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  1. #1

    Auto DVD backup server?

    Hi all, I'm new here but I've been using Ubuntu for more than a year as my netbook OS. I'm not fantastic at Linux, but I've learned some stuff in the course of that year, and I'm quite good at the hardware side of stuff.

    We are thinking of updating our home server to something a little more modern. Right now it has a MicroATX Gigabyte AM2 board, 1GB DDR2 and an Athlon LE-1600, along with a 160 PATA boot disk and a 1TB data drive. It hasn't been changed much in the past few years when it comes to usage, but we are soon going to need to deal with large AutoCAD files so we need more capacity and processing power. We would use the Intel Pentium E6300 and the memory from the motherboard that had its USB fried, together with a new motherboard for the server, leaving the AM2 setup unused.

    I hadn't really thought of what we could do with it until now, but I had an idea. After reading a SmallNetBuilder article on how RAID isn't a particularly good backup method, I realised that we could use the AM2 board in another, backup-of-the-backup-server (the home server will have disc images etc stored along with media and documents). Obviously, we could put in some hard drives and make it a second NAS server, but I thought we could do something a little different. If there was ever an electrical or other fault that would destroy the main server, it would also destroy the backup-backup server, so HDDs would not be particularly ideal. Our internet upload speeds are also not fantastic, due to the wonders of Virgin Media (they advertise 50Mb downloads but forget to mention the 1.5Mb uploads), and there are not many online sites that can do 40-50GB backups. What about a DVD recording backup server?

    The idea would be to get a Homeplug kit and then put the backup-backup server in another room, far from danger, then install as many DVD-RW/RAM drives in it as possible + some externals. It would have a small, almost unused HDD that wouldn't act as much more than a buffer (since the boot drive would be a USB stick), and it would be woken up over WOL by the main server once in a while. After booting, the main server would push some vital files to it, e.g. documents or photos or something, and then it would begin to write these to a rewritable DVD. After it is finished, it would then shut down, while during the writing proces there would always be a second copy not being written to in case of power failure. The DVDs would never be removed from the drives unless of data loss.

    I know that this will involve scripting, which I am perfectly happy to learn, but what do you think about this plan? I am perfectly aware of all the online backup sites available, and that I could simply burn a DVD once in a while, but I believe this project would be better than either of them. Just because.

  2. #2
    I don't know nothing about servers but I was wondering if you were using AutoDesk and If you got it to work on linux.

  3. #3
    Just Joined!
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Juneau AK
    DVD backup is going to prove to be more expensive and time consuming than what it is worth if you anticipate having to back up more than several hundred GB data.

    I work at a small engineering firm, and we have the following backup system:
    Server (hot-swappable RAID 5 array).
    NAS with 5 hot-swappable drives.
    (2) Icy-Dock USB hard drive docks with a hard drive installed in each one.

    The backups run every night to update (via Safekeep -- which is a front end to rdiff). One backup routine backs up to the NAS in-house, and the other backs up to the USB disk.

    Every evening our office administrator swaps the USB disks and takes one home. We are not so concerned about a catastrophic power surge, but more concerned about the building being physically damaged (flood, avalanche, fire) so we always keep a copy of all the data off site.

    As for power quality issues, installing a UPS can greatly reduce the effect of a power surge. This is particularly true if you buy a double-conversion type. If you're not familiar with UPS technology, here is the scoop:
    The typical consumer-grade UPS is basically a power transfer switch. It feeds line power (through surge protection circuitry) to the protected equipment. It also charges a battery. When power surges, or goes out (or other power quality issues) then it switches the output over to the inverter off the battery.

    A double-conversion type is a static charger and inverter. You're always getting clean, well-regulated power off the battery. Input power goes through a more beefy battery charger to keep up with the load on the battery. It takes a hell of a power surge to blow the input surge protection, cook the battery, and spike the inverter with a dangerous output to ever do any damage to connected equipment. I wouldn't worry about that ever being a problem unless you live in a 3rd world country.

    In fact, with a normal APC surge protector, my computer and attached equipment was protected from a surge as bad as you'll ever get in the US. It was so bad it burned up all the lamps on my Christmas lights and burned up some fluorescent lamps in buildings other places in town. My surge protector took care of this, and there was no damage to my computer or anything else connected to the surge protector.

    Another thing you should keep in mind is the power supply in your computer is a crude secondary surge protector in itself. Even if the power supply burns up, it takes a huge spike to send enough of a surge through the power supply bad enough to damage the hard drives. Often times when your computer gets a surge, you can replace the power supply and find nothing else was actually damaged.

    I recommend using detachable hard drives and always keep one of them disconnected from any power source. True it may be one or two days outdated, but usually you can rebound from a one or two-day data loss. If you were extra paranoid you could swap your detachable drives several times a day and thus only lose a few hours' data if something bad happened to the rest of the system. Either way, these will be a lot less labor and less long-term cost than using DVD's as storage media.

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  5. #4
    Linux Guru Rubberman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    I can be found either 40 miles west of Chicago, in Chicago, or in a galaxy far, far away.
    Disc space is (relatively) cheap these days. I have numerous DVDs backed up to my hard drives. I have an array of 5 1.5TB discs that I use for this, so the 7.5TB of space allows me to backup about 1000 double-sided DVD's @ 7.5GB / disc. Cost? About $50USD for the controller, and about $500USD for the discs. So, total cost is less than $600USD for 1000 discs == $0.60 per disc. If the original disc gets scratched or munged, I can create a copy for about $0.50-$2.00 per disc (depending upon brand/quality of media).
    Sometimes, real fast is almost as good as real time.
    Just remember, Semper Gumbi - always be flexible!

  6. #5
    Just Joined!
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Juneau AK
    Quote Originally Posted by electroman6913 View Post
    I don't know nothing about servers but I was wondering if you were using AutoDesk and If you got it to work on linux.
    Some of the older AutoCAD releases work on Linux using wine. Check WineHQ for specifics.

    As for my personal experience, our office is always on the current year's release, so I have never had success making it work in Wine. My current solution is the old WindowsXP in VirtualBox for the few productivity programs that we must use.

    Fortunately these days most of my drafting work can be offloaded to the drafter, so my need to boot Windows on virtualbox happens only a few times per week. The rest of the time I save the RAM

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