Monday, October 19, 2015

When Agata asks good backup questions

Subtitle:   Always Check your backup infrastructure

What you see above is an urgent fix/ catchup to the fact that our Cloud backups have been incomplete for some months.  And, at the bonkers upload speed shown above, by the end of today, all will be well again ...

Stepping Back
This is a comical, yet ultimately fruitful review of the household Backup Infrastructure.

It all started when our cloud Backup provider iDrive showed an alert on Agata's Apple Computer saying that 98% of our backup quota had been used.   Exceeding 100% is really expensive, costs on a par with accidental mobile data roaming! Despite asking iDrive to limit us to 100%, they have not replied, so it is upto us to make sure we don't exceed.

NB: We stopped using the vastly more professional Crashplan as reported here for Cloud backups because they just did not have adequately fast upload rates.

More research had me asking Agata the question:

Wait a minute! Why are you using the iDrive client on your computer at all?

It turns out she was directly backing up to the cloud because I had failed to clarify that all backups should go in a stepwise fashion

data -> Master Computer -> NAS -> Cloud

Agata's revised OSX backup Policy

- Agata's data is no longer pushed from her MAC computer to either the cloud or the NAS (Network Attached Storage).  Instead a Master computer pulls data on a daily schedule from her computer.

- Agata continues to store data on Google Drive, meaning a Cloud copy and a local version on an Apple HFS filesystem

- But It's not sufficient [to us] to have this Google Cloud and Local copy. We have an independent, and time delete delayed local and iDrive cloud copy

- She makes OS level backups from her machine using Carbon Copy Cloner to a remote NAS destination.  So if her local hard disk crashes, or is stolen, the machine can be recovered.

- Because she's on a recent OSX she needs Carbon Copy 4, it was a paid upgrade

- iDrive client is to be uninstalled from her local system because this would backup directly from her computer to the cloud.  This is not needed as her critical data will be pulled from her computer to a master, not pushed as was in error

The Revised Strategy

- One Master Computer in the house is the repository of all data

- Through Firewall and userid/password restrictions other computers, or any hacker cannot push data to it, or read data from it

- It's the job of the Master Computer to pull from all subordinate computers, data, on a schedule, storing it initially on its local hard disk

- We use SyncBack to pull this data using a schedule per subordinate computer

- Master computer Backs up a chosen subset of all data, i.e. critical data only to NAS 

- Note that Financial Data is not sent to NAS and cloud for paranoia reasons.  Instead it is first doubly encrypted and stored for posterity in another way.

- NAS runs iDrive client and backs up that critical data to cloud

- Individual computers are expected, and allowed to make OS level or other backups to NAS.  But they are not replicated to cloud  (because of cost, no other reason)

When your home IT begins to get complicated,  a  periodic team review with enquiring minds is a good idea.  Thankfully Agata has such a mind!