jamespetts

Backup options; NAS; offsite; mutual NAS with parents

13 posts in this topic

I need a new backup solution at home as my current 1Tb backup drive is full. I also do not currently have any offsite backup capability, which is a vulnerability. I do, however, in connexion with my work as a barrister (lawyer) need to backup confidential information and information that is subject to the Data Protection Act, which means that it needs to be encrypted, either self-stored or stored with a reputable provider, and in any event, not stored outside the European Union. That information is not very great in volume (a few Gb at most, but it will grow over time; I need to be able to erase it completely after six years but not before).

Less sensitive but much more bulky are the products of my hobby of photography, and my large and increasing number of pictures stored in RAW format, as well as my Lightroom catalogue, etc. It is this later category that has exhausted my backup capability.

I currently use a WD MyBook which is in my house, connected to my desktop computer through a second network interface port in the computer, and not directly connected to the internet. The data on it are not encrypted, but it has an element of physical separation from the internet. There are two independent CAT-5 connexions going from my under-stairs cupboard (where the MyBook and router both are) to my study (where my desktop computer is). I also have a Synology DiskStation (a 215j, I believe), which is connected to the internet, and which has a further copy of my professional files (encrypted), and some other miscellaneous things, but was not intended for general backup use, but rather as personal cloud storage for my professional data to synchronise with my tablet and desktop computer in chambers. It has 2Tb of storage space, which, whilst enough for my photographs now, may well not be enough a few years in the future, and I should in any event prefer additional redundancy.

One solution that I had contemplated was to obtain a further two Synology NAS devices, and install one in my understairs cupboard and one in my parents' house (they have the same sort of WD My Book as I for backup), and use each others' NAS for offsite backup for both of us. However, my parents' internet connexion has only 1Mbps upload and 10Mbps download (which could be improved to 1.9Mbps and 21Mbps respectively with a fibre connexion), and I suspect that this, especially the upload speed, will not be enough.

I find the WD MyBook to be unreliable at times: sometimes it will stop responding and need to be reset, and other times it will not be able to be found on the network for a while. The software that I use (Oops! Backup) is also not very good in that the versioning does not seem to work: iI tried once to recover an old version of a file that had become corrupted, and the system purportedly had the delta of the old version stored, but it refused to restore it, giving an incomprehensible error message.

Does anyone have any recommendations? How might my parents take advantage of offsite backup given their poor upload speed (mine at home is rather better)? What sort of device might better replace my full MyBook? Can anyone recommend good backup software that will handle both onsite and offsite backup simultaneously? It should be noted that my desktop at home runs Windows 7 and my parents' desktop computers run Ubuntu 14.04 LTS (which is likely to be upgraded to 16.04 LTS when that is released).

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A Synology might make sense, and it does have the advantage of offering encrypted volumes of you need to enable it. You didn't mention it but what is your budget?

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The budget is not too limited, but I don't want to pay a disproportionate amount for a backup solution.

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Synology allows you to write to Amazon S3 via Duplicity, an app within the Synology device. It's encrypted. Of course you can write to another Synology NAS too... The costs of this monthly should be pretty low, especially if you're not doing a lot of recoveries.

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Is Amazon S3 a client-side encryption or server-side encryption service? Only client side encryption is safe to use for sensitive data.

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Ahh, splendid, thank you. How would one go about setting this up to back up with client side encryption from a Synology NAS?

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No idea unfortunately, as I don't use either very much around here... since it's client side does Synology do it, or would you do it on your data on your desktop (via Bitlocker or whatnot?)-- is that what you're asking?

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I should want it to run automatically from the NAS, as it's very important for the setup to require no ongoing intervention once set up.

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An update on this. Firstly, I have managed to find a temporary solution by clearing some of the space from my existing backup hard drive (duplicate copies of RAW files from my camera created when importing from the camera using Lightroom), so this issue is less urgent than it was, such as to allow more time to think carefully of a possible solution.

