks and two gateways
-Put a NAS on both properties with dual LAN cards and multi-home them so that each NAS is on Both networks at the same time.

Re: Assuming Next Door (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45320575)

Jus do like I did.. Simple isc-dhcp-server and use that to assign static IPs and the gateway of each machine. Any "unregistered" devices (for example a guest using wifi at either house) just uses my router which is pushed as the default with the dhcpd client range IPs).

Of course I haven't got around to running the CAT 6 between the houses yet, I'm currently using a wifi bridge. (It's the in-laws I have linked and did so so my niece can watch the movies and what not on my plex server

You can't have it both ways (3, Insightful)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | about 5 months ago | (#45320445)

" I don't want a computer running 24x7 to support this — just a router or NAS"

Routers and NAS Devices are computers that you leave on all the time.

Crash Plan (1)

skavoovie5 (1018244) | about 5 months ago | (#45320457)

Crash Plan is going to be the closest fit, but if you're planning on having any kind of viable backups without a computer on all the time, that's simply not going to happen -- not without having lengthy gaps in your backups. Install CrashPlan on both your computer and neighbor's, work out the details and use the free software to backup. You get the added benefit of encryption, proper monitoring of any and all file changes, and automated backups of changes without you remembering to update. What it sounds like you're envisioning (just a remotely accessible drive you manually maintain and updated) is a recipe for outdated and incomplete backups. Use an automated tool that monitors for changes and backs up those changes regularly.

Some wifi routers have usb ports now (2)

Marrow (195242) | about 5 months ago | (#45320471)

If you can convince a friend to swap out his/her wifi router for a new one with the port you need, then all you need is to hook up a hard drive to the usb port on the back. Put a replacement OS on the router for additional features and you can use rsync over ssh. Since the wifi router will be an always on device, it would make a good backup target. Use dynamic dns or some homegrown ping system to find the router if it changes IP address.
Of course, your friend better stay that way if he has all your data.

Amazon (1)

Cyberax (705495) | about 5 months ago | (#45320481)

Amazon has AWS Import where you can send them your hard drive and they upload it to Amazon S3. They also operate in Europe. It's pretty pricey, though.

A few options (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45320483)

1) If you're having your backups that close why not just put another drive in your computer and sync to that?
2) Buffalo NAS [buffalotech.com]
3) Apple Airport Time Capsule [apple.com]
4) If you want a cheap hackable solution: Raspberry Pi NAS [elinux.org]
5) Any other NAS

Probably the challenging bit is how you will sync to the storage. Here are some options for that:
1) Rsync
2) "Owncloud
3) Unison [upenn.edu]

You'll probably need to wrap a bit of scripting around it.

Re:A few options (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45320497)

Owncloud: http://owncloud.org/

I'm using this solution (1)

dubious_1 (170533) | about 5 months ago | (#45320489)

I have a pair of QNAP NAS boxes. One at the home office and one at the commercial office. Each location backs up the local machines to the respective NAS and each night the 2 NAS boxes sync to each other. I use encrypted backups for all sensitive data. This has been working well for two years so far.
Occasionally when I had an extended network outage at my office I physically transferred that NAS to the house to sync at gigabit speeds.
On a given day I may gave a delta of up to 100G but usually it is much less and we'll within the network uplink capacity (2.5Gbps) to finish before the morning rush starts

Btsync (5, Interesting)

SB9876 (723368) | about 5 months ago | (#45320491)

Bitorrent sync is a very simple way to go if you don't want to be too worried about backup administration. Just set up a read-only share for directories on the remote machine and put password protected encryption on the remote share.

That will give you at least some measure of protection from the remote server owner reading your files and they won't be able to nuke your local copies. Btsync is the most no-fuss, transparent backup solution I've used so far. I've got 4 personal machines that it's syncing right now and aside from a couple minor issues in earlier releases, it's been reliable, fast and has a minimal amount of administration you have to deal with.

Re:Btsync (1)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | about 5 months ago | (#45320569)

I have been considering using BTSync for backup. Maybe setting up a drive at my Mom's house, and backup critical data. Its good to hear that has worked for you.

Re:Btsync (1)

robot_love (1089921) | about 5 months ago | (#45321225)

I've been using it without issue for a few months to sync 2TB of media across a couple of computers. Transfers don't start immediately, but they go quickly once they do.

They're apparently developing a feature where the folder on the other computer will be encrypted, allowing you to swap space with your neighbor and have off-site storage without him poking into your business. I'm eagerly awaiting this...

