Data Storage

Since our spectacular computer failure a few weeks back I’ve been pondering the best way to manage data. With the server down Mum and Dad could literally do no work at all, as everything important was stored on the one computer. The office had an internet connection, but that was pretty much it. One of the main reasons I set it up like that in the first place was to make backups easier, and this really paid off as the most recent backup had everything bar one day’s worth of emails. I’d never been so relieved in all of my life.

I still think that the server is the best way to go. It’s far easier to run backups from the one location, as well as meaning that work can be done from any computer in the office (this is occasionally a problem if there are meetings going on somewhere.) We can connect remotely, too. So the advantages outweigh the disadvantages, I think. However, we were one backup DVD away from complete catastrophe, and I don’t want that to happen again.

This ties in with a trend I’ve been noticing in myself recently. I’m increasingly using online resources over locally-based alternatives. Bloglines over newsgator for rss feeds, flickr for photo storage, this blog for useful files…I think this is the way to go. If my hard drive died today I’d lose a fair chunk of photos, documents and emails, because I don’t have a DVD writer to easily back everything up. This is a Dumb Thing. I want at a minimum two copies of anything important, and if one of those could be in a remote fire-protected building with a regular backup policy, all the better.

I still haven’t quite figured out how I’m going to work things (a 128k upload speed makes internet backups tricky), but I’ve made a start today in that copies of all my emails will be automatically forwarded to a gmail account. So I can carry on using Opera Mail as normal, but if everything goes titsup.com I’ll at least have a backup of everything from today, without having to do a thing. With 2gb of space I can just forget about it, which is great. I’m also using gmail as a file storage mechanism (admittedly google may stomp on this at some point) for those very important / useful files.

I’m also going to set up a RAID system on the new server, although that wouldn’t have helped in the last situation as I’m fairly sure the PSU killed everything in its path.

Any cunning suggestions?