Backup Strategy 2022 Now USB Copy and BackBlaze
OK, I finally am close to having our key family photos backed up properly, but I’m getting there, the goal was to get storage at the minimum 3:2:1 level, that is 3 backups with 2 local and one in the cloud, so here is where we are and it is confusing because Synology has four different backup strategies:
- Primary storage is in a Synology DS2413+ so that machine is getting old (2013 is 9 years ago), but it is running on RAID10 with btrfs so I get versioning and a history
- Synology Local Snapshot Replication to a local volume. This is to a different volume on the same box. The main advantage here is that it is using Snapshot Replication. Since the photos don’t really change, this guarantees that every night there is a local backup. I can always rip these drives out and put them in another system. It is still vulnerable but fast.
- Synology Network Snapshot Replication to another Synology DS1812+ over the LAN. The advantage here is that it is over a LAN and different hardware so if the first box fails there is duplication. The network has to be up though for this replication to work. The main vulnerability here is that it is all Synology hardware and software
- Synology USB Copy scheduled to Drobo with Hybrid RAID5. So this is USB connected to the Synology. This is slow because it is only USB 2.0, but Drobo has a different storage architecture, so a single bug won’t take down all the arrays. I actually also have a DroboPro as well, so will split the backups to them. One will take Personal files and the other the fat videos.
- Synology Drive to MacBook Pro with RAID 1 Thunderbolt. OK, this took forever, but using the Synology drive which replicates things incrementally, the personal files are now stored on another completely different architecture.
So net, net, at home, we now have five local copies of things, so quite a bit more than the two and way more useful.
Now for the cloud backup, there are basically two strategies that will result in two cloud backups into two different providers at least for the photos:
- Synology Hyperbackup of the two Synology systems to Google Drive. This is a block by block incremental copy, so the files are completely obscured. You might ask why two hyperbackups, that is so if the Synology Snapshot stuff gets confused, hopefully one of the two copies will work. This is currently very reasonable if slow because Google Workspace gives you unlimited storage for an organziational user.
- Synology Cloud Sync to Google Drive. This sounds alot like Hyperbackup, but the difference is that the files are readable, so you are getting a replication and don’t have different versions stored, but it means that all the files are usable by me from Google Drive which is nice.
- Apple iCloud Photos. Just for photos, I have imported all the photos into Apple iCloud. This is a bit of a pain as it has to be done manually, but everytime I get new photos and videos, I import them into Apple Photos and then we have a 4TB plan (Apple One plus iCloud 2TB) and right now this does store just the photos effectiveliy
Work to be done: Another cloud and Drobo btrfs
OK, well the work never ends, so what’s next, well, relying on a single cloud vendor isn’t super great, so I’m going to investigate the ocean of Cloud Storage vendors:
- AWS Glacier. This is long term storage so this should be much cheaper and will keep me fresh on AWS. The core charge is $0.004/GB/month or translate this is $4/TB/month so for 24TB, this is $96/month ($1,152) or for true long-term backup where it takes 12 hours to get the data back, you can use Deep Storage which costs $1/TB/month or $24/month or $288/year
- Synology C2. They have a cloud system as well for backups for 24TB, the cost is $1,514 per year so a little above AWS (they are probably using AWS underneath I would guess)
- Backblaze (see the analysis below). But for $70/month, it is pretty worthwhile to get another source for doing this the only issue is that Hyperbackup does not have a connector to Backblaze and the Cloud Sync only works with Backblaze professional B2 which is much more expensive. The cheap solution is with a Mac or Windows client, so you can’t run this off of Synology. They have a 30 days worth of backup for free, but if you want a year, they charge an extra $2/month and if you want it forever, then it is $5/TB/month so it rapidly becomes as expensive as C2. Still for simple backup from a mac and as a counterweight to Google Cloud, this is not a bad thing for basically another place to Cloud Sync files. The nice thing is all the data is client encrypted, so they can’t see your data. Perhaps the biggest problem is that a restore is limited to 500GB from a web client, if you want more, then they mail you a hard disk with a $189 refundable deposit. The best deal is probably the $70+$24 to get a year’s worth of backup.
