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Help me choose a backup solution?

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Hi all. This is my first post here, after being a long-time reader.

I need some help choosing a backup system for my home LAN. I've got a mixture of computers to back up, and an unused (and slightly underpowered) PC ready to be my "server".

Here's what I need to back up:

  • My main laptop (Lenovo Y720), with three separate bootable partitions (2x 1TB SSDs):
    • Manjaro Linux (my daily driver)
    • openSUSE Tumbleweed (for development)
    • Win10 for BIOS update and Steam games
  • A desktop PC running Ubuntu 18.04, serving media (2TB storage drive)
  • My wife's Macbook Air (256GB SSD)
  • My own Macbook Pro (750GB SSD)
  • Another, older laptop, again with Manjaro (1 TB SSD)
The spare machine I have available to collect all this stuff is an old AMD-powered desktop with 8GB of RAM and 7TB of HDDs. It's currently got Linux Mint 19 on it, chosen somewhat randomly.

I would really prefer an open-source solution, as I'm a strong advocate. The development partition on my laptop is for my work contributing to KDE as a junior developer. I've learned the hard way not to mix a development environment with your daily work. The variant of Tumbleweed that's in that partition gets nightly updates direct from git, so it can be unstable.

Ideally, I'd like one backup system that has clients for all three operating systems. I've got enough home sysadmin tasks keeping this network alive. Another factor, and I don't mean this in a derogatory way, but it has to automated and unobtrusive for my wife's Macbook. She doesn't want to monkey around with rsync scripts and things like that.

I've looked at Bacula and Bareos, but they're a little over-the-top in terms of setup and configuration. It's not that I couldn't figure it out, but it seems like overkill.

I've attempted to get BackupPC running, but it's a damned hassle setting up and exchanging SSH keys between various users and machines.

I don't really want a "snapshot" system like BackInTime, because there doesn't seem to be anything that's available for all the OS's I need to maintain.

I'd like something with a web interface so I can keep an eye on what's happening and know that backups are happening as they should. And if it can do simple restores over the web UI, that would be great.

I've got some unused drives I can add to the machine via USB 3 - I just ordered a dual enclosure yesterday, It's just an enclosure, not a NAS device.

Well, there's my dilemma. I've been working at this for a week or more, trying to decide on something and/or trying to get something running.

I'd really appreciate some suggestions from the collective wisdom of the SNB community.

Thanks for reading.


EDIT: I'm not opposed to loading a proper "server" version of an OS on the backup machine (as opposed to a standard wokstation distribution) if it makes things any easier.
How much data are we talking about? Is the 7TB of drives enough to last a while, or will more be needed sooner, rather than later?

I appreciate that you would like to use what you have, but this is exactly why a QNAP or Synology solution excels.

You set it up and it works.

Nothing I've seen on the DIY side comes close.

The very fact that you're asking is enough for me to have a good guess this is a little above your normal skill set. No knock against you for this!

How valuable is the data you want to protect? A proven system is worth its cost. When (not if) disaster happens, it becomes priceless.

Hoping to start a discussion here to have the best interests of your data in mind. :)
Thanks for the reply.

It's not so much that I'm trying to work above my pay grade, it's more like I'm trying to corral all this stuff I've collected over the years. I've got movies and TV shows stored in one place, music in another, my personal documents and must-saves backed up on Dropbox and Google Drive, etc.

At nearly 50 and entirely self-taught, I'm finally coming around and trying to do things in a semi-professional manner. That started with untangling and rearranging all the components in the "lab" in the basement. I'm proud to say everything works and I ended up with a ton of extra patch cables and a spare ethernet switch. It all grew organically, much like my data.

I want to back up everyday material, with kind of a disaster-recovery flavor added on. I tend to tinker with my systems and do, occasionally, get it rather wrong.

How valuable is this data? Let's call it somewhere between "I don't want to lose it" and "I don't have money to invest in specialized hardware".
Fair enough! :)

I would forget the 'automated' system backups 'want' then. A regular, manual, schedule is always more robust. Because you will know immediately if the backup didn't work. ;)

Pick the most stable os you want and do a clean install onto bare metal (formatting every drive fully before it is used on this install). I would then run any and all diagnostics possible on this system for up to a week, depending on how many components you are able to test. :)

With the hardware part completed above and as reliable as we can hope for, the software I could recommend is FreeFileSync, which should cover all your various os'?

Once you've set FreeFileSync for each device and finished the initial (usually largest) synchronization, it will be a matter of mere minutes to do this in the future. For the 8 devices or so, it would probably take less than 15 minutes weekly.

This simple method has many benefits, the most important is in its simplicity. ;)
I did my due diligence and checked out FreeFileSync. I think it'll do the trick.

I admit I have a tendency to over-complicate things. It's part of my "I want to learn everything!" nature.

Although the solutions are quite simple, my only wish is that FFS had its own scheduling system, rather than relying on the OS'es built-in schedulers. They're all a little awkward; but I suppose none more so than `cron` - that just happens to be the one I'm most familiar with.

There's been a delay of a day or two while I replace a drive. I had a Synology DS115j , from which I removed the 3TD Western Digital Red drive. It was just too bloody slow. (I built a Synology 8-bay 40+ TB NAS for a friend who's a documentary filmmaker and it works a treat, this j-model was a cheap toy by comparison). I couldn't get it reformatted - tons of errors. The SMART check showed most parameters as being well past their natural lifespan, with one flagged as "pre-failure" or words to that effect. And it's only 1.5 years old.

So now I'm going to load the machine with Manjaro, three internal drives and two external USB 3.0. I'll set up FFS on all my laptop's partitions as well as my wife's computer. I like that I can have multiple defined jobs per installation, based on whatever criteria or importance I feel is appropriate.

Thanks for your help. I'll get back to you once my network is unclogged from all the syncing. :)

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