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Home File Server

Posted on 2014-09-29
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I have a Dell Desktop that I am not using anymore. I would like to convert it to a file server for my home network. I want to connect it to my Modem via cat5, and add 3 internal HDs.  I would like to have On HD store all my files and the other 2 used for redundancy backups. I would like the backups done weekly. I would like this solution to be as user friendly as possible, all UI no commands and terminal work. Is there a Solution out there. I have looked at FreeNas and some Linux distros but really can not find one that backs up the way I want.
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Question by:jdonaldson1
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by:rindi
ID: 40350742
Never backup to internal disks, that is just about the worst practice you could do. Rather do it to external disks you can remove after the backup. Backups must always be detached or made offline after the backup, and they should be stored as far away from the server as possible, best offsite.

For the Internal disks setup RAID 1 with a hot spare, or RAID 5 with your 3 disks. That way you get redundancy should a disk fail.

I'd recommend Zentyal Server, which is very easy to setup. RAID can also be configured pretty easily during the installation (don't use the mainboard's built-in fake-RAID controller for that, they are all nothing but crap).

You have an easy to use web interface to manage the system, which means you can keep the server in a cellar or room far away, and you can easily do all management and administration from your PC's web-browser remotely.

http://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=zentyal
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by:jdonaldson1
ID: 40350830
Hmmm. This may work. I will have to order a raid controler and I can use MS SyncToy to schedule it to backup to remote external drives on my computers. Or Does Zentyal had a feature to schedule a backup to a remote shared drive?
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by:rindi
rindi earned 250 total points
ID: 40350947
You don't need a RAID controller. Linux RAID is very stable and good. RAID controllers are mainly expensive, and you need expensive enterprise class disks to run with them, while with Linux Software RAID That isn't necessary, although reliable disks are always a plus.

Zentyal has a backup module (it is built up of modules, for example samba with active Directory, or OpenChange (an Exchange Server replacement), Gateway Server, etc., which you can add as needed for the tasks your server will perform).

The backup module can be configured for scheduled backups, and you can sync to remote locations or the cloud.
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by:jdonaldson1
ID: 40350958
I am going to have to give this a try.
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by:serialband
ID: 40353675
Since you seem ready and set for Linux, I suggest putting rsnapshot in a cron.  It makes use of rsync and deduplicates your data as well.  Yes, it's command line, but it's one of those things you set up once and just ignore.  If you want a GUI, then I suggest using Windows for your file shares.  You can then use Richcopy GUI and schedule your backups to the other disks.  It really depends on what you are sharing and what you're sharing to.  If don't want the command line, why do you want to use linux?  You should pick the system you're familiar with.

I also suggest you don't use an old desktop for your server.  It's a waste of electricity.  Years ago, I switched to an old laptop with external drives for my home server and I use 1/10 the electricity each month. (about $2 instead of $20)  A NAS would probably save you electricity too, but I like my laptop with a built-in UPS battery backup in addition to my external UPS surge protector, especially in an area that keeps losing electricity frequently.  ( 3rd world electrical conditions in a modern suburb next to a major metropolitan area.  Stupid Electric Company :P )

The rest of this addresses home RAID.
A regular backup of the disk is all that's needed to keep your data reasonably secure.  External units seem cheaper, so I've been buying them for my home laptop server systems.  I usually buy a new one every other year and start retiring the oldest one, while keeping data backed up to all 3 units.

Unless you need a single unified large space, RAID is unnecessary for a home system.  You might as well buy another drive, preferably another brand, but definitely a different batch, and just duplicate the data there.  It's easier and cheaper to get a single drive external unit for the majority of home users.  The little 2, 4, 6 disk NAS units are a joke of RAID, only good for home use behind firewalls and NAT.  They're easily and frequently hacked into if you ever expose them to the internet at large, because they usually run an older linux that doesn't get upgraded.  They tack on a proprietary web or flash interface that have privilege escalation exploits.  I've had to "fix" several of these by getting into the linux command line to remove the rootkits.  Ease of use is not secure.

