https://wiki.proz.com/forum/safe_computing/215804-local_vs_cloud_backup_options.html

Local vs. cloud backup options
Thread poster: Alexander Chisholm

Alexander Chisholm  Identity Verified
Italian to English
+ ...
Jan 11, 2012

Hi this may have been covered in the past, and I tried searching posts but with no success, so please bear with me if you've heard this before.

This is intended to be a discussion of the various technical options available to freelancers for file archiving for various reasons. I will describe my thoughts and experiences from the past and the way I am currently leaning. Any comments and suggestions from anyone with the same needs, exeriences etc. are all very welcome.

In
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Hi this may have been covered in the past, and I tried searching posts but with no success, so please bear with me if you've heard this before.

This is intended to be a discussion of the various technical options available to freelancers for file archiving for various reasons. I will describe my thoughts and experiences from the past and the way I am currently leaning. Any comments and suggestions from anyone with the same needs, exeriences etc. are all very welcome.

In the past I have used a couple of ethernet linked network hard drives for backing up completed work and also allowing me an easy way to move data (in particular TMs) between the various PCs I use.

My first experience was with a 2nd hand Western Digital Worldbook connected by ethernet to my home router. This was easy to set up and ran fine for about a year or so but then started developing problems in that it would take a long time to come on line and accept connections after booting up. Eventually it just died altogether and all the data was lost. This was not a huge deal as I already had other versions of most of the data archived in various other ways, and since the device was bought second hand I figured you get what you pay for.

However, I was most definitely not pleased when I then replaced this device with a brand new LaCie ED mini - which again was easy to set up and ran fine for about 2 years - which then crashed and could not be restarted with the loss of all data. This was a bit more serious, since not all the data could be recovered from other sources. I then took the disk to a data recovery specialist who told me the problem with disks of this type was they used essentially proprietory (i.e. non-standard) protocols to communicate with the NAS circuitry and so connecting the disk to a normal disk reader would not work (I had already tried this myself anyway).

I am now left with the quandary of trying to decide which hardware/software options are best for this purpose. I am reluctant to buy another network drive and face the same problem in 2 years time and so I am now considering the possibility of internet/cloud-based options.

I was first made aware of these types of services about 3 or 4 years ago, and at the time I favoured the hardware in my own house to having data on someone elses server - what would happen if the net developed connection problems etc? Now, I am gradually coming to the conclusion that even if the company/network was to be down for a day or so now and again, I would at least get all my data back when the serrvice came back on-line - unlike the prospect I am now facing with the data lost in the black hole of my LaCie drive!!

I was hoping that the Apple iCloud service would be a bit better and more comprehensive than it appears to be at the moment - perhaps with more time and more development it might come to fill this gap (I need something more than storing and synching Pages files between my Mac and iOS devices - useful and attractive as that is). Microsoft Live (sky drive) also offers the option for storage of some data. I understand that you can buy storage space on both systems and I'm sure other options are available - most likely with similar business models (so much space for free, more if you want to pay for it).

Does anyone have experiences like mine and what sort of options are you looking towards in the future?

Basically, the sort of things I want to store are old job files (Word/Excel/PPT files, PDFs, TMs). Most of these are just straight fowards archiving, never to be looked at again unless a similar job comes in from another client or a client asks me to go over old work. The TMs are obviously still in use and so they are being "archived" for a rainy day or to allow them to be moved Mac -> PC -> Mac again etc.

Am I wrong to give up on network storage? What internet options are there available (size, cost and reliability - and should security be an issue?) and what experience does anyone have with them?

Will iCloud ever be more than just a handy way of synching your iPhone and receiving your music and apps in addition to moving Pages documents between iPhone, iPad and MacBook?

What about Dropbox -a service I use for moving files around between Windows 7 laptop, MacBook, iPhone, Server for printing, OCR and other "manipulations" but would it be worth buying more space from them? After all the free version seems to do just about everything I want it to but on a smaller scale.

All comments nd experience warmly welcome.

A Happy and profitsable New Year to all Proz.com users.

Sandy
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Jaroslaw Michalak  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 06:04
Member (2004)
English to Polish
Data duplication Jan 11, 2012

I am afraid that the basic mistake you have made was the confusion of terms: if you had some data in one place, then they were not backed up - they were simply moved. Therefore, the most important thing is to have important data in at least two places (preferably remote physically). For essential data you should consider three copies. That is why you need both some kind of local backup facility and a remote solution. Think of it in terms of hazards or scenarios - even if your NAS was a di... See more
I am afraid that the basic mistake you have made was the confusion of terms: if you had some data in one place, then they were not backed up - they were simply moved. Therefore, the most important thing is to have important data in at least two places (preferably remote physically). For essential data you should consider three copies. That is why you need both some kind of local backup facility and a remote solution. Think of it in terms of hazards or scenarios - even if your NAS was a different type, it still could be stolen or be destroyed in fire. Naturally, I hope this does not happen to anyone, but having a house lost in a fire is certainly a bad enough experience, if you don't lose all your business data at the same time...

Remote solutions can go bad as well: if the company goes under, they might just flip the switch on the servers and your data are gone forever (or sold at a flea market together with the hard disks - you might never know!). By the way, cloud drives are not the only remote solution available: good old data DVD stashed at relatives' house works just as well.

My setup is this: a backup program is gathering data from specified folders at local PCs and backs it up on a NAS (D-Link DNS 323 for the interested). User data are copied daily, current work is backed up every four hours. The box is in a different part of the house, so I can grab it on my way out of the house, just in case...

