Offsite / Offline Data Storage
December 21, 2012 9:02 AM   Subscribe

I would like to keep an offsite backup of certain files (various financial docs, my iTunes library, and some photos)--say, 200 gigs total. I've considered storing them online with Crashplan, but the cost of the unlimited plan for multiple computers (mine and SO's) and the bandwidth to push that data out leave me meh. Thinking of getting another HD and keeping it at work. Can I run something by you?

The plan overall is that I would keep the drive at work and bring it home overnight, update changed files and then take it back the next day. I realize that, for one night a week (or month/whatever), all the backups would be in the same location. Currently, all my backups are in the same location 365 days a year, so this is a significant risk mitigation. I'm an employee (with a locking office with locking drawers)--it's not my own business, fwiw.

I have a stack of HDs on my desk that I could use, but they're all platter based, and I'm thinking that if I were to carry a traditional hard drive in my bag and then unthinkingly run for the bus or something, that would be bad. Is that just superstitious thinking? Or should I get an SSD?

On SSDs, do they really need to be in an enclosure? I'm thinking of something like this Crucial model that comes with a SATA to USB cable. I thought I might just keep it inside an anti-static bag inside a small Pelican case when I take it to work. Is that OK, or should I buy an enclosure and put the enclosure in the Pelican case?

I plan to encrypt the drive.

Has anyone actually done this? Is this just a dumb idea?
posted by Admiral Haddock to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
2 disks each in an enclosure, stored off site, alternate the backup schedule A / B / A / B .....

There is always 1 off site, and you can accept a single failure without being hosed.
posted by jannw at 9:14 AM on December 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think carting a hard drive back and forth each day is a recipe for dropping it, losing it, or having it be stolen.

A more realistic solution might be to keep a bi-weekly or monthly backup at work, and figure out something else for daily backups. Do you have detached garage or friendly neighbor within wifi range? A NAS located outside of the house would probably give you a ton of off-side backup benefits while still being accessible enough to automate your backup schedule.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 9:15 AM on December 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

The A/B is a good idea, but you're not answering the three key questions for any backup scenario:

- How much do you mind losing, and
- How fast do you want it back, and
- How fast is the data changing

Looking at the answer to those questions, you can come up with a plan to do a full backup to an SSD or similar, and incrementals/differentials thereafter, until it comes time to do another full.

I'd actually look at taking a full on a monthly basis to physical media, and doing a differential backup (all changes since the last full) to disk that gets pushed into the cloud.
posted by bfranklin at 9:25 AM on December 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Don't get an SSD, they're great for active use but probably overpriced as a backup medium. I'd suggest buying a couple of external USB drives like this to use as offsite backup, and alternate them.
posted by axiom at 9:29 AM on December 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Have you looked at Amazon's Glacier? It's REALLY REALLY Cheap and perfect for things you don't need fast. There are a bunch of nice front end clients for Windows and Mac. That price is really hard to beat.
posted by Blake at 9:33 AM on December 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

We use a small safety deposit box at a local bank, with two backup drives: one for home (backed up weekly or whenever we do a lot of work), and one in the bank box. It's really safe there.

We try to swap the drives monthly, but it varies.
posted by amtho at 10:07 AM on December 21, 2012

I do the drive at work thing. At home, internal is backed up to external on my desk via time machine, so I can do incremental roll-backs if necessary. The drive at work comes home once a month or so for a complete clone. There is that one day when all the drives are in the house, so if a fire happened on that day, I'd be sunk, so I'd prefer to go to two drives at work, could I afford it.

I'm not worried about the fact that they're spinning platter drives, though. If you had 2, the chance that you damaged one by dropping or whatever would be an acceptable risk.

Stuff still happens though -- I recently did a live recording session to an external FW 800 drive, and the thing crashed WHILE I was copying the data before I even left the rehearsal space. I nearly lost everything, and am considering going to a dual-drive RAID 1 enclosure for recording sessions asap.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:17 AM on December 21, 2012

This is me. Almost exactly - 180GB, multiple computers.

I copy everything onto one drive tied to my Mac and back it up - previously via Crashplan, and am now switching over to Glacier (as Blake suggested) using a software package called Arq. It took about a week to push everything out - via cable (5Mbps upload speed). First month looks like it will cost about $7. Future months should be about $2. (The difference is because Amazon charges for requests - I'm sure there's something much more technical that can be said, but the number associated with it has been stable since the upload finished).
posted by neilbert at 10:25 AM on December 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

While Glacier is cheap, this really depends on the quantity of data stored with them.

Because Crashplan is unlimited, storing my 6TB backup with them is actually substantially cheaper than Glacier, less than 50% of the cost in fact.
posted by homotopy at 10:25 AM on December 21, 2012

Short version: Crashplan is awesome, and gives you a free month of online backups. I would recommend using it for free for a month before you write it off and go for a failure-prone manual solution.

I currently have 700 gigabytes backed up to Crashplan, and I absolutely love it. The things I add most frequently are gigantic video files representing 2 & 1/2 hours of 1080p video, and it handles them beautifully even over my connection, which until recently was 1 Mbps up. It's fast, automatic, and unobtrusive, and I get monthly emails reminding me that it’s working. It my computers don’t talk to Crashplan for a while, I get an email reminding me to check. Restoring files is a breeze. The most expensive monthly plan for more than 1 computer is $12 per month (family plan, month-to-month) You can reduce the price by buying more time. To me the cost is well worth of avoiding all the effort that would go into manually backing up and manually carting a hard drive around. It removes the possibility of forgetting, you borking something, or

Seriously, try Crashplan’s free trial for a month. If your upload is a measly 1 Mbps, I estimate that 200 GB will take about 19 days to upload. Your entire backup will be completely uploaded before your free trial expires - then you can decide if you want to pay.
posted by Tehhund at 10:35 AM on December 21, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks for all the great responses so far--I'm not a tech maven, so your experience is greatly appreciated.

Currently, I have a Time Machine backup drive in my Mac Pro, and a clone of the boot drive on an external HD. The TM is current up to the half hour, and the cloned drive I do every week or every other week.

For the files I want to back up offsite, I would not tolerate any loss, but I would be in no rush to get it back (we're talking digital copies of wedding photos and stuff like that). Glacier may be the way to go.

My concern about bandwidth wasn't so much the time it would take to push that data out, but Comcast throwing a shitfit. For those of you using Crashplan or other services, has Comcast penalized you for heavy traffic? I can't afford to have them cut me off; they're the only ISP that will give me cable internet where I live.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 1:22 PM on December 21, 2012

I find it hard to believe that any ISP would penalize you for uploading 200 GB. That's really not a lot of data. And remember, CrashPlan only updates new/changed stuff after that initial upload. Online backup is a lot more convenient that carting backup media around.
posted by Dansaman at 1:33 PM on December 21, 2012

Are you able to keep an external HD attached to your computer at work and install software on it?

Crashplan has a free plan in which you can backup your stuff to any computer, on- or off-site. You would first seed the backup HD, bring it to work and connect it to your computer, and then Crashplan would send only incremental backups from your home computer to your external HD at your work computer.

I have a Mac laptop connected to a Time Machine backup. I keep a cloned drive at work and bring it home every weekend to update. I have a backup-seeded external HD connected to my computer at work which updates incrementally the files from my Mac. I also use the Crashplan cloud backup service.

I take no chances.
posted by photovox at 1:35 PM on December 21, 2012

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