Need advice on backup server for home network

Discussion in 'backup, imaging & disk mgmt' started by Gullible Jones, May 22, 2015.

  1. Gullible Jones

    Gullible Jones Registered Member

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    There's rather a lot of data to back up on my home network. Operating systems probably total 50 GB or so, not discounting duplicate files; data might be another 100 GB, give or take a few GB for emulator images. After:
    - several lengthy and difficult OS migrations
    - some similarly time-consuming Windows reinstallations
    - a recent incident where I nearly lost all my personal documents
    I'm thinking it would be prudent to set up a backup server for the whole network.

    So...

    Software

    Lots of choices here. Bacula and AMANDA look good for their bare-metal restore capability. rdiff-backup, on the other hand, seems to be the only one that supports file deltas. That capability would be very handy for the legacy emulator images, which would otherwise probably need a different (longer interval) backup schedule to save HDD space.

    There's also BackupPC. It's much simpler to set up, has a nice web interface, and also has the advantage of not needing special client software. OTOH, bare metal restore seems to be missing, so for Windows it seems like a partial solution at best. And I'm not sure how Windows file sharing over SMB deals with mandatory NTFS read locks.

    A Simple Test Model

    I'm currently testing a full backup of my laptop (with OpenSUSE 13.2 KDE, 64-bit, on an SSD) to my netbook (Debian 8 32-bit base install on an Eee 1005HAB with 300 GB SATA hard disk), using BackupPC. The backup is via rsync over SSH, with compression level 3 (presumably gzip format).

    It's been backing up at a steady rate for over four hours. Both SSH and the BackupPC dump process are pounding the netbook's CPU at over 90% per core. Obviously this won't do. Perhaps
    1) Data compression should be wholly on the client side
    2) A much more powerful CPU is needed for the backup server
    3) Backups should be sent unencrypted, since they're limited strictly to the local network

    (1) would be ideal, though I think it eliminates BackupPC. (2) would also be ideal, though unfortunate, as I want to build the backup server on a small budget. (3) would likely reduce the overhead a lot, but as a policy (even on a strictly private network) I'm not sure it's a good idea; not so much because it's hazardous, as because one could get used to it.

    Hardware

    Which brings us to the actual needs of the backup server. In my mind there are two main possibilities.

    1) Reuse my old single-core Powerspec. Buy a cheap PCI SATA controller, and some 500 GB SATA hard disks for Linux software RAID/LVM. Hope the CPU has enough oomph to do the job. (And that the motherboard doesn't blow out, the PSU doesn't fry, etc. etc.)

    2) Build a new machine. I'm thinking of one of those toaster-shaped mini cases if possible; small form factor would be convenient, simply because I have limited space in my house. But that's contingent on having enough interior space for everything. For CPU I'm betting anything recent would work, and graphics is obviously a nonissue. :p

    ...

    I'm curious what the backup and hardware people here have to say about this stuff. At the moment I'm leaning towards reusing the Powerspec, with Bacula as the backup software; but I'm open to advice, especially regarding the server hardware.
     
  2. Gullible Jones

    Gullible Jones Registered Member

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    Whoops. Turns out the long backup with BackupPC was because I was backing up virtual filesystems. D'oh!
     
  3. Brian K

    Brian K Imaging Specialist

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    Gullible Jones,

    Maybe I'm missing something but I'd go for a simpler solution. Connect a big USB3 external HD to your computer. Everyone on the network can backup and restore data and images to/from this HD.
     
  4. 5teve

    5teve Registered Member

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    Although not as simple as Brians solution, I use an HP microserver with 5x 3tb toshiba (hitachi drives) and 8gb ecc - running freenas 9.3 and raidz1. I back up all of my machines to them (using macrium) and use it for file backups for our business. Worst case if the main server fails I can access the backup / files quickly and easily from another machine.

    Freenas also supports rsync if thats any use to you.

    Steve
     
  5. Gullible Jones

    Gullible Jones Registered Member

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    @Brian K

    Basically I want something centralized, automated, and incremental, that maintains a "history" of files. Not just redundancy, but the ability to retrieve old stuff later.

    (BTW, BackupPC actually does kind of support bare-metal restore. You can download a tar archive from web interface - that would work for Linux, at least. For Windows, I don't think the capability exists, as tar does not support Windows ACLs, and IIRC neither does zip.)

    @5teve

    Nothing wrong with rsync, though again, bare-metal restore for Windows is lacking (missing ACL support). Macrium I've had awful luck with in the past.

    For OS and filesystems though, I'd probably eschew FreeNAS and ZFS in favor of Linux and XFS (on LVM). I know ZFS is great and all, but support for it on my machines is a problem; the network is still mostly Linux, and most computers don't have ECC RAM.

    Edit: for my needs, 5 x 3 TB drives and 8 GB of RAM seems a bit excessive. The old Powerspec has 1 GB of RAM, and (with twin 40 GB IDE drives in LVM/RAID-1) performs okay as a desktop. Likewise, the netbook performs quite well for experimental backups - once BackupPC is configured properly, that is!

    Edit 2: I think, in my case, the main impetus for buying brand-new hardware would be reliability. The Powerspec has thus far proven highly reliable, but it's been out of warranty for ~10 years now; and frankly, some of the capacitors on the motherboard do not look very good.
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2015
  6. Brian K

    Brian K Imaging Specialist

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    Gullible Jones,

    I obviously don't understand what your server will do. Does it preform an active role in the backups or does it just receive files?
     
  7. Gullible Jones

    Gullible Jones Registered Member

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    @Brian K

    The server would:

    - Either run a backup daemon listening on some port, which clients would connect to; or (in the case of BackupPC) make scheduled connections to the clients over SSH (or SMB for Windows) to perform the backups.
    - Provide storage for the actual backups
    - Provide web, command line, etc. interfaces for the restoration process.
     
  8. Brian K

    Brian K Imaging Specialist

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    Thanks. Clear now.
     
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