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Backing up files and making them available in 2 locations

Posted: Tue Aug 06, 2013 7:30 am
by pgyselin
I have at home in Belgium 1 desktop and 1 laptop.
On the desktop are all important files (approximately 150 Gb of documents, pictures, etc) on D and 30 Gb of prgrams on C.
A Seagate FreeAgent 500 Gb connected to my desktop runs every evening a scheduled back-up.
On my laptop I have some more files (70 Gb data and programs). These are backed up far less regularly using another external HDD.
I have a winter home in Spain where I go a couple of times per year for a number of weeks / months at a time.
I have in Spain another desktop and I take my laptop with me.
I have no back up solution in Spain yet.
The FreeAgent starts to play up now and I am therefore looking for a replacement and improvement of the situation.
My first thought was to install a 2 bay NAS in a RAID configuration at home and to set up a personal cloud allowing access to the files from Spain. This seemed (even to a layperson like me) fairly straightforward but it seems now that the Belgian Internet Service Provider (Telenet) is blocking all ports below 1024 which would make access only possible using another router and port forwarding and God knows what else. I am afraid this could all be a bit too complicated for a lay person like me with plenty of possible pitfalls. in spite of the extra costs of the new router, etc
A simplistic solution might be to take the 2 bay NAS with me each time that I go to Spain. My question: is it doable to carry in my hand luggage a couple of times per year a NAS or are these machines too fragile to move around (even carefully)?
A somewhat more complicated solution might be to buy a 1 bay NAS and an external HDD that I could attach to the NAS to create a second back-up (for instance weekly and the day before I leave for Spain) and to take this external HDD with me to Spain.
A variation to this solution could be that this second HDD could also be a 1 bay NAS allowing me to have NAS in Spain as well.
Another solution might be to have a 1 bay NAS in Belgium and another in Spain to create a back-up in the cloud which could be the master when moving from one country to the other.
Sorry for the long message and for the multitude of possible "solutions" that sprung up in my head but I hope somebody will be able to come up with a simple, effective and not too expensive solution.
Thanks in advance

Re: Backing up files and making them available in 2 location

Posted: Wed Aug 07, 2013 6:51 am
by Mijzelf
Do you have a decent internet connection both in Belgium and Spain?

And no, I don't think it's a good idea to travel with a NAS several times a year, especially not if it contains the only backup of the laptop you are also carrying. They are just not designed for that.

Re: Backing up files and making them available in 2 location

Posted: Wed Aug 07, 2013 7:17 am
by pgyselin
The Internet connections in both Belgium and Spain are reasonable (20 Mbps download and 4 Mbps upload). The issue is however that the Internet Service Provider in Belgium (possibly also the one in Spain) blocks the ports that are needed for remote access.

Bringing the NAS with me seemed a "not so elegant but effective way" of having all files available while having a NAS in both places.

I understand your point on the laptop but I could make a back-up on another HDD that I leave home for the event that both NAS and laptop would be damaged. Or should I consider making a back-up in the cloud during my travels? Are on / off subscriptions possible?

Are certain HDD's better suited for transportation? HDD in typical NAS might not be built for regular carrying around but those in laptops are. Are there no 3.5" HDD's that have similar features as the 2.5" HDD's in laptops.

Is it not correct that HDD's are very sensitive to movement when in operation but relatively OK when inactive?

Thanks for your help

Re: Backing up files and making them available in 2 location

Posted: Thu Aug 08, 2013 7:55 am
by Mijzelf
Indeed a powered off disk can bear more stress than an active one. When reading/writing the heads are 'flying' at a few micrometers distance of the platters. If by a bump the heads touches the surface of the platter, you'll at least loose some sectors, but probably the whole disk.
But if the disk is powered off, the heads are parked on a safe place, where they can't hit the platters. On the other hand, it's still a precision device, and if you drop a disk from one meter on a hard surface, it's almost sure broken.
Actually I was more concerned about the connectors. The (sata and power) connectors are inserted in a slot on a pcb. In most cases the disk is fixed on a cradle, which is shoven in the nas. This construction is just not intended to be moved a lot. A bump will break the connectors.
A disk which is constructed to be moved, like an USB disk, has the disk fixed on the same frame as the connectors slots, so that the connectors won't be loaded extra on a bump.
Are there no 3.5" HDD's that have similar features as the 2.5" HDD's in laptops.
No. The reason that 2.5" disks are stronger, is because they are lighter, and so the forces are just smaller.

In your case I think I would put a NAS on both places, and let them sync each other over the internet. It's the golden rule for backups. Make sure that you have 2 different copies on 2 different places. Well, those places doesn't need to be a thousand kilometres apart. but it won't hurt either.
I must admit that I have no experience in doing so using the stock firmware. I have two NASses on different places which sync each other over an ssh tunnel. On one side I have no access to the nat router, so that end connects to the other, and I don't care about ports. I only need one, and it doesn't matter which.

You can have a look at btsync. It will run on about any nas on which you can install custom software. It will sync transparently, you can also run it on your PC/laptop, if you like, and it doesn't care about ports. It uses Voodoo to find each other.
I did some tests with it. Both were behind a nat router without any port forwarding. They found each other in 10 seconds, and synced straight away.

Re: Backing up files and making them available in 2 location

Posted: Thu Aug 08, 2013 8:31 am
by pgyselin
Dear Mijzelf,
thank you for the additional explanations. I understand now better the fragility of HDD.
A NAS in both locations that synch looks indeed ideal.
I am however afraid that this solution might be a bit too expensive for the low use that I will have. There is not only the cost of the second NAS but there is also (and this could be even more important) the "engineering cost" especially for the NAS in Spain.
I (and the engineer from the shop where I plan to buy the NAS in Belgium) don't speak Spanish and we don't have the contacts with the right people at the Spanish ISP. The shop in Belgium has regular contacts with the right people at the Belgian ISP but that will not be the case in Spain.
I will mention your SSH tunnel and NAT router suggestions to the shop because they seem nice ideas but I must admit this goes way above my knowledge and experience (port forwarding is already above my knowledge).
Thank you for all the explanations, advice and help

Re: Backing up files and making them available in 2 locations

Posted: Tue May 29, 2018 9:51 am
by Dweller
I agree with your use case (i back up my work laptop to B2 and to Google Drive, and it’s been a bit of work learning how to keep their configurations manually synced) - however I’ve learned it’s not too hard to keep the sources and filters, at least, synced - when you make changes to one, just switch to “edit as text” mode, ctrl-A / copy, then go into the other one and paste. It is a bit of hassle (and there’s potential to mess up as the backup you’re currently editing isn’t shown very clearly), but doable at least.