Amazing (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45320499)

I'm making $86 an hour working from home. I was shocked when my neighbor told me he was averaging $95 but I see how it works now. I feel so much freedom now that I'm my own boss. This is the easiest and most comfortable work I've ever done. Here's what I do http://jobs95.com

Re:Amazing (2)

Skapare (16644) | about 5 months ago | (#45320541)

I doubt Anonymous Coward has a job. He posts here several times an hour, every hours, 24 by 7. Unless his job is spamming out these ripoff web sites.

What's the problem? (3, Informative)

evilviper (135110) | about 5 months ago | (#45320501)

Where's the challenge? What's the piece you can't figure out?

A DD-WRT compatible WiFi router with USB port goes for $30, and draws all of 2W of power.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B009AO64E8 [amazon.com]

Connect a USB hard drive, enable mass storage, and SSH access. Use sdparm to set it to spin-down after 30 minutes of inactivity. Install rsync. Give it a free dyndns address (or some other service that screws free customers less).

Stick this contraption in a datacenter, under your desk in your office, in a friends/neighbor's house, etc. If you can't get them to open a port on their firewall, then you'll need to do "reverse SSH" tunneling, but it'll still work just a bit slower.

Hell, if you can find a location to put it that's under a KM from your home, you could even skip the internet requirement, and use WiFi for connectivity. You could even do without the power grid, setting up a modest solar panel to charge a 12V battery... My USB HDD enclosure runs on 12V directly, and a $5 car cell phone charger can provide the 5V@2A the listed router needs:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0079BLTPS [amazon.com]

In any case, you'd just need to figure out the rsync command-line options to run on your home computers to copy the differences over the wire with the minimal overhead.

Hard drive rotation (5, Insightful)

Skapare (16644) | about 5 months ago | (#45320503)

What I do is make incremental backups to a set of 3 hard drives (which I just recently upgraded to USB 3.0 and 2TB each). I rotate them to/from my work location (but you could do this with a friend's or family member's house). I take one to work, and bring the other one that was at work back with me at the end of the day, and run the backup to it that night or the next day or two. I rotate about twice a week since usually a few days of lost data due to, say, my house burning down and destroying the backup drive, too, would be the least of my worries. So there is always at least one at home and at least one at work. If you are more paranoid, get 5 drives and do it more often. Or maybe use 2 sites away from home. If you work for the NSA ... uh ... nevermind.

I use a black [bhphotovideo.com] one, a red [bhphotovideo.com] one, and a blue [bhphotovideo.com] one. I did not get the titanium [bhphotovideo.com] one.

Raspberry Pi (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45320521)

Buy a Raspberry Pi for $35, and plug an external hard drive into it. You can let it run 24/7 as it only draws around 500-700 milliamps at 5 volts, a cellphone charger can power it, or you can do like I did and buy a 2 amp powered usb hub, which powers the external hard drive as well as the computer.

Raspberry Pi + External Hard drive + Rsync (1)

Llynix (586718) | about 5 months ago | (#45320537)

That's what I did, now I have an off-site 3TB backup system.

Cheap NAS with rsync (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45320539)

I use a couple of cheap NAS boxes (a Buffalo LS and a DLink DNS323) and rsync. The NAS have been wiped of their original OS and now run stock Debian Linux. I deployed each NAS box to different friend's places.

Each user has a home directory on the local NAS that is available to them via SMB and/or NFS shares. In each user's home dirs, there is a special directory (special only 'cause we say so). Whatever files are in the special directories are backed up to the remote NAS every night (technically only diffs are sent). If a file is deleted from the special dir on the local NAS, it is deleted from the remote NAS in about 6 months time. If a user needs to recover a file they try to fetch it from the local NAS; if that fails, they can fetch it from the remote NAS.

This scheme has been working successfully for over two years now. We currently have 7 users and about 600 GB of backed up data. The NAS boxes are within 1/2 hour's drive of each other. People have been known to bring over their laptops and USB drives to introduce large amounts of data into the backup system.

Not sure what this would cost "in the cloud" but it only cost us about $150 per NAS box. I'm pretty sure it has already paid for itself. I built this system for my backups. I let my friends use local storage on the NAS boxes and backup their files because they let me keep the NAS boxes at their place. I get two remote backups. Everybody else gets one local + one remote backup. Everybody is happy.

