Home backup solutions

Last year after several months of indecision I finally bought an 8 bay Synology (DS1815+ to be exact) and stuffed it full of 4TB Hitachi Enterprise drives. I also potentially voided the warranty by upgrading the memory to 16GB. I created two SHR (Synology Hybrid Raid) volumes of 4 drives each with the idea of backing up all the house PC’s to the first volume and then backing that up to the second volume.

In the process I finally retired an old Windows 2003 Server box which up till that point had been the backup destination for all the other PC’s. Part of the justification of getting the admittedly expensive Synology was so I could stop fussing with the Windows 2003 Server. I had been adding bigger and bigger mirrored drives to it (and even mirrored 500GB SSD’s for bootup), but the 32bit PCI bus was restricting what size drives and/or RAID cards I could install in it.

After reading some guys blog about the troubles he went through when his Synology took a hardware dump, I realized having both volumes contained in the same box could open me up to similar problems. So I saved up one of my last bonuses from work and recently bought a second DS1815+ (also upgraded to 16GB - and grumbled about how the price of RAM had more than doubled in the last year).

Although I haven’t actually deployed the second Synology yet, what I plan on doing is relocating the second volume out of the first box and into the second along with adding some 4TB Hitachi Enterprise drives I found on eBay as hot spares. They’ll be in separate rooms at opposite ends of the house, connected to APC UPS’s and to each other over the CAT6 I ran through the attic and down into each room a couple years ago.

A coworker keeps telling me how great Backblaze is, but I just have a problem with sending my data offsite and out of my control. I guess I’m just old fashioned that way.


Backblaze B2 is pretty great. I use rclone, which supports encryption, though I don’t encrypt everything by default.

Apparently Synology’s latest update broke Backblaze B2 compatability.

I checked and I think I’t spend slightly more switching from S3 to B2, so not seeing a point.

Here’s a quick link to their pricing calculator which suggests that S3 is four times more expensive? Obviously I don’t know your storage/upload/download requirements, but Backblaze does seem very price competitive.

I think Amazon is cheaper because I actually use Glacier, not S3. Slightly more annoying to retrieve, but if I’m downloading backups a couple hours notice isn’t a big deal as it’s catastrophic recovery anyway.

Glacier is 0.004/gig/month, vs. B2’s 0.005.

I tend to call it S3 by mistake.

I’m of the same mind.

I will rather create an SFTP account for myself at work, and use that to dump my backups to (advantage of being a BOFH) as the work have UPS and a genset, instead of dumping my data into cloud storage.

Cloud storage is just another name for another man’s PC.

For businesses with mission-critical data this is a good way of making sure data is safe against crypto-malware, yes? One of my pals recently started work at Amazon, will ask him for a quote or two for this kind of service.

After all I have an obligation to ensure data from my company is as safe as it gets. (Encryption of data will be the norm as soon as comany data hits the cloud).

As long as it’s encrypted with a key/password the remote end doesn’t have, I’m OK with it. If my house floods or burns, off-site backups save my bacon.

Except in this case, “another man’s PC” is in a high-security data center with multiple redundant internet links, multiple redundant power feeds and backup generator(s), and geographic redundancy for resiliency.

I don’t want to mix all my personal data into my employer’s systems. Too much risk and it raises some legal/ethical questions about what I might do with my personal equipment on my personal time, but have stored on their equipment. Plus, I’m pretty sure I’m not allowed to re-appropriate company resources for personal usage like that.


Brainfart of note on my side.

All valid points raised there.

However, if I had to do this for onsite technicians, so that they can store their work data in a safe place, I would do it.

I have a couple of boxes of 8mm film I need to convert.

Requirements should dictate your uptime and redundancy requirements, not the other way around. Dogmatic adherence to or rejection of any RAID level is essentially cargo cult system administration.

R6 has significant write penalties versus R5, and also (obviously) yields lower usable space for any given raw amount. It has its place, but using it on a home NAS is IMO generally unnecessary unless you know you have specific uptime requirements that balance out the lower performance and lower usable space yield. (Personally, my rule of thumb is that you generally don’t need to consider R6 unless you’ve got >8 spindles in your volume—though, obviously, if you have critical uptime requirements, those overrule all else.)

A better way to do dual-disk redundancy at home, if your NAS supports it, is single disk redundancy (so R5, SHR, or whatever) with a global “hot standby” or “hot spare” disk—a drive that’s kept powered and running, but not part of any volume. If a disk fails, the RAID set is immediately rebuilt using the hot spare, and when you replace the failed drive, the replacement becomes the new global hot spare.

This arrangement has the benefit of R5 performance (no R6 dual-parity calculation and write penalty) with almost the same level of uptime protection—providing you don’t have a second failure during the RAID rebuild.

(And as for R0, it absolutely has its place in high-IO situations—one common place you see R0 is in scratch/working disks for video editing tools. It’s not a great choice for data you care to keep, but its IO characteristics make it very useful for some applications.)


Well-thought out post.

Thanks for the input, appreciated :slight_smile:

Yeah, i remember this being a big deal when AVID and similar video editing tools were just coming into heavy use and you’d need to raid a few drives, probably only a few gigs each, together to have work space that could keep up.

This video is relevant and really interesting to watch.
SPOILER: It has a happy ending.

Also, this one if you’re interested in large storage solutions.

Starting the new year off with a trial of Arq and Wasabi for the storage. Wasabi claims to be as fast and robust as Amazon but much cheaper.

I’ve got 1GB uploaded already this afternoon. Arq is much lighter on CPU and uses only 15% as much memory as Crashplan does.

Still haven’t pulled the trigger on a Synology.

Fuck. I jinxed myself.

One of the drives is flaking out on me. In RAID0. Mea culpa.

I have an old boxen to set up a home system in, but I’ll still have to spend around $800 on hard drives:
4x 4TB Seagate Ironwolf drives.
In RAID5 this time. Maybe. With FreeNAS on a tiny SSD.
That should give me close to 12TB with parity which is a huge increase over the 2TB striped.
If I go RAID6, I’d have 8TB which is still 4 times what I currently have.
The old machine is 15 years old, though. The very best technology that the Pentium4 can bring. It has 2GB of RAM and 6 SATA connections

I will probably still have to take my old NAS device to a data recovery company to get it all transferred. I can see it all once in a while, so I at least have hope for the drive integrity. I’m going to power it down tonight and remove the drives.


There will be one lonely SATA port calling out… Do you have enough space and power available for anther big drive? Or is it a controller issue?

The tiny SSD has the FreeNAS OS on it to control the 4 large drives in RAID.
Is that the answer you were looking for?

No, I’m saying that you could add a fifth storage drive because you have six SATA connections available. MOAR STORAGE! :smiley: