Backing Up Your NAS: Harder Than It Should Be

Discussion in 'Security Article Discussions' started by eddomak, Mar 19, 2009.

  1. eddomak

    eddomak New Around Here

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    I was looking for a true backup solution driven all from the NAS but couldn't find one.

    By true backup, I mean one that enables restore to a given point in time either through snapshots or even better incremental/differential backup.

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but with rsync, the problem is that if you corrupt your original, it would propogate to the rsync'd copy if you don't catch it in time. I have read some pretty funky (and smart) solutions using file/directory linking to trick the filesystem into effectively performing incremental backups, but they are beyond the consumer, and beyond the ability of most NAS's without shell access.

    If only Mozy or Carbonite had a Linux version!

    My workaround is to use Acronis True Image 11 on a separate PC to read the data from the NAS and perform incremental backups to an online FTP server. But this requires a separate PC to be switched on to coordinate the operation. Also it generates network traffic as all the data is routed through the PC.

    Anyone out there got NAS-only driven solutions to restore to a point-in-time?
     
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  3. Osamede

    Osamede Regular Contributor

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    Good to see this article addressing what is an all-too-common problem with NAS units.
     
  4. corndog

    corndog Regular Contributor

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    To the question about NAS-driven backups that allow a choice of point-in-time restores:

    One thing you could do with a ReadyNAS is use the CIFS 'pull' backup to schedule a backup that pulls contents from your windows PC onto the NAS. Then all you have to do is schedule a different job for each day of the week that puts the backup in a different location and make each job run weekly on a different day of the week.. That way you would have 5 backups to choose from if you needed a restore. And this would only cost you the price of the NAS
     
  5. vicx

    vicx New Around Here

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    Love your work Tim. I was just explaining this dilemma to my brother who is now looking at a NAS solution and this scratches the surface of a pretty large topic. My advice to him to focus on a workable backup solution when deciding what NAS/s to buy, now seems rather cruel.

    Even the support inside of NAS manufacturer families can vary in terms of support for backup. The language used in marketing material is the opposite of specific. It makes an informed choice pretty hard.

    I was surprised to find that the Thecus 3200pro won't let me use Ext2/3 - I assumed that the screenshots from other models showing Ext2/3 options would be carried through to my model. Not actually the case. It can read but not write to NTFS, Ext2/3. As a far as useful options built into the 3200pro for backup it's nsync (dumbified rsync) or nothing.

    Do you get the same backup choices in a ReadyNASduo as in a ReadyNAS Pro? Those screenshots look great but those are from a PRO unit right?

    How about the QNAP range?

    Segmentation of a range should be based on hardware and number of drives - cutting backup options out of software for single and dual drive units is just wrong (actually seems backwards).
     
  6. thiggins

    thiggins Mr. Easy Staff Member

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    All ReadyNASes offer the same backup options. ElephantDrive cloud backup is temporarily only available for the Pro. NETGEAR says is will be available on other ReadyNASes soon.

    I didn't have any QNAP NASes here when writing the article. I don't know what is up with them lately. They are very unresponsive to requests for review units.
     
  7. Ric

    Ric Guest

    no NAS solutions that I can see work

    Hi there,

    I have been looking for a NAS solution that allows backup to offsite storage for specifically the reasons mentioned in the article. What if your house burns down?

    I have been using a USB attached drive and SmartSync Pro to back up files from my desktop to the USB drive every night at midnight.

    Once month, I swap this drive with one in my bank security box.

    Yes, this is sort of like sneakernet backup, but I don't see ANY NAS solution that offers this simple offsite storage.

    I also have the bonus of using NTSF in that if my main drive fails, I can quickly replace it by just plugging in my USB backup or the one from the bank.

    I haven't found any NAS that offers this simplicity and required operation of offsite, accessible backup.

    Thanks,
    Ric
     
  8. wpns

    wpns Occasional Visitor

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    find module name

    FWIW:

    rsync machine::

    will show you the modules available on that machine.

    I like the idea of remote backups, but most places seem to charge a buck per gigabyte per month, which gets insane when you have terabytes of data to back up. ElephantDrive seems to have a better handle on this, but I'd still be into a few hundred dollars a month with them.

    And with "cloud" backups you have to trust the cloud to keep your data safe, secure, and to be in business long-term.

    No easy answers.
     
  9. QuickThinking

    QuickThinking New Around Here

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    I'm really glad this article gives me a recent place to post about my concerns on backing up my NAS.

    So far, I have no backups. I know, I suck, but I'm planning it out now. The upside is that I can do it right, the downside is I can't find the features I want.

    My ideal setup is a NAS that could restore to a certain point in time. Even better if it would use some of the technology available in a product like BackupPC or rdiff-backup so that revisions wouldn't be completely seperate files increasing my backups by multiples of my file sizes. I'm now a Windows guy looking at the daunting task of setting up FreeNAS or a comfortable edition of linux running BackupPC and it's stressing me out. However, that's another issue.

    Assuming I get a working NAS at home backing up my music, pictures, and video, I'm still talking about over 100GBs of data. Raid doesn't solve the problem of fire, flood, or burglary. I need an off site backup, but if I try to do even the initial seed load of that amount of data my ISP's EULA would shut me down in a hurry.

    So, assuming I come up with a way to backup at home. I need an EASY way to initially synchronize that backup to another device locally (a duplicate nas, a linux file server, etc) and then move that backup device off site and set it up so that it only sync's the changes, preferrably on a late night schedule. I have a friend with a high speed cable internet connection like mine willing to host my offsite backup in exchange for the same at my house for his. I'm looking into rsync or rdiff-backup for that, but based on two days of research, I can tell you the commercial NAS hacks necessary are again very daunting.

    In case it helps, what I need to backup:
    • 1 Windows XP Desktop (always on)
    • 1 Windows XP Desktop (intermittently on)
    • 1 Windows XP Laptop (intermittently on)

    Whatever solution I come up with shouldn't cross the 1k mark, and that includes any off site equipment. Last minute concern, maybe I should encrypt my off site backup. My friend could be the curious type.. one more thing. HELP!
     
  10. wpns

    wpns Occasional Visitor

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    Linux file servers are easy

    You can build a Linux file server for not very much money, look at NewEgg for the MSI Wind PC, a terabyte of WD Green hard drive, and a few other bits and pieces, and you are all set for well under $350.

    Load it at your house, do differentials to his house, everything else is a SMOP. 8*)

    [I'm a bit nebulous about the details, as I'm still trying to figure them out myself. If I did my math right you can move somewhere around 2.5GB/day over a 256K upload.]

    I personally would back up my PCs and other machines to a local file server and replicate that using rsync, which doubles your hardware cost (I'm a big fan of NAS drives) but simplifies the backup process considerably.

    You also need a way to test that the backups you are making are useful, nothing worse than haaving your house burn down and discover that your backups are junk. Do a test restore occasionally...
     
  11. beq

    beq Regular Contributor

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    Hmm, is it possible that QNAP wants to wait until the release of their firmware 3.0 with AJAX before submitting for additional SmallNetBuilder reviews? It's been in beta for their non-Intel models, and not even available yet for the Intel models.

    I will try to ask them in their forum... I do hope we see reviews of their newer models (with the new firmware) here in time for the launch of higher-performance 2TB hard drives.
     
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2009
  12. thiggins

    thiggins Mr. Easy Staff Member

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    I heard from Ivan at QNAP. The issue has been material planning more than anything else.

    The wait is over, however. TS-639 Pro, TS-509 Pro (for retest) and TS-119 are on the way in.
     
  13. beq

    beq Regular Contributor

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    That's great news. Unless I'm mistaken the new TS-119 should actually be shipping with their new v3.0 firmware, so I also look forward to your impressions on it.

    I also hope that their material planning can produce a TS-809 for testing soon! :)
     
  14. thiggins

    thiggins Mr. Easy Staff Member

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    Why? I frankly don't understand the drive toward these > 4 bay NASes.
     
  15. QuickThinking

    QuickThinking New Around Here

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    Linux file servers are easy?!!

    For everyone else that was like "what the heck is a SMOP"..

    A linux file server sounds fine, but what I was hoping for (locally at least) was that I would be able to do some sort of restore to a point in time. I've read A LOT of material this weekend about a program called BackupPC. It would run on a Linux server of my choice, and essentially pull backups from my Windows XX boxes using either a Samba share (probably the default c$) or using an rsync client (was looking at DeltaCopy).

    Some concerns I've run into:
    Apparently the hard links that a program like BackupPC uses in order to link all the delta (change) files back to the initial file creates problems for some file systems. NTFS, FAT32, and FAT16 are out of the question and so ext3, reiserf, ZFS and a bunch of other unix / linux file systems I've never had much experience with are recommended. Then to complicate that, rsync apparently has some problems with hard links in certain situations, and so it may be more difficult than just trying to schedule an rsync job to mirror my file server or Nas's data store against a remote device. Maybe I'm wrong there, or maybe utilities like rsnapshot address these concerns, or more likely, I just don't know what I'm talking about. However, articles like How to Copy a Filesystem and Preserve Hard Links in Linux by Jeremy Zawodny make me very nervous.

    I could probably get a poor man’s version of restore in time by scheduling each days backup to go do a different folder (Monday, Tuesday, etc.) but I'm pretty sure that would put rsync or other file synchronization protocols into overtime and max out my ISP bandwidth usage trying to keep the offsite mirror in check.

    I'm hoping someone, interested in point-in-time restoration, with a small windows network, AND interested in offsite backups has solved the problem and documented it somewhere, but if not the next best thing is to hash out a custom setup with the guys on these forums (which I agree are excellent) and then document it for everyone else.

    PS> The MSI Wind PC, very interesting looking, thanks.
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2009
  16. beq

    beq Regular Contributor

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    I'm actually interested to see reviews benchmarking the faster speed of the QNAP TS-809 Pro (Core 2 Duo 2.4GHz) and the rackmount TS-809U-RP (Core 2 Duo 2.8GHz) -- compared to the 1.6GHz Celeron or Atom CPUs used by the other QNAP Intel models.

    Frankly I don't expect the Celeron/Atom QNAP units to be able to outperform the Netgear ReadyNAS Pro, so I would've thought that it would be in QNAP's best interest to submit their fastest (809/809U) NASes for review...
     
  17. thiggins

    thiggins Mr. Easy Staff Member

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