RAID is not Backup
You don't really need RAID for a home system if you don't need multiuser data access speed or the larger storage space.  People have a false idea about RAID.  RAID is about maintaining uptime with quick disk swaps and filling the SATA/iSCSI/Fibre Channel bus with the aggregate speeds of multiple drives.  It's not backup.  It's for speed and uptime.  It's for multiuser systems.  Software RAID does not take full advantage of the higher data speeds because you don't have RAID hardware to manage the data channels.  It's fine if you're into experimenting or need a much larger volume than a single disk, but it's not that useful, because it's not a backup.  The only useful thing you do with it is to Mirror your disk, but now both disks are always running at the exact same time with the exact same power and data fed to them.  If you buy all your disks at the same time, from the same batch, you're likely to have multiple disks fail within a week or two of each other.  That's why there's RAID 6 now, just in case 2 disks fail before your first replacement drive arrives.  Having a RAID does not mean you don't need to back up your data.  Unless you're buying extra disks for RAID, it doesn't make a lot of sense for a home system.  Backups should be done regardless of RAID.
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by:jdonaldson1
ID: 40354599
How does Richcopy GUI backup? Does it keep making backups of the entire drive or does it just add new files to the backups when they are created? I have used Apple's time Machine before and with out proper maintenance it will fill up a 1 terabyte drive fast because it makes multiple copies of the same data.
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by:rindi
ID: 40354631
If needed rsync is an option with the backup tool which zentyal has. Rsync first copies the whole file, and after that just the changes (or deltas).
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by:jdonaldson1
ID: 40354641
I have a license of Windows 7 Home. Could I run Richcopy GUI on that to back up to multiple external drives?
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by:rindi
ID: 40354669
I don't think you need anything on the workstation. The server does the backing up, not the workstation. Just make sure you save your data on the server, not the workstation.
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by:jdonaldson1
ID: 40354681
Let Me Clarify. I want to use the Old Workstation as the server. I am trying to determine my best option of turning this old PC/Worstation into a server. I want the Server to backup it self to other drives. I am not concerned with backup the computers that connect to the server.
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by:rindi
ID: 40354704
Just install Zentyal on that old PC, and you have a good server OS on it, that can also back itself up to external media or the cloud, using different backup methods, one being rsync.
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serialband earned 250 total points
ID: 40354966
Richcopy does not do deduplication, so it will not fill up the entire disk like time machine.  It works similarly to the command line robocopy and rsync.  It's only a single copy and overwrites the old data.  If you want multiple copies, then you run the copies to separate folders.  It would be manually controlled by you.  It is the poor man's Microsoft backup, and it's mainly for user data, not system data.  You can not back up your Windows OS with this because you can not copy files that are marked as In Use.

You can try other free Windows GUI copiers.  http://lifehacker.com/5280976/five-best-alternative-file-copiers

What type of data are you backing up.  If it's simple user data, then sticking with Windows & Richcopy is fine.  If it's more complex, then you need to use something else.  Even Zentyal, as rindi suggested, may work for you.

If you just want to reuse your old Windows 7 workstation, you don't need to reinstall it.  Windows servers can be secure.  You just have to keep it patched and firewalled, and uninstall all your user software, mainly web browsers these days, and turn off unneeded services, just as you would with a linux server.  Richcopy is a free download from Microsoft. http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/magazine/2009.04.utilityspotlight.aspx?pr=blog  It used to be a just a wrapper to the command line Robocopy, but it's diverged a little since then, but you can still get that wrapper and learn the robocopy command line from it.  The command line robocopy now comes with Windows 7.  It used to be part of the free Resource Kits that you had to download separately.


It's just as easy to learn the robocopy command line.  You only really need one command that you schedule.

Here's all you really need to copy all your files from your D:\ drive to your E:\ drive
robocopy D:\ E:\ /mirror

If you need to keep user permissions and ownership add /copyall.
robocopy D:\ E:\ /mirror /copyall

If you need to copy folders.
robocopy D:\Folder1  E:\BackFolder1 /mirror
robocopy D:\Folder1  F:\BackFolder2 /mirror

You could schedule 2 separate copies.  The first copy takes the longest, because it copies all the data.  Subsequent copies will go faster, since it only copies data that has changed.
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by:jdonaldson1
ID: 40364353
I will look into these recommendations. I am just backing up user data. Photos, Design files, application install files, etc. It will take me a while to look into these recommendations.
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by:serialband
ID: 40364927
I still suggest that you eventually get a new, lower end, inexpensive laptop for about $400 and put your drives into external USB cases.  You don't need a high resolution screen or lots of power.  You'll make that back in less than 2 years with the electricity you save by not running a desktop and you basically get a built-in 2-4 hour battery backup in case of power failure.  You can fit all that on a shelf.  Keeping an old energy hog around will cost you more long term.

electricity savings (if your costs are the same as mine)
$18/month x24 month = $462  <-- enough to cover the laptop and external cases in two years, at which point you start saving money
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