[ubuntu-uk] External hard disks and backup strategies

andy andy at zrmt.com
Wed Sep 19 00:27:46 BST 2007


I'm not sure how much data you're looking to backup - but yours is probably not a unique situation.

I think the biggest question is "Do you know what you want to backup?"  If you can safely say "Yes" - and it's well organised - then the problem is massively diminished.  

The first thing you need to work out is size.  If you have masses of data - automated NAS may be the best thing.  If you have little, a USB hard disk may suffice.

My recommendation (based on ~50GB on data) would be to setup a NAS with mirrored RAID1 disks.  Have two partitions on each disk.  Have a weekly backup that you store for 8 weeks, and a keep every 4th image for a month.  Then set it up to rsync with your directories you need.

That's mean your storage goes:

1  - 50
2  - 100
3  - 150
4  - 250
5  - 300
6  - 350
7  - 400
8  - 500

That'll fit on a 500GB disk and give you a bit on versioning should the worst happen.  It also helps illustrate how much storage you actually need for doing a backup of 50GB data.

Let me know what your situation is and I'll try and help more.

On Tue, 18 Sep 2007 19:44:56 +0100, David M <lists2007 at trancepod.34sp.com> wrote:
> Hi,
> Now that external hard disks are cheap, I'm thinking about getting an
> external hard disk so that I can keep a backup of my data. In fact, I'm
> even thinking of getting *two* for alternate use so that if the worst
> should happen and my system dies while backing up my data I haven't
> toasted both my data and my sole backup..
> When it comes to external disks, it seems I have the choice of not only
> a plain-old hard disk connected via USB, but also the possibility of NAS
> (networked-attached storage) where the hard disk is connected to my
> network, and contains a stripped-down OS so that it presents itself as a
> fileserver (I presume?).
> Does anybody know how well-supported either of these technologies are in
> Ubuntu? In particular, I'd also want to format the disk in ext3 format
> as I have no need or desire for MSWindows filesystems.
> On the one hand, NAS seems neat, but I don't have a home network, only a
> cheapo multi-port ADSL modem/router. These things tend to be a bit
> gnarly (and unfriendly) to set up at the best of times, so I don't know
> how easy - let alone whether - it would be possible to set the
> modem/router up to allow my computer to see a NAS disk. And given the
> horrible potential for unwittingly sharing the contents of a NAS disk
> with the entire internet, I'd have to be very careful! I gather that it
> is generally the case that any configuration of the NAS box can usually
> be done via a browser front-end; obviously any disk which requires
> Windows software is a no-no.
> On the other hand, a plain-old USB hard disk seems the simpler option. I
> would naively assume that as USB is now well-proven technology, these
> would work just fine with Ubuntu, but is that the case? How easy would
> it be to automate backups to such a disk? Would it mount with a
> persistent mount point, or would it change with every unplug or system
> reboot?
> Then there is the question of what backup strategy I should actually
> use. I was assuming that an automated rsync every week would be the
> easiest, but perhaps there are other possibilities? Something automated,
> once configured, without requiring user intervention is an absolute
> must: the whole point of doing backups is that I don't have to remember
> to do it!
> I mentioned above that having two external hard disks, alternating
> between current latest backup and disk being backed-up to, seemed a good
> strategy, ensuring that I always have one backup at all times.
> Alternatively, perhaps some kind of mirror RAID strategy would be worth
> considering, although that would seem to require me to have four hard
> disks to maintain my "always one spare backup" strategy (and is outwith
> my budget!). I also don't know whether USB HDs or NAS HDs are RAID-able.
> Can anybody offer any advice on this?
> Thanks,
> David.
> --
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