1. Welcome to the new MacRumors forums. See our announcement and read our FAQ

Back Up? Go ahead

Discussion in 'MacBytes.com News Discussion' started by MacBytes, Feb 22, 2006.

  1. macrumors bot

  2. macrumors 68040


    This is one of the most useless backup systems I've ever seen. Dog-slow, and your files are stored on a third-party server run by a company nobody's ever heard of before?

    Would you trust strangers with your financial records? Would you trust them to not lose or damage anything? Would you trust them to not look at the content or data-mine them on behalf of others?

    Off-site backups are great, but this is a brain-dead approach. Get a tape drive (with autoloader if you have a lot of data) and make a point of physically transporting the tapes to an off-site location you can trust (like a bank's safe deposit box.)
  3. macrumors 601


    You get what you pay for.
  4. sjk
    macrumors 6502a

    Even rotating external drives can sometimes be a viable off-site storage alternative to tapes or possibly integrated with existing tape-based backup strategies.
  5. jsw
    Moderator emeritus


    I'm not so sure I'd do it now, although there are some off-site storage facilities like - but significantly better than - BackJack that are doing well.

    As bandwidth increases, I expect that services like this will flourish, esp. if it's easy to encrypt the information first.

    Backup offsite drives are great, but they're a pain.

    Tapes? Giant pain.

    Services like this will be ubiquitous within a couple of years.

    I'm not saying I like the idea... but it's not going away.
  6. macrumors 68040


    Nevertheless, the concern remains. Would you be willing to stake your entire company's existance on the reliability of a third-party?

    I work in software development. If the servers die and the backups are unavailable, we've lost millions of dollars and may even have to go out of business.

    There's no way I would consider trusting a third party with something that important. Maybe in addition to my own IT department's maintenance, but never in place of them.
    It's going to have to be a lot of bandwidth if we're talking about making weekly full-backups and daily incremental backups of a 2TB file server.
    Unless you want to buy a pile of Xserve RAID units and a vault somewhere to transport them to for off-site storage, you're not going to find a better alternative for backing up huge amounts of data.

    At work, we use a 10-tape Super-DLT autoloader (300G uncompressed per tape) for this. When used in conjunction with the appropriate backup scripts, the only "pain" is remembering to swap and transport the tapes Monday morning. No more difficult than what you'd have to do with any other storage medium.
    Followed by the lawsuits when companies can't get their corporate servers restored in a timely fashion following a disaster.

    Right now, if my company would be completely destroyed (say, fire, hurricane, whatever), we could quickly lease space anywhere in the country, buy replacement servers, restore the tapes, and be back up and running in very short order. (Of course, it wouldn't be busines as usual following such a disaster, but IT wouldn't be making the problem any worse.)

    I wonder how many of these off-site services would be able to be deal with a situation like that. It could take two weeks of paperwork and phone calls to convince them that they should allow your new servers to have access to the stored backups.
  7. macrumors 68020


    What's the meaning of calling it BackJack? That it's a gamble storing your data with them?
  8. jsw
    Moderator emeritus


    Would I? No. Would I advocate this as the exclusive form of backing up data? No. I'm just playing Devil's Advocate here, and also noting that this sort of thing is only going to get more popular - for example, the .Mac/Backup pairing is a (limited) example.
    Again, I'm not even attempting to say that you should use this as the only way of backing up your data. However, given that, two things: (1) off-site net-based backups like this allow for far more frequent incremental backups, even down to the level of every time a file changes (some do or propose to do just that), which means less time lost (tapes are usually a nightly thing). (2) I'd expect major corporations and larger/established businesses to have a sophisticated backup system, which this would simply augment, but it might be a lifesaver for smaller businesses or individuals who simply cannot afford a tape backup or are uncertain as to how to use one.
    Agreed (as far as the "in addition" is concerned). Assuming one has an IP department which is competent.
    There's no reason to do a full backup after the very first one. That's a legacy of tape.
    Here, we disagree. Having to swap tapes every Monday, assuming someone comes in on holidays and when the "regular tape guy" is sick, there's still no way to say this is easier than an automated net-based backup. Sure, in many ways it's safer from a number of points of view, but it is assuredly not easier.
    Assuming these companies are incompetent... which some are. But I don't think they all are.
    I would guess that these sites could provide you with back-up drives and/or tapes before you moved, leased space, bought servers, set up the office, and got all the employees on-site. The fact that such a disaster might easily have affected your backup tapes (unless you ship them cross-country) means that, in this case, using off-site net-based backup might save your butt.
    Well, obviously, I'd read the agreements before signing, but my guess is that a company whose sole business is providing backup service might - maybe - have some plan in place for allowing the timely restoration of data. :rolleyes:
  9. macrumors 68040


    Not at all. If you make nothing but incremental backups, then your storage media requirements eventually grow to infinite sizes.

    Unless you want today's version of a file to overwrite yesterday's version. Which makes it impossible to use the backup system as a means for rolling back a corrupted file to a pre-corrupted state. Never forget that backups are used to protect against more than just catastrophic device failure.

    Additionally, if you never make a full backup, then a corruption in the backup media/server will persist forever. If you occasionally make a full backup, any such corruption will eventually be purged.

    To this last point, I'm sure you'll say that a robust enough system will never have corruptions, but I would consider such an opinion to be very shortsighted. All system can get corrupted, no matter how much you minimize the chances. Procedures that can minimize the impact of corruption are important, and periodic full backups are a part of such procedures.
    If your IT department consists of one person, sure. But for a company large enough to have an actual IT staff, this is trivial compared with the rest of their normal duties.

    But if your company is small, yes, this could be problematic.

    On the other hand, a prior employer of mine did just that. Every Monday (or Tuesday, if there's a holiday), he'd drive across town to put the tapes in a bank safe deposit box and remove the previously-deposited tapes.

    Of course, if the entire town gets oblitterated, that bank is going to be hard to get to, but that wasn't much of a concern, since northern Virginia is not subject to massive natural disasters. If we were in a gulf-coast city, that routinely gets trashed by weather, we'd need to arrange for storage further away.

    The company I'm with now, however, is big enough to have offices in many cities worldwide. So we can (and do) keep geographically-separated mirrors (over our corporate leased-line network) that are independently backed up by each site's IT staff. A disaster large enough to eliminate all backups of a server would be big enough to spell the end of civilization itself.
  10. jsw
    Moderator emeritus


    Point taken.

    In general, I'd say that the more of an issue it is to provide a backup over the net, the more likely it is that you are large enough to do it yourself.

    I do think this sort of thing will grow, and I do think it'll be a godsend - once things are ironed out - for home users and small-to-medium sized businesses, at least as a fail-safe.

Share This Page