How Home Backups Should Be Done(tm) Was: [lug] Tape Drive Recommendation...

Ryan Kirkpatrick rkirkpat at
Tue Aug 22 18:11:55 MDT 2000

On Mon, 21 Aug 2000, Alan Robertson wrote:

> Here is (in my not at all humble opinion) How Home Backups Should Be Done (tm):
> Perform a full every week on a single tape - write it at the beginning

	Good idea, what I do every week, starting at 11:30pm Saturday

> Each night append the day's changes to the tape as an incremental

	Good idea as well, but bad place to put it, at least IMHO. Once I
have put a full backup on a tape, I don't want to touch that tape until a)
a more recent full backup exists on another tape, or b) I need to restore
data (little or a lot) from it. 
	Additionally incremental backups mean more chance for hardware
failure and human failure rendering your full backup worthless. I use, and
recommend, a seperate tape for incremental backups, while the tape with
the full backup is stored someplace safe (offsite best, across the
building/house ok). Since incremental backups are signficantly smaller
than a full backup, you can easily fit a weeks worth on a smaller, more
inexpensive tape. 
	Just my two cents.

	A few other points while we are on the issue of home backups:

* Replace tapes in at regular intervals... Even though you may not be a
business using the same tape every night or more often, tapes will
eventually need to be replaced. With my Exabyte drive, I replaced tapes
every 18 months or so. Tapes don't last forever, even for a home backup

* This one may sound obvious, but verify your backups, especially ones
that contain data (not just system files). A backup is not worth anything
unless it is valid and not corrupt. Sure, it takes more time, but that is
a small price to pay compared to when you try and recover from a major HD
crash and find your backup tapes are all corrupt! :(

* Do NOT use tape for archival backups... These are the type of backups
you plan to store offsite for a couple to several years (i.e. safe deposit
box). In that time, the drive to read the tapes will probably be gone, and
tapes don't have the greatest long term shelf life. Better is to take all
your "critical" data, burn it to a GOLD CD-R, and put that in a safe
deposit box. 

	As for the idea of off-site backups, if you have the bandwidth,
look into it! I have my webserver offsite, and when I used to have decent
bandwidth (at college, before I graduated), I would rsync critical files
to my web server every night via a cron job. I slept a little better at
night knowing the source code, notes, and documentation for my senior
design were safe 1k miles away just in case the dorm burned down. :)
	Just my two cents on home backups, take them as may.

|   "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain."                    |
|                                            --- Philippians 1:21 (KJV)   |
|   Ryan Kirkpatrick  |  Boulder, Colorado  |   |

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