Information is the main value of the modern world. And in order not to lose it, we should take care of backups of sensitive data. Today we will talk about what is important to know for creating your own home backup server.
Backing up data is an important thing, but people tend to neglect it: firstly, they are often too lazy to do this, and secondly, there is not always free space for backups. But, as always, problems happen as if according to the law of meanness. When you lose data, it turns out that the last backup was made a long time ago, or it didn’t exist at all. And even if you regularly and regularly create backups on a special hard disk partition, there is no guarantee that it will not fail tomorrow or in a month. All this leads to a logical conclusion: we need a special home backup system that will do everything quickly and with minimal involvement from you. Let’s talk about what is important to know for creating your own home backup server.
Globally, there are two key characteristics to consider: how often you need to create backups and how much space is required for this. The last question is easy to answer. Firstly, every year storage in terms of gigabytes of capacity costs less and less, and secondly, you need to think carefully about what exactly you want to copy. If the data is easily replenished (say, movies and music downloaded from the Internet, or software distributions), there is no need to create copies of them – if necessary, you can always re-download them on the Internet. And such data can take up a lot of space. In general, if you remove all unnecessary, it turns out that backups do not need such a large storage. For most cases, a server with a 2 TB disk is enough to back up data from one or even two home computers.
The optimal backup scheme looks like this: you need to create several directories on the backup disk – the same number as computers are used in your home. After that, you need to give access via local network to the directories from the corresponding computers and for each select specific areas to be backed up. Then you need to create backup copies on the server and periodically (ideally daily) supplement them with incremental copies: this means that all changes in the selected areas that have occurred since the last check are added to the main copy.
For automatic and regular backup, there are many programs in which it is enough to set the time and frequency. Perhaps the most popular of them is Acronis. This is a clear and fairly intuitive application that, among other things, can backup an image of the system disk – a useful thing when Windows crashes again. It is better to allocate more time for the creation of the first copy and leave it to run, for example, overnight. Then everything should go faster: as a rule, daily changes from two computers are backed up in half an hour or an hour. Keep in mind that incremental archives create a chain of copies, and for correct operation it is necessary to have access to all links of this chain. If a drive fails or another problem occurs, the data can be rolled back to its original state. In this sense, Acronis is not very convenient. Alternatively, you can use the Cobian Backup application (unlike Acronis is free) or UNIX utilities like rsync (there is an analogue of cwRsync for Windows). The disadvantage of the last two solutions is that not every ordinary user can handle them.
Next, you need to determine what, in fact, your server will be. There are two main options for the development of events here: assembling the server yourself or buying a ready-made solution. True, it is worthwhile to understand that although it will be cheaper to assemble the server yourself, not everyone knows how to do this and is ready to spend time and energy on it.
If you want to take the path of least resistance, you should stick with a ready-made car – especially since their choice today is greater than ever. Simple servers for home needs are produced by a variety of companies. These are Altos, and Zyxel, and HP, and dozens of others. A home backup does not require a powerful processor or many disk shelves. You can stop at the base model from a well-known manufacturer like Altos T110 F5, Altos XN3004T or the like. The latter is an example of classic network attached storage (NAS).
There are also solutions from other manufacturers. For example, the Western Digital WD My Cloud Home is also designed for home storage (only one 3.5-inch drive can be installed in it).
Another alternative is the Zyxel NAS326. This is a home (and not only) NAS with two hard drive bays, a simple processor, an Ethernet port and a USB 3.0 connector.
We assembled the server ourselves
If simple ways are not for you, and you want to assemble the car yourself, there are several parameters that are important to consider.
So, it’s definitely not worth saving on a motherboard by buying the cheapest one. And pay special attention to the number of SATA connectors, they should be enough for all the drives that you plan to use.
2. Processor and RAM
When choosing a processor, be guided by price, energy efficiency, stability of its work and customer reviews. Performance is the last thing here. Of course, remember that the processor must fit the motherboard socket. As for RAM, 4 GB of DDR3 memory is enough. There is no need to overpay for more modern modules. However, do not forget to check their compatibility with the motherboard – most modern models of motherboards only support DDR4 or DDR5 memory.
3. Cooling and power
The most important characteristic of a home server for backups is the noise level, so choose coolers based on their volume as well. The same applies to the power supply – it should not just be enough, it should be quiet enough so as not to cross out all your efforts to choose quiet fans.
In a home server for backups, it makes no sense to use solid state drives. Besides the fact that they are more expensive than conventional hard drives per gigabyte of memory, such drives have a much smaller resource. Well, their high performance is simply irrelevant for our tasks.
There are no universal recommendations for choosing a brand and model of drives. Someone is closer to Western Digital, others agree only on Seagate, and still others are crazy about Toshiba. The whole difference is only in our head, so choose a brand you trust. But whatever drive you choose, constantly monitor its status, and if critical information is stored in backups, use several drives combined in a RAID array.
Own home server for backup does not require deep knowledge in IT. Today, for every case, there is a clear and ready-made solution that will save you from having to assemble the machine yourself and set up the copying process for a long and painful time. Ready-made low-cost home-level servers and intuitive applications with a clear interface allow you to organize a backup and secure your data even if your knowledge is minimal.