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online backup

Jack Coats <jack at> writes:
> Yea, I wish [Dr.Backup] also had a hookup that was as nice for *NIX.

Years ago I had the idea that if only someone developed the open source
software for doing remote backups, and it became popular, there would be
an abundance of commodity storage providers to chose from. The same way
there is with web hosting. But that didn't happen. At least not the 
storage provider side of things.

On the software side, there is of course rsync, though it isn't a 
complete solution, as ideally you want to encrypt the data before 
sending it off to some storage provider. More recently I ran across Box 
Backup (, which claims to be a 
complete open source solution for online backup. I haven't evaluated it 
yet. An RFC to set forth some standards in this area would be nice.

Earlier this year I toyed with the idea of using generic web hosting
providers as online storage. They're cheaper per GB than the online
backup services, but you have to roll your own software solution, and
not all hosting providers will take as good of care of the data as an
online backup service might. (Though the impression I get from these
franchised backup services that many might be pretty small-time
operations, probably running in less than "world class" data centers.)

> I haven't found a service that specializes in small business *NIX
> service, yet.

IBackup ( will give you 4 GB for $15/month and
uses rsync for Linux clients (proprietary software for Windows).

NovaStor ( has a $78/mo service
that'll work with Linux, but it's proprietary.

> If people are serious about backups and have much to do, or it is a
> non-windows environment, I have suggestions.  It isn't cheap, but I
> personally like IBM's TSM (Tivoli Storage Manager) and Veritas NetBackup
> (Even their Backup Exec is surprisingly robust).

I'm familiar with these, but I dwell too much in the realm of startups
and small business to have had first hand exposure.

I'm currently looking into prototyping a low-cost storage appliance, 
along the lines of a Pug Server ( Built with 
SATA drives, RAID 1, Linux, Samba, but in addition I'd incorporate 
snapshot capability (either using something like rsnapshot 
(, or UnionFS 
( - hopefully someday someone 
will write a low-level file system extension specifically for snapshots, 
similar to NetApp's NAS appliance operating system), remote online 
backup - either with a peer machine or a storage service, and allow 
setting up Samba as a primary domain controller.

It'd be nice if there was a ready-to-use distribution with a web-based 
GUI that did the above, but that seems unlikely. The turn-key server 
distributions (NetMAX, ClarkConnect, Mitel (e-smith)) wouldn't bundle 
the snapshot and remote backup features, they'd include a bunch of 
unwanted services, and modifying their GUI might not be any easier than 
starting with stock Debian and writing custom Webmin modules.

On a related note, I recently ran across this article:

Customized Server Appliances for SOHO Clients

which demonstrates building an appliance using the Antec Aria Micro-ATX 
Cube Case. Ever since Antec released that product I've been considering 
it for an appliance. It's a bit larger than most proprietary cube cases, 
but holds a standard Micro-ATX motherboard.

> [Dr.Backup] is mainly aimed at 90% of the questions I normally get about
> 'how do I backup my PC' from people in the neighborhood or at church.  I use
> this service, and it is fairly innocuous, but still has a few small quirks.
> It does seem reliable and secure.

Sounds reasonable. I'm just not keen on the lock-in caused by these 
proprietary solutions. If storage rates go up, I'd like to be able to 
switch providers without changing the software. Or avoid using a storage 
provider and instead have the option to backup to a peer machine in 
another office.

> I like that they have available several
> different encryption algorithms.  It looks like you locally compress and
> encrypt the data, then FTP it to the server over the open internet.  Once
> they have it, they catalog the data (they do not have the encryption key
> info), and store it.

That's how most of these services are designed to work.


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