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Like many of you I am "the guy who takes care of backup" in the company. Luckily we are a software shop and most of the mission critical data are kept in a bunch of mercurial repositories. This makes it extremely easy for backup - all you need a script to update a remote copies and clone new repos.

There are things that aren't simply version controlled however - like a large parts of our server(s) configuration, email, web data etc. For that we use a combination of rsnapshot and plain rsync to a zfs snapshotted box. No matter what we use - the end result is a bunch of files on a filesystem.

Given the amount of data these can't simply be copied over the internet to our off-site backup store (which is simply a white box sitting at my home) I am toying with the idea of moving hard drives between the office and my home as an insurance against corruption to the on-site copies - whatever the cause will be.

Doing that is also very simple - for our rsnapshot backup all I need to do is to clone the MD devices which the filesystem resides on while for the backup on ZFS we can simple do a zfs send and recv on a new disk/zpool..

Does the Sneakernet approach make sense for us? It's also useful to quickly explain the whole idea to my fellow workmates. :)

p.s. English is not my first language so don't be alarmed if you see broken grammar above :)

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I don't know if he coined it or not but I'm pretty sure Tannenbaum uses the phrase "Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon full of tapes " in his networks textbook. Doesn't answer your question but may raise a dry smile while being mildly topical. – Jason Tan May 30 '09 at 17:36
up vote 7 down vote accepted

Ultimately, after all the various electronic methods, most major corporations have their backup tapes/disks taken by hand off-site for long-term storage. I myself rotate a bunch of firewire-connected hard disks that I backup my various machines to into and out of a safety deposit box every few weeks. So yes, 'sneakernet' is a good way of dealing with backup in my opinion.

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Companies like Iron Mountain specialize in this. They come to your office, pick up your tapes, and "sneakernet" them to their offsite facility. – Brent Ozar May 18 '09 at 11:34
That's exactly who we use! – Chopper3 May 18 '09 at 13:05

Please consider the physical security of the offsite backup-site. All the effort you've put into making your servers secure is wasted if the backups get stolen.

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Backup media encryption should be considered if you want to protect against media theft. – aharden May 18 '09 at 13:17
Remember the inter that got fired for leaving a backup tape in his car.… – Kevin Hakanson May 22 '09 at 0:26

Backups which are not physically connected to your infrastructure are a Good Thing, if something catastrophic happens to your online backup infrastructure you still have a secondary copy of your increments available.

What is worth considering here is a change in your backup system location. Keep your online backup on a machine on-site, but send an offline backup off-site. Your online backup is close and connected via LAN, so recovery is quick, while you have a disaster recover copy of your backups in case the worst happens and your site is pillaged by angry mobs.

There are companies that offer secure remote document storage services, where they send a courier around to your office with empty boxes, you fill them up with paper and they are archived forever in secure locations. Lawyers and similar use them for old cases. You can co-opt these services for remote offline backup.

Buy storage for one box from them, and buy two boxes. Every week, have them send out the currently stored box and swap it with your onsite box. What's in the box? Your offline backup hard drive! This is an extremely cheap (we pay about AU$40/week for this) and very secure way of maintaining an offsite backup in a secure location.

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I would say that using sneakernet as a part of you backupstrategy is sound logic. If people with malicius intent got access of your network, they could easily wipe offsite backups aswell. But, if you do some sneakernetting to an offline system / location you would have the backup secured in a better way. Ofcourse rollbacks of that backup will take longer time.

I would use sneakernet for backup say, once a week or something like that, depending on the content of the system you are running backup from.

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Yes — but don't forget to test that your backups still work after a round-trip to the off-site location. If data can't be retrieved from the backup, it's not a backup.

(Cue apocryphal-but-probably-happened-somewhere story of the heated car seat completely frakking up a backup tape.)

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Yes, good backup, especially if you can get nice fast eSata or otherwise fast external drives. But even USB drives will work, only slower.

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