Changes to Backups

Back in Rethinking Backups I spoke at length about some plans I had for backing up the machines we have in our house.

Well, over a year later, it is time to both rethink the system and finally implement the entire thing.

 What’s Changing

I’ve been backing up to a FreeNAS box for the past few months and then making a single clone to a 250 GB hard drive periodically. However, a couple of things have changed since then.

  1. My wife has started taking photos for clients again, which is awesome. What that means is that we are keeping GBs of client photos on her laptop at the moment and I want to make sure that nothing happens to those photos.
  2. I want to start integrating AirPlay speaker systems into the house, which requires rethinking the networking infrastructure a little bit.

So I’m ditching the FreeNAS box for a Time Capsule and moving on from there.

What Is It Going to Be

It is a three-tier system that will be used on the most sensitive device: my wife’s MacBook.

  1. Time Machine backups to the Time Capsule.
  2. CrashPlan backups to “The Cloud”.
  3. Two rotating external hard drives for bootable clones which will be triggered by two events:
    1. One week since last backup.
    2. Client photos loaded onto laptop.

That hard drive will then be taken off-site and stored for emergencies (probably at the farm). That’s in case everything else fails or the house burns down. Neither of which I want to happen.

For my own machine, it will be much more subdued. I already backup the important documents to Dropbox (since I’m not dealing with image files), and any important code is on GitHub or Dropbox as well. This leaves mainly some less important documents, my few images, and any customization I’ve made to my machine.

I’ll be using CrashPlan and a single external hard drive for a period clone to handle that part.

I’ve been burned once before by losing data, I’m doing what I can to make sure it doesn’t happen again.


Changing Network Topology

I’m probably using the term “topology” a little loosely, but my home network is changing and that word sounded cool for a headline.

Basically, I’ve been having some issues with my current network setup and it is time to place priority on getting things right instead of keeping them working “on the cheap”. When your wife does photography work and the images are stored on her machine and backed-up over the network … the working of that network is paramount.

What I Have

Currently the network starts with my Airport Extreme (AE) base station. The cable modem runs into that and the AE handles the rest. The AE sits in my entertainment center on the main floor and directly off of it is hooked the Apple TV and then a long Ethernet cable that runs down to my basement office. This is where things get hairy.

That cable runs into a cheap 5-port gigabit switch which sits on my desk and I hook my 13″ MacBook Pro directly into when I am down there. Another long-ish cable then is run from that switch to another 5-port gigabit switch on the back wall of my officer above my workbench and the following are hooked up to that:

  • Brother laser MFP
  • FreeNAS box
  • Linux laptop (for research when working on machines)
  • single free cable for a client machine

I used to have another desktop machine hooked up on my desk, but I have since removed that. My wife’s 2009 MacBook is always connected via WiFi and so are the various iOS devices we have around the house and the Wii … that I should turn on to make sure is still working.

That’s the current setup.

Backups to the FreeNAS box have been inconsistent for the past month. That doesn’t make me happy (and forces me to do full backups to an external drive more than I want). Right now that is the driving force behind this reimagining of my network. I’m also constantly looking for better ways to do things.

Where I’m (Hopefully) Going

It comes down to cutting out cables where able and simplifying the devices on the network.

  • Replace FreeNAS box and my Airport Extreme with a single 2 TB Time Capsule. I don’t lose any ports, lose an entire box (plus the cable connected to it) and gain more than 2x the storage for backups. This would never be the ONLY backup for the machines, but it would be the primary backup and recovery box. It might be slow, but it is small, removes a power brick, and converges boxes. This would sit in the basement near the cable modem and would handle all of the traffic.
  • Use wireless for the Apple TV attached to the TV. Removes another cable.
  • The long run of Ethernet would run only from the Time Capsule to my office and into the two 5-port switches there. I would have a free port on the one at my bench with the removal of the FreeNAS box, which could be used for client machines.
  • I would use an Airport Express or two to expand the wireless coverage to weak areas in the future and also add AirPlay support to all areas of the house (I’ve been speaking with some people over Twitter recently about the best way to do that and I’m fairly certain I’ll put an Airport Express with speakers in my office in the future).

I think that is it. I would no longer have any cables running through my air ducts and would be eliminating some big boxes and power bricks in the hopes of cutting down on energy use.

Go ahead and throw your thoughts at me.

Bob Speaks Technology

Episode 5: My Setup

I’m talking about my setup tonight. Focusing on simplifying it again so that I don’t spend quite so much time administering to the disparate pieces.

I apologize for the poor speaking voice this evening, something wasn’t quite sitting right in my throat.


Google’s Ridiculous Opt-out Data Gathering

Source: Greater choice for wireless access point owners

Alright, Google, this is just ridiculous. I’m going to pick on Google here because that’s where the announcement is from. Here’s the gist:

If you want Google to NOT gather your location data attached to your wireless access point (via their Google Street Cars), then you need to append “_nomap” onto your SSID. That’s right, you need to opt out of Google driving down the street and gathering information about the location of your access point.

Why in the world is this not the other way around!? You should have to OPT-IN to allowing Google to gather this information. Have a person append “_map” to the end of their SSID so that Google has permission to gather information about you.

I just don’t get it. I just don’t.

Expanding the Network: Change of Course

Alright, I’m changing my mind.

After spending the last week trying to beat an old firewall into submission, I’ve decided to go the route of getting a Time Capsule to extend the network. I “wasted” too much time trying to get things working right now and really just need something that “just works”.

So, I’m scrapping the “fun” plan from before and “selling out” to Apple again.