Backups. What do you use?

  • So, as the title says: how do you keep your personal data backed up? What are your recommendations (software, services, strategies) for other people?

    I'd love to add a poll here, but it would have to be an "open" poll where you can add your options, and Discourse doesn't support that.

  • To answer myself: I'm using CrashPlan right now to keep copies of every important file on the cloud, because they had a 50% discount a while ago, I'll probably switch to BackBlaze when the subscription ends.

    Prior to that, I used two external hard drives and regularly synced files between my computer and them. Of course, then you have to pick a tool to do the syncing:

    • A simple shell script with rsync or robocopy is good if you just want a single mirrored image of some files.
    • Clonezilla. It's an open source Linux based tool to make full and incremental disk and partition images. It works well, but the interface is definitely not user-friendly.
    • AOMEI is a freeware equivalent for Windows. Much more usable.
    • Windows has a built in backup and imaging tool too, though they tried to hide it in Windows ≥8 in favour of "file history". Nobody seems to use it.

  • An external hard drive plus Time Machine (yeah, yeah, I’m using a Mac — I’m sure there must be some Windows or Linux equivalent) for the regular backups. Important advice for that: be sure to exclude directories whose contents change a lot but which you don’t need if you ever have to restore your system. Back when I used to play WoW, for example, that created several hundred megs of backups every time I played it, because it tinkered with some of its data files — and of course, even one changed bit means Time Machine makes a backup of it. I think I got about half a terabyte more free space on my backups drive from excluding one of the game's directories and deleting all the backups of that, after I investigated why space seemed to be running out so fast. It’s not like the data wouldn’t get recreated if I ever had to download the game again.

    Also, certain important things that would take a lot of work to duplicate (as in: years), I FTP at irregular times to the disk space my ISP provides me with, to keep a copy safe against fire, theft, etc.

  • OneDrive and a local NAS for documents and pictures. Might consider crash plan for the bigger stuff.

  • At work: time machine on an external HDD, but primarily I have everything (including .emacs.d) on Bitbucket.

    At home: it's only photos that matter, and I copy these to a NAS and my work computer (and thereby to time machine as well).

    Ever so often I look at online solutions, but have not found any that cut it yet, IMHO. I too would gladly take advice on this. Interestingly, none of the online backup solutions (for photos) actually guarantee to any service level at all that you will be able to restore your files, and so they end up being nothing more than yet another HDD in my NAS, which I've already payed for.

  • Two home computers, kept in loose sync with each other using Unison; Dropbox for things that would really hurt to lose if the house caught fire before I could grab one of the computers.

    At the school I netadmin, there is one box that hosts our six virtual servers. The host OS is Debian, and it's set up on top of LVM. Every night I run a backup script that (a) cleanly shuts down all the VMs (b) removes yesterday's LVM snapshots of all disk volumes (c) makes new snapshots (d) starts up all the VMs again (e) wakes up the on-site spare server via WOL, and rsyncs all the snapshots to it (f) rsyncs all the snapshots over the Internet to a full-disk-encrypted NAS I keep at my home.

    It only takes a few seconds to do the snapshot stuff, so total daily VM downtime is almost identical to what would be incurred by a normal VM restart. I generally kick off a backup session about 11pm. Backup to the onsite spare is usually complete by about 11:30pm; to offsite by about 10am next day.

    If our VM host server turns up its toes, I get us back online by transferring four Ethernet cables and two UPS monitoring cables to the spare server, removing the USB stick it normally boots from so that it will use the backed-up main server images instead, and powering it up. It doesn't have as much RAM or as many cores as the primary server so it's slower, but it gets us out of trouble.

    If the school burns down, I can bring our operating environment back from the dead by booting a replacement server from a copy of that same USB stick, then rsyncing from the drives in my backup NAS.

    I don't back up any of the school workstations.

  • I have a simple backup of the whole Documents folder, which also includes copies of the few files I 'need' to set up my PC - things like Visual Studio styles, Steam configs, etc.

    I use Microsoft SyncToy as most of my document folder is small files which would take forever to copy if I had to do the whole folder.

    I also occasionally take a screenshot of the programs and features window to remind me of the names of programs I find useful but don't need too often.

