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Networking Hardware

Ask Slashdot: Network Backup Solution Out of the Box? 251

First time accepted submitter file terminator writes "I want to buy a network drive for home usage, and am looking for something that would allow for secure and encrypted remote backups over the Internet to a second network drive, preferably advanced enough that all drive content does not have to be transmitted every time. The solution may come as a pair of network drives, and two-way synching would actually be a plus. The drives would be behind respective NATs and setup must allow connecting to any target port. The solution should be readily available (no obscure/local brands/solutions) and not unreasonably expensive. Does anyone have any recommendations for a full out of the box solution?"
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Ask Slashdot: Network Backup Solution Out of the Box?

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  • I use SpiderOak (Score:5, Informative)

    by Max Romantschuk ( 132276 ) <> on Monday September 12, 2011 @01:30PM (#37378388) Homepage

    I tried to roll my own for like forever, and eventually just gave up and went for SpiderOak: []

    It can be configured to do sync, backup, or something in between. Probably not exactly what you are looking for but perhaps worth a look none the less.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I really don't get why people still "Ask Slashdot". Does anyone think they're going to get a useful answer? This response meets literally none of the OPs requirements and isn't even the same thing conceptually, yet it sits at +4 Informative and is the closest thing to an answer yet posted.

      • Re:I use SpiderOak (Score:5, Insightful)

        by subreality ( 157447 ) on Monday September 12, 2011 @02:29PM (#37379162)

        How does this fail anything? You set up a SpiderOak sync between the local machine and the remote one. Files are synced, old versions are backed up in the cloud. It works through any firewall, it does deltas, proper crypto, it's reasonably priced, and it works out of the box. It's exactly what was asked for.

      • by froggymana ( 1896008 ) on Monday September 12, 2011 @04:32PM (#37380516)

        I really don't get why people still "Ask Slashdot".

        Have you considered Asking Slashdot about that?

    • +1 spideroak. I'm also happy with JungleDisk. Both have multi-OS support, bidirectional sync, offsite backups, solid encryption, and minimal hassles.

      The downside is that you're paying per GB. Another good choice is CrashPlan which allows unlimited backups for a very reasonable price. Again, multi-OS, good crypto if you use their high security (non-password-recoverable) modes, minimal hassles. However, it doesn't have a sync feature.

      For a very easy roll-your own, I have two suggestions: BackupPC (does

      • by heypete ( 60671 )

        I second CrashPlan. I've used it for years, and it's worked quite well. No problems restoring all the data from backup after my laptop got stolen.

    • by slaker ( 53818 )

      So at approximately 21TB of actual disk usage, I'd only be looking at three months of my rent for a year of online storage.

      This is why I just bought an LTO changer.

  • DropBox (Score:2, Insightful)

    by LoudMusic ( 199347 )

    DropBox with local caching and multiple PCs. You do have multiple PCs, don't you? If you don't, GTFO. []

    • by bragr ( 1612015 ) *
      Yeah, because I want someone to be able to steal my key file and have access to my files forever.
      • []

        The alt-text is the important part of this comic; "Actual actual reality: nobody would care about his secrets"

      • by vlm ( 69642 )

        Do I really have to say this ... encrypt before you upload?

        Or maybe

        Don't back up files you wouldn't want to see in public? Seriously, its not tinfoil hat, what do you think happens during a lawsuit discovery process fishing expedition if its all documented via bills and credit card receipts? On the other hand, a USB thumb drive paid for by cash at best buy is pretty hard to legally compel discovery of, and frankly is probably more reliable than some fly by night site or boxed software.

        An interesting middl

        • Flash based devices are not a great option for backups, if cells fail there is no way you're going to be able to retrieve your data. If it's worth backing up, you probably want some degree of redundancy for your data.

      • by DrXym ( 126579 )

        Yeah, because I want someone to be able to steal my key file and have access to my files forever.

        Well then, encrypt your stuff before you save it off. e.g. an encrypted zip file. I strongly believe DropBox should do more to support encryption (e.g. allowing users to designate an encrypted folder and encryption key which never leaves the client PC) but the reality is you can encrypt to it already.

    • Yeah, Dropbox. Great product for the money, and it supports Linux, Mac, Windows, and Unix. It requires no thought on your part as files are automatically uploaded and synced to your other computer whenever they are created or updated. You can retrieve old copies of files too, which is handy when you clobber one accidentally. It supports syncing of TrueCrypt volumes. And it's free up to 2 GB. You can get additional free space (up to 8GB IIRC) if you send invites to your friends and colleagues.