Simple solution is the best (4, Insightful)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | about 5 months ago | (#45320547)

"Walk over a disk once in a while." Seriously, just once a week trade a drive with your neighbour. I know this is /. where complexity wins, but jebus.

Re:Simple solution is the best (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 5 months ago | (#45320753)

That's basically what I do - except instead of walking it to a neighbor, it's an encrypted drive I put in a cabinet at work. Updating it every month or two is good enough for our home stuff.

Fireproof - waterproof hard drive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45320553)


Wifi and BitTorrent Sync? (2)

DiSKiLLeR (17651) | about 5 months ago | (#45320559)

Wifi and BitTorrent Sync?

I personally love BitTorrent Sync...

Re:Wifi and BitTorrent Sync? (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 5 months ago | (#45320791)

"I personally love BitTorrent Sync..."

This is what I suggested. Then somebody bitched because it was "proprietary". Well... it is, but the proprietary part is no big deal. The protocol is robust and secure. As for any concern that the program might "call home" with its own secret key... well, that's what network monitors are for. The first time that happened, somebody would scream to high heaven, and its cover would be blown. So the there's about a snowball's chance in hell of a company like BitTorrent doing that.

You know, I kind of like the idea of "Neighborhood Attached Storage". But you would still need at least one trusted party to administer it, if there were more than one account.

Fire safe (1)

GreatDrok (684119) | about 5 months ago | (#45320561)

Get a fire safe. Put your backups inside. Probably safer than having them in your neighbour's house as anything that could happen to yours could also engulf theirs. Get two drives so you can have one attached and the other in the safe. That's what we do at work as well as having drives go off site. Can't have too many backups. Of course, it does require some work but you can't really get away without some effort. Heck, if you have a basement you could locate your drives down there. Anything short of a meteor strike should be protected against assuming you're also protecting against water.

Re:Fire safe (3, Informative)

PPH (736903) | about 5 months ago | (#45320613)

many larger fire resistant safes (gun safes, etc.) have fire stopped power and network feedthroughs. Put a NAS in one* and plug it into your LAN.

*Assuming you have the justification to purchase such a safe for other valuables.

Re:Fire safe (1)

xaxa (988988) | about 5 months ago | (#45320835)

In Europe, most houses are built of brick (concrete, stone, ...) and a fire is unlikely to spread. (Do fires spread with wooden American houses? I wouldn't know, I assume the wood is usually treated.)

Typical news articles with

a few ideas, neighbor and better (3, Insightful)

raymorris (2726007) | about 5 months ago | (#45320565)

I have three options I'll present for you. One matches your headline, one is cheap, and one is really, really solid.

The option that most matches your headline would be to use a WIFI NAS at the next door neighbor's house. Use any of the many good backup software packages. More on what a "good" backup system is in a moment.

Something I used to do was have two external drives. On Mondays, I'd switch out the drive in the house for the one in the car, which would go to work with me. The drawback to that is it's not fully automatic, so sometimes I'd forget or be in a rush. That leads us to the attributes of a good backup system:

Backups must be fully automatic, otherwise you'll stop doing them regularly.

Backups should be rotated. A midnight backup is useless if you are hacked at 11:55 PM, or discover a problem 2 days later. You must have access to older backups.

Backups must be offsite. Fires and burglars will take your backup if it is on site.

Backups must be accessible. As you said, spending two weeks downloading your data isn't acceptable.

Backups must be tested. Our experience with web servers indicates that approximately 60% of backups provided by hosting providers don't actually work when you try to restore them

To meet all of the above requirements, we use an enterprise grade system. It may be overkill for your needs, but then again the $8 / month version may be just what you want. It provides several offsite backups from different points in time and they are BOOTABLE. You can pull down a file or two, run a program or service remotely, or restore a full system.

3-4 Mbps to transfer 1TB is no good, as you said, but you actually have 200 Mbps available if you use the system we use. If you need the entire 1 TB, not just a small part of it, the whole 1TB bootable drive will be delivered to your front door within 12 hours. You may know the old saying "never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon full if tapes.". With a 1TB drive, the bandwidth of FedEX is over 200 Mbps.

What we use is called Clonebox. It's designed more for business, but it may either work for you, or give you some ideas.

Re:a few ideas, neighbor and better (1)

Leslie43 (1592315) | about 5 months ago | (#45320861)

Agreed, though there are cheaper ways to do it
Find a friend/business within driving distance, but at least half a mile.
You need to be far enough from fire, tornados and lightening to be usefull. While this won't save you from a hurricane or earthquake, if either of those destroy everything, your data will be the least of your concerns. Offer to host their backups in exchange.

