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Averting Disaster – A Guide To Computer Backups (2014) (anandtech.com)
41 points by tambourine_man 1277 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 16 comments



My backup strategy which so far I am happy with: - on my Macs use Time Machine even on my MBP using a NiftyDrive with a selected set of folders that are important since the NiftyDrive is limited (currently I have a 64Gb) - remote with CrashPlan which I got a few years back during a Black Friday sale at a great discounted price (wish they were doing that again)

I had a few times to use both to restore some files and in one case my MBP HD that went bad... Through CrashPlan I was able to restore everything (it took almost 12 hours to re download everything) but at the end to my extreme surprise I lost less than 5 min of work since CrashPlan was quite up to date.

I do use of course Dropbox but I don't consider it as a backup destination and rather a sync'ing service. I do have for a few months now a FileTransporter from Connected Data and start to use it more and more since I can store up to 1TB and no monthly fee for it, but not yet done the full jump from Dropbox.

I will be curious to hear anyone else solution.


> on my Macs use Time Machine

Time Machine for the Mac is excellent--I use it myself--but I must say that it is not sufficient by itself for the following reasons:

(1) Since the Time Machine backup drive is typically online all the time, it is vulnerable to malware that'll encrypt, corrupt, or erase you backups. (An example from the Windows world is CryptoLocker: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cryptolocker ).

(2) I imagine that most Time Machine users will have the Time Machine drive right next to their Mac. So whatever physical trauma befalls their Mac--fire, theft, electrical overvoltage--is going to affect their Time Machine drive as well.

Time Machine users need a real offline backup as well.

(I realize that you said that you use also use CrashPlan, a remote backup system, so my comment is not directed at you.)


While it's a bit dated, this book, Backup & Recovery: Inexpensive Backup Solutions for Open Systems (http://www.amazon.com/Backup-Recovery-Inexpensive-Solutions-...) is highly recommended. And higher level programs like BackupPC and Bacula are still excellent solutions.

It's comprehensive, covers off-line bare metal backups (which aren't exactly changing any time soon), points you at tools like rdiff-backup which you can use to get reasonably close to continuous data protection (I do it every hour), etc. etc. Along with a few good and short war stories. And preps you for the big times, if you're interested.


I've been using BackupPC on a Linux box for years. First with RAID5 and now with RAID1, using ssh+rsync I can backup my Linux and OSX systems and have access to older backups via the web interface. For totally irreplaceable items I also back up a subset to Glacier.


I think it should be mentioned that any form of high-capacity flash storage (USB drives, memory cards, SSDs) is not recommended for storing backups that are to be kept for a long time (>1-2 years); magnetic and optical media are preferred.

Making sure that your backups actually can be restored is also extremely important; there's not much worse than thinking that you have backups, but when you need them, find that they've become corrupted and unusable.


Optical media also degrade quickly unless you use high-quality, low-density media. Most of my CD-Rs from 10 years ago still work fine, but many DVD-Rs get corrupted after only 2-3 years. Seriously, I've had better luck with spinning rust than I've had with optical discs.

The only way to make sure that a backup lasts more than a couple of years is to copy it to new media every couple of years.


Is there a tape reader that is actually affordable? Most of the things I have seen range in the thousands.


Nope. LTO-4 or -5 is what you want to use, and unless you find a bargain, a drive will cost something over $2,000. Plus you'll need a SAS PCI-e adapter, and a fast staging disk system to avoid "shoe shining" tapes; apparently today's flash based drives will suffice for 5 or more years of service in this role, depending on how much you have to back up. If you're interested, I can look up a past HN discussion on this.


Indeed; as I like to say, no one is really interested in backups, only restores.

E.g. in the bad old days, not to mention to this day, I kept write enable rings on mag tapes (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Write_protection) unless and until I had to do a restore, in which case they got removed before putting them in the drive.


Is there anything written about the storage lifetime of USB flash drives and memory cards? I assumed that they'd be better than optical media (which I have seen degrade in <5 years)

I suspect a combination of optical media and parity data stored (PAR2 or PAR3 if I can find an open implementation) on flash media might be a good choice


> (PAR2 or PAR3 if I can find an open implementation)

You should have no problem finding an open implementation [0] [1]

An other alternative is zfec [2], which has the advantage that you can choose the level of redundancy you want. It's also much faster.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parchive [1] https://github.com/BlackIkeEagle/par2cmdline [2]


Sorry, I meant if I can find an open implementation of PAR3 I'd use that.

zfec looks interesting though.


For long term backup, too bad that tape backup are still expensive for the individual user, as they seem to me as the more resilient type of backup compared to HDD or WORM media. Cloud backup are very dependent on your connectivity. The best option is to rely on 3rd party cloud provider like amazon Glacier.


For those of us stuck on low quota ISP plans, e.g. my AT&T 150 GiB/month, $10/every additional 50 GiB, 3rd party "cloud" providers are only a solution for our most "important" data. I use rsync.net (higher price isn't much of an issue given the much smaller amount of data) and LTO-4 tape.



I use Duplicity + flash drives. Works wonderfully, more so because Duplicity supports encryption out-of-the-box. Also, incremental backups.




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