  • Dropbox for important files, as I own like 3-4 Dropbox-able devices and so I get that many backups of them instantly.

    Amazon Glacier for less important stuff (and also the Dropbox folder.) I use Cloudberry, it works really well.

  • I have 2 offline servers with redundant zfs filesystems for backup. And the same files are synced to backblaze via my always on server.
    Some day i'll get around to making a rsync script. For now i just copy the files manually.

  • kills Dumbledore

    Photos are backed up on Google + and OneDrive. My hobby programming projects are in TFS on Visual Studio Online. Any documents I want to keep or access remotely get added to Google Drive. Games are all available to redownload on Steam. I think that covers most of it

  • OS: Win7.

    For whole-disk backups I use Paragon DriveCopy.

    For directory-tree level backups, I use a program I wrote myself that uses FindFirstFileW and friends to scan nominated source and destination directories and update anything that looks different. "Different" means "not the same size, OR not the same last-write date OR changed from directory to file or vice versa". It does not include "not the same checksum" or other billshut because that's too slow. New files or directories are copied using CopyFileW for files and CreateDirectoryW and recursive entry for directories. Files/directories that exist only in the destination are deleted. The W variants of the I/O functions are used because they allow over-length path names.

    I tried using the Cygwin build of rsync for directory tree backup, but found it to be monstrously slow when duplicating directory trees within the same machine. The thing I built is bounded by I/O, and can get 60% utilisation of a gigabit network link when backing up between two machines in the LAN. (In this case, it is bounded by local disk I/O.)

  • To all users of Crashplan [and I do use it for specific things]....have fun. Simulate a hard crash of a few hundred GB [or better a multi-TB crash], and try to do a recovery.

    MOST have failed, and there is plenty of "flame" directed at CrashPlan. Recently (too lazy to find link) there was talk about forming a class action suit against them.

  • For full disk images, I've used Clonezilla. You can download a PXE-boot version or a Live CD (it's a Debian derivative that includes the Clonezilla scripts).

  • Hm... I've managed to recover small files without problem. I'll have to read on this.

    I do concede that the program is generally slow and shitty, and often you have to wait a full day because it's doing "archive maintenance".

  • Floppy disk in my safety deposit box.

    Actually, I'm using whatever's built into Windows 8 to backup My Documents to a secondary hard drive. I haven't had to use it yet.

  • @TheCPUWizard said:

    To all users of Crashplan [and I do use it for specific things]....have fun. Simulate a hard crash of a few hundred GB [or better a multi-TB crash], and try to do a recovery.

    MOST have failed, and there is plenty of "flame" directed at CrashPlan. Recently (too lazy to find link) there was talk about forming a class action suit against them.

    Actually I had a hard drive crash, as a Crashplan user. I have a macbook with SSD (yes, yes, I'm TRWTF), and there were some hardware issues that caused those SSD's to die. Luckily, I had Crashplan, and I was able to download the backup just fine (though it took ages).
    I've looked around briefly. I've seen some complaints, but mostly the reviews are positive. True, the upload speed it terribly slow, but my big files rarely change, so no issues there. I found some guy complaining about having lost all his files because Crashplan lost his backup - it seemed that he considered his backup as storage, rather than backup, or both his backup and HDD crashed at the same time, I can't tell...

    So all in all, I'm quite happy with it. And by the looks of it, many others here are, too. If you have any links to complaints, I'd love to read them; if I don't trust them, I'll stop using them.

  • So some guy complains about losing all his files due to a faulty backup solution and you consider that a "meh"?

    They're a goddamn BACKUP SOLUTION! THEY HAD ONE JOB!

  • BackupPC using rsync for my home network, Retrospect and Windows Server Backup for work network.

  • I was using SyncBack Free to mirror my data to a NAS weekly.
    I never had an hdd failure and I'm not doing much at home so it's been ok so far.

    Now I'm setting up a new PC and I'm open to other options, I'd like to try an incremental-backup solution. I'm okay to spend some money, say 50$, for something that works. I might actually upgrade to the SE version.

  • @Maciejasjmj said:

    So some guy complains about losing all his files due to a faulty backup solution and you consider that a "meh"?

