Long-term offsite data storage (not minute-to-minute backup)?
July 8, 2014 12:13 PM   Subscribe

Can anyone suggest a good service to store data offsite, for long-term secure storage? This is as opposed to, say, minute-to-minute backups of your hard drive.

I don't want a piece of crufty 3rd software uploading, in the background of my Internet connection, every tiny change to every file on my hard drive - as I can use my local Time Capsule for that small stuff. (That seems to be what's suggested in this 2014 post and this 2010 post and this 2009 post, though correct me if I'm wrong.)

Instead, I have a bunch of data - 1 or 2 terabytes - that I'd like to upload all in one go (or even better, fedex a hard drive) and just know that it's somewhere safe and secure for the long term. If I need to download a copy, I'd want online access to the data, but it doesn't have to be immediate or mirrored on a virtual local drive or something.

Bonus points if this isn't run through Amazon or Google (trying to diversify my suppliers), though would still want a solid, reputable company.
posted by mark7570 to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Companies I know who have needs like this tend to use Iron Mountain.

I don't have the foggiest idea how much it costs, but they have a range of services from fully-hand-held records management down to "toss your crap in a file box and call us and we'll haul it away until you want it back" pure storage.

Quite a few companies I've worked with have used the crap-in-a-box service, which basically involves putting backup tapes into file boxes and then when the box gets full (or every week/month/whatever), the Iron Mountain truck comes by and hauls it away to a salt mine or something. If you don't call them to retrieve the box within some specified amount of time, they destroy it and the contents. It's very low tech, because if you want anything out of that box they physically retrieve the whole box, but it's also cheaper (or so I have been led to believe) than any sort of online or nearline storage.

I think they will also do online storage/retrieval now, if that's a hard requirement.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:21 PM on July 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

How far offsite do you need?

Our "cold storage" data in the form of LTO-4 tapes go into a safe deposit box at a bank down the street, for which we pay somewhere in the neighborhood of $1500 a year.
posted by Oktober at 12:32 PM on July 8, 2014

You want Amazon S3 Glacier. If you need your data you have to request it and it takes a few hours to bring back online.
posted by COD at 12:33 PM on July 8, 2014

safety deposit box with hard drive/tape, or amazon s3 glacier
posted by TheAdamist at 12:35 PM on July 8, 2014

For all the people suggesting Glacier, note that the OP indicated that they would prefer something that wasn't run by Amazon (or Google)

For less than the cost of storing $1-2tb on Glacier, you could use Crashplan Unlimited for 1 computer, 1) Shut it down when you aren't using it and/or 2) Only have it backup the specific files you are interested in.

You'd also have the option of having it do regular *off-site* backups to your other files. TimeMachine isn't an off-site backup solution. All things being equal, you'd probably prefer having those files than not after say, a house fire. You can set Crashplan to limit the upstream bandwidth used, CPU utilization, times of day it runs, etc.
posted by Good Brain at 12:52 PM on July 8, 2014

2nding Good Brain, For 1 or 2 terabytes (which isn't that much really), I would just use a normal backup software like CrashPlan. If your internet connection is very slow or expensive, you could use the seeded backup service, http://support.code42.com/CrashPlan/Latest/Backup/Seeded_Backup . If you don't like it running in the background, you can just configure it to run once a day only when the computer is completely idle, or completely manually.

Just be aware that Glacier can become prohibitively expensive when it's time to restore all the data, as you need to pay for restore fees and outbound data transfer (if my calculations are correct, it's over $250 to restore 2TB of data).
posted by Sharcho at 12:56 PM on July 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

I recently restored some data from 1988-1989 and it had been kept all this time on tape, untouched, in a safe deposit box. I also use LTO tapes in the safe deposit box today for long-term offsite storage. There is absolutely no reason to believe any web service you can pay for today will exist in future years. You need to do this yourself, and over the years you need to read your old tapes yourself and move the data to current models. (Mine being 20+ years old was a failure of my predecessors to do this, but still posed little problem. All the tapes were readable. Getting together the working hardware was the challenge.)

You should write the tapes in an open and portable format, for which Free software is widely and readily available. There will still be tar in 20 years, even if you have to find the old source and build it yourself, but ProfitableBackupCorp and their SuperBackupCryptExpress 7.1 product will be long gone.
posted by fritley at 2:06 PM on July 8, 2014

If you do choose magnetic tape, make sure to store the tapes vertically.
posted by djb at 3:04 PM on July 8, 2014

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