    • I would expand on this answer... DropBox + TrueCrypt ... that way your stuff is synched and you can keep your stuff private from even the truecrypt people (or the gov't). I don't think this is quite the optimal solution, but is a decent one. An rsync repository over an ssl/ssh connection scripted out could work fairly well also. Though actual versioned backups become an issue with either instance. RSYNC to a system with a separate drive for automated backups is probably the most optimal for home use...
  • Buy two USB externals. Backup to both, encrypting it if you wish. Take one offsite and store it in a locked file cabinet. This is more secure than over-the-wire sync'ing.
    • by Anrego ( 830717 ) *

      This is how I do it for my irreplacable and frequently changing files (except substitute USB for drive tray) and it works great. I keep one plugged into my machine, and one elsewhere, and periodically swap them (every few months or so). Drives are encrypted (using dm-crypt) and I use rsnapshot for the actual backups (such that I have several previous versions of the files on each drive).

      My backup system is actually pretty damn solid.

      I use an internal file server, with my desktop and a few other boxes doing

      • I have a cheaper version of this. All my Linux computers and USB flash drives (that's everything but the gaming PC, which backs up to its own external drive) backs up to the home server using rsync and ssh (the internal backup drive is encrypted and normally unmounted, so there won't be a treasure trove of data sitting there in the wildly unlikely event of a malware infection or remote exploit). The home server also backs up its boot disk to this drive. Then I back up everything from the internal backup dri

        • Our PCs at home all perform incremental backups onto our server (Synology DS207) over the LAN. This takes place every night that a PC is left powered on (happens typically a couple of times per week). The server automatically backs itself up onto an external USB drive every night, and I swap that USB drive roughly every week, with one being stored in a secure place in the heated garage, which is a separate building to the house. I also keep an archive USB drive for each PC there, and these drives are updat

      • by mlts ( 1038732 ) *

        I do a similar system, except I tag an external drive to the machines which backs them up nightly. This way:

        If the main HDD blows, it is a matter of booting a recovery CD, unlocking the backup HDD (be it via BitLocker or FileVault), and doing a restore.

        If malware corrupted the main and backup HDDs, I can use the backup server.

        If the external drive is shot, the backup server is TU, I have a service like Mozy/Carbonite/Backblaze with a keyfile stored in a secure location. I can recover critical documents to

    • Be careful about where you leave the disk when transporting it offsite. Leaving it in the passenger seat of your car while you stop for food is less secure than over the wire.

  • "preferably advanced enough..." "readily available (no obscure/local brands/solutions)..." "not unreasonably expensive" It's going to be hard to match all three of those requirements. Remember the triangle - Scope, Quality, Cost - choose two.
  • rsync? (Score:4, Informative)

    by silas_moeckel ( 234313 ) <silas&dsminc-corp,com> on Monday September 12, 2011 @01:32PM (#37378412) Homepage

    Over ssh, did this with a couple linksys routers years ago.

    • Correct answer on 6th post, 2 minutes after first post. Pretty good, keep it up guys.

    • Re:rsync? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Iphtashu Fitz ( 263795 ) on Monday September 12, 2011 @01:58PM (#37378772)

      If you're going to use rsync then I'd recommend using rsnapshot, which is essentially a perl script that makes rsync even more powerful. It's basically a poor-mans version of Apple's Time Machine software. It'll keep hourly/daily/weekly/monthly snapshots in such a way that disk usage is optimized, and the number & timing of snapshots can be fully configured.

      • Re:rsync? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by evilviper ( 135110 ) on Monday September 12, 2011 @11:37PM (#37383182) Journal

        Rsnapshot is for people who don't know that rsync already has the --link-dest option built-in, or can't write a trivial shell script themselves.

        If you want something automatic and user-friendly, just install BackupPC from the repo, navigate the web interface to setup a system to be backed up, make sure the ssh-key is in-place, and let it handle everything. I was impressed with how little setup there was on a vanilla centos5x system with a "yum install backuppc" (though that may have been from a 3rd party repo, I don't recall).

    • by bmo ( 77928 )

      And every other product is just a rehash of this.


      This lets you back up your data to a drive on the other side of the planet. Because offsite copies at your house aren't enough, you must plan for a comet strike.


      • And every other product is just a rehash of this.


        This lets you back up your data to a drive on the other side of the planet. Because offsite copies at your house aren't enough, you must plan for a comet strike.

