Improving Storage And Backups

I work on multiple computers (Mac/PC) and have various assets online including this blog and quite a bit of code lying around in svn, and just on the file system. My backup solutions so far have been pretty ad hoc but rather effective. Everything important is replicated somewhere else at varying frequencies. The downside is that it’s not very efficient and even partially manual. I’ve decided over the next several weeks I’m going to re-evaluate how I do all my data storage and backups. Here’s the list of goals:

  • Improve how data is organized and stored both primary storage and in backups. Organizing and clean up.
  • Make sure all data has at least 1 backup (I pretty much do this already and have for a long time).
  • Automate as much as possible.
  • Keep costs low. Backup more for less.
  • Use tertiary offsite backups for most critical data.
  • Maintain solid encryption practices where necessary for transmission and storage (already do this).
  • Decrease time to restore from backups.
  • Backup more often, so time between backups is minimal for frequently updated data.
  • Give myself room to grow.

At $0.15/GB Amazon’s S3 is very affordable for my needs. A dollar or so a month gets you a fair amount of storage considering most data doesn’t get touched that often (it’s data transfer that gets a little more costly). I’ve been using Amazon with a few backup scripts for a few months to see how it works and how I can best use it. I’m planning to ramp that up a little more. I also want to do more with incremental backups (perhaps use rsync more) to save time and disk.

Ironically I kick off this little project when reports indicated hard drive prices have been dropping (obvious right?). I’m not sure if would make sense to purchase additional storage, or if I can get by with just better utilizing what I already have.

I’m doing this for a few reasons. Considering the cost of storage, there’s no excuse to not have solid backups, or to even waste your time with data loss. I also want to improve my use of offsite backups for more important things to make sure that I keep costs low and keep backups fresh. Accident, fire, flood, theft, are always possibilities no matter how careful you are in life. The great thing about digital vs. paper is that it’s easier to have several copies.

I believe my practices are pretty good, and likely better than the vast majority of the population, but I think I can still do better. I think I can make better use of what I have and maybe for a slight cost add another layer of protection if necessary. I’ll post again with my findings.

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