I am in the middle of revamping the backups of the servers and shared drives at my non-profit. What I need is a storage solution that will simply give me a place to put the backups. I have two options within my budget :

  1. Build a simple Debian server with a large chassis and a motherboard that can hold 6-8 drives
  2. Buy two NAS enclosures (think Drobo/Synology/etc) and hook them up to the backup server via USB3

For information, the backup server is a little box running Bareos. As far as I can tell, aside from the time necessary for the first option, the second would certainly be the easiest. However, I am afraid of having problems down the road that would render the units unusable for X number of weeks (for example, a manufacturer's defect which would force me to get a replacement all of which takes a while usually) and thus kill my backups. At least with a Linux server, I can +/- fix it.

Any thoughts? Is my fear perhaps irrational? In particular, I'd love to hear from folks who have experience with these NAS units in production.

In case you're wondering, I only have about 13 TB of data to backup weekly so performance is not really an issue.

Edit: Thanks for the suggestion about cloud storage. I should just note that for us, it's not an option because we are in a remote location and we only have an ASDL line (3Mbps/768kbps).

  • 2
    What do you mean by "unusable for X number of weeks"? What scenario do you have in mind here? Feb 22 '19 at 18:51
  • 2
    A backup that isn’t offsite isn’t a backup at all. Feb 23 '19 at 6:03
  • @Appleoddity duly noted. However, we have several buildings at our disposition so that part is covered.
    – daveslab
    Feb 23 '19 at 13:35
  • @MichaelHampton what I mean is that if the enclosure has a problem, I would have to get it replaced by the manufacturer and that would probably take a few weeks. Please excuse my lack of clarity.
    – daveslab
    Feb 23 '19 at 13:36

NAS Option: Pros - Easy to hookup, 10 times faster than gigibit ethernet, no new server needed. Cons - Physical server presents a single point of failure.

Debian Option: Pros - You get a new server, you can double up the RAID controllers, run RAID 10, you can install as many NICs as you need. Cons - Single point of failure.

My Recommended Option: (Since you have some $$$ to spend)

Keep your existing backup server, procure the NAS devices for storage, add a NIC for every subnet in your infrastructure, and connect your backup server to each network segment. This will optimize your incoming data flow when your are preforming backups and not tax your network. (Not needed if you have a dedicated backup network segment)

I would also build a duplicate backup server that can serve as a hot standby for any future failures. If your production server fails you simply move the NAS devices to the "backup" server.

Also I would create 2 backup jobs per server and have them run "every other" period so you get backup data on both of your NAS devices. Takes up extra space yes, but you can manage this fairly easily.

A final option would to do a cost comparison and see what your cost difference would be for one of the many available cloud backup solutions with your data only being under 15TB.


My recommendation for backups these days is to always put them into the cloud. AWS, Azure, and GCP all have low-cost long-term storage solutions.

My reasons: (1) You don't have to worry about hardware that will break. (2) The cloud providers store your data redundantly in a way you never could. (3) It's super easy to distribute multiple copies of your data globally to protect yourself against regional failures/disasters. (4) Data security is not an issue, since you can just send encrypted backups.

The only reasons I'd consider on-site backup are (a) bandwidth limitations and (b) volume limitations; inability to make incremental backups and having to send very large (say >~ 10 GB) datasets on a daily basis.

  • 1
    Agreed. Note that cloud storage can be quite expensive. S3 Infrequent Access class for 12TB is $150/month, Glacier is $50 per month but takes more effort to store there, Glacier deep storage class available soon should be about $25 / month. Compare that with the price of hard drives, a small server, and power, it can cost a lot more if you already have facilities and administrators for other servers.
    – Tim
    Feb 23 '19 at 20:02
  • Thanks for your suggestion. However, unfortunately, we don't have enough bandwidth for this. Just edited the question to make that clear.
    – daveslab
    Feb 23 '19 at 20:36

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