How I do backups – Part One: The Theory

Writing this up cause someone was asking me about it, and its one of those things that I’m actually pretty proud of. Its however a slightly complicated setup, involving many pieces of hardware and software working together. I’ll be starting with what I expect out of my backup setup, and an overview of how its setup. Part 2  will cover the software I use in a bit more detail and why I use it.

Since I’m using ‘only’ backing up 2-3 systems and the ones that need backing up and bare metal restoration on failure run windows, I’ve chosen to run a very similar setup on them. I’ve a few basic rules in place when designing the setup which are a mix of (bitter) experience and things that have worked well for me in the past.

One is none. I’d like a minimum of *three* different backup locations for anything important. Four is nice. I’ll eventually be looking at off site storage, but for now, that’s a large hard drive on my main desktop (which also acts as a central hub for replicating backups), a network attached storage device, and a fileshare on my linux box hosting live or semi live backups, and a spare copy that’s not super up to date. In theory I can survive 2/3 backup locations going down with at most a reinstall of the OS on the desktop or linux box.

Different backups types are treated separately. Music gets file level backups since rebuilding my collection would be a pain. Windows *system drives* get imaged for quick restoration, and I keep a week’s worth of incrementals. I’ve tested my backup software for a worst case scenario (drive failure – restored to an empty drive and checked if it boots) and checked that I can do file level recovery from there.

I also never have the *primary* copy of a backup set (the copy that’s initially backed up to) where its most likely to be accessed from. Music’s updated on the desktop, but the share I usually use is on the linux box. Backups are saved to the NAS, but should my desktop SSD or my fail,  I’ll likely use the local copy for restores.

I tend to standardise on windows file shares/smb for slinging files around since I’m typically backing up from windows boxen and at least one end of my backups are on windows.

If I have a single point of failure, its my desktop, since one of its hard drives is a backup repository, and its the ‘hub’ from which I replicate backups.

The *primary* backup storage at the moment is a seagate nas. Its 3tb, entirely standalone. While I can use a password protected share, I’m using one without one since I’ve had massive headaches with the previous, fairly securely setup primary backup setup. If everything *else* goes north, that’s where my backups would end up.

Previously I was using my brix as a primary backup, running fedora (and with selinux turned on) 1TB hard drive with about half of it used for backups. For some reason my laptop would be able to write, but not *overwrite*/amend/delete files so it wasn’t a very good primary backup. Going with ubuntu or a nas centric platform might have been a better idea, but the fedora box has other uses. Its currently my third line backup, with backups sent from the main desktop – which can connect reliably to it.

I also have an external HDD which acts as an additional layer of backups, tho its not kept updated like the other copies.

More on what software I actually use next.

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