Building a backup box

A week ago, I wrote about my almost disastrous experience with a LaCie external hard drive. As I realized my data is not at all secured at the moment, I decided to build me a dedicated box for backups.

I've been pretty busy during the last week, and my project has been slow in progress. The hardware chosen for my backup server is almost overkill for this use: it is a box with Asus A7V8X-MX SE motherboard, 1.99 GHz CPU, 256 megabytes RAM and a 500 GB hard disk.

I used this box for years as my main desktop and it would certainly be more than adequate for most of my computing needs even today. Unfortunately the 1 GHz box I own is in another town and the physical distance between these two locations forces me to use this machine for my backups and the HP box as a desktop at least for some time.

Building the backups system is not quite as easy as I thought. My hardware collection keeps growing and the hardware is distributed in three locations in two cities. Furthermore, in addition to the several Linux boxes I use, my wife uses sometimes a laptop with XP. And the latest addition to my hardware is a eMac running OS X 10.3.9. Probably I will only automatize backing up my main desktop.

Unfortunately, the constant growing of my hardware collection means that it becomes more and more difficult to keep all the files in sync between different computers. A dedicated file server would of course be a possible solution, but I don't like the idea of having yet another box running 24/7 even when I'm in another town because of my studies.

In addition, the file server should be accessible over Internet, which I find at least scary as I cannot trust my own abilities in building a system secure enough for my level of paranoia. I don't want my life to be rwx or even r-- for the whole world in case I cannot keep the server secure enough.


Ron said...

Building a dedicated backup solution is not too difficult. I use an old 1.3Ghz Athlon as my NAS/RAID/Backup box.

With a linux distribution such as Ubuntu Server, you're "secure-enough". As long as you only enable SSH, keep it updated and have strong password I would say you'd be fine.

Mikko said...

I just don't want to leave a server up in town A, when I myself am using the computer in town B (trying to save electricity).

Mikko said...

Making a backup solution is of course not too difficult, but keeping a collection of almost ten computers in two towns with several different OS synced and backed up is somewhat challenging. Maybe I just have to stop using some of the hardware :-)

Christopher said...

Do you have a machine that supports self-starting in the BIOS? If it is just going to be a backup server, you could have it start itself at say, 3:00 in the morning, run a cron backup script at 3:15, which shuts down the PC after the backups are complete.

If it is going to be a file server than you could have it running just during the hours of the day when you think you'll need it.

Mikko said...

Christopher: In fact, the Asus A7v8x-mx se supports using real time clock for waking the computer! Sometimes, it is useful to read the not so fine manual of the motherboard :-) Thanks for the idea!