I’ve been discussing backup of a Small Office/Home Office with several people recently, probably because I’ve been hooked on the simplicity, beauty and functionality of Bacula, the multi-platform network backup solution, which runs on most flavours of Unix & Linux as well as on Windows. As with all backup solutions, there are two questions which often arise:
- What device(s) should I back up to?
- How do I protect myself against theft?
Most small environments I know of either don’t backup at all, or use some form of copy to save a small set of important files (customer records, bookkeeping data) to CD or DVD media. The media are inexpensive and easy to obtain, have a medium longevity, and they are easy to remove from the premises, both by owners and by thieves. Unfortunately, their reliability is not quite certain, as recorders sometimes cut disks that cannot be read by certain players. Tape drives are seen less frequently. I’ve seen the odd old dusty DAT drive, but with a capacity of around 4GB they don’t have much more capacity than a DVD and the media are quite a bit more expensive. Due to the large amount of media that is required, handling and labelling becomes an issue as well. Portable USB devices are used a lot. I’m not talking about the 512MB or 1GB USB memory sticks which have little capacity, but external USB drives with capacities of currently up to 500GB. They are fast, reasonable enough to purchase, quite reliable and also easy to transport. Here again, the ease of transport makes it simple for these devices to be removed from the premises by persons not authorized to do so. A network backup to disk is therefore a fast and reasonable alternative, as long as the data on the media is encrypted in the event of loss during transport to safekeeping or in the event of theft. The Bacula file daemons which run on the client machines can be configured to use PKI certificates to encrypt data before it is sent to the Bacula Storage server and therefore, before it lands on the backup medium. For a small office/home office environment, I consider backup to external disks to be the most comfortable solution and it also is quite cost-effective.