Secondly, I have devised a possible plan that might be workable. I should be interested in people's views. It would involve buying an external USB 3 drive bay in RAID1 configuration (the IcyBox models appear to be well reviewed), filling that with a pair of either 4 or 6Tb WD Red drives and connecting that to my DiskStation. I should set that to use the Synology backup software to back up the important files on my computer to the USB 3 drive bay, and then disconnect the WD MyBook (which now has an up to date backup set), store it in the attic in a sealed plastic bag (possibly with a sachet of silica gel in it if I can find one) as an archive backup and uninstall Oops! Backup, which is unreliable. That would be the on-site part of the backup solution.

Next, I should encourage my parents to upgrade to fibre optic broadband, and acquire for them a Synology DiskStation 216SE with a pair of drives of the same size as those in the IcyBox configuration. I should set that to synchronise with the backup part of my DiskStation and connect it on my own home network (1Gb wired LAN) so that it acted as a mirror of my own DiskStation. I should then take it to my parents' house, install it on their network to replace their WD My Book (and use the Synology CloudBackup software instead of the built-in Ubuntu backup software, the problem with which is that it encrypts the backups, meaning that the encryption keys might be lost in the event of a serious system failure) and set it so that it continues to synchronise with the DiskStation at my house. Files added by me would be backed up on my DiskStation and then sent to my parents' DiskStation, where the download at a more reasonable speed would be used. My upload speed is quite good (circa 10Mbps), so this should not be a significant problem.

Once the DiskStation at my parents' house had become populated with their files, I should take it for a holiday again to my house, where I should set it up to back up its contents to my NAS. Its initial, high-volume backup would run over my NAS before taking it back to my parents' house to run again on their network. Any files that they create (and they tend to create fewer, smaller files than I) would have to use their slow uploads, but because they do not create a great many large files and because the synchronisation can run in the background constantly, this is unlikely to be a problem, especially if they were to upgrade to fibre broadband (making sure that they had unlimited downloads).

Does this seem reasonable?

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I'm not a Synology user here like some are so I can't comment much on the software side, but as far as:

It would involve buying an external USB 3 drive bay in RAID1 configuration (the IcyBox models appear to be well reviewed), filling that with a pair of either 4 or 6Tb WD Red drives and connecting that to my DiskStation. I should set that to use the Synology backup software to back up the important files on my computer to the USB 3 drive bay,

Would be good to check the performance of the IcyBox attached to the Synology before you claim success-- although since you already have a WD MyBook attached, I assume performance is okay? (would still be good to check!)

and then disconnect the WD MyBook (which now has an up to date backup set), store it in the attic in a sealed plastic bag

How are temperatures in the attic? Again would be good to check to make sure you don't significantly shorten the life of the drive or its data in a potentially hot attic.

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Thank you for your feedback: this is most helpful.


Would be good to check the performance of the IcyBox attached to the Synology before you claim success-- although since you already have a WD MyBook attached, I assume performance is okay? (would still be good to check!)

I do not have an IcyBox yet - I have tried the Synology with a USB 3 flash drive attached to it, however, and it transferred files to and from my computer at a reasonable rate. To clarify, the WD My Book is not attached to the NAS, but rather directly to my computer at present.

How are temperatures in the attic? Again would be good to check to make sure you don't significantly shorten the life of the drive or its data in a potentially hot attic.

The drive would be stored out of service in the attic, not connected and running there. I do not know exactly the temperatures in the attic, but it is not insulated (the insulation is between the attic and the main house), so it might get rather hot, I suppose. Is there a way of putting it in an insulated box, I wonder....?

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You might want to check to see what a "reasonable rate" is when you're talking multiple TB of data. Just to be safe.

As far as attic-- yes, an insulated box to keep the drive within safe storage temps could work. Minimizing the swing in temperature as well is also going to be important. Regardless, I would be concerned enough to test it first-- insulated coolers are cheap, so are thermometers....

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