Dropbox backup geekery
September 5, 2010 1:39 PM   Subscribe

Help automate encrypted FileMaker backups on Windows Server, via Dropbox

I develop FileMaker databases for a mid-size non-profit organization (which is very small, IT-wise). These databases, with a total size of ~200 MB, are hosted on a Windows 2003 server running FileMaker Pro Server 10. While local backups are being made every day, I have been attempting to set up automated off-site backups, presumably using Dropbox (which I know and love).

The catch is that the data are sensitive and legally protected, and would need to be stored in encrypted form. Ideally, the workflow would look like this:

FileMaker Server makes automated backup to local folder on server (this happens already automatically) -> folder automatically turned into an encrypted file -> encrypted file moved to Dropbox folder -> Dropbox uploads the backup in the background

then deleting old backups as the Dropbox disk fills up.

While I am consulting with my IT colleagues, none of them are quite familiar with these technologies and I would like to demonstrate that this is, in fact, possible (and that personal data are not going to spill out into the open in any event). The catch for me is how to set up automatic encryption for a folder of database backups, and then moving that file to be uploaded to Dropbox.

I'm aware of Dropbox's size limits, and at even 10 different backup sets fitting on a standard free account (2.0 GB) that's not a problem here.

Any geeky advice (or warnings on why this is a horrible idea) would be much appreciated!
posted by trouserlouse to Computers & Internet (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Dropbox is a great service, and can be used as a backup service, but first and foremost, it isn't a backup service and won't fit these requirements, and trying to somehow pre-encrypt documents automatically is going to be a hack that makes this unpleasant and prone to breakage.

Probably use a backup service like backblaze instead, which is encrypted and tailored for changing files and data recovery. It's inexpensive, but it's better to be paying people who you are trusting with valuable data. Backup, and security are a big deal, and even backblaze is not an industrial-strength solution that big corporations would use.
posted by tmcw at 2:45 PM on September 5, 2010

Response by poster: Point taken about Dropbox and its target market. It seems to me that the same issues apply to any backup service though: what if backblaze (and not Dropbox) goes out of business? You still need to encrypt files before putting them on backblaze too, since you cannot trust any outside body with the unencrypted files.

Short of running your own FTP server, it seems these problems would be inherent in any solution, Dropbox or backblaze or whoever else. Or maybe I've overlooked something?
posted by trouserlouse at 4:55 PM on September 5, 2010

An online backup service going out of business only has an impact if you need to recover data on the day that the servers are shut down and your local tapes are all bad. If everything is running fine at the local site you just pick a new backup provider and start the process again.

Backblaze (and Mozy, and Carbonite, etc.) encrypt the files before sending them across the network. You can easily configure it so that the provider has no access to your encryption key if you so choose.
posted by Max Camber at 11:43 PM on September 5, 2010

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