I use a multi-stage approach.
Things I can get back easily (installers, movies, music and such), I backup to a local external, if I lose this, it's not a problem. I have it set to update by simply connecting the drive.
My large, important data is offsite, and is about an hours drive away with 24/7 access. The initial backup was done over LAN, and then moved to the new location, only updates are handled over WAN, which are incremental and done automatically through Crashplan Free. If things go severely south, an hours drive and I have my data back. I could even do a redundant backup with Google Drive or Dropbox for the absolute necessities. I have it set to back up my web server as well. Most of this was spare hardware, and since I split the data into necessity and disposable, I could use smaller, spare drives I had sitting around rather than a large drive matching my storage capacity.

One concession I make is I do a single drive image, at most, then do selective folder backups. Windows Vista/7/8 (and WINE) can easily top 20gigs of unnecessary data so stripping that out saves a lot of space. Yes, I need to reimage/re-install then restore but I don't have a problem with that, I prefer a clean system and you may no longer have a system or even that system to restore to. On Windows, that can make an image pointless anyhow. I not only don't have to worry about it not booting (because I know it won't) but it's also easier to determine if it is a working backup as it's clear what is and isn't there. It's just how I do it, to each their own and this may not be practical on a mission critical server, but works fine for home/small business use.

Above all...
As Raymorris and Fencepost (below) have said, it needs to be automatic, and Crashplan does this well. Crashplan will also inform you by email as to status of backups and alert you if one was missed. It has been the best, most reliable backup system I have used yet.

Are you really this thick? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45320567)

There is nothing magical about back-up. Just because the BEST solution is also the simplest and most obvious does NOT make it wrong. You already list the best way- copy data to a drive that isn't on the same site (to avoid loss by theft, fire etc). In this day and age, there is nothing to prevent you from creating a 'data bunker'- a small underground chamber in your garden designed purely to hold your NAS back-up device, that allows ease of access, but should also be theft and fire proof.

You remind me of all the useless IT companies before Google buried them. THEY, like you, couldn't stand the idea of implementing bloody obvious solutions, because, after all, IT is supposed to be 'clever, clever'. When Google said "make the world's greatest databases using commodity HDDs connecting to ordinary computers" the other companies rolled about with laughter. You fall prey to the same idiot thinking. The simple obvious solution happens to be the correct one.

The ONLY issue of back-up is one of convenience. Fail to make it convenient, and you will NOT back-up as much as is needed. Using an armoured NAS location nearby ***IS*** the best solution, so long as like Google you absolutely expect HDD failures, and will not lose data as a result of such failures.

Crashplan really is your solution (1)

Fencepost (107992) | about 5 months ago | (#45320585)

You can use the free version, which only backs up once every 24 hours (but you can trigger manual backups). It'll tell you via several methods if it's failed to back up for more than a day or two, but I don't believe it'll keep trying until the destination happens to be online - if it can't back up at its 24-hour window, it'll fail.

What you probably want is their Crashplan+ 10GB plan (~33/year in the US), even if you never use the 10GB of online storage. By getting the paid plan you also get the features of better encryption and more frequent backups. On the paid version they also also enable having multiple backup sets, so you can back up some files to the online storage (e.g. "Documents") while backing up "everything" to another computer. The "perpetual" licenses ended back in 2010 and mostly predated the online cloud backup options.

If you're not going to have direct network access between the computers (e.g. shared wifi), you'll also probably want to do the initial backup with both on the same network, then separate them. Crashplan's ID-based backup system should handle that change with no problems.

2 Solutions 2 Price Points (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45320607)

1. Use a mirrored NAS pair such as QNAP or Synology. This will be pricey but will work well.

2. Use a pair of Western Digital My Books with network and roll your own mirroring with Rync between them. Relatively inexpensive. These blog posts [wordpress.com] should get you started.

As a hosting provider that went broke found out (1)

dbIII (701233) | about 5 months ago | (#45320619)

As a hosting provider that went broke found out, it's not really a backup if a delete on one leads to a delete on another. Forget mirrors - go for something like amanda or many of the others and put the output on USB disk or whatever.

WiFi (2)

Tom (822) | about 5 months ago | (#45320625)

I backup my iMac to a Time Capsule over WiFi. It happens to be located in my home, but it could just as well be next door, wouldn't make a difference. So if your neighbour is what we city dwellers think "neighbour" means and not "the next ranch ten miles down the river", that might work.

