Sunday, June 22, 2008

Adventures In Backup

Well, I'm doing better when it comes to protecting my images.

1) I now have a Belkin UPS protecting my computer and various hard drives.

2) I have installed Leopard on my Mac and will be using Time Machine for efficient backups.

3) I purchased a Drobo after doing some reading, and loaded it with 4 one terabyte drives. As Drobo recommended, I made a single 4 terabyte virtual drive, then partitioned it into one 80% chunk, another 20%, this move so that Drobo never goes into 85+ territory which is I gather innefficient and the way that Time Machine works is when it runs out of space, it starts throwing things out. This will now happen before Drobo goes into overdrive.

4) I have backed up all my edited image folders and detached the drive after.

5) I have backed up all raw files and returned the hard drive to my office (ie. offsite).

It cost me about $1500 for the hardware - certainly in the past this was an amount I balked at spending but the time had come...

Alternatives would have been a 2 terabyte disk but it wasn't going to be that much cheaper and wouldn't have survived a single disk failure, which the system I have will do.

Are there cheaper ways? - sure - are they as simple? - probably not - do I regret spending the money? No, it needed to be done - like getting a new roof - you don't really get to enjoy it, it just protects you.


Howard said...

I'd like to ask why you chose Drobo, and where is the info you read? I've been considering my backup strategy and I have checked somewhat into Drobo. I didn't realize you could set it up as a drive with the total space of all four drives. I thought it was the space of one of the drives, with the others mirroring, etc. Did you consider just a collection of, say, four drives, perhaps in an enclosure, and making duplicates manually each time you save? Seems like that would give you more space overall as well as give you the backups.
I'm not a computer geek, so I'm not sure about any of this. Just curious.

Scott Jones said...

Some worries I have hard about the Drobo are that it uses proprietary software to archive the backup and thus you are dependent on that software working and not being corrupt to be able to retrieve your backup otherwise the files are not readable. Any thoughts on this?

Jim McKinley said...

I have been using a Drobo for the past 4 months and would not consider anything else. I installed four 500g drives and the Drobo Share so the other PCs in the house can also use it to backup. I might consider a second Drobo strictly for photos but right now I am very pleased with wnat I have.
I also use an Epson 2000 and on a recent trip I ran out of space.So I just spent a rainy Sunday in Red Deer upgrading the drive to 80g. Followed a video from the net and it worked!
Presently working through your book "Take Your Photography to the Next Level" and I am really enjoying it.

George Barr said...

Scott: I figure that if worse comes to worst, I could always pull out the four drives and put them into another drobo, so don't really see how I can lose. Don't know to be fair whether the files are readable without going through drobo but the risk seems reasonable.


George Barr said...

The idea of drobo came from and then I checked some reviews and comments, read what was on the site. After purchasing it, the manual said that there was a 2 terabyte limit so I contacted the company and they were able to show me how to reset the limit to 4 terabytes and to partition it for max. efficiency.


chuck kimmerle said...

Regarding Scott's comments regarding proprietary software:

While proprietary software can offer additional headaches and concerns, it can also offer features that make it indispensable. For instance Retrospect 6.5 offers progressive backups, which will save not only the most recent copy of a particular file, but also the previously save copies. That allows me to go back and resurrect an image that I may have accidentally screwed up and saved. The downside is that he files are saved in a propriety format that is useless without the Retrospect software. However, should I somehow get a virus that targets image files, those will be spared.

I don't know if Drobo offers that same progressive backup, but I think it might.

The fact is that we need to backup and archive in multiple formats using multiple physical locations. Drobo or Retrospect (or whatever else) should only be one piece of the pie.

For me, I'm going to add Blu-Ray disks to my backup plan. They're not cheap, but will hold 25GB of data and can easily be shipped to an offsite storage location (mom and dad's place?)

chuck kimmerle said...

oh yeah...forgot to ask:

How does the Drobo offer disk failure protection if you're using 85% of the storage space. Even with a RAID 5 type setup (I know Drobo is different) you can only use 75% of available space. RAID 1 is 50%.

Are you sure your setup is offering protection against a disk failure? Just asking.

George Barr said...

Drobo basically is like a raid controller. It arranges the laying down of files, both the original and the backup copy on the hard disk array. Time Machine on my mac is like Retrospect - it's the backup software that lays down a complete backup when first run, then hourly, daily and weekly backups on top so that to the limits of the hard drives you can resurrect old versions of files.

Drobo takes care of providing drive redundancy for the backups just as a raid unit would do.

I'm not sure how well this is going to work - whether it's time machine or the usb2 interface on drobo but it looks like it is going to take most of 48 hours to do a full backup. As this only happens once, I don't know if it's going to be a problem or not. I am backing up one terabyte of information at this point.


Anonymous said...

I can copy about 1 GB/minute to my Drobo. 1 TB = 1024 GB which is about 18 hours. The other 30 hours are due to Time Machine.

Time Machine itself is slow - it checks to make sure data is actually written to disk which is a lot of extra overhead. This extra processing was one of the bug fixes in, as I recall, 10.5.2.

George Barr said...

Good to know - I'll check, I had thought I'd updated to the latest os but...


Chuck said...

Okay, I did some looking and found that the DROBO, in a 4TB configuration, has 2.7TB of storage space with the rest for overhead and protection. So, my earlier concern is moot and all data IS protected against a single drive failure.

George Purvis said...

On the subject of backups and when to run one, getting a regularly updated report on the S.M.A.R.T status of your disk drives can provide an early warning of impending disk failure. Modern disk drives have built-in diagnostics and keep brief logs of timings and problems that they self correct. Self-testing and self-correction are one reason that modern drives are a lot more reliable than drives of 10 years ago.

On my Macs, I use SMARTReporter which is freeware for Macintosh that displays a green icon in the top right corner of the Finder menu bar to show at a glance that the internal disk drives' S.M.A.R.T. results are within allowed limits. If it ever turns amber or red, I run an immediate full backup if possible (being careful not to damage my previous backups) and replace the drive.