Did you back it up?

That’s a question you usually don’t want to hear directly after a hard disk crash.

I would how ever gladly shout yes and then retrieve all data down to the last change. I’ve more or less always lived in fear of loosing my data. All photos, documents and other stuff that gathered up through the years are priceless.  And there aren’t not that many good options for an effortless and set-and-forget backup as it turns out.

How it used to work

Previously I used two different external hard drives with one home and the other one stored in some off-site location like work. Backup made weekly and disks rotated.
Or at least that’s how it should have worked in theory. In practice I often skipped the weekly backup, forgot to rotate and felt that it was a hassle keeping data secure. Another annoying thing was that my wife and myself didn’t have some kind of shared space for photos. I got a large chunk of photos on my computer, she had the rest on her laptop.

How I wanted it to work

I envisioned a solution that would meet certain criteria:

  • Allow multiple computers to store data in a shared space.
  • It had to be fast so that I could stream movies directly from it.
  • It had to live through a hard disk crash without trouble.
  • It had to keep my data secure even if my apartment burnt down or if there was theft.
  • Data had to be instantly backed up. No more of that weekly scheduler.

How it works now

So I started to look around for what seemed I thought would be either really expensive or hard to use.
But during the week I found a solution that meets all my criteria costed me about $460 in initial cost and then $14.95 monthly. I can live with that.

To make a story short I’ve bought a NAS (Network-attached storage) which holds all my data and instantly mirrors it on two disks. It’s been mounted on all computers at home so that we all share the same 2TB of storage and uses it as a normal internal hard drive. I’ve then signed up for an backup service called iDrive that does an incremental backup of all data as soon as something changes on the network drive.

NAS: DS211j – this is the device that you insert one or two disk into and that makes sure you don’t have to think about replicating stuff on to the other disk. It also comes with a lot of other features that you may or may not want, like FTP, torrent client, Webserver and so on.

Disks: I bought two identical SATA-600 2.0TB 5900.3 64MB Seagate Barracuda Green since Seagate has always worked for me and saved me from data loss in the first place. All disks does’t work with the NAS so u better check it up on their list of compatible drives then google the combination to find if it really works, or you can just trust me when I say that my combination above works like a charm for those that have choosen it.

Off-site backup: I have tried Crashplan, iDrive, Backblaze and a few others and concluded that right now there isn’t any fast and price worthy alternative that suits my needs.  Backblaze won’t backup your NAS. Crashplan won’t backup your NAS without a hack, iDrive is painstakingly slow.

I signed up with iDrive for $14.95/month. A reasonable price considering it essentially backs up all my computers at home by backing up the NAS. I’ve tried and read about a _lot_ of different services and ways to do this. I even signed up for backblaze only to find out that they didn’t support network drives when it came to the fine print. But I’m happy with iDrive, takes a while to upload everything the first time of course but after that it’s a breeze.

So when for instance my wife uploads some new photos to the NAS I instantly have access to them and can view and edit them on my computer. At the same time my computer silently starts to upload the files to iDrive. If a disk would fail in the NAS I would just replace it and everything would be rebuilt without my interference. If my NAS was stolen, all data would be available on iDrive. There isn’t any single point of failure here, reading and writing is snappy and it’s a set-and-forget solution.

Yay :)
Feel free to post some questions if you want to know more about the details of my setup or how to install the disks or anything like that.