        There is so, so much more to backups than that. With those and quite a lot of scripting you approach something reasonable. Those tools alone give you no management whatsoever of your backup data. That's fine if you really don't care and are happy to check off some "We do backups" box. You also forgot a critical piece.

        The find command. You probably don't do recoveries much...

        You're working with a dataset that the find command isn't best suited for.
        Rsync doesn't scan a filesystem with the same intent bac

    • by guruevi ( 827432 )

      Instead of rsync, use rdiff-backup. It's GREAT for keeping track of backups. For offsite storage there are so many to chose from., Amazon, BackBlaze, colocation, ...

    • by cain ( 14472 )

      I did this with a few (very) fast pigeons and lots of bird seed. I just ran a cron'd rsync over the RFC 1149 protocol.

    • Backblaze is OK, but Crashplan is a better solution. Crashplan allows you to back up locally for free, which is what the OP is asking about, or for a low monthly price back up online as well.

      • Agree with the Crashplan advice. I spent a lot of time using manual scripts and ssh, but the time I've saved with Crashplan has been well worth it.

        - It supports local backups as well as remote network backup, in one interface
        - Runs unobtrusively
        - Linux, mac and windows
        - The UI is easy to understand and schedule.
        - If you really need to, encrypt your important stuff to a truecrypt volume and back it up like you would any normal file.
        - Inexpensive

  • "it just works".
    • by h4rr4r ( 612664 )

      Except for when it does not. Then it is impossible to troubleshoot because it was expected to just work.

      • Except for when it does not. Then it is impossible to troubleshoot because it was expected to just work.

        "Troubleshooting Time Machine" (Google)

        About 5,720,000 Results (0.25 seconds)

        Knock yourself out ...

        • Plenty of results out there - but when I came to restore from my Time Machine backup recently, it failed. I could not find a solution - not for lack of trying - and so resorted to a fresh installation, and restoring documents from the document backup (regular Unison backup). Faster than Time Machine over Wi-Fi, even with the additional time for re-downloading programs, reconfiguring settings etc.

        • "Troubleshooting Time Machine" (Google)

          About 5,720,000 Results (0.25 seconds)

          Knock yourself out ...

          The overwhelming majority of those are useless.

          You'd want something more like "Troubleshooting Time Machine -"flux capacitor" -docbrown".

      • And isn't Time Machine OSX-only?

        We're using big boy computers here, everyone. That means whatever backup solution you specify has to make backups in a format that is fully usable by a range of free (and ideally open-source) tools.

        For Linux PCs I use rsync (with ssh, I do all network backups because in Linux, it's even easier and more convenient than external drives). For Windows I use vshadow and robocopy [] (pretty much the closest Windows equivalent to rsync - makes plain file backups with NTFS permissions p

        • Simple!

          Use Time Machine with netatalk, then backup the files on the netatalk server.

        • by mlts ( 1038732 ) *

          There is one weakness with that setup -- bare metal recovery. It would be nice if there were an OSS utility that supported a rescue disk that would authenticate the client by asking for an admin username/password to make sure it is the right one, set partitions, hit "restore", go for lunch, and come back to a pre-crash system exactly as it was.

          So far, there are image utilities that can do this that are OSS, but restoring to an image may be useless if apps are installed afterwards.

          Plenty of commercial produ

        • by Macrat ( 638047 )

          And isn't Time Machine OSX-only?

          Of course! No reason to use anything else!

    • Is there an option to set up encryption or does the drive(s) have to be encrypted themselves? Of course this solution is limited to Macs which may not be applicable to the poster.
  • by aaaaaaargh! ( 1150173 ) on Monday September 12, 2011 @01:38PM (#37378486)

    I've switched from Jungledisk and bought a 4 year subscription of CrashPlan and it works pretty well. It is very unobtrusive working in the background on Linux. The application updates itself automatically and is pretty well-designed.

    Of course, if you have truly sensitive data such as trade secrets or patient records you should never rely on any claims such companies make about their proprietary encryption / security.

    • by morcego ( 260031 )

      [blockquote]application updates itself automatically[/blockquote]

      Yeah, that is not scary at all .....

    • I really like, runs in Java, compatible with Windows, Mac, and Linux (I run it just fine in Ubuntu). It backs up from any computer to any computer or to cloud, or to a friend using CrashPlan (using a code). Best of all, it's free to use the program without a plan with CrashPlan. And, the plans themselves are pretty attractive.

