Offsite Backups. Putting my money where my mouth is.

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Offsite Backups. Putting my money where my mouth is.

Postposted on Fri May 23, 2014 1:59 pm

Okay, so I'm in IT and in my job we take offsite backups and we even test them from time to time.

I've been pretty good about taking regular backups (I use Macrium Reflect) for my personal devices, but really bad about taking them offsite.

I have too much data to justify use of a service such as Carbonite. Sure, most people can get by if their photos and documents are backed up, and I could do that...but I would also need to be able to recover my OS and all of my application partitions in order to be truly functional. I have two computers and one full image of all my disk partitions approaches 2 TB for the desktop and 1.5 TB for the laptop. Photos and personal documents make up only a couple hundred GB of those figures.

So yesterday I ordered a couple of new high capacity (4TB) hard drives; one internal for the desktop and one external for the laptop. With luck, they'll arrive tomorrow, and I'll then fold them into my backup rotation for each computer.

I need advice. I don't have relatives nearby, my work location isn't really 100% secure and I worry about how the company might react if it is discovered that I have a couple of large hard drives stored in my desk, even if they ARE my own, and even if they are secured in a Pelican case. I thought about getting a safe-deposit box.

I'm a bit stuck here. Do any of you physically store hard drives offsite, and if so, where? Can you think of any possible locations that might not require the use of my job, family, or a friend?
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Re: Offsite Backups. Putting my money where my mouth is.

Postposted on Fri May 23, 2014 2:08 pm

Given my experiences with external HDs, I'd go LTO Ultrium if I had the ready cash. Leaving one of those in a desk drawer at work wouldn't be quite so obvious.

As for where to park it, if you don't have a relative or friend in close range (maybe offer a friend a reciprocal storage arrangement?) you're pretty much down to a safe-deposit box. Back in the HS days I had to drag over 3-4 3600' reels of 3M BlackWatch to the company SD box every day as Dad's unpaid intern.
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Re: Offsite Backups. Putting my money where my mouth is.

Postposted on Fri May 23, 2014 2:43 pm

I'm not as good about maintaining off-site copies of my personal stuff as I should be; I used to be better about keeping up with it. I keep an external HD in my desk drawer at work, though with the new owners (and the significant increase in security paranoia that has brought) I am re-thinking that strategy. Fortunately I have a couple of possibilities for people who'd be willing to store external drives for me.

In your case I'd probably go with a safe deposit box, or (if you can justify the cost for other reasons) maybe a climate controlled storage locker. The Cap'n's suggestion (LTO tape) is decent from a reliability and storage density standpoint, but the higher capacity versions will be way too expensive unless you can find a good deal on some used gear; even then you're kind of hosed if the drive dies until you can find a deal on another one.

If you're looking for something compact and relatively affordable maybe a pile of 2.5" laptop drives and a drive dock would work?

Or, if you know someone you trust who would be willing to cooperate with you on this who lives further away, and both of you have decent broadband connectivity, send them a current snapshot on an external drive. Then keep it synced up with something like rsync or robocopy. If you schedule it to run in the middle of the night and/or throttle the bandwidth usage (I know rsync has options for this, don't recall if robocopy does) it won't have a significant impact on other people using the 'net connections.
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Re: Offsite Backups. Putting my money where my mouth is.

Postposted on Fri May 23, 2014 3:02 pm

I occasionally send stuff to my parents on the other side of the US to keep safe. I've also been looking at some NAS and VPN options that would let me talk directly to a system in their house (and vice versa) to avoid having to ship anything.

Barring that, a safe deposit box is probably the best bet. They're not expensive so long as it isn't in a downtown location with lots of business customers. Do be sure to encrypt it since you have no guarantee that someone else won't find a way in.
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Re: Offsite Backups. Putting my money where my mouth is.

Postposted on Fri May 23, 2014 3:32 pm

I guess it depends on how much data you have to back up but I'm able to fit all of my critical items (as in, things I can't replace: tax documents, family videos, pictures, etc.) on a 16GB USB 3.0 flash drive. It's encrypted with TrueCrypt and I keep it on a keychain that's attached to my other equally important items (house keys, car keys, etc.). So it's pretty much on me at all times.

I do keep full multiple backups at home though. The flash drive is really for if the apartment burns down/gets flooded/blows up etc. The things I'm not including in this "critical backup" would be a pain to replace but it wouldn't be impossible. I guess if I cared enough too, I could just pony up for a larger flash drive. :D

*EDIT* Nevermind, looks like you have a couple hundred GB of photos, videos and not a couple GB like I first read.

*EDIT 2* Not a terrible price all things considered: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... gnorebbr=1
Last edited by Ryhadar on Fri May 23, 2014 3:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Offsite Backups. Putting my money where my mouth is.

