yon Leveron blog

John's musings on the Interknot cowpath

more on Carbonite

Posted by John on 9th January 2010

As recently noted, I have decided to give Carbonite another shot.

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click to enlarge

I am pursuing the strategy of only using it for the more critical files, that I may want to retrieve over the internet. There is no way that you are uploading 3tb of data to them even over a top-level broadband connection (I know now from experience – was just curious to see the speed) let alone getting them back, either, in any sort of timely manner.

So I’ve got just under 16 gigabytes of documents, spreadsheets, source code, etc. up there. A few treasured family pictures, etc.  The rest resides on multiple local drives, which are not hooked up when not needed (see top 3 items here). This also allows me to off-site a few spare drives, to a reasonably flood / fire / etc. resistant spot. Again, as anyone who’s ever had a drive fail can avow the data lost is often worth many times the cost of the drive itself.

And my timing was spot-on. (yes, failure bites . . .)

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click to enlarge

SMART errors are impending doom. A number of years ago, I got a bad batch of drives and they’ve been slowly dying off, with a horrible clicking noise as the final symptom upon power-up. The manufacturer replaced them under warranty, but they are old 500g drives anyway : not something I care to keep about, if not reliable.

I have simulated a bare metal restore, and then deactivated Carbonite on my desktop, and activated it on my “new” desktop (laptop) and restored data successfully. It does keep a couple of generations of data (two back revisions of that pesky spreadsheet, etc.) but by default it only backs it up once per 24 hour period. You can override this behavior, but only on a per file basis, not globally.

I chose to keep control of my own encryption keys : the .pem keyfile is stored on multiple other drives, and keys as well as on a couple of remote servers. This still presupposes trusting the manufacturer of your crypto, in this case the Carbonite folks. (though in their proverbial shoes, I’d just as soon be able to tell anyone that it’s not physically possible to give them the data, they need to bother that individual customer . . .)

Carbonite has worked well in the couple of weeks I’ve been using it. While they also have a Mac version, I’ve not tested it out.

click to enlarge

click to enlarge

All in all, keeping realistic expectations about what you are going to get, I would say this is a good data file backup system for a secondary backup.  Just realize it is not designed to do bare metal restores, it is for specific data files that you choose, such as “My Documents” etc.  For all of my local home backups, I’m using old sata drives via this esata dock and I also have a couple HD’s off site in town, and a limited amount of data rsync’ed remotely as well.

Once you’ve had data failure that costs a lot in hassle, grief, or dollars, you tend to get better prepared ;)

Now playing: The Beach Boys – Wouldn’t It Be Nice
via FoxyTunes

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broke down, went Carbonite

Posted by John on 24th November 2009

Yes, for the “second tier” backup of only the more critical files, off-site.

More to follow.    http://nanotechnopolis.com/2009/08/18/carbonite-online-backup/

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online backup for your computer

Posted by John on 14th August 2009

This is something I am certainly checking out.  I have terabytes on the home NAS (I know, geek) so it’s not really feasible to back up all of my data this way (quick bunny trail : high speed @ home is generally not so high speed, on the upload side; 15 mbps DSL is only that under optimal conditions; good, but not that good – beats 110 baud though!)

I’m learning there’s more out there than “tech methods” like rsync over ssh, or using 7zip to split files up to store in email, or using GPG to encrypt and chunk things over to a 25 gig free Skydrive account. http://www.gnupg.org/ etc. to encrypt files and store them off-site at https://skydrive.live.com/

I’ve been trial (15 day) testing Carbonite a bit ; c.f. http://www.tomkirkham.com/node/109 as well as beta testing Acronis True Image home 2010, which has online backup as an option within the program.  Both of these programs seem to run just fine under Windows 7, the 64 bit variety.

One comparison is out there at http://www.techsupportalert.com/content/best-free-online-backup-sites.htm for free sites.  More to come on this topic, as I think storing things on the Cloud, encrypted by you before it heads that way, is going to be the next “wave of the future”.

It sure is a good idea to have your wordpress backed up fully. http://www.databasesandlife.com/regular-automated-backup-of-wordpress-blog/ I can tell you what happens when it breaks, and isn’t backed up properly in all areas (files and DB).

P.S. Plug for 7zip. Not only is it open source, it has been both quicker than winrar in my recent use, as well as compressing significantly better.

Boring background bits, unless you’re ready to nerd on. Pics at the bottom.

My buddy Mike told me about 7zip years ago; Open source, freeware.

Here’s an efficiency test I ran on an .iso file; want to get the smallest files for storing remotely, as it doesn’t take much time to compress things with 8 cores compared to uploading over DSL to Skydrive, etc. This below is the .iso for the beta version of Acronis I’m using (Win7 64 bit compatible, and it has a 50g online backup option of it’s own).

I used the “max compression / solid” options, turned up in both Winrar and 7zip, just as high as they’d go (as if it makes a diff, when either program is done in 10 seconds or less). The results were QUITE different.

D:\>dir AcronisTI-home-2010-beta-restoreMediaW*
Directory of D:\
54,486,602 AcronisTI-home-2010-beta-restoreMediaW.7z
100,663,296 AcronisTI-home-2010-beta-restoreMediaW.iso
91,355,044 AcronisTI-home-2010-beta-restoreMediaW.rar
3 File(s)    246,504,942 bytes
Now, 7z is not quite as "geeky feature broad" as Winrar is, but there's little that I can't do with it I've found.  Just FYI, as the differences are pretty startling.  This becomes a lot more obvious in the charts, since it is chunking up my entire C: partition, and the 100 meg pre-partition from Windows 7, in preparation for a "skydrive fly-by" upload.

BTW, while it doesn’t take nearly as much memory to decompress (which is very good, since most desktops for the moment aren’t carrying 12g of ram) as the gallery pictures  below show, if 7zip says it’s gonna take a lot of memory to compress, I’d listen to it :)

Yessir, so there you go! Charts below, you’ll need to click on each picture twice to get the full sized / potentially readable version.

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