[IMGCAP(1)]You’re probably as sick of backup stories as I am, but I decided to write about backup one more time. So if the thought of another backup article induces a spate of nausea, feel free to skip this post. I understand, and maybe next month’s will be of more interest.

I have to be upfront about this. When it comes to backup, I’m really one of those “Do as I say and not as I do” kinds of person. Considering I’ve been using computers since the late ’60s, I should (and do) know better. I do have Acronis set to back up my production PC every night to a Seagate NAS on our network. Sometimes I even remember to check and make sure it’s actually doing that, though I don’t remember the last time I actually did a restore to verify that the backups are actually viable.

More recently, I received a “personal cloud” from Seagate. It has 8TB of storage, and it’s meant more as a media server, but in reality, whatever you call it, it’s a NAS. When I got it, I immediately backed up all of the past few years’ worth of Word documents, Excel spreadsheets and accounting files. That’s in addition to backing those, and other files, onto the other NAS on the network. The Personal Cloud is set to automatically back up any file I create or save, so that’s a duplicate backup copy, at least in theory, since I haven’t actually tested its restore capability. To be fair, Seagate touts the Personal Cloud as a file-level device, while the Acronis/NAS approach doesn’t really make it easy to retrieve a specific file, though it can be done.

My playlists and music are stored on the personal cloud, and they stream nicely, so I have high hopes. I also have access to my files to and from my tablets (an iPad, Lenovo Android and, most recently, a Microsoft Windows Surface 3). Since I tend to take a tablet, rather than a laptop when I travel these days, it’s nice to be able to grab a file I forgot to save on the device. Of course, I can do the same thing when I actually remember to load the files up on Dropbox. All of the NAS devices I have provide a connection to the cloud for remote access, but the personal cloud is the only one that I’ve actually set up this capability for.

I have good intentions, and one of these days, I’ll throw together a PC I can use to test whether the restore functions on these two backup devices are actually doing their job. In the meantime I try and back up current works-in-progress to Dropbox as well, so I have an offsite copy. I know that this works, since I have downloaded saved documents from Dropbox. But I have terabytes of files, applications and documents on my network, stretching back for more than a decade. Online backup is a fairly good option, especially since I have cable internet which is pretty fast. I just haven’t really gotten around to it.

One thing I had hoped to do right after the New Year was create a VPN (virtual private network) with my brother, who lives on the West Coast (I live in NY) and set up Acronis to back up there as well during the middle of the night when neither of us is using the Internet. Recently, I received a new Netgear ReadyNAS RN212. It has two mirrored 4TB drives, RAID, and dual Gigabyte ethernet ports. When used with a switch that has Trunking Capability (that essentially ties together two gigabyte ports to double the bandwidth to and from the NAS) it really speeds up backup and media streaming as well. I figured this would be a good NAS to use for this purpose, and my brother could use any leftover space for his own files and/or backup.

But my brother tells me he’s moving out of the country in a few months (no, he’s not on the run), and it’s doubtful that he will have really high-speed internet where he is relocating. So that’s another idea shot to hell. An alternative is to set the RN212 up on a VPN at my sons’ shop. Their shop is about five miles from here, which doesn’t do much good if we have another Superstorm like Sandy, but it might be better than having all of my backup storage devices here on-site.

Truth be told, I have a really poor backup plan, and it’s something I have to address really soon. The problem is I have too many places to back things up to, and I tend to just add another when I get a new storage device rather than rethink what would be really workable. And of course, I need to determine whether what I’m doing actually works.

The last time I had a major disk failure, I was lucky, and able to recover the files and applications using Zinstall’s Computer Rescue Kit. But relying on luck isn’t a viable backup plan. I have to segment my storage devices, decide which one to use as backup, and back that one up in the Cloud or over a VPN in case it’s my network that crashes, rather than just my PC.

I plan to get to that one day real soon.


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