How to simply back up to a remote disk without putting my data in the cloud?
December 29, 2011 1:44 PM   Subscribe

Simple way to do remote backups to a network-attached storage device? I prefer to avoid using commercial cloud services like Mozy, but would like offsite backup at a relative's house on a disk I own.

I have several laptops, but can easily make do with backing up just one computer that holds all my files.

I've spent a lot of time searching, but the closest I've gotten is Crashplan (and others) that allows you to back up to someone else's computer. That sounds exactly what I want, except it involves that remote computer owner having his computer on when the backup is scheduled. I don't want to intrude like that each time.

I'd like to buy a NAS, go to my relative's house, and just plug in the NAS to their router. Or, can you suggest something similarly simple? I see some people have used workarounds to achieve this with Crashplan, but I'm not as computer-savvy, and those workarounds seem unreliable anyway. Or people using rsync with two ReadyNAS units but I'm not sure this is as simple as I need it to be.

It feels like there must be a simple solution to this, but I'm not having any luck. Can you suggest how I can back up remotely without going on a public cloud?

posted by ccl6yl to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Check out Crashplan
posted by jchaw at 1:53 PM on December 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm constantly amazed at how complicated backup can be. It's puzzling.

That said: I don't have any personal experience with this, but a Pogoplug sounds like it might solve your problem.
posted by gd779 at 1:53 PM on December 29, 2011

You might be interested in a Pogoplug device. You have to dig around their site a bit to find the information about how it works, since they're pushing their cloud service. But I'm pretty sure the device allows you to do what you want.
posted by maxim0512 at 1:55 PM on December 29, 2011

Sometimes asking the question is itself a good indicator that you should probably not be doing it yourself.

You need to answer the following:

How will connectivity be arranged? (Without a rendezvous point in the Internet you are going to need to arrange to tunnel through their firewall, deal with dynamic IP issues, and do on)

What bandwidth is available to me? How will I police it to be friendly to said relative?

How much am I paying per backed up byte? (if you are using a NAS that solves the former you are NOT cost competitive)

You are underestimating the complexity of doing it right and probably doing very poor accounting in terms of providing yourself with a reasonable level of service. Use backblaze, crash plan, or some other service.
posted by rr at 2:13 PM on December 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

Rsync with an appliance like ReadyNAS is about as simple as possible. If that is too much, then I would strongly suggest you use an off-the-shelf turnkey solution.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 2:36 PM on December 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Simple is in the eye of the beholder.

A NAS device that speaks SFTP or FTPS (QNAS does the later) plus Areca backup would work. You would need to poke holes in the friend's firewall.
posted by fief at 2:47 PM on December 29, 2011

If you look around Crashplan's support site, you should be able to find information on how to install it on Intel powered NASs.

You can also get it running on ARM based NASs. I pulled together other people's advice and put together a simple script (self-link) that will install it on PogoPlugs and derivaties that have been "upgraded" to running the ARM version of Debian. It works pretty well, other than having to restart the daemon every week or two.
posted by Good Brain at 2:49 PM on December 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

I should add though, that I opted against using crashplan to backup to a friend or family members location. I don't like depending too much on free services, and their unlimited household plan was a decent value. Since I trusted their paid off-site backup service, I didn't really feel compelled to have another off-site backup.
posted by Good Brain at 3:00 PM on December 29, 2011

Or people using rsync with two ReadyNAS units but I'm not sure this is as simple as I need it to be.

Well, how simple do you need it to be? You know about rsync already, so you're at least close to having the knowledge needed. At the very least, your NAS plan can work, depending on what kind of connectivity you can expect. The best would be to have ssh, because then you can run either rsync, or put together your own backup stuff with scp. You're still basically just copying files from one place to another, whether that place is the cloud, a tape, or your uncle's house. So, my recommendation is to find something that allows inbound connections using standard clients, then you can begin to evaluate their relative specialties.

Frankly I don't know why there isn't yet an open-source dropbox and/or crashplan thing to turn any shell account or personal server into a backup target.
posted by rhizome at 3:23 PM on December 29, 2011

Thank you for all your suggestions. I will first give Pogoplug a try, unless I see other ideas here.

I did consider using Crashplan on a NAS or just doing rsync... but I've never done it, and will defer the learning and experimenting for now.
posted by ccl6yl at 4:00 PM on December 29, 2011

Just to point one issue out with the rsync-like options. Your files will be unencrypted.
posted by Good Brain at 4:29 PM on December 29, 2011

Your files will be unencrypted.

Rsync would go over SSH, so they would be encrypted in transit over the network. On the NAS though, that is up to the file system on the NAS.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 7:18 PM on December 29, 2011

posted by dgeiser13 at 1:51 PM on December 30, 2011

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