Keeping data safe and accessible

During a recent emergency involving an electrical fire, the physiological idea of what minimal items I should save brought up a topic relating to data security, protection, and redundancy within my home data-center environment. In the event of a sudden catastrophic hard drive failure, the likelihood of being able to do home data recovery is slim. How can I add redundancy to a home server in the event of a single or multi drive failure? I’ve created a series of countermeasures by adding redundancy via 1) Raid level, 2) Rsync and 3) periodic manual cloud or local sync.

Each of my presented solutions to the underlying problem is adjustable for specific hardware and physical situations where it matters, such as to filesystems, and transfer protocols. Each solution has one or more negatives that may or may not be affected by adding more variables.

  1. correctly selecting a raid level that achieves the required reads/writes, supports the amount of hard drives allocated, and either mirrors, stripes, or does some combination of the two to allot data across them seamlessly as needed for the use case. As a static example: Raid 1 is mirroring, so it certainly allows redundancy, and with the combined read speeds, it will kick up the arrays performance. This can be used in a two drive high data priority setting.
  2. What good does data redundancy do if all the hard drives fail, or are stolen? The next level of data protection is Rsync. Rsync creates a mirror of two servers in separate physical locations and can be adjusted to send a servers internal data to a location outside of the network. This has the apparent disadvantage of needing two physical server machines, on two separate networks to get working. For a home situation having two physical yet identical servers is ridiculous for %99 of users, so with a virtual private server, or with a cheap single board computer with a NAS, mirroring two servers can be added as a second layer countermeasure to catastrophic data failure.
  3. periodic manual backups while the least elegant solution, have saved myself from countless drive failures. As for manual backups, a physical external hard drive can be used to quickly and securely backup data on failing storage, so new hardware can replace the faulty or failing ones. However, sometimes external drives are being put to use, or are otherwise absent. Free cloud storage can be taken advantage of. If your education provider uses the google suite then luckily you have access to unlimited cloud storage for as long as you are enrolled. By taking advantage of free cloud storage you can have peace of mind about the integrity of the files put up there for as long as you are enrolled. Some “free” cloud providers hold files hostage by not letting you take them off the cloud until you pay a fee or purchase a subscription. Staying away from fraudulent cloud providers should be a priority to insure the files will make their way back to you down the road. Backing up data onto Google drive or Dropbox is a good idea as a non-primary method to personally ensure data can be accessed later, However, the speeds and autonomization of these protocols are always limited to the digression of the cloud provider. Linus Tech Tips uploaded an in depth video relating to taking advantage of seemingly unlimited cloud storage:

Published by Jake Turner

I'm a home server admin and recreational programmer. I run a website at serverboi.org to document my computer science hobby.

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