Amazon S3 Update

Over at Z2 Marketing + Design we’ve implemented Amazon S3 as an off-site backup solution. As a design studio, there are a lot of large files, between photo and video shoots, print projects, and a zillion other things that require creating files, we’ve got our own storage issues to deal with. Will the building burn down? Dunno, it might, but if it does, it will be nice to know our data is safe over at Amazon.

Since I’m still moving a lot of older data there, the uploading is constant. I’d estimate I’m moving about a GB of data per day right now. In fact, let’s look at the numbers…

Amazon says we’ve transferred 16.035 GB this month, and we’re storing about that much as well. But wait, what is the cost of this? Well, as of right now, it looks like Amazon will be billing us just about $5 or so. (Probably a bit more, as I have another 11 days to keep moving data there.) So for the cost of a good burrito, we’ve transferred and stored over 15 GB of data. Freakin’ awesome!

I’m still not 100% happy with the tools, and how I’m doing the transfers (much of it is manual right now) but better tools will come along, and with a new server in-house, we’ll look at automating all the backups, so it “just works” and if something doesn’t work, it’ll let us know. Thanks Amazon!



NAS versus Server

I’ve written quite a bit about the Linksys NSLU2 we’ve been using at the office, and the problems we’ve have with it. (Linksys NSLU2 Update, Linksys NSLU2 versus ????) Overall it’s been a nice device for what it does, and for the price (about $80) but we’ve outgrown it, and we’re looking for a better solution.

I think that better solution is just going to be a server. (Going back to Small Business – Server & Backup I guess.) We should be able to solve most of the problems we had with the NSLU2 by using an old G4 PowerMac. The Mac should be faster than the NSLU2, and should not have any of the permission problems we’ve experienced. We’ll also be able to just deal with AFP instead of SMB since we’re a Mac-shop.

(I still think the NSLU2 is a good device for what it is, and for a home network would probably work well. Though reading up on FreeNAS it looks like a cool solution, and something I may try to play with in the future.)

The Mac will also allow us to do a few more things, like run the internal wiki, and possibly handle the office calendaring needs. What I really look forward to is automating our Amazon S3 backups using a Mac file server.

Anyway, I’m sure I’ll keep posting updates on this as we go…


Linksys NSLU2 Update

We are still using the Linksys NSLU2 as our file server, and we still aren’t 100% happy with it. (See Small Business – Server & Backup and Linksys NSLU2 versus ???? for background.)

Some Macs in our office seem to be able to connect via browsing the network, while others require typing in the smb://192.168.0.xx address. At least one Mac seems to see it, and use it, but then not be able to use it, then when you try to dismount, and remount, it says it’s already there and requires some command line magic (or a reboot) to clean things up.

After a recent reboot of the NSLU2, we noticed a few days later the backups were not running anymore. Seems that after the reboot the 1st drive was recognized fine, but the 2nd was not. I was just about to reformat the 2nd drive but thought I should reboot one more time – that fixed it! The 2nd drive was recognized and I just had to re-setup the backup schedule.

I think if we continue to have issues, I may just take a weekend and install Unslung on it.


Dumb Devices Storing Data

Our devices are dumb. They are not very aware of each other, and they should be.

I was thinking about this after I got home from BarCampMadison, where we talked about storage solutions. The thing that really trigged it was that for about 3 minutes, I thought I lost my digital camera. While you freak out for a minute about losing an object, you also freak out (probably much worse) about losing the data.

What would be nice is a way for devices to talk to each other, and be able to sync and backup data without user intervention. So, I carry around a digital camera, a mobile phone, an iPod, and a laptop. What if the camera could easily communicate with the other devices and say “Hey, I have 30 new photos, who can store these for me?” The laptop might respond “I’m the primary device, I have all the digital photos, give them to me” and then some wireless magic (wifi, bluetooth) would be used to do the right thing.

No laptop present? Perhaps the iPod could say “I’ve got 10 gigs of free space, give me the photos, and I will give them to the master when I get in range and connect.” No iPod? The mobile phone could be the storage device. Meanwhile the phone is talking to the other devices and asking them to sync/backup the new data it has, “Hey iPod, store these new phone numbers I got in the last 4 hours.” And on and on…

The idea is really to spread your data far and wide. We talked about this a lot at BarCampMadison. The situation will only get worse as our digital lives create more and more bits we have to deal with. Those bits need to be saved, and synchornized, and backed up. Doesn’t it seem silly that I need to manually tell my computer to sync with my phone every morning? Shouldn’t they be smart enough to do that when they get in close range of each other? Yes, there can be conflicts in the data, but do all the easy stuff first, then ask me to resolve conflicts. Syncing the iPod is nice, but in the future I hope having to physically plug in a device to have that happen seems just silly. (Sure, today we have issues with wireless communication, large amounts of data, and battery life, but those are all problems we can solve.)

We have automated backup solutions for our regular computers, but these mobile devices we carry are getting more and more important, and holding more and more data, and we need to make sure we don’t just lose it all to the bit bucket.


BarCampMadison: Archive Your Life

For BarCampMadison, I’ve convinced Matthew Pickard to join me in leading a session titled Archive Your Life.

Last year Mark Pilgrim asked the question: "How do you back up 100 GB of data per year for 50 years? Or even 10 years?"

Does anyone have an answer yet? How can we even test possible solutions?

Matt and I have been archiving things. Things we created, and others have created. We plan to talk about what we’ve done, and what we want to do. Not just for us, but for the future. We believe you can write your own history. If you don’t who will?