Backup Strategy Revisited: v2016.05

A while ago I wrote about using crashplan as my backup strategy.  That didn’t last long.  Crashplan (free) eventually stopped syncing.  I did not have time to look into it.

Then I listened to Mac Power Users Episode MPU318: Backing Up and I got re-inspired to pick up the gauntlet again.

I recently re-acquired my desktop machine at home (it had become my wife’s in an emergency move when her machine started BSOD’ing), and I decided to try Yet.Another.Backup.Solution; this time going back to what some readers had suggested (see comment section here), using BitTorrent Sync.

So far so good


(click image for larger view)

  • I keep all active (personal) code bases in their own folder, c:\code,which rely on github, visual studio code, beanstalk, etc – various source code repositories – for their backups.
  • I keep a Dropbox folder somewhere on all my machines.  Dropbox is my main “My Documents” folder, for ad hoc type stuff.   But, it does not get stuff related to a project involving media – for example, a video edit from my GoPro.   That’s too large for it.
    • I chose dropbox because I used them first, and I’ve stuck with them so far.  I believe I’m at 7.5G, free.  There are other services that provide similar…
    • I do an occasional 1-way copy from dropbox to a spot in my big share.  Just in case.
  • I set up a Windows Storage Space on my big home machine, across the top three drives from my former home server – 2TB, 1.5TB, and 1TB … which combined give me a 2TB 2-way-mirrored array.  Any one drive dies, no problem. 
  • I set up BitTorrrentSync Pro (paid) ($40 personal one time) to set up a personal cloud:
    • 1.2TB of data between my home storage space and an external hard drive hooked up to my work computer, over the internet.
    • Several per-year folders (2016, 2015, 2014, etc) that are much smaller that live on every machine I am productive with.  (my convention is /yyyy/projectName for any given project, copy-forward if it goes between years).  
      • I’m doing a lot less video work now, so the sizes are quite manageable.  2014 was the peak, that was 283G.  That’s been pruned down and put in the big sync now.   Most I’m doing for a year now is 15G, because of a GoPro video.
    • If I have a project that exceeds the size of one of the laptop drives, I’ll probably break it down into its own little BTSYNC cloud (“2016ProjectName”) and share that amongst the machines that care.
  • I’m still relying on Dropbox for my phone photo backup, although I am doing a iCloud backup as well.

I am currently not backing up my mom’s computers, because she has 4(!) of her own, with Dropbox set up to keep track of important stuff.    Go mom!  (I need to check on that soon, verify health).

On Seeding Large BtSync Share

  • I started out with a single copy of my files.   USBHD1:\SHARE
  • Copied them all onto USBHD2:\SHARE
  • Walked USBHD2 to the office, bypassing the internet.
  • Set up a BitTorrentSync folder on USBHD1:\BTSYNC1 (initially empty)
  • Sync that to USBHD2:\BTSYNC1 (initially empty)
  • At home, copy USBHD1:\SHARE to USBHD1:\BTSYNC1 – 5 years!!!! (usb 2.0 is not great for disk speed)
  • image
  • At work, copy USBHD2:\SHARE to USBHD2:\BTSYNC1
  • Within 24 hours everything was synced.
  • I compared files against the original shares and there were no problems

Now that I’m more familiar with it, I could have just told the work computer, “really, use THIS folder to receive the files, yes, I know it already has stuff in it”, and it would have worked fine. 

Moving the data from the  USBHD to the StorageSpace was easy: 

  1. Copy the data
  2. Stop BtSync
  3. Unplug the Ext Hd
  4. Start BtSync
  5. Tell BtSync where to find the files again.
  6. Profit.

What Did Not Work Well For Me With BtSync

Using my iPhone to browse my big share Nope, it tried to download the big share to my phone (in selective sync mode) (which does one place holder file for every file) (too many files!)

Selective Sync in general – I did not like the idea of placeholder files.   I’d rather have placeholder directories. 

In Conclusion

So.. there you have it.    I have my mirrored local, I have at least 1 offsite backup, several protocols, and an offline backup in case of ransomware.

We’ll see if its still working fine a month or two from now.

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