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"I love being the underdog"

Anthony DeSalvo

Dad, Husband, Roller Derby Widow, Triathlete, Web Developer and RCRD Volunteer!

DIY Fireproof Hard Drive Backup System using Linux

by adesalvo 16. December 2008 00:00

Living in Rochester NY the home of Eastman Kodak, the switch from Film to Digital Photography is quite apparent. However you don't have to live in my frozen tundra to notice the trend to digital. Who do you know that uses film anyway?

A few years ago I lost a lot of my son's baby, vacation, and birthday pictures due to disk failure. Of course I should have known to backup since I work in IT dammit! However I never got around to backing up my local disk drives on the family PC.

The next day I made some purchases!


My plan was to install a server in my wiring closet to backup and share my audio, photo, and video files.

I decided to install Ubuntu 8.10 on the prolient server and share some folders using samba. This would allow my wife to download all her photos to a shared drive and allow me to share my audio and video files to my hacked xbox and tivos!

If you have any questions on setting up SAMBA on Ubuntu check out the documentation on their site here.


After setting up the shares using the smb.conf and mapping drives from the family pc's I tackled the redundancy problem. Since all my data was still one drive, in the event of a disk failure I would lose all my important data.


Initially I was going to purchase 2 MX-1 1 TB drives and mirror them, however I felt like that was bit overkill and pricey. I don't need real time redundancy for my home network; however a nightly backup would be perfect. I could live if I was out 1 days worth of backups if my drive failed.


For the backup device I choose a Sentry Safe Fire-Safe Waterproof DATA STORAGE CHEST. I chose this safe because my wiring closet is in my basement (water) and in the event of a house fire my disk drive would rremain intact...


I first plugged in the USB drive to the safe, and then into the server. I made an entry in the /etc/fstab so the new drives would mount on boot up.


I wrote a quick shell script using a copy command to copy my data nightly to the fireproof waterproof drive. I then added the script to crontab to run every day at midnight.
Currently my only gripe is that if the cron job fails or doesn't run for some reason I am not notified. I think there is away to add notifications upon failure but I have not had the time to look into it.

There are a ton of technical details in the article that I just glossed over like;

  • Add new physical usb drives to linux
  • add the cron job
  • copy arguments to allow to copy recursively
  • copy arguments to only copy newer files
  • copy arguments to handle any yes|no prompts



If you have any suggestions or related technical questions please send them via twitter to http://www.twitter.com/adesalvo

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