    They're a goddamn BACKUP SOLUTION! THEY HAD ONE JOB!

    I consider it to be quite bad. I'd expect them to have several copies of the data in independently hosted locations, as Google does.
    However, this happened to one user. And this user seemed to have used the backup system as storage. But when using something as a storage, IMHO it's a good idea to have a backup of said storage, even if it's "in the cloud". With a backup going down, you should pretty much always have the original data available to create a new backup.
    That's the key point of a backup: to have the data in more than one place, such that it can survive one of those places going down - be it by harddrive crash, fire, or some mistake by a company.
    So in my opinion the bigger WTF here is the guy apparently using the backup system as storage. Either that, or the guy had an incredible amount of bad luck with the harddrive crashing around the same day. No way to protect against that, except by creating another backup.

  • @Evo said:

    it seemed that he considered his backup as storage, rather than backup

    This appears to be quite a common misconception: “I have a backup so I can delete the files from my hard drive.” No, it’s a backup, not an archive.

    Since this is a help and tips thread, it may be good to spell it out: If you delete the original, the copy is no longer a backup but the only one left. What’s more, if you use automated software that makes regular backups for you, you may lose old backups without even knowing it because the backup drive starts getting full and the software deletes the oldest ones. This may lead to the loss of your only copy of a file if you’re using the backup as storage/archive.

  • @mott555 said:

    Floppy disk in my safety deposit box.

    1985 called. They want their disk back.

  • Acronis separate full images on 2 usb drives, alternately rotated out every month from safe deposit box monthly.

    I don't bother with more frequent backups as most ongoing important stuff is also either duplicated in my email provider's server from communications with clients, or my LLC (real estate) and S-Corp (IT company) key files are on Google Drive. Rest is personal stuff I can do without if it died. Confidential files are few and rarely change, not kept on Google Drive.

    I am considering joining the 21st century subscribing to Carbonite to reduce my trips to the deposit box and allow for a "recover from anywhere" setup.

  • @redwizard said:

    1985 called. They want their disk back.

    They can't have it. They're going to have to install AOL some other way.

  • @redwizard said:

    safe deposit box

    Is there any point to that, instead of any other off-site location? Is it highly sensitive data?

  • @anonymous234 said:

    Is it highly sensitive data?

    Some data include tax forms of other individuals that co-own the LLCs I own, among other things. Such items are not for the likes of Dropbox, Google Drive, etc.

  • Grade A Premium Asshole

    I use our backup software to backup all of our business and personal data to the datacenter.

    Prior to that, I used a VPN link to keep all of our data synced using DFS. That...sucked. DFS requires a lot of care and feeding. Utter rubbish compared to RSync. Opensores got something right with that one.

    If I didn't own a business that did online backups, I would use Backblaze for personal backups. Their business products are rubbish, but you can't beat their product/price ratio on the personal side. Also, I rather like the way they run their business.

  • mod

    @Mikael_Svahnberg said:

    @abarker said:
    But you didn't even have a backup plan in place? My phone, my wife's phone, and my tablet all backup weekly to SD cards and cloud storage.

    Manually or with a tool? Please share in the backup thread.

    I use Lookout Mobile Security to do scheduled weekly cloud based backups of my mobile devices to the cloud. They only backup data (call logs, photos, videos, documents, etc.)to their servers, so if anything happens, I'll lose my settings and game saves but that's not a major issue for me.

    My G3 (and my wife's) has a built in backup feature that lets me backup to a cloud drive and SD card settings and data. It used to let me schedule, but that option was taken away when I upgraded to Lollipop.

    Now that I think of it, I don't use anything other than Lookout on my tablet. It's mainly just there for my kids to play on, so there isn't anything critical on it.

  • Home - Backblaze - cheaper than CrashPlan and I've never had an issue with it.

    Mobile - I only care about the photos and videos of my kid - they're automatically uploaded to Dropbox. I sprung for the paid plan and the "oops I screwed up" deleted/revision history.

    Work - CloudBerry backup to Dreamhost DreamObjects (cheaper than to Amazon S3) for the few Windows systems. Database is backed up using wal-e to the same location.

  • My oldest backups..

    And THEIR backups..

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