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Storage...

E-Mac

This little fella is my first own-rolled NAS. It doesn’t look like much, I’ll give you that, but this was back in 2004-ish. We’d moved into our Gosport-based James Bond villa over looking the shit-hole that is Portsmouth, wired up the whole place with Cat-5 and were on our first Gigabit LAN. This was around the time that the first version of XBMC came out and my previous GF had been lovely enough to buy me a chipped Xbox to run it, so I was in the process of cable-cutting. I needed some storage.

The eMac was a disgustingly cheap Mac built for education, but it ran Panther, so had that lovely Unix underbelly. Attached were a stack load of Lacie Firewire drives, probably totaling 250GB - maybe 500GB, I can’t remember - and the machine acted as a server for the whole apartment. I could mount the drives automatically over NFS or SMB and the two Windows abusers I lived with could hop-on as well.

I spent more than a month ripping my entire CD and DVD collections - to a compressed format rather than lossless, stupidly, so it wasn’t for the last time - and filled those little drives up. It was a cool setup and I’ve carried a version of this with me for the last 12 years. Those Lacie drives were always horribly unreliable but for the better part of 6 or 7 years I managed to run out of space just as HD sizes jumped up, and narrowly missed data-loss. 500G drives were replaced with 1TB, then 3TB. The eMac was replaced with a G5 Mac Pro, and then later with external housing hooked up to a Asus notebook running Debian, which I’ve been running for the last 3 years.

But there’s always been a big problem with this setup. Offsite backup.

Bear in mind, when I started this the cloud was just an ever present fact of British summertime, not some shit name for the internet. Amazon weren’t in the storage business and Dropbox was something the Chuckle Brothers did. Offsite backup meant leaving drives at my Mum’s, and there was no way to keep stuff in sync. At least not easily.

Synology

Say hello to my little friend.

I’ve been looking around for a big, multi-bay NAS for several years, but for the sorts of data-storage I need - currently 10TB - most solutions are designed for business and have the price tag to match. I need something silent that doesn’t take up too much power and is as stable as my Debian-based solution. Fortunately Synology’s prices have dropped and now Lumo’s released, I have a little cash to hand.

Seriously, I’ve been absolutely shitting myself that the drives I’ve been using for the last 3 years might die. In fact, there was a real scare about 6 months ago when my music drive was unmountable, but fortunately I was able to save it (was just some EXT4 related corruption, nothing too serious). And worse, for the last 12 years I’ve been flying by the seat of my pants and not had any of this data in a RAID setup. Just straight drives. How the fuck I’ve got away with this I do not know…

So yeah, the Synology. It wasn’t cheap, but fuck me, it’s good. Totally silent. Drives switched off aggressively, so power usage isn’t too bad. 4xGB network interfaces, so it can flood the whole house. And best of all RAID1+0. I’ve got it stocked with 40TB of drives, so 20TB of RAID1 drives, mirrored. Touch wood, cross fingies and toes, but I think my data is as safe as it’s ever been.

So what about the offsite backup then?

Well, I’ve been shopping around. Amazon Glacier looked like the safest bet for a long time, but in the end I’ve gone with Backblaze B2. It’s dirt cheap ($0.005/GB per month) and having used their service on my old Macs for years, they’re good people. Even better, the Synology Cloud Sync supports the service, so as I speak my internet connection is flooded uploading to them.

It’s taken 12 years to get here, partly through laziness, partly by being skint, but I think I can finally cross this one off the todo list.