[nSLUG] Backups: dealing with large, growing photo collections (was: Selling Used Computers)

Ben Armstrong synrg at sanctuary.nslug.ns.ca
Tue Mar 30 08:39:20 ADT 2010

On 03/30/2010 09:20 AM, Richard Bonner wrote:
> ***   I can't believe that so many don't seem to bother with backups.
> With the low cost of floppies and flashdrives - even used zip drives,
> there is no excuse except for laziness, as I see it.

You've got to be kidding.  OK, I won't disagree that backups are a good 
thing, but as my 1 terabyte drive fills up, you would counsel me to use 
such small media?  Even the largest of these, flash drives, would be 
prohibitively expensive at that size.

My backups have been broken for some weeks, so I'm crossing my fingers 
that my relatively new drive will not kick it before I get it resolved.  
I have healthy supply of DVDs and have trimmed my backups down to just 
essentials: people's home dirs minus the easily identifiable 
large/transient stuff that could be re-downloaded should it ever be 
lost.  The problem is, I still haven't dealt with the issue of regularly 
archiving off the large photo collections each user has from their 
digital cameras, while still making it possible for them to make edits 
as they see fit.

I'm pondering whether a unionfs would help here.  I could build a 
unionfs on top of already-archived material (as the read-only layer) 
with a read-write layer on top.  In my regular system-wide backups, I 
need only backup the read-write layer.  At some point, I would want to 
re-archive, with the new archived disks containing any updated files, 
and then re-build the union with the newly archived material forming the 
new read-only layer.  The trick would be to identify and throw out any 
disks in the archive that have directories that have changed ...

Hmm. Sounds like too much complexity to me.  Would probably be easier 
just to tell users "I'm sorry, once your material is archived, you can 
no longer edit it. You can make copies of files and edit them, but you 
just can't edit the originals."  That is a bit of a sacrifice in the 
users' freedom, though, for the sake of easing administration.  I would 
like to avoid this if I can.

Does anyone here successfully use a backup strategy that fits these needs?


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