So basically, get a WiFi-enabled harddrive. Or a WiFi router with a USB port. Initial backup via USB or whatever, and incremental updates are usually small enough that they can happen in the background. On the Mac that's built-in, I'm sure there's software for Linux and maybe that hobby OS from Redmond a few people here use.

Let the government help you.... (1)

belmolis (702863) | about 5 months ago | (#45320659)

Why bother? The National Security Agency already backs everything up for you.

Re:Let the government help you.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45320719)

Their restore process is less than optimal.

File Transporter - stand alone doodah for this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45320677)


Basically stand alone little hard drive enclosures that run "dropbox" like systems. $199. Buy one for yourself and one for your neighbour. Done.

There's a $99 model coming out in december which you can plug USB devices in.

Take another look at Crashplan. (1)

Dzimas (547818) | about 5 months ago | (#45320691)

Even though the OP made a cryptic comment about Crashplan not shipping drives to Sweden, the free version works perfectly for just this task. I created the initial backup volume on a portable hard drive to avoid sending the initial backup over a relatively slow ADSL line. After that, I sneakernetted it to a remote machine, copied the backup set onto it and it does the incremental backups once every 24 hours. If the remote machine isn't on, the software is smart enough to wait until it appears on the network and then start the backup. If I need to restore from the remote drive after my house is obliterated by an alien invasion (hopefully without us in it), all I need to do is copy the backup image onto a portable drive and physically attach it to my new machine.

Setup a VPN (1)

SexyGeorge (210906) | about 5 months ago | (#45320717)

Buy 2 VPN routers, set up a VPN to another location, Locate a NAS at the other location.

Most ISP's allow 2 ore more IP addresses, so you could have this setup parallel to any network that is currently running at the second location

unless you live in moms basement, mom would never notice this running at her house

You need better geographic separation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45320789)

If your home is struck by a natural disaster, your neighbor will likely be as well.

NAS vs Computer Huh? (1)

coaxial (28297) | about 5 months ago | (#45320813)

Isn't a NAS basically a computer you let run all the time? Sure it might be a bit lower power, but still...

A lot of information missing (1)

FuzzNugget (2840687) | about 5 months ago | (#45320831)

How and what are you backing up? Continual structural disk images? Virtual RAID? Autonomous files with periodic synchronization?

If it's the first two, how close is your neighbor? Close enough for a good 300mpbs 802.11n signal? Maybe with a WDS/client bridge or two? Would you be able to bury some conduit piping and feed through a CAT6 Ethernet?

If it's the latter, a good software client with speed limit enforcement and pause/resume support should be adequate to run it over your Internet connection.

In any case, create a full backup locally first and walk it over to your neighbor, then continue your incrementals or synchronizations afterwards.

Crashplan does run on some NAS devices (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45320841)

Crashplan client software does run on some NAS devices, so you could just put a NAS at your friend's house if that is acceptable.

LaCie Network Space 2 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45320885)

I purchased a LaCie 1TB NAS to backup my wife's MacBook - found it has rsync in the web interface so you can easily sync a pair of these over the Internet. No geek points here but for $60 it was a good solution. I can't build anything for that price.

Amazon Import/Export feature is the answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45320895)

Use this feature to get your baseline backup set into AWS (glacier if you write once and never read save for DR, S3 if you read regularly).
If/when your house burns down with all your data, initiate an export of your data and it will be mailed to you shortly

Just use two NAS boxes with a wifi link to neighbo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45320913)

Seriously, just get two Synology, QNAP boxes or whatever your favorite vendor is and have your local NAS mirror to the remote NAS. Then use Time Machine to backup your Mac and your favorite backup solution for your Windows box to backup to the local NAS. Depending on how you configure this, you could also give you and your friend redundant Internet connections as well.

- too tired to login

There are lots of consumer routers with usb on (1)

Ralph Ostrander (2846785) | about 5 months ago | (#45320915)

Them look for a usb 3 one and hang a hard drive from the router usb nothing to it, open up a rout in.

raspberry pie and a usb drive (1)

watermark (913726) | about 5 months ago | (#45320959)

Probably a only suitable for a pure Linux solution, but I have this setup using a raspberry pie, a usb harddrive (that has it's own AC adaptor), and rsnapshot. I mount a scp share that uses a truecrypt file volume. This way I get point in time snap shots, using all free software, and the remote computer doesn't need to know the encryption keys.

