Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Off-site Backup

Off-site Backup

I've been pressed for time. Scheduling one thing to finish when another is due to start has become essential. On this particular evening, I was hungry, but needed to walk the dog. So I checked the time required for my pizza: 18 to 21 minutes in the conventional oven. Perfect! I could let this cook while exercising the canine.

As I left the house, it occurred to me that I was leaving the hot oven unattended: wife was visiting family, son was on campus, daughter was at work. The risk was small, but it's the kind of risk that we avoid. I was reminded of what happened to Bdale Garbee a year or three ago.

The Garbee family lost everything. Their home was consumed by the same Colorado fire the rest of us heard about on the nightly news. See the video. Bdale's account is enlightening.

For me, this was just a ten minute mental exercise, but here's how it went. All that was most precious was off-premises: family in distributed locations, dog with me. What remained, except for a few heirlooms, was replaceable. But the data? What if we happened to lose the data? Maybe we depend too much on computers to hold our "data".

Until maybe three months ago, I did have off-site backup. Probably seems like overkill for a residential "data center", but I'm a hobbyist. We hobbyists do things for fun that others do only for pay. Dad was more than happy to let me park a surplus desktop-turned-server at his house. A little Linux, shiny new SATA drive, some SixXS to avoid NAT, and a touch of RSYNC. Voi-la! Instant off-site backup.

That was when he had a house. Now he's in an apartment. The facility doesn't provide wired internet; everything is WiFi. And the hack I had rigged to piggy-back that server off of his Windows box began to fail. (First to go was an old 8-port hub in the Rube Goldberg scheme I concocted.) I retrieved the machine several weeks before my lonesome pizza and puppy party.

Surplus hardware is great! You get extended life (from an investment someone made, if not you yourself) and you get low cost service for all kinds of things. Here I had Fedora with LVM and a decent sized platter stack. It was more than just remote storage; it was also a remote point-of-presence. (Helps for those when-not-if times that something funky is happening with the web. And Netflix can just chill because the bandwidth is way to low for regional masking.)

The point of the post: think about a surplus box built to your own specifications as a means to have your own off-site backup or similar service.

But my off-site machine, and its spinning rust, was back home now. Any catastrophe which might wipe out my primary systems would do just as much to my spare. Scary!

When pooch and I got back from our walk, the house was not in flames. There was no smoke nor out-of-control cookery. Instead I was greeted by the aroma of a nearly finished Red Baron Supreme with thin crust. Yesss!! But I am reminded that I need to get serious about the remote box (or maybe two?) and re-deploy real soon now.

-- R; <><