- IPFS. I might even try pushing terabytes into Filecoin’s IFPS which is a decentralized block chain file storage system. They are definitely more expensive as Pinata.cloud which is the first hybrid blockchain charges $0.15/GB so $150/TB. Blockchain promises decentralization which is great, but the pricing is still 30x greater.
Then there is a minor thing, the current Drobo backup uses ext4 partitions, but I have another Drobo and I am thinking that I use Linux to format that drive in btrfs, then when I do USB Copy, I can keep snapshots there as well and I can plug that into a Linux box to access it.
So what are some cloud vendors to try. Well, the first thing to note is that there is a difference between “casual” storage of files vs the space needed to do real backups. Right now, I need about 24TB to do a full backup of everything that we have and that figure is growing.
Amongst the small-scale vendors, someones to look at are what I would call the “small” vendors. I wouldn’t ever put everything into one of these guys but would have them plus one of the BigTech firms that aren’t going out of business anytime soon (e.g., one has to be Google, AWS, or Azure), so there are some of the off brand choices:
- iDrive. The folks at TechRadar and Wirecutter love them, they have 10TB for $96 a year and they also offer 50TB for small businessses
- pCloud. They are new, but they are from Switzerland so perhaps more privacy. They do offer lifetime programs, but what they really mean is the lifetime of their company :_) And support up to 2TB
- Backblaze. I nearly switched to them years ago, and the advantage is that you get unlimited storage for $70/year. They run their own systems and you get a free year (worth $70).
GEtting Backblaze to Run isn’t easy
Ok, well, I use CrashPlan for a long time before they went out of business and they recommended moving ot BackBlaze which I never did, so I had an account, but really getting it to work right is actually a little painful:
- They are really tuned for a single user with a couple of computer, so by default when you sign up, you get an option to buy licenses. It is $70 per year for a single computer license.
- The problem is that when you change licenses, you will lose all your data since they are using unique encryption keys.
- Also, you can only use their business grade B2 which costs $1,500 for me if you use the Synology Cloud Sync to B2 buckets. So the economical way to do this is to use the Mac or PC backup instead.
- Fortunately I have a Mac with the image of all my critical data so that is going to go up first.
- However, billing is complicated. What happens is that for a single account, it works as you would expect, but since I think that I might end up using this for other homes that I manage, I wanted a business account.
- What you have to do is login to Backblaze and then in your login, you will see settings and there you enable Group Management. This means that the credit card you put in will be used for groups. Backblaze doesn’t have a notion of real groups. Basically everyone in an organization hasl their own separate account. Then you create a group and invite them to it. Perhaps the most confusing thing as an administrator you have to invite yourself to the group which is pretty strange, but makes sense, you can administor and not have a license
- So once you do this, you can download the Backblaze client, this is a little bit of a strange mac product in that
brew install backblazedoesn’t actually work. It only downloads a zip file and then you have to manually run it.
- But once you do, you will be asked to authenticate with your backblaze login and then it will backup all the hard drives it sees. It however doesn’t see networked drives so you have to have all the files on a physical hard drive (too bad, because otherwise I could just network share and do a backup of the NAS).
- Also, by default the private encryption key is turned off, but you should set one and then no one can recover this data and store it someplace like 1Password because if you lose it, then the data is gone forever.
- The other strange thing is that BackBlaze actually runs as a System Preferences entry rather than as an application, it needs Full Disk Access and flashes this, but when it starts, it is all obscured. If you don’t enable Full Disk Access, then you get a strange message, “cannot install a read-writeable .bz_vol” and then you get off into permissions land when you Google it. The problem isn’t permissions it is in MacOS where applications need explicit permissions to access the Full Disk. as an aside this bz_vol actually just has an XML file which is the disk identifier for Backblaze, but its the first thing it does which is why you get this error.
- The most confusing aspect is how to deal with the version history and getting from a 30-day history (it will only keep files for 30 days after deletion to a year for $24/month). With the personal account, you just navigate to your license. But with a business system works differently, so go to the administrator and then in Business Groups > Group Management you will see the group and then for all licnese there you will see version history with a Change button and then you can switch all the licenses. For most folks 30 days storage is fine, but a year buys alot of comfort.