      It's the quickest way to create an entire web of backups, and has many advanced archival features, heavy duty encryption, compression, sync by changes to files just li

      • by Tran ( 721196 )

        Yeah, I can vouch for Crash Plan as well.
        We got the Crash Plan Pro with 10 seats ( I think it morphed into some kind of business version) 6 months ago so we could set up our own backup storage. Currently it backs up 2 file servers, several desktops and some laptops.
        The primary file servers are in one building, the CrashPlan backup server is in a different building ( connected by fiber).

        We've already seen the benefits over our old tape system - people accidentally deleting files get restored within a minute

    • +1 +1 +1 +1 +1 for CrashPlan.

      I use it on all my machines. Mac, Linux, and Windoze.

      I store all my backups locally on one of my Drobos. Backup my parents PC over the net to the same Drobo and also backup remotely to CrashPlan's servers.

  • Barracuda has a Disk-to-Disk-to-Cloud backup server. They recently introduced a new feature that allows you to use a second Barracuda at a remote site instead of their cloud services. The network backup sends deltas instead of the entire backup set. It's not free (or cheap), but it will do exactly what you want.

  • Never use the phrase "full out-of-box solution" and "not unreasonably expensive" in close proximity to one another.

    Even just saying "out-of-box solution" is to salesweasels what homogenized fish guts are to sharks...
  • If you're willing to forgo something out of the box, look at Unison ( It's like rsync but does bi-directional synchronization.

    If you want to do block level replication (which would inherently only transfer the data that's changed), you could look at GlusterFS or DRBD. They both support asynchronous replication - though you can't do bidirectional synchronization with that.
    • Another supporting post for Unison here - an excellent tool, which I've used for years.
    • by spazdor ( 902907 )

      though you can't do bidirectional synchronization with that.

      OCFS2 over DRBD actually supports "multi-master mode" replication just fine.

      • Is that asynchronous though? I haven't personally tried, but from my research it seemed like DRBD could do writes on both nodes, but only using synchronous replication. In my situation I have a long/thin VPN link connecting the two sites, so I having the local server wait until the remote one has committed the write wasn't going to work. I'm trying to find an excuse to use DRBD or GlusterFS for something though :)
        • by spazdor ( 902907 )

          Don't quote me but I think the deal is, you don't have to wait until the remote server has committed the writes, but the data has to be locked at the remote node until that's complete. So to make a write, you don't have to wait for the entire data block to be written, but you do have to wait one RTT's worth of latency in order to complete the locking operation. Which is faster, but still not -fast-.

  • Easy to use client, you can backup to a local drive and any internet connected machine where you can install the client and have it trust your key, and you can pay the professionals a fairly small annual fee if you wish to have them manage a remote copy for you. I haven't used it myself as my Mozy subscription renewed for two years just before the new pricing went into effect but I plan to install it on both my brothers computers and have two offsite copies of my data in another year or so.
  • ~$ rsync -az --progress --size-only from_where_/* to_your_network_server:/your_backup_folder/
  • I use rsync-backup to do exactly that. Setting everything up to backup my Linux box, starting from scratch, took me about 3 hours, and that included reading the documentation. The thing works remarkably well, and its capabilities are outstanding. Once you have it setup correctly, you can forget about backing up until you need to recover files.
    • by v1 ( 525388 )

      I use rsync also and have so for years, but the only feature I miss in my rather obese script is it only keeps one version. More than once I've discovered something went missing or got munged a week ago and the backup has long since mirrored the damage.

      I may go to time machine eventually but it doesn't go over the internet and two of my machines must go over the net.

      • by emt377 ( 610337 )
        rsync, then logrotate with a custom config.
      • You should look at a version control system, or at rdiff-backup.

      • by cjcela ( 1539859 )
        I was talking about rsync-backup, not rsync. Rsync-backup will keep incremental changes between versions, it is not just a mirror. It will not overwrite your old files.
      • rsnapshot is a wrapper on rsync that rotates your backups and uses hardlinks. A cheap version of Time Machine that works wherever rsync does.

    • I set up my dad's law firm with rsnapshot ( to synch and archive documents over the net to an offsite storage server. It's like rsync, but it keeps a rolling list of previous states, so you can undo any mistakes easily enough. Best part about it: it uses hard links to store multiple instances of the same file, so the overhead of keeping your entire document history is pretty minimal (unless you edit a whole lot of videos all the time). YMMV, but I'm one satisfied customer.

