Taking Backups To The Next Level

After this week's fiasco getting my laptop back after an SSD death I have starting taking backups way more seriously.

Somebody asked whether I had off-site backups. Last week I didn't. Now I do. Kind of. If you can call having one NAS in the office and one in the cellar "off site". They are in different buildings, so the risk of fire or theft to both is slim enough for my liking. I fear theft more than fire and the chance of a burglar robbing the office and the cellar has to be tiny.

Here's a side-on schematic of our house (click for larger version).


But what about flooding I hear you ask. Yes, that's a river 2 feet away from the office! Well, I say river, but it's a stream / brook really.

Here's a plan of the area. My office is the small building in the very centre of this map.


On the diagram I've marked a line on the wall above the river which is where the water level occasionally comes up to. It's very rare that that happens, but when it does it's a raging torrent. If you fell in you'd be taken off with it and end up in the Trent.

The picture is kind of to scale and, although I've never actually worked it out exactly, I reckon the river bed is about at the same level as the cellar floor. When the river level rises sufficiently the cellar floor can reach ankle depth in water. To combat this there's a pump in the cellar floor. 

Despite all this, flooding, is not an issue for me. We've been here 8 years now and no matter what the weather does it's never come close to flooding. Try telling that to the insurance company though!


So, I've taken my old ReadyNAS Duo (1.5TB) that was sat doing nothing and set it up as a 2nd backup NAS in the cellar. The QNAP NAS (6TB) is still in the office and acts as both backup and file sharer.

Windows on my main laptop is now setup with Acronis True Image to perform the following:

  • Hourly incremental backup to the laptops D: drive (1TB spinning HDD).
  • Daily incremental backup to the main NAS.
  • Weekly full backup to the second NAS.

Also, now that I find myself using the Mac mini more and more (particularly for movie editing) I have turned on TimeMachine and it alternates it's backup between the two NAS boxes.

I feel safe(r). All the worst case scenarios that I can dream up are covered now. All except the scenario where I've left my laptop in the office to go for a run or something. While I'm out a robber gets in to the office, takes the laptop and the NAS, looks round the house, finds the cellar and takes the other NAS. All I have then is the Dropbox account (photos, invoice, passwords etc) but lose lots of work. That's just never going to happen though... is it?


    • avatar
    • Kieren Johnson
    • Thu 27 Sep 2012 04:43 AM

    I, too, recently started thinking about off site backups and although I'd been using Carbonite I wasn't confident that in the event of a failure my files would be recoverable.

    Not having the option of a garden shed, I decided to setup a remote backup to my sister's house 20 miles away. Every night, a script runs on my readynas which logs into the remote backup disk at her house using ssh, the backup disk is a basic buffalo linkstation that supports ssh/rysnc, and then runs an rsync over all my important files. I setup the same system for her family's readynas so I have their old Duo sitting in my cellar storing their backup.

    It was fun setting up but I think it might have been easier using something like crashplan (http://www.readynas.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=61152).

  1. On the other hand, you have just posted a do-it-yourself-perfect-crime-of-the-year-to-kill-Jake on the internet.

    You could add where Karen keeps her jewelry.

      • avatar
      • Jake Howlett
      • Thu 27 Sep 2012 07:12 AM

      In the drawer of her dressing table in the "master" bedroom, as labelled above ;-)

      There's not much in there though. And nothing of any value.

      Show the rest of this thread

    • avatar
    • Martin Perrie
    • Thu 27 Sep 2012 07:16 AM

    Off-topic, but reading the link about the pump in your cellar, just wondered what you have used to line the sump?

      • avatar
      • Jake Howlett
      • Thu 27 Sep 2012 07:19 AM

      It's just a small cold water tank you'd normally find in the loft (in houses without combis that is).

      The pump system was inherited with the house. I modded it since though and did away with the central heating pump. It now uses a much more reliable submersible pump, which is meant for the task.

      Show the rest of this thread

  2. So the "indoor pool" line didn't fly with the insurance company? I'll admit it was a long shot.

  3. Really cool having a river at the bottom of the garden.

    How about putting up a picture for us.

      • avatar
      • Jake Howlett
      • Tue 2 Oct 2012 04:16 AM

      Not that cool in reality. It sounds good to say you have a river in the garden. Actually it's a pain and I'd be happy if it weren't there at all.

      If you didn't know it was there you'd not see it. The edge of the garden has a fence. If you look through the fence and down the 10ft drop you can just about see it.

      It is nice having my office look over it. I see alsorts. Duck, foxes, rats. Saw a Kingfisher once.

      There's a picture here.


      The stone wall in the photos is ours. Something else to worry about! The river's a pain. As a riparian owner it's my responsibility for the river's upkeep too. If I buy another house it won't have a river in the garden...

  4. Jake,

    Have you ever seen this URL called 3-2-1 backup? I does take what you stated, but also moves to physical vs cloud based:


      • avatar
      • Jake Howlett
      • Tue 2 Oct 2012 12:31 PM

      Interesting. I might also adopt the alternating backup disk method mentioned there. And keep the other hidden somewhere.

    • avatar
    • Phil Jones
    • Mon 15 Oct 2012 10:11 AM

    As an ex-publican, I can state from bitter experience that you cannot clean your sump and pump too often. And also that you cannot get your kids to do it for you. Well, not my kids anyway.

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