Friday, December 21, 2012

The revamped data backup plan – with Carbonite

With the recent upgrades to the storage setup (here and here), I have started considering backing up my important data (heck, they are all “important”) very seriously. I cannot afford to lose my photos and documents. I even am paranoid about the photos that I made several SkyDrive accounts to upload the photos takes on trips in Japan. Besides, the doom’s day is just around the corner. LOL
There is a commonly accepted rule when it comes to backing up your important files. It’s called the 3-2-1 rule.

The 3-2-1 rule

This is what the rule suggests.

  • You should keep 3 copies of any important file (a primary and two backups)
  • You should have the files on 2 different media types (such as hard drive and optical media), to protect against different types of hazards.
  • 1 copy should be stored offsite (or at least offline.)


Is it feasible?

Currently, my backup plan is not ideal. It’s just built on convenience, rather than the safety of the data.

I don’t like optical media. It would need more than 250 DVDs to backup my entire hard drive (just the data that’s available now). It’s just not practical – not even close. Only solution is to use hard drives. So, I have a 2nd hard drive just for backing up the data on the main data drive, which is pretty much in sleep to reduce wear and tear (and power consumption, but that talk is for this topic).
But there is a problem. That backup drive is also inside the PC, along with the main data drive. Thus, in an event of a PSU meltdown, the chances of both hard drives going down together is pretty high. Ideally, I should move that 2nd drive out of the PC. I can buy an external drive enclosure and connect it to the PC just to make backups on demand. Hard work, but increases the safety of data. Or I can make/buy a NAS. In fact, I need to do a bit of research about this. I haven’t had any catastrophic data losses in the past, so actually I am riding on my luck.

Carbonite to the rescue?

Just to be somewhat safe, I signed up for Carbonite online backup. It’s $59/year for regular home edition. That’s about $5 per month, which is not expensive. (Yes, I know that it is not free.) That’s unlimited storage on one PC (just the internal drives – but I already have 3TB of non-redundant capacity.) I also used the coupon code from Leo’s Podcast Network (use the code: twit), which gave me an extra two months for free. But I haven’t yet paid for the service. I’m still under the free trial period, which would expire in 5 days. I’m still considering whether I should buy it or not.

I took a screenshot of status when the number of files remaining to be backed up was 1337. (l33t? elite? anyone?)
Carbonite Main Window


The reality

There is one problem. In fact, there is only ONE real problem. The backup speed is very slow, even when you let it upload continuously without giving way to the other stuff. I hope the download speeds are at least reasonable. Currently I’m uploading at around 2Mbps, which is only about 1% of my full bandwidth. Shame! If it could upload at least 10 times faster, it would have been awesome. Still slow for my connection, but decent.

During the trial period, you cannot upload large files. Thus, none of the movies have been backed up. Do you understand the problem with this upload speed? It would take about 4 years before all my data is backed up to Carbonite!!!
When your add a folder to be backed up using Carbonite, it would show an indicator that the folder is being backed up and whether or not it is backed up. (orange = in the queue, but not backed up; green = backed up.)
Adding a new location
Update flag
There are mobile apps from people of Carbonite so you can refer files from your mobile device too. That’s a plus. But I guess, these days, you would expect such value additions to exist by default.
I will give it a couple of more days and will decide whether to continue with the service. Only real problem is upload speed. I can do $5/month. That’s the price of one “cheap” obentou.
I finally gave in and bought Carbonite Home before the trial period expired.


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