My back up solution for my Network Attached Storage (NAS)

By Kieran Hunter

I'm not really the type of person who wants to spend hours, dabbling with network systems or anything involving the term 'network'. This is primarily the reason I went for Synology branded NAS. I won't be talking about anything majorly geeky, it's all fairly simple, you don't have to be one of those people with a dedicated computer workshop to understand.

What is a NAS?

A NAS (Network Attached Storage) is an amazing system to store everybody's data (whether that be in your home, or an office) within the same local network, for all to access. Transferring large or multiple files, or streaming video isn't the best when using the NAS over WiFi, so it's best to Ethernet everything up (get that Gigabit connection going).

What I needed

So after purchasing my Synology DS215 (2 bay Synology NAS 2015 model) and getting it set up, I worried about what if the thing failed, or the hard drives inside would corrupt.

It's not a case of if the hard drives fail, it's when.

I was especially worried about when I switched over to a new PC and all my original files were erased from my old system. On doing this the NAS would then be the primary source for my data, and I couldn't run back to the files on my iMac if something went wrong with the newly set up NAS. So I needed all my data safely backed up.

Backing up the data

So let's talk about backing up all your important files, and how it should, be done.

The best practice is to back up your data at least three times, and one of them should be off-site. Meaning if your house or office burnt down with your drives inside, you would still have all your data that has been backed up off-site, in a different location, another country is often preferred.

Raid 1

With most NAS systems you can set your hard drives up as Raid 1, this works by having an array, two hard drives that mirror each other. Now I know Raid 1 isn't a back up solution, but if your drive fails, the second drive will take over instantly, thus preserving your data. The downside is that for two hard drives you only get the space of one, but it's such a life saver if the one drive fails, the second instantly takes over. However if you accidently delete a file, you can't get it back, as the drives act as one, this being the reason being it's not technically classed as a backup solution.

External Hard Drive

Most NAS devices have a USB slot in the back, and if it's USB3 even better as data will backup faster with your USB3 External Hard Drive. You can set the hard drive as an automatic back up on most devices, mine backs up twice a week. So if you do happen to delete a file, you could easily just grab it back. The downside with this is that the External Hard Drive will be sat directly next to the NAS so if there is a fire or it blows up, then the external hard drive will be destroyed too. This is why people recommend off-site back ups as an addition.

Off-site back ups

This is mostly aimed at the Synology devices as I know with them you can create an automatic backup to your Google Drive (Cloud Storage), and a few other services like Amazon Glacier. I'm sure with other devices you could do the same but I'm not 100% sure which. If your NAS doesn't have this feature built in, you could manually just drag the files into the Cloud Storage once a week for example, but it's not something I would keep on top of, so I don't recommend doing it that way. Google drive is brilliant, it's only $2 a month for 100G, and $10 a month for 1T which is very impressive in terms of cost, you can also go higher.

Obviously if you own a huge company with Terabytes of data then this isn't very practical or cost effective. Amazon Glacier however is very, very cheap for huge amounts of data. Reason being it's classed as cold storage. Which means you wont have immediate access to your back ups, you'll have to submit a ticket and so forth and it could take a while, but if your storage isn't being used on a regular basis then this is a great solution.

A very nice pro to backing up to a cloud service such as Drop Box / Google Drive is that you could then access the files from any location, from the back up, very easily.

Conclusion

So these are what I do to back up all my data. The best way to back up your data, is to do it to suit you. Accessibility of getting this backed up data back is key, if it's too complicated or takes too long to recover your data, then you need to find a different solution. If your data isn't that important then you don't need to back it up 100 times over.

For things like work, and family photos (thing that you would be upset about loosing), its a good idea to have these backed up, a few times.

It's all about reassurance, do you have your back up plan?

 

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