Backup Paranoia Pays Off

I’ve always been paranoid about backups, a file doesn’t exist unless it was in two places. And then there’s off-site backups which add a third place for important or expensive (time & money) files.  Things like RAID and file duplication (in WHS) don’t count as two places. If a RAID or disk controller failed the files could be lost. RAID and file duplication are good against drive failures and allow you to keep working, but they aren’t a replacement for backups.

This week I got a object lesson that proved the paranoia was justified. I have over 3 TB of files on my Windows Home Server. Due to their size I don’t use file duplication for most things, but I do back everything up. I was adding the external drives to get more space.

Long story short – that new external rack was bad, but not so bad it wouldn’t run, and I’m now restoring the entire server from backup. Even files that were duplicated were corrupted since both copies (probably) ended up on drives in that external rack. It appeared that files on the original 4 internal drives were OK but I decided to do a complete server rebuild anyway. I’d had so much corruption and other problems that I decided to flatten the server and restore the files. So, after about a day, I’m about 1/3 of the way through the restore. Luckily I had recently bought some cheap hardware to make the restore process a little faster than it would have been.

The irony of this was one reason I was adding the drives was to enable file duplication for more files and reduce the risk of having to do a full restore since it would be so time consuming. I was also replacing a dual USB drive since I was worried USB would be a little unreliable. So after trying to improve things I’m back to the USB which had been reliable for the month or so I was using it.

Now it’s time to get back to checking those file restores.