Wednesday 22 April 2009

Backup to the Cloud - Part Two

Having decided to use a remote backup solution and what I wanted to backup, the next things to look at were to decide on were how I was going to do the backup and which provider I was going to use.

After some looking around I settled on BackBlaze as my remote backup provider. Unlimited disk space for $50 a year didn't seem unreasonable at all.

To be fair the unlimited storage does have some limitations though. It applies to one machine and any disk drives attached to it - except network drives. This is a slight problem if you have your data spread across four machines and some network drives as I do.

Dark Cloud backup?

I decided the best thing to do was to build a PC specifically to handle backups. As long as this PC held a copy of all the data that I wanted backed up then things should be OK. So I took an old PC I had kicking about (it's a Pentium II - remember them), reformatted all the drives and installed Windows XP. XP seems to run rather well on an old machine like that, its the applications that slow it down.

Next steps were to remove any unnecessary items that had been installed (msn messenger & such like) and disable any services not required to store files & connect to the internet. This was followed by installing a virus scanner and the rather long wait as it downloads all the updates and patches for XP to make sure we were protected from all those nasty threats on the web.

It really dosn't matter if the machine is a little slow anyway as the crucial bottle neck is broadband upload speed. In case you hadn't realised ADSL stands for Asymetric Digital Subscriber Line - The Asymetric bit is critical. Downloads are a hell of a lot faster than any uploads and there doesn't seem to be any real way to improve them.

I ran the BackBlaze Speed test to get an idea of what sort of speed I could expect and then ran the TCP otimizer to squeeze out every last bit of bandwidth I could. I seem to be achieving around 2GB a day so it's not great but it's acceptable. The next step was to install the BackBlaze software and configure it to ignore any stuff I didn't want backed up on the machine (like the windows XP install directory).

The final install was to load and configure All Way Sync to copy over all the critical information I need backed up from all the various machines.

For my initial backup I chose to backup everything except my image archive. The initial backup takes a long time as it has to copy up every file (6 Days in my case), but after that things should be much quicker as it just copies up changes.

I have now started adding my image archive to the backup. At 300GB I guess it will take 150 days to upload 7 years worth of images. I figure that isn't too bad, if it took me 7 years to create that much data, half a year to upload it is pretty good. Good job I am looking on this as a long term project.

Once this initial upload is complete things should work fine as long as I generate an average of less than 2GB of data a day, that's 700GB a year. At the moment I am at nowhere near that sort of volume, so it seems I have a workable solution.

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