Backup Madness

July 17, 2016

Latest Post The Hound of the Baskervilles by Owen Soule

I decided to put together a compelling, thought-provoking, and most importantly brief article regarding my new found and suddenly deep-seated backup madness! One of our computers here at Soule Designs (Laura’s iMac from October 2009!) finally pooped the bed last week - well the operating system hard drive stopped booting - so maybe more of a bed wetting? Either way, it sucked and with the discovery of the failing drive came the equally as shitty discovery that Time Machine had not run against her external backup drive in almost two years.

Luckily, we were able to salvage almost all important files through a combination deal with the devil, chicken sacrifice, and dark magic hard drive controller board hackery. But the problem remained, how to avoid this mess in the future? Why an insanely complicated and redundant backup plan, of course!

Oh yes I did... backup diagrams for all! Built on

My diagram doesn't follow any standards, but it gets the point across, and that point is I've implemented an insane four point backup plan! Make ready the breakdown....go:

  1. Local External Disk Backup: the first phase is the one that failed me so excellently on Laura's iMac, Time Machine. Apparently I can't quit you Time Machine, but I'll never rely on you souly again. You've broken me…completely. Anyway, all of Laura’s machine, and some of mine, still backup to local disks using Time Machine. I don’t use Time Machine for all my art files because they are just too big and would consume a versioning backup like Time Machine in a matter of hours… nom, nom, nom...
  2. NAS Backup: This is not a versioning backup but rather a file replication of all important data from both Soule Designs macs. The replication runs nightly in the wee hours and is handled by Carbon Copy Cloner. This backup software is really easy to use, fairly inexpensive, and I even have both computers setup to email me so I know everything is working (ah hem, Time Machine you bastard). The NAS is running a 4 disk RAID 5 array, so a drive can fail without any data loss.
  3. Ubuntu Backup: What if the NAS fries all its disks at once? I’m glad you asked - to offset total NAS failure I have the NAS setup replicate via rsync backup data (once again nightly) to my old Ubuntu server. This server has a shiny new OS drive and updated OS (Ubuntu 16.04 LTS) along with it’s own 4 disk RAID 5 array. Here again, a drive can fail without any data loss. Rsync is really easy to setup using QNap’s Backup Station software, oh and you also have to setup the rsync daemon in Ubuntu if you’re pushing backups there instead of pulling them over (which is my scenario, just to heap on more complexity).
  4. Cloud Backup: Wait, but what if my entire network explodes? Here too, I’m glad you asked, but I must say you have a very dark imagination. To offset total network meltdown, house catastrophe, etc. I intend to use QNap’s Cloud Drive Sync to backup a select number of critical files to Dropbox (for Laura) and Google Drive (for myself). The catch here is cloud backups are really slow and they are expensive in an ongoing monthly payment kind of way. That’s why I’m not going to dump almost a terabyte of my data on the cloud - but critical documents, photos, photoshop files, 3D models, yeah those will make the cut once I set aside time to organize it all…. hopefully before catastrophe.

There you have it, my ridiculous backup madness laid bare. What’s missing here is the untold hours/days it took to salvage data from Laura’s failing hard drive and the equally untold hours/days upgrading my old Ubuntu 10.X installation and getting rsync working, samba permissions correct, the raid rebuilt and working properly, and so on and so on. I guess it’s better to forget those things - so here is a pick of my cleaned up “server room” which is essentially a corner of my basement.

Yes, a Darth Vader action figure case guards my Ubuntu server.

Happy backing upping!

Owen Soule

Published July 17, 2016