The title of this post is the backup plan but it’s also about storage. I’ve been considering the idea of building a Hackintosh this year (2012) but due to a limited budget think that building a home server set-up would be a more pressing project. When I asked an experienced friend about the idea of setting up such a system he gave me a detailed and well thought out response. He took my ideas and formulated two main goals and worked from there. Here are the two goals or requirements.
- Having a central, master copy of all your files.
- Making sure that you have decent backups of all your files.
What follows is my response to his suggestions where I came up with quite a coherent way of managing my data.
I had a feeling that the entry level NAS box might be low on performance. I set up a similar one where I used to live which also acted as a media server connected up to a HDTV. Most of the time it was fine but it would hang now and again, usually when you needed it. It would update its IP address suddenly and then everyone in the house was having problems connecting so I had to go round each persons computer and set them up with a static ip. Most of the time it was a bit slow but bearable but I assumed that since that was about 3 years ago entry level machines might have improved by now. I guess not.
Having a main machine with a master repo I think would be a better solution rather than spending time trouble shooting the server set up. The only drawback I can see is that the main or master machine then needs to running most of the time. I was going to put this NAS box in the front room which I never use so it would be silent as far as the rest of the flat was concerned. The one with the current big HD is the desktop mac which has a 500GB drive and the only big files on there are movies. I can risk losing these so they aren’t important.
I think what I need to do then is to sort my data into groups. What is unique and important and couldn’t easily be replaced? What could be archived – things that only require occasional access. And what requires heavy access? Here’s what I’m doing at the moment:
My current plan
- Twice weekly back up (clone using CCC) of my main computer hdd leaving out the movies and other data that I consider less important. The reason for creating a clone is so that it is bootable and if the main drive fails (which has happened to me before) I can be up and running straight away.
- Gradually moving document files to Google docs which I can easily access and edit via a browser interface. They offer 1GB free storage for files but it’s unlimited in Google doc format. It’s only $5.00 a year for 20GB. But I’m happy with their format.
- Gradually moving all the code that I’m working on such as website code into svn repos. I’m starting to get more comfortable in the command line so that seems fairly cross platform so far – pc, mac and linux.
- I have recently taken out a bigger hosting plan as it occurred to me that most of my previous web clients pay annually for a hosting service and they could just as easily pay me. So I’m gradually moving my old and new clients onto there. Loads of space on there so I can ftp archived data onto there (once I’ve sorted out what to archive).
I think that 500GB would be plenty for me if I archive the movies. I rarely listen to the music and mostly listen to online radio stations so even that doesn’t require constant access. My current clone drive is an external FW drive which is only 120GB. But as you say, I need a back up of the back up which I don’t have at the moment. So I like your idea of the hard disk docking station and just popping a drive in there.
My forthcoming plan
Having thought this through again with all your suggestions I’m wondering if I actually need a file server of any type at home whether it’s my main machine or an NAS drive. If I can put the stuff that I need onto remote servers then that achieves the first goal of having a master repo. Especially if I trim down my stuff to what I actually need. I’ll have working copies of these files across my machines (which has already started happening on a small scale) so I just need to see that process through.
So what I’ll do then is to get a 2nd 500GB disk and use that as my clone drive and dump stuff from my other machines onto the main machine just so that I can see what I’ve got. Then continue the process of moving some data onto remote servers such as Google Docs, svn repos (project locker) and my own hosting space with Hostgator which offers unlimited disk space.