Twice a week the backup folders from NAS are encrypted and copied during the night to a WebDAV server (by my HTPC, but some NAS have already such functionality). I am somewhat reluctant to give the name of the service, as it was selected solely based on the price. Since then I have heard only bad things about them, so I am considering a move once my subscription is gone. Still, I check my files periodically and everything seems to be OK. Thankfully, I did not have to use them even once...
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PAS  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:04
English to Polish
+ ...
Clouds in the Sky Jan 11, 2012

I don't know about the durability of DVDs, but some CDs of mine have definitely gone under. Presumably DVDs are not immortal either.
I would prefer to keep stuff at my aunt's house on a HDD.

Microsoft's Sky Drive offers 25 GB worth of space and 5 GB more in something called Live Mesh.
Live Mesh is a synchronising feature - you synchronise data from one or more computers with Live Mesh, so your data is there - somewhere, accessible from wherever you have internet access.<
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I don't know about the durability of DVDs, but some CDs of mine have definitely gone under. Presumably DVDs are not immortal either.
I would prefer to keep stuff at my aunt's house on a HDD.

Microsoft's Sky Drive offers 25 GB worth of space and 5 GB more in something called Live Mesh.
Live Mesh is a synchronising feature - you synchronise data from one or more computers with Live Mesh, so your data is there - somewhere, accessible from wherever you have internet access.

Sky Drive is just a 25 GB cloud drive with two important limitations. Maximum file size is 100 MB. The other limitation is that you cannot copy folder structures into Sky Drive - only individual files.
That is - you can create/ recreate a folder structure in Sky Drive "manually" by creating new folders within folders, but you can only copy files into these from a single level at a time.

It's doable, but it's a pain if you want to create/ recreate a complicated folder structure.
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Jaroslaw Michalak  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 06:04
Member (2004)
English to Polish
Synchronization vs. backup Jan 11, 2012

One more thing: synchronization is good, increments are great...

Ideally, if you have three or more copies of your files, it is best if they are not perfectly synchronized, i.e. they are taken at different points of time. That way, in case of human error - i.e. when you delete a file you should not have - you can go back in time and retrieve it. That is why Dropbox is not ideal here - if the file is deleted, it gets deleted from all devices after the next synchronization...
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One more thing: synchronization is good, increments are great...

Ideally, if you have three or more copies of your files, it is best if they are not perfectly synchronized, i.e. they are taken at different points of time. That way, in case of human error - i.e. when you delete a file you should not have - you can go back in time and retrieve it. That is why Dropbox is not ideal here - if the file is deleted, it gets deleted from all devices after the next synchronization...

If the file space is not the issue, it is best to have incremental backups - for example, one which is one-day old, another which is three days old and the third one which has e.g. a week. Then they are replaced in appropriate intervals, so that older versions can be recovered.
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John Fossey  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 00:04
Member (2008)
French to English
+ ...
Backups and more backups Jan 11, 2012

Having also had one hard drive crash which lost some data I am now paranoid about backup. What I did was purchase 2 Iomega 2TB HDDs. With two offices, one at home and one at a workplace, I have a 2TB HDD under each desk. I use Allway sync software to manage the backups, which seems to work well - it is specially designed to run at reduced priority so it doesn't slow the computer down. The local backup functions incrementally and continuously - as soon as a file is modified it backs it up in th... See more
Having also had one hard drive crash which lost some data I am now paranoid about backup. What I did was purchase 2 Iomega 2TB HDDs. With two offices, one at home and one at a workplace, I have a 2TB HDD under each desk. I use Allway sync software to manage the backups, which seems to work well - it is specially designed to run at reduced priority so it doesn't slow the computer down. The local backup functions incrementally and continuously - as soon as a file is modified it backs it up in the background. It is set not to propagate deletions - so far I still have plenty of space left on the 2TB disks.

The remote backup runs over a Hamachi powered Virtual Private Network and backs up incrementally every night at 1am. This means both computers have to be left on at night, but I'm told that's better for them anyway due to thermal stability.

I also use Macrium freeware to take a weekly backup of the hard drive image, so I could (theoretically) get back into business quickly with all the software on my machine in the event of a HDD crash. The free version isn't incremental - it makes a new image copy which can get quite voluminous after a while, so I manually delete versions that are over 1 month old.

This system has worked well for me now for several years - although fortunately I haven't had to recover anything yet.
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Alexander Chisholm  Identity Verified
Italian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Many thanks Jan 11, 2012

I forgot to mention, my Mac server has a time capsule attached which is a great backup system. I don't normally keep my work files on this though.

I may have to take stock of the hardware I have and devise a plan accordingly.


 

PAS  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:04
English to Polish
+ ...
You've got mail Jan 12, 2012

There is another, Q 'n D way of backing stuff up, which works best for old archives that you will not likely use very often.
That is a web mail provider with an unlimited storage capacity and a large attachment limit. You simply make attachments of the files you want to keep and mail them to yourself (or from one address to another).


 

Alexander Chisholm  Identity Verified
Italian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Memopal Jan 28, 2012

One of my clients had a special offer discount with Memopal (almost half price for a year). So I decided to take advantage of this, and I have all my critical work files synched with this.
This is good because they are still on the original PC/Macs and copies are mirriored and updated on the Memopal server.
For my less critical and non-work data (mostly photos and videos) I have them backed up to a cheap external hard drive and I am making DVD copies of the photos sorted by year.... See more
One of my clients had a special offer discount with Memopal (almost half price for a year). So I decided to take advantage of this, and I have all my critical work files synched with this.
This is good because they are still on the original PC/Macs and copies are mirriored and updated on the Memopal server.
For my less critical and non-work data (mostly photos and videos) I have them backed up to a cheap external hard drive and I am making DVD copies of the photos sorted by year.
This will give me peace of miond for the moment at least.

Thanks again for the comments and suggestions.
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