Postposted on Fri May 23, 2014 3:38 pm

Ryhadar wrote:I guess if I cared enough too, I could just pony up for a larger flash drive. :D

I was pleasantly surprised when I saw how much the $/GB for USB thumbdrives and Micro-SD cards has come down lately.

An aside: The availability of cheap flash memory means I will probably upgrade my Sansa Clip+ to 64GB, now that I've flashed it to the unofficial "Rockbox" firmware (which doesn't have the limitations of the stock firmware which made use of larger cards impractical).
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Re: Offsite Backups. Putting my money where my mouth is.

Postposted on Fri May 23, 2014 3:50 pm

Ryhadar wrote:*EDIT 2* Not a terrible price all things considered: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... gnorebbr=1

Heh. I still use, on a daily basis, a 4GB version of that thumbdrive that Damage & Inkling gave away as swag to the mod crew at the time. Somewhere deep in the bowels of this place is a review by Dissonance showing it zip-tied to his mountain bike (and appropriately muddy) and after being rolled over by a Honda Civic. Even to this day I'll hand it to someone and they'll give me at least a double-take until I unscrew the lid for them.

Here we go: http://techreport.com/blog/12606/corsai ... umb-drives

Seems like I've had this for 7 years based on the review date. The attached dog-tag makes it easy to find in whatever is hauling my stuff at the moment.

That bit of fun aside, I would never consider a consumer flash drive to be archival.

EDIT: It's quite interesting that while the 256GB is available from NewEgg it's not even shown on Corsair's site, where it maxes out at 128GB.
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Re: Offsite Backups. Putting my money where my mouth is.

Postposted on Fri May 23, 2014 4:04 pm

Nice!

And I agree with you, flash drives probably shouldn't be used for long term archiving. For that purpose, I've been eying getting a Blu Ray burner with MDISC support recently and just copying all of the data to 25GB MDISC blu rays. But I've got other expenses to take care of first so my WHS (used to backup all the machines on the network), 2TB external with a backup of the WHS, and this $20 16GB flash drive will have to do for now. :)
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Re: Offsite Backups. Putting my money where my mouth is.

Postposted on Fri May 23, 2014 4:16 pm

A couple of years ago I decided to back all archival stuff up to Blu-Ray as well. Got the burner. Never got around to burning anything. :oops:

I think my biggest challenge is sorting through roughly 2 decades worth of crap, to trim it down to the truly important stuff that I can reasonably burn to a small-ish pile of optical media. Until then, I will be backing up to bare hard drives (via drive dock or hot swap bay). The $/GB of mechanical hard drives has gotten low enough that it isn't unreasonable to treat bare drives as removable media...
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Re: Offsite Backups. Putting my money where my mouth is.

Postposted on Fri May 23, 2014 5:33 pm

I think some of Crashplan's packages allow you to send them your external drive as the baseline and then you do daily backups of changes only.
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Re: Offsite Backups. Putting my money where my mouth is.

Postposted on Fri May 23, 2014 6:19 pm

Drop a 2, 3 or 4 TB drive into an external dock, make the backup, stick the drive back inside its protective packaging, then carry it off-site to your safe deposit box, relative's house, etc.
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Re: Offsite Backups. Putting my money where my mouth is.

Postposted on Fri May 23, 2014 6:59 pm

Google will give you 15G at https://drive.google.com.

I use it for photos, OSs are easily replaceable.
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Re: Offsite Backups. Putting my money where my mouth is.

Postposted on Fri May 23, 2014 11:16 pm

I use a fireproof safe, which cost about $100 at Staples. We need it anyway to keep medicine, backup cash, etc. in.
I fully agree that genuine off-site would be better, if I used it regularly. But realistically, I don't get to my safe deposit box very often. I used to burn DVDs of my key documents and take them to the office, but I gave that up.
Encrypting off-site material is pretty important, especially if it's something like a USB drive that might get stolen. But it introduces new issues about "can you recover the password if your primary computer is dead?"
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Re: Offsite Backups. Putting my money where my mouth is.

Postposted on Sat May 24, 2014 10:27 am

My new hard drives arrived today. I pulled the internal 3TB drive from it's hotswap bay and replaced it with the 4TB. Formatted the new drive and started a backup. So far so good. So now the 3TB can go offsite, wherever/whenever that is. I'll do the same for the laptop later.

A couple of you raised the idea of encrypting the offsite hard drives. Macrium offers encrypted backups, but so does Microsoft's Bitlocker, yes?

By the way, I have an Asus motherboard with UEFI. I have not yet implemented any of the security features; that was another little project I've been procrastinating on.
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