September 14, 2012

A new backup solution - what to do?

I’m looking at Chronosync + Drobo + Crashplan.

We have two laptops, a Mac Mini and an iMac. I’m turning the Mac Mini in to a server. It already handles our media with EyeTV, iPhoto, iTunes residing there.

I’m considering moving away from Time Machine to ChronoSync. I’ve been testing it with ChronoAgent on my Air. I like that it can sync when the Air awakens, and send a confirmatory email. Also, I don’t necessarily care to back up everything on each machine. Just documents, media and some prefs would be fine. So ChronoSync would allow less use of our network.

I’m doing the scanning for our paperless setup on my Air but want the scanned files to reside on the Mini. Keeping a connection to the Mini from the Air has been troublesome - remounting is often required. Currently I am considering having ChronoSync move scanned files to the Mac Mini where Hazel will process them upon arrival. This would happen once a day.

I’m impressed with the positives presented by Drobo: high-capacity, ease of use, easy maintenance, self-analyzing, self-healing, etc. However, my job leads me to think of risk of worst-case scenarios and apparently the Drobo’s is enclosure hardware failure. This leaves the data in a proprietary format, unreadable. A very nice Drobo rep told me on the phone that placing the drives in another enclosure from them would make the data readable again. I have encountered a small number of people for which that did not work. She said the failure rate is less than 1%. Of course, people with something negative to say are most likely to be the people placing reviews on Amazon, reporting these catastrophes.

I also looked at the LaCie 2Big and 4Big RAIDs. I have always bought their drives and liked them. However, they require the use of the drives they sell in order to keep the warranty in play. Their prices for replacement drives are quite inflated. There is a university near me that has a 2Big 4TB in their campus store for around 45% off. I’m not sure if they know that price is as good as it is.

I’m not interested in a NAS, partly because I want Crashplan working on the Mini and associated drives (and it would not back up a NAS in that instance). While one can run Crashplan, I think, from a Synology NAS, it would only back up that drive.

Another valid option on the table is a couple of D2 Quadras from Lacie with one being a drive to contain media and files and the other backing it up. Crashplan would back that up.

I like Crashplan because I don’t have to worry about an off-site solution. I do live near a fault-line and earthquakes are possible. I used to carry an encrypted D2 Quadra to work and leave it there as off-site storage but am now looking for very low maintenance backups.

Current favorite: A Drobo S connected via FW800 to the 2010 MacMini syncing everything via ChronoSync and ChronoAgent with Crashplan backing it all up.

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