  • by laing ( 303349 ) on Monday September 12, 2011 @01:47PM (#37378620)
    Synology makes (IMHO) the best SOHO NAS products. Their latest management console (3.2) supports off-site encrypted backup. They are on the expensive side but their products and support are top notch.
  • Vital preliminary questions:

    1. What's the initial dataset size?
    2. How will you populate the initial mirror?
    3. How frequently does the dataset change?
    4. What's the bandwidth between the two sites?
    • by vlm ( 69642 )

      If he's already made up his mind it'll have to be over the internet for buzzword compliance, then all of that simply doesn't matter.

      If he had considered that, he probably would have decided on some kind of physical system anyway.

      Either way those questions won't matter.

  • Bacula is a good network backup solution. Check it out at []
  • Depending on what your idea of "cheap" is, these aren't unreasonably priced.

    The smaller models might work for home use. Unfortunately, features on the low-end models are ala-carte - so CDP to CDP syncing/off-site backup needs to be purchased separately.

    They support Windows/Mac OS/Linux.


  • by b0bby ( 201198 )

    I have used a pair of QNAP TS-109s (older model) to do this - they can use whatever ports you want & they can be set to rsync on whatever schedule you like. According to this: [] the TS-112s will do everything you want, & newegg has them for $160, otherwise the TS-119P+ (can take 2.5" or 3.5" drives) is $250 or so. You need to add the drives. Their web interface is pretty nice, and mine are still going strong after 3+ years.

  • ... Google. Or Yahoo. Or some other search engine. Because all you are going to get here are a bunch of disconnected and contradicting suggestions and will still have to look stuff up yourself to figure out what you want to do.

    Stop being so damn lazy and expecting other people to do your work for you.
  • Depends on what you define as "unreasonably expensive", but this outfit : Synctus [] will ship you a pair (or cloud) of pre-configured self-syncing, NAT traversing NAS boxes.

    I met the guy who sells them at a geek social and he knows his stuff ; if you know enough, sure, you can produce an equally functional setup for lower hardware costs, but if your time is valuable the price is probably within the bounds of "reasonable" given that it includes the hardware, software, and service.

  • If you are running a *Nix-based OS, there are some cool things you can do with rsync and hard-links to backup your machines. I have personally used this method, and have resurrected dead machines to new, bare metal in about an hour (depending upon how much data there is, of course). You can tunnel rsync through SSH to solve the security problem across the Internet, and you could write the data to encrypted volumes on the backup drives, if you want to make sure the data stays secure.

    If you are running W
  • by LoudMusic ( 199347 ) on Monday September 12, 2011 @02:52PM (#37379394)

    I realize I've posted already but I failed to mention a key aspect.

    To this date, across more than a decade of Windows network administration, I have yet to discover a NAS device that I trust. The manufacturer's goal is typically to make it as cheap as possible to create the largest profit margin, with the expectation that the consumer will just buy a new one when it fails I also greatly dislike external hard drives for the same reason, though I own a pair of 'portable' hard drives which I find far less flaky (it's also nice they power from USB) because they're built to be moved around. I keep backups on one in a fire safe in the garage.

    Best option is automated synchronization between PCs on your LAN and an internet host. DropBox does this. I believe SpiderOak will too, linked by another member here.

    My strongest advice is to avoid cheap NASes and external hard drives, which is the first place people tend to look.

    • I agree. I used to backup my media collection to an external USB HD...until the USB-ATA bridge did something weird once and completely trashed not only the backup copies, but also the primary store. Luckily the filesystem I was using at the time (reiserfs) was able to rebuild the filesystem tree and I got away with only minimal data loss. I learned two good lessons from this: 1.) Don't ever trust USB external HD's for backing up data you care about, and 2.) Don't ever use reiserfs for any data you care a
  • The Synology family of NAS devices are compact, well built, perform transparently AES encryption, and feature a great web-based GUI. If you get two Synologies, you can set them to sync to each other other the Internet with encryption. It uses the RSYNC protocol so it doesn't dump useless information over your network.

    I highly recommend them.

  • by billcopc ( 196330 ) <> on Monday September 12, 2011 @05:10PM (#37380946) Homepage

    I'm actually in the business of building and selling white-box NAS boxes that replicate over the wire, but it sounds like you don't need a $10k rack server with 40+ terabytes. However, at the desktop end of the spectrum, I highly recommend Synology DiskStation products. They support offsite backups and will happily converse with Win/Mac/Lin. The GUI is a bit overkill IMO, but it works and it's fairly easy to use, which is more than I can say about my own products :P

    Under the hood, almost all of these boxes use rsync, so if you want to mess with different port numbers, you'll have to handle that mapping at your firewall/gateway.

1 Angstrom: measure of computer anxiety = 1000 nail-bytes