Look into retrospect (1)

klubar (591384) | about 5 months ago | (#45320965)

You might look into retrospect (http://retrospect.com/). The have clients for macs and PC (and some flavors of Linux) and it's pretty easy to use. You can back up remotely (on schedule or on demand) and could restore locally of the hard drive. You & your neighbor can also back up locally onto a 2nd hard drive. The program has been around for 20+ years, it's reasonably price and the support is slightly above average. They have a free trial.

Categorize data for backup needs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45321031)

My directory structure is organized around 3 different categories of data, each with their own backup regimes. This makes it easier for me to make frequent backups of stuff that is most important, and to be more relaxed about everything else:
1) Low volume of data consisting of important frequently updated files (e.g. projects I am working on, contact lists, etc) which I definitely do not want to loose
2) High volume of data where usually only new files are added (e.g. e-mail, photos, media collection, etc.)
3) Recreatable data (e.g. OS, applications)

For type 1) I use GIT to commit changes couple of times per week and push these to an external RAID. GIT allows me to restore any previous version of the file which is a life saver when I accidently delete or corrupt something. In addition I upload these files to Google Drive once a week to make sure I have a fairly recent copy off-site
For type 2) I use RAID. Cloud is not a viable option (or getting too expensive). Both type 1 and 2 data is copied once or twice a year on a bunch of USB drives and stored with family members off-continent. I live in an earth quake prone area and my neighbour's house or workplace will be at risk just as bad when the 'big one' hits.

I don't care about the 3rd category. Just download and reinstall if needed

Yo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45321041)

I have a security cam that generates .5 or so Gb per night. this is uploaded to dropbox. Really, a local solution would work for OP. One only saves to disk in bursts, so even a local rsync or cloud service would work. How close is the neighbour? Mine's about 60 feet, and wifi is slow, point those antennae at eachother and hope for the best, ./bro!

Just get an old laptop (1)

Solandri (704621) | about 5 months ago | (#45321177)

Beg/borrow/steal an old laptop that isn't be used anymore. Those only draw about 10-15 Watts under normal use, so are about the same as a router or NAS if you leave it on all the time. Plug an external USB drive into it if its internal HDD isn't big enough for your purposes. You can use Windows, Linux, or even OS X; but the common network sharing system everyone uses seems to be SMB and CIFS which is Windows native. That's not to diss the Samba guys - I think they've done a great job reverse engineering a proprietary Microsoft protocol. But when I test it side by side, native Windows shares always seem to be a smidge faster. (Samba/Unix is much better if you're setting up multiple accounts and permissions though. Windows doesn't seem to like that unless you buy the server version).

Just be sure to do the initial 1TB full backup over the wired network. Subsequent backups should be incremental or differential backups, and shouldn't take long over wifi (unless you're generating or downloading a ton of new files every day). Every month or two you can drop by next door, plug into the wired network, and make a new full backup.

This is essentially what I set up for my dad, to backup his laptop to a NAS I put in his house. His laptop does the backup silently, in the background, over wifi. He is none the wiser, except the few times he's accidentally deleted a file I've been able to recover it from the previous day's backup. I just VPNed in and it looks like his differential backups are only about 10-50 MB each day. Based on that file size, I could probably just have his laptop do a second backup to my file server over the Internet/VPN for an off-site backup.

Crashplan + RPi? (1)

sehgalanuj (2057492) | about 5 months ago | (#45321217)

You've already mentioned that you tried the Crashplan approach. If having a computer turned on all the time is the only drawback that you see, then just buy a Raspberry Pi and use that to run Crashplan on. It will be cheaper than buying a NAS, and might even give you good portability because you can use a USB drive that can easily be used to recover data from in the future.

Since Crashplan allows you to generate your own keypair for encrypting backups, that should take care of the security aspect as well. Using Crashplan also lets you make multiple backup sets, define frequencies and retentions.

If you run out of storage, growing it will be as simple as adding a new hard disk to the logical volume. Of course, if you want to keep it simple, you could always just copy data to the new, larger disk and continue backing up too. You could even go fancy and do RAIDs on this, but then it might be overkill depending on your situation.

Overall, with this approach you use software that works well and have quite the minimal investment, i.e. RPi + USB hard disk. Using Crashplan for backups to destinations that are not on their servers is free.

Is your neighbor hot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45321257)

If so, then I recommend going next door....

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