DIY Backups – Part I

I'm a big believer in backups.  I've gone completely over the top in the past and have so many external backup devices that I found myself confused about which was which.  Knowing that a backup, by itself, wasn't enough, I eventually started storing my data in "the cloud" by leveraging Amazon's S3 service.  This meant I was now safe if something catastrophic happened at my home.  Knowing all of those videos, photos and other pieces of electronic data were safe definitely made me feel better.

Overall this approach was pretty solid but there were a few issues, (1) cloud based storage isn't free (2) performance leaves a lot to be desired (3) a complete restore of my 430+ gigabyte library would, literally, take weeks.

In order to improve my backup situation I decided to build my own "cloud based solution".  For this to work you need a server, a site, and Internet connectivity.

Server: Building a server has never been less expensive than it is now.  Since we'll be powering the box with Linux, any old heap will do, but I wanted a small form-factor device so I purchased a Shuttle case with a motherboard. I then dropped in a cheap dual-core processor and 2GB of RAM and voilĂ , I have a dedicated backup server.

Site: For most folks the best off-site location will be a relatives' or friends' home.  If you own a business then your business location would make an ideal site as well. 

Internet Connectivity: It really goes without saying but you have to have solid Internet connectivity at your source location and at the backup location in order to make your backups work.  The tools that we will be using to perform the backup will allow smaller pipes to perform relatively well but don't expect a tiny pipe, at either location, to fully meet your needs if you are backing up large amounts of data.

Next time we'll cover the installation of the server, configuring the server firewall and highlighting a few points about router configuration.

Until next time!