Replacing tape changer with USB disk drives.
steve at ibctech.ca
Tue Jun 17 02:04:34 UTC 2008
Christopher Sean Hilton wrote:
> I run FreeBSD 7.0-STABLE on a file server and until recently used a Tape
> Changer for backups. I'm considering my options for a new backup
> solution. I'm actually thinking of ditching tape and using an externally
> attached USB or Firewire disk drive.
Do the tapes get taken off-site, or do they sit in the same location
that the servers will burn when a fire breaks out?
> My experimentation isn't giving me good feelings about doing this with
> FreeBSD. To start this off I installed an Adaptec USB 2.0 interface into
> my server. In the time that I've been working with it I notice that it
> periodically bogs down and that it has the potential to panic the kernel
> and cause a reboot. I recognize that this could be:
> The USB card that I'm using.
> The chipset in the USB enclosure that I'm testing with.
> Has anyone gone this route? If so what was your experience?
Yes, I use external USB 2.0 external disks for backup for workstations
that are encrypted with either GELI or TrueCrypt on the fly.
The problem with USB hard disks is that they A) are prone to failure
very quickly (as has been pointed out); and B) they never get taken
off-site on a routine basis as they should.
My recommendation (FWIW) would be to build/buy/acquire a network storage
device with a 1000Mbps Ethernet interface that you back up your entire
network to. Depending on the size of your network, it may be advisable
to pop an extra NIC (gigE) in every box that requires a backup and
create yourself a private backup subnet, as to not disturb the
Once the network backup is complete, cycle this complete backup to tape
which can be taken off site for longer term storage (after the network
backup to 'hot' storage is done, the tape backup time becomes irrelevant).
This setup provides an always-on, live-as-of-yesterday recovery
mechanism without having to load tape.
Also, depending on the amount of data that requires backup, and the
throughput capacity/cost of your Internet link(s), it is always a
benefit to do an rsync (or equivalent) copy to a remote location, in
order to best accommodate a 'hot spare' location (ie, users migrate to
remote temporary location, and have to change as little as possible).
USB disks are as useful as the people that you put in charge of taking
them off-site, multiplied by the number of drives you cycle, divided by
the life expectancy of the disks (and/or the people taking them offsite ;)
One more thing...a good backup is not measured in how far back the
backup goes...a good backup is measured in the amount of time it takes
to recover from it....
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