Handing data backups with a NAS

Steve Kalwarf asks:

I’m curious how you handle backups of the data on your Synology box? Ever since I had a series of ReadyNAS power supply failures, I’ve been reluctant to have all my data stuck in a black box without some way to recover it if the hardware fails.

Your reluctance is totally understandable. While modern RAID systems do increase reliability to a certain point, they don’t go that far. For example, it’s not unheard for a second disk to fail while recovering an array from the first disk failure. In addition, the added number of moving parts works against you, reliability wise. Without going too far down a rathole, it’s best to think of an array as a bigger and/or faster disk that’s somewhat more bulletproof than a single drive, but certainly not infallible.

With that in mind, I treat all arrays—NAS or locally attached RAID—as single units that can and likely will fail at some point. I might feel safer about them than a single drive, but they need backing up. The sheer amount of data you can put on a NAS makes this a bit difficult, but I maintain a set of external drives that I rotate through my safe deposit box. This would be insane except for the fact that all my photo and video files are organized by year/month/day. Turns out that it’s easy to dedicate a year to an external disk.

In the medium term, I’m seriously considering two NAS devices for my home-based studio. I’d use one as my primary data store and then schedule a regular sync between the two. Even if I do this, however, I’ll maintain an offsite backup as the files I’m backing up can’t be recreated or bought over. If the bulk of your data is stuff you can recreate, then it’s not as important to go to that length. 

Also in the medium term, I’d also like to integrate with something like Glacier or CrashPlan as an offsite backup. The only challenge there is either getting a faster network connection to push 14+TB of data or getting organized enough to seed it with disks I send in.