Over the weekend, my Windows Home Server threw an alert at me saying that one of my drives was about to fail. This sent me into freak-out mode because one of the things that I’ve been telling myself that I need to do over the last few months is to update our data backup strategy. Previously, I had been using my WHS box as the central network file share and simply backed it up to a cloud service. For that service, I went with idrive.com because, at the time, their offering was unlimited backup for 4.95 USD p/m and theirs was one of the only services whose backup client would install on a server operating system. I had originally planned to use mozy.com, but in an effort to keep businesses from using their “personal” offering, they disallowed installation on any server-based operating system (a move I consider to be extremely short-sighted at the very least).
I was actually relatively happy with my initial strategy (with the exception of WHS corrupting my MS Money files – no biggie there – once I started using mint.com, I dumped MS Money anyway). The only problem was that either I didn’t read the fine print on idrive.com, or they changed the terms of my account without telling me. Long story short, my “unlimited” account got capped at 150GB. Now, those of you who capture a lot of digital video know that 150GB is pretty much used up in a year (if that – there seems to be a kid multiplier in there somewhere) – so needless to say, I maxed out my idrive.com account pretty quick and subsequently had about 3 months worth of photos like this one that were no longer getting backed up (hence the freak out).
So as I starting crafting a new backup strategy, I realized that I first wanted to look at my total data management strategy and take better advantage of some of the services now available. The goal of this is to not just ensure that my data is backed up, but to make sure that the master store for my data is not on hardware that I own and maintain. So in taking a look at the types of data that I have, here’s how it breaks out:
Code - One of the first things that I decided to do was move all my extra-curricular projects to cloud-hosted subversion. This was a point of frustration for me anyways as I wasn’t versioning my own stuff (and I wasn’t about to install TFS in my local environment). So – development projects moved to unfuddle.com.
Pictures – I decided to keep pictures on a WHS-hosted network share for 2 reasons. First, both my wife and I regularly add and modify (file renames, mostly) picture files from our respective computers, so it didn’t make sense to have duplicate copies of the pictures tree on our machines – and I didn’t want the hassle of resolving conflicts with a P2P setup like FolderShare (in my experience, even using P2P to keep my work files in sync between the office and home yielded a surprising number of conflicts). Secondly, I use WHS to enable family to log in remotely and browse photos, so keeping them on WHS made a bunch of sense.
Music – same rationale as pictures (minus the remote browsing).
Documents – I decided to move all of my documents (non work stuff) into folders on Live Mesh. This way, all of my files are replicated in the cloud by default. I realize that this is not the same as a backup, and I’m still exposed to some risk, such as if a file gets corrupted on my local drive, the corrupted file will be replicated into the mesh. Given the relative importance of many of these files, right now that’s an acceptable risk. My wife’s documents are also replicated to Mesh.
Video – With respect to video and backup, there are 2 major things that drove my decision. First, in order to work on video projects, all of the raw video needs to be on a local hard drive (thank you captain obvious). Second, I need a backup provider that really gives me unlimited storage. For now, it looks like that’s going to be mozy.com. So I got setup with their 4.95 USD plan and backed up my 70GB of family videos.
All in all, my setup looks like this.
I would love to refine this in the future to eliminate one of the cloud backup providers (I had looked at JungleDisk, but they charge per GB, which in my case would be double the ~10 USD p/m that I’m currently paying). Between the 2 that I am currently using, all it would take would be for either idrive.com to provide truly unlimited backup space or for mozy.com to allow it’s backup client (for the non-business service) to be installed on a server OS. I also know that I’ll need to deal with backing up that data in Mesh at some point, but I’ll kick that can down the road just a bit longer.