Home Backup Project - Part 6: Summary

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Throughout this project, I've had to shed pieces of the plan off as I realized that they:

  • were too expensive
  • were too time consuming
  • had low WAF

I stumbled upon a 500Gb drive for under $90 on TigerDirect, which allowed me to keep data off-site in a high-security location for relatively little effort. That was luck.. keeping it up to date, well that's tougher. I can bring the drive home and sync it locally, but who wants to do that on a regular basis? Corporate firewalls keep me from realizing that potential. The other mitigating factor is that one of the items I would like in sync between the two is all of my music (all ~200Gb of it). And while the initial copy was done on my LAN at home overnight, my iTunes libraries are in two different OS formats, so even if I did copy all of the changed files back to my home drive, I'm still SOL once the files are there. Somehow I have to know to update my library.

I had a brainstorm in the shower (where all of my good geeky ideas originate) that I could create some sort of complex set of AutoHotKey, iTunesSDK/JavaScript or ActionScript [scripts] that would copy over an updated library XML, shut down the local instance of iTunes, compare the XML files, write out a library modification script, start iTunes, run the script and quit. The trouble for me was determining which library would be the master, and if I didn't want either to be the master, how do you reconcile changes? Maybe create two sets of modification files and queue up the returning file for delivery later on? What if iTunes is in use?

Anyway, maybe that's a good project for a rainy/snowy weekend. I'd need some existing rsync system in place first. I'm getting ahead of myself, and WAY off topic.

The drive also keeps a copy of my home SVN respository, which I update via a Windows Scheduled Task once per week. So, after about a month or so, this is my result:

  1. Evaluate online backup options. Done. I ended up sticking with JungleDisk for now, until something better comes along, or I discover mozy's client sucks less.
  2. Set up an automated incremental backup of all of my documents/pictures to a local, external drive since JungleDisk is so painfully slow. I'm using rdiff-backup to keep a local copy, but will switch to Time Machine after I upgrade to OS X 10.5.
  3. Install a large SATA drive (>= 300gb) for my workstation (at work) for my music and possible offsite SVN mirror. Done.
  4. Investigate other offsite SVN mirror locations (family? cheap web hosting?) Deferred.
  5. Get my local SVN repository in order. It's in pretty good shape but it can't hurt to re-think the structure a tad. Add a tree for installation media disk images. This is done. I've updated it from both sets of "Software I Install" directories on each operating system. In the process, I created a tree for tools (non-install, runtime exe's) which contain a lot of little things I use once in a while such as the SysInternals (now Microsoft) suite.
  6. Convert all DVD and CD media to their respective disk image formats and checked into the SVN repository. Done. This was way too easy.
  7. Set up the HDD at work (Done) and rsync my music over. Deferred.
  8. Set up the offsite SVN repository and mirror my repository at home. Create a cron job to do it automatically every night. Done. This works very well.
  9. Scan all of my really important, hard-copy files into PDFs and add them to the Documents tree in my backups. Deferred.

This concludes the first phase of this project. My important data are safe and easily recoverable. My unimportant data are somewhat less safe, but that's fine. Everything runs automatically, and I don't have to think about it much. The best part of this is that my wife doesn't have to know about how all of this works. It just does, and that's high WAF if I've ever heard it!

What's Next?

After all of this, I still have some tasks I'd like to accomplish so that I "feel more secure":

  • Locks for each computer1
  • Scan all of my really important, hard-copy files into PDFs and add them to the Documents tree in my backups.2
  • Investigate other offsite SVN mirror locations.3
  • Rsync music and iTunes library.4

I may do some or all of those some day. For now, I feel relatively secure in my data's security.

  1. This seems silly since the house locks, but if the workstations are all locked to their desks, then a theif has to decide if they budgeted time to hack apart my desk to get my iMac or not.

  2. I plan to do this by the end of the year.

  3. Ideally, this would be at a family member or friend’s house, connected to a machine on which I could run an SVN update automatically. Finding someone willing to let me do that is the tough part, and the reality is that the best option is a low-power linux box with a ~80gb drive that someone lets me toss into their closet. I have the drives and some of the hardware, so really I just need to allocate a couple hundred clams for the guts of the machine… oh, and find someone with a nice internet pipe willing to let me hide a computer in a closet. Details.

  4. That’s a project in itself. We’ll see.

Oct 29th, 2007