Help needed organizing and backing-up a LAN
December 29, 2009 11:06 AM   Subscribe

Dear AskMefi, I need help organizing and backing-up my home LAN.

I've clogged over time a simple LAN setup. Now a creative solution is welcome before a HDD crash occurs or worse. Here's a list of what is on my LAN and what type of data is in there.

- Router: Linksys WRT54GS + Tomato
- NAS: Dlink DNS-323
--- 1.5 TB (2x 750 GB - non RAID) - Video, music, photos (like 21mp RAW - I'm a compulsive photographer)

- Server - 802.11g - Always on (For painfull reasons, it's wireless)
--- Recent videos (like TV shows)
--- Tversity broadcasting upnp (mostly for the xbox 360)

- 2x Laptops - 802.11g
- 1x Desktop - 802.11g + 1.5 TB HDD
- 1x Xbox 360 - 802.11g
- 1x Xbox (XBMC) - 802.11g (Stopped using it because it's not HD)
+ various handheld wireless stuff.

Obvious flaws:
- Even though I'v installed Ubuntu on multiple occasion, I'm not confident enough in using it for server or other purposes. I've wasted a lot of time on computers and I don't have much free time now with 2 kids to fool around. So it's XP all the way. ^^

- The NAS is wired to the router and is called each time I'm using Tversity through the server (wireless) with the xbox 360. Far from optimal but it works.

- This NAS has no backup policy actually. I'm launching Backer 6 from time to time to replicate its data over an HDD enclosure with a 1.5 TB on it.

My solutions:
- CRON on the server to automate nightly backups on the HDD enclosure
- Buy another DNS-323 with 2x 1.5 TB HDD RAID 1. As the first DNS-323 is almost full, it would give me some space to backup-up everything then to also convert the old 750 GB drives to Raid 1. My only concern is reliability as larger than 1 TB HDD seem to be prone to errors.
- Make some room in the RAW pictures library that is becoming humongus.

May you suggest another configuration / hardware / software that would help me solve what's actually the equivalent of a messy teenager room? ^^

Thanks a lot.
posted by Bio11 to Computers & Internet (4 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
This doesn't answer your question directly, but might be used in concert with others' answers. How much content, especially music/video/RAW photo files, really needs to be online and immediately searchable/accessible? Moving some of it to DVD (plus maybe a redundant DVD copy) would lighten the backup load a bit. You can even organize at the same time, by creating an index (say, a simple spreadsheet) with file names and key words to keep on the NAS to help you locate offline files without having to manually search multiple DVDs.
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:35 AM on December 29, 2009

With your Windows-based network, I'd suggest Windows Home Server. It's designed to be a dead-simple server for up to 5 Windows clients and can serve content to Xbox 360s as a media extender. You can purchase it as either on hardware (from various manufacturers) or purchase the OS and install on your own hardware.

I was a beta tester and eventually purchased the OS after the formal release, and have it running on home-built hardware - it currently has 2.5TB of storage available on my network, and I've got automated daily back-ups of the Windows-based machines on the network. My Tivos can even see it and access the movies that I've recorded over the years and saved off for long-term storage.

More info here:
posted by Jim T at 11:51 AM on December 29, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks Greg, but I'll rather not juggle with DVDs anymore. ^^ (1 DVD is worth one day of pictures if I do not take care of deleting anything.)

Jim, it sound like a good plan. Thanks! I'll check MS prices asap.

Despite my nonwillingness to get more into linux, I was wondering how much of a struggle it would be to use/configure FreeNas (or virtualize it) for the purpose of handling all these files.
posted by Bio11 at 12:29 PM on December 29, 2009

Best answer: has the WHS for $99.99, and you can buy whole servers starting at $250 all-in (with 640GB of storage).

Before WHS, I played around with FreeNas and found it to be a decent, useful project. But it appeared to be catering more to the non-Windows clients. Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course.

It could do everything that I wanted, serving media to the clients on my network and act as a storage repository for computer back-ups. But I still had to initiate the back-up from each client (or have it scheduled from each client).

However, when WHS came out, I realized it was a better solution for me. The Drive Manager functionality is kind of like a JBOD RAID solution - instead of seeing the individual 3 drives in my server (2 x 1TB SATA, 1 x500GB external USB), it sees it as one big 2.5TB 'cloud'. Also, the WHS Connector you install on each client will automatically back-up the machine on a daily basis, even if the machine is sleeping. And it's an incremental back-up, so only the files that have changed since the previous back-up will be archived. Saves a ton of space when backing up.

Then there's the * domain access - I can log into my server from work and upload/download files or access any client using a version of Terminal Services/Remote Desktop (applies to any non-Home version of XP, Vista, or Windows 7 - the RDC functionality is disabled in the Home versions of the desktop OS).

You are supposed to manage everything from the Home Server Console, which is the precursor to the Management Console in Server 2008 and Exchange 2010. As the product is marketed primarily to the less technically inclined (ease of use, etc.), Microsoft recommends that people don't interact directly with the OS. However, it's built on the Server 2003 code base, so if you're familiar with the Server OS, you can do much more with it.

Check out the add-ins that have been developed for WHS, so you can see how flexible it is:
posted by Jim T at 1:00 PM on December 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

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