Introduction

For many years, I lived without backups. This is bad and I need to overhaul the situation... I just need to find a way to achieve this like true gentlemens do it !

What ?

I need a true backup server. It needs to be reliable, robust, easy to administer, disaster-recovery friendly and very secured because I will put some of my greatests documents in it: what makes my personnal digital collection that could be used to let a trace forever for the rest of humanity (IMHO) !

And what about making some backups in the cloud ?

As far as the third quarter of 2014, I believe that cloud based backups cannot compete with the solution I am trying to build. Actually, you have to consider the backup duration. My ADSL maximum upload rate is about 100kB/s. To upload 3TB, I have to wait for more than a year ! Restoration will also take a lot of time: a little bit more than 2 months (at 550kB/s) ! That's too much time...

Furthermore, you have to consider the prices. Here is a little sum up:

Topic Initial Costs Cost for 3 years Cost for 5 years
Hardware 10€ (old stuff) 10 € 10 €
Hard disks 300€ (3x3TB) 300 € 300 €
Power 0.5€ (initial backup @ 70MB/s) 9.5€ (3h a week = 16kWh/year) 15.5 €
Total owned solution 310.5 € 319.5 € 325.5 €
DropBox 99€/1TB/year 300 € 900 € 1500 €
Amazon Glacier 396€/3TB/year 393 € 1188 € 1980 €
Google Drive 120€/1TB/year 360 € 1080 € 1800 €
Microsoft OneDrive 252€/3TB/year 252 € 756 € 1260 €
OVH Hubic 120€/10TB/year 120 € 360 € 600 €

Hardware

I could bought a true NAS. QNap is making very light power consuming servers for home. But they are quite expensive. Furthermore, spinning disks consumes up to 10W even when the disk idles... Combined by the fact that a true secure installation needs at least a RAID1 array of disks and you've got more than 20W just for making some backups. Consider that 20W on a year means about 20€. With an entry cost of about 250€ for a QNap NAS with 2 bays, this is quite expensive (for my point of view).

So I switched to an old computer that have 4 SATA ports and a chassis that is able to store at least 3 disks. Here are some photos:

System components

Here is a list to technical topics to build this backup server which will be called Goofy:

What needs to be backup ?

Almost everything that is precious for me. Here is a kind of list:

  • Digital photos.
  • Blog and /var/wwwstuff.
  • Configuration of computers (/etc/ stuff).
  • Emails.
  • Movie collection.
  • Music collection.
  • Document archives (scanned PDF).

Backup policy

Before trying to backup anything, I have to build a policy. When will I do the backup and how much time will I keep the data ?

To make the best choice, here are the facts:

  • I mainly work on the LAN during the week-end (other days, I am working at the office).
  • Files will be changed a lot more during the week-end than during the week.
  • One weekly backup should be sufficient to handle a minimum work loss.
  • There will be files that will not change

Risk analysis

What are the risks I am facing on this backup topic ?

Risk Probability Impact Solution/Workaround
Loss of data on a workstation made by mistake High High The backup server itself.
Hard to make a backup High High Use efficient backup software.
Test backup/restoration from the client point-of-view.
Make a well designed and documented backup script.
Whole backup server stolen Low High External backup disk + Encryption.
Backup server Data hard drive stolen Low Medium External backup disk (6 months of data loss).
Backup server System hard drive failure Low Low Have a dedicated DRP for operating system.
Backup server Data hard drive failure Low High External backup disk (6 months of data loss).
External Data hard drive failure Low Low Buy another disk and make another external backup.
Data are stolen Low High Disk encryption.
Consume too much power High High Starts the server only when requested
Shutdown the server at the end of the backup.