How can I improve my sync/backup plan?
December 3, 2012 10:01 AM   Subscribe

Currently my computer backup/sync setup seems to be working ok, but I think it can be improved. Please give me some ideas/suggestions.

I have what I call my "master" computer. The computer is backed-up nightly on a network drive. I also backup the computer about once a month to an external hard drive (probably should be more often to the external drive).

I also have several other secondary computers that I use (some laptops and desktops). On these computers I use VPN to get to the "master" network and download/mirror the files from the "master" network. This is strictly a 1-way process (master network to secondary computers). If I alter a file on the secondary computer I use Google Drive or Dropbox to transfer files, then will eventually copy the files from the Dropbox/Google Drive folders to the "master" computer folders.

The method seems a little clunky, but it works ok. I could get a paid subscription to Dropbox or Google Drive and have all files sync across all computers, but I'm terrified at the thought of accidently deleting/changing a file on one computer and having it propogate to all computers. The current method adds a little extra security, because I have to manually copy a file to my "master" computer to include it.

Am I paranoid about maintaining a safe "master" computer? How could I streamline the process?
posted by aarondesk to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
What do you use to backup nightly? If it is an incremental backup, is restoring from a previous backup 3 days ago an option? If so, then why would you be paranoid about using something like Dropbox at all? If you made a mistake and that mistake got sync'd back to your "Master", then you wouldn't have anything to fear because an earlier snapshot of that folder is available on your backup.

If that is not possible, I would say an incremental backup system would improve your setup.

Also, are all your backups physically in the same spot? How is your disaster protection setup? If you have a fire do you risk losing it all? Make sure you have something setup to rotate backups to somewhere off site. I store mine in a safe deposit box at my bank and rotate it out about every 2-3 months.

I don't think I could trust an online "cloud" backup solution for all my stuff... I use DropBox, but I have my DropBox backed up via TimeMachine on my Mac which offers the incremental backups that I like.
posted by nickerbocker at 10:26 AM on December 3, 2012

Dropbox gives a 30-day period from which you could recover deleted files. That being said, I don't think of Dropbox as a backup so much as a file sync service.

The thing I notice about your setup is it's not clear if you have an off-site backup. You have the "network drive" but I can't tell if the physical drive is off-site or just on another computer you have around. If it's still on site, seriously look into having something off site in case of fire. Whether it's a rotation of external hard drive or a service (Crashplan, Mozy, BackBlaze, Carbonite, Amazon S3/Glacier) - you want to have something offsite in case of fire/flood/theft.

On preview... what nickerbocker said.
posted by neilbert at 10:30 AM on December 3, 2012

Technically the network drive isn't offsite since it's in another building of my work complex. I should be more diligent about an off-site copy, but I view the 2-3 secondary computers that I copy files to as my off-site backup. This may not be technically correct, and taking my external hard drive offsite would probably be more prudent.

Currently I'm using FBackup4 to backup my files nightly to the network drive (I'm a windows person). I don't believe it has incremental backup, but only mirrors the file system. Thus, I'm not getting backup snapshots in time. Perhaps there is better software I should use.

Any suggestions?
posted by aarondesk at 11:12 AM on December 3, 2012

I think unlimited data backup on Crashplan for $5/month might be right for you because you can select what files to back up (unlike BackBlaze which backs up everything) and this information which addresses your deletion concern:

We never throw anything away
Unlike other backup products, CrashPlan keeps your deleted files forever (unless you tell us not to.) No matter how much time passes after you delete a file, you can get it back. (Files backed up to CrashPlan Central are retained as long as you have an active subscription or free trial).
posted by Dansaman at 11:48 AM on December 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

I've really been digging CrashPlan for my home. I back up 5 computers with it. I got the personal unlimited plan. It's very nice, very reassuring. I've used it a couple of times for recovering an accidentally permanently deleted file here and there.
posted by kalessin at 7:44 PM on December 3, 2012

I suppose Crashplan could possibly work, but I would never trust an online service as a primary backup (perhaps as a secondary backup it could work). I have seen "trusted" backup organizations fail so I think the advice above about multiple off-site backups makes total sense.

The thoughts above have given me some ideas. I was originally interested in what others thought of my "master" computer plan, but again it sounds like I need to be more diligent about my backup efforts.
posted by aarondesk at 6:19 AM on December 4, 2012

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