View Full Version : Automating purely network-based backup between physically separate disk drive boxes?

03-01-2010, 06:10 AM
Is there a computer product that would automate the backup of files on one network drive, to another separate network drive, without having to run on one of the existing network computers?

The closest thing I know of is that many network drive boxes will let you put two disk drives into the box, and will automate backups from one of those to the other. That isn't good enough, because anything physical that ruins that box (fire or disobedient washing machine) will kill all the files and all the backups. I want to do this for drives located in separate buildings.

There are also programs that I think will do this except that you have to keep one of the user machines running such a program all the time.

I guess this could take the form of a network box that runs a backup program, or the form of a network disk drive whose built-in backup program lets you select drives outside of itself.


03-01-2010, 06:31 AM
Why the stipulation? Any computer with a task scheduler should be able to do this. Surely you have a computer running 24/7 somewhere on site? And these network drives do have an onboard computer acting as a file server anyway.

03-01-2010, 07:19 AM
In theory, it's possible to set up a software RAID on a set of drives distributed over a network - this would give you real-time (or nearly so) redundancy.

But really, what you're describing is synchronised volumes/folders on a pair of file servers, rather than just network-attached disks. This sort of operation is bread and butter for file servers.

03-01-2010, 09:57 AM
If you have the ability to run software on the NAS device (e.g. it's a Linux box), then you can run rsync between them, on a scheduler.

I have done this at a small office where I provide some IT support.
I created a NAS using FreeNAS (http://freenas.org/), a turnkey open source product based on FreeBSD that allows you to create a NAS in minutes from a spare PC.

This is a very nice tool, providing a quality web interface that is comparable to any commercial NAS product.

With a minimal amount of fuss, I was able to set up rsync to automatically do hourly backups to rsync.net, with the fancy twist that the backups are incremental and the history is maintained (like Time Machine on a Mac).

Another roll-your-own NAS solution is to use Ubuntu.
Here's my easy-peasy cookbook for creating a basic NAS with Ubuntu:

Creating a Basic NAS with Ubuntu Linux (http://paperjammed.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/20091211-Creating-a-Basic-NAS-with-Ubuntu-Linux.pdf)

And if you wish to keep using a commercial NAS, most of those run Linux too, so there are often ways to run your own custom scripts and cron jobs on them.

I have a Netgear DNS-323 at home, and it provides hooks to allow you to ssh into it and to set up such things as cron jobs and rsync.

03-02-2010, 01:34 PM
If you're doing standard windows desktops, M$ has a tool called Robocopy. We use this a lot at work for this type of work, though we generally run it manually, rather than schedule it to be run... but we have a slightly different purpose.

It's a very powerful tool, so read the instructions carefully.

03-02-2010, 04:02 PM
Thanks. Maybe I'll try to do it with one of the PCs, then.