hard drive/backup solution

this is going to be a horribly boring post for those who don’t care or like computer hardware.

i’ve been talking to a bunch of people to see what they do about backups. i admit that i’ve been pretty bad about maintaining backups and i have finally decided that it was about time for me to do something about it.

that being said, i have some pretty unique conditions at my home network which influences my decision.

1) i run a completely wireless network at home. i don’t really recommend it because transfer speeds from machine to machine are awful, but the house that i moved into is a two story house with no wiring for ethernet. as such, trying to wire a gigabit network was just not much of an option for me.
2) i run a mostly windows network.
3) i need access to a lot of data, but the data that i work on is usually in relatively small quantities, mostly photo processing.
4) my needs for storage are varied:

  • i want a large storage place for relatively temporary data that is accessible to the network by various devices/people.
  • i want storage for data that i work on. this needs to be accessed quickly.
  • i want a separate storage space for backups.

    anyhow, people have told me about their solutions:
    drobo (~$500 + cost of drives) backup drive.
    readyNAS 600, which has been replaced with the readyNAS NV+ (~$900 + cost of drives)
    WiebeTech RTX-400SV (~$900 + cost of drives) REALLY fast eSata storage device.

    in a bare minimum configuration, i would think that i would want about 1TB of working space in the network share, 1TB fast access, and 500GB backup. the best value drives these days are 500GB drives which cost about $100 each. so i’ll need to get 6 of these drives or about $600 worth of drives as well. this solution will cost me $2900+tax.

    RAIDed linux box as a backup server (2 drives) (~$600 for a new server)
    main file server (2 drives)
    add storage to each computer as needed (2 drives)

    in this configuration, i would just need to upgrade the hard drives in my primary computer. it’d require reinstalling the OS, apps, and the like, but that’s a time cost, not so much monetary cost. i would need to add a new server to the environment which would act as a backup server, but i’m sure dell has deals where i can get a desktop cheap enough to do it). in my particular case, my main file server would be my main computer, so it’s just buying a bunch of new drives and a computer. i don’t like the idea of having to leave another computer on all the time, though…maybe i can setup a wake on lan sort of a thing, i don’t know. but that’s about $1200 for this solution.

    what i finally decided on:
    hard drive prices are always going to drop. it’s a fact of life. instead of trying to future-proof myself, i’ll upgrade as needed, but wanted a NAS that would be easily upgradeable when the time comes.

    backup solution:
    USB 500GB drive.

    network storage:
    D-Link DNS-323 NAS device + 2 500GB drives

    main storage:
    delete stuff on my desktop. =P

    i’m going to put media on the network storage. working space stuff needs to stay on the desktop and i’m going to start rsync’ing data from the desktop and network share to the USB drive.

    i haven’t decided if i would burn things to DVD still. it’s been so long since i have, but maybe there’s a small enough set of vital data that i need that i would still do it…all these blank dvds are just sitting around doing nothing, anyway.

    i’ve taken a few sacrifices with what i wanted, but i think that it’s reasonable data security. the NAS device is $180ish, the two drives i’ll need are about $200. i’ll make do with the rest. from what i’ve read the NAS device runs embedded linux and can be hacked around with so that you can install a bittorrent client, web server, and the like. that cool hack factor put it high on the list of consumer grade NAS devices.

  • 3 thoughts on “hard drive/backup solution”

    1. Someone already recommended a Drobo for you, but they have just introduced DroboShare, which allows you to network attach the Drobo. You could plug the Drobo into the DroboShare, and the DroboShare into your wireless router and you would have whole house networked storage.

      You can create a partition for your backups, or just use standard folder structure to separate backups from live data. Regardless, I find Drobo to be a very attractive solution that meets your needs.


    2. the reviews i read on the dlink product were generally positive. there were some vista issues (i don’t use vista yet =P), but workarounds are available. i’m still excited about trying it out to see how it works out. i still think it’s going to work out well.

      the drobo looks like a great storage appliance, but one of its greatest faults is the total cost of ownership. i saw the droboshare product, but $500 for the drobo plus another $200 just for the network add-on is a lot of money. i considered it, but from what i’ve been told the cost of the product vs. its performance makes it a really expensive slow NAS. great feature-set, though, but still a little too costly for my needs. great for a backup solution or maybe NAS w/ the droboshare, but i don’t need the redundancy for my large network share. most of the data doesn’t stay there for much longer than a week.

      we’ll see how it all works out, i’ve ordered everything so we’ll see what happens when it all comes in and i get it set up.

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