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I was just in Kenya for several weeks helping some wildlife conservation orgs with their computers and IT. The biggest issue (aside from not enough funds to update tech as often as they should) is that most locations have very limited internet; It is slow and metered. And the A/C power is also not 100% reliable, so battery backup is essential.

I like Resilio Sync as the backup tool, since it works cross platform, keeps older versions around in an archive, and stores files in a standard directory structure that can still be read without the client. So really an ideal device for me would be:

  1. A NAS that can run Resilio Sync that uses USB 3 bus-powered drives like the WD Elements Portable https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0713WPGLL/?t=it4np-20&ie=UTF8

  2. Ideally it would have it's own ~15 minute battery back up, and shut itself down when the battery reaches ~20%. Or minimally have a USB port that an external UPS could hook into via USB and receive a shut down message.

  3. I'd like it to be a universal update server as well so it can serve all Windows 10 updates, but also 8 and 7, and even better if it can do iOS and Android as well (hey, since I'm speccing the ideal, why not?!)

  4. Massive bonus points if it also included a DHCP wifi router that could do robust internet filtering to prevent P2P, YouTube, video, auto updates, and other traffic that would eat through their metered allotment.

Worst case is to just get a cheap Windows 10 laptop with a 1 TB hard drive, install Resilio Sync, turn on Windows 10 update sharing for it and all the other devices on the network, have a separate UPS for this laptop, get a robust security appliance (like Meraki MX64W), allow this (and only this) update/backup to connect through to the update services on the internet so that only one copy of every update is downloaded, and then it's cached locally and served to all other devices.

OK, so after typing all of that, the chance that such a device exists is practically 0. But what would you all recommend as a setup to handle this? Remember, this is essentially a "small office business" of <50 devices, and they really don't have an IT expert, so whatever gets set up either needs to be remotely managed or can be simple enough for someone with basic training to keep things going (e.g. swapping the backup drives every week).

  • If I go the "cheap Windows 10 laptop" route, what's the best way to have 2 backup drives? I could just swap them, but it would require each device to sequentially backup the same material to each drive. My first thought is to run a Virtual Box that has a second copy of Resilio Sync running. But that isn't very elegant and will require even more effort to keep that virtual machine up to date and running. – Dave C May 13 '18 at 23:09
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If you are looking for a single device that can function as a (1) NAS for backup purposes, (2) a WSUS server for windows updates, (3) UPS for autonomous power supply and (4) a router / proxy / wifi AP for the local network, I don't think there is one, but you might get a few to do the job.

You don't specify if the <50 devices are on one single network and location, or if they are scattered. Neither what you want to backup, or why do you want an update server (is it for security? or only for bandwidth savings?), its quite hard to recommend anything specific. But...

You could try the QNAP Qgenie or RAVPower for a couple of the features you want (mobile NAS with wifi hostpot and battery backup), but it wont be able to help with the updates, and it's a single disk.

If you want something to cache all the windows updates + android + ios that one client downloads, you are looking for some kind of proxy. You could try a PFSENSE appliance for that, but you will need to get your hands dirty with Squid to get it working for every platform (windows, android, ios, macos).

Last but not least, if you want a NAS for backups, then you need a NAS with multiple disks for RAID (at least 2, I would go for 4) for reliability. Hard disks fail, and you don't really want all your backups on a single hard disk. A good NAS that could run virtualized apps (or docker) and supports Resilio, as well as other backup methods are QNAP, Drobo, FreeNAS or Synology. They don't have UPS functions, so you should probably pair them with one, they support automatic poweroff and poweron while paired through USB.

Or you could go the DIY way and build everything with a Raspberry Pi.

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