flypig.co.uk

List items

Items from the current list are shown below.

Blog

30 May 2017 : Catastrophic success #
I’ve been using computers in a serious way for the last 32 years and have been taking backup seriously for about half of that. Starting with backup to CD-WR in 2002, then to removable disk-caddy a few years later, and USB hard drive in 2007. For most of that time I’ve been aware of the importance of off-site backups, but it wasn’t until October last year that I actually started doing it. Now my machines all perform weekly incremental backups to my home server, which all then in turn gets client-side encrypted and transferred to Amazon S3.
 
CD backup in 2002 Hard drive backup in 2007
CD backup in 2002 Hard drive backup in 2007

Despite all of this effort I’ve never had to resort to restoring any of these backups. It’s surprising to think that over all this time, none of my hard drives have ever failed catastrophically.

That was until last Thursday, when I arrived home to discover Constantia, my home server, had suffered a serious failure due to a sequence of power cuts during the day. A bit of prodding made clear that it was the hard drive that had failed. I rely heavily on Constantia to manage my diary, cloud storage, git repos, DNS lookup and so on, so this was a pretty traumatic realisation. On Friday I ordered a replacement hard drive, which arrived Sunday morning.

Luckily Constantia has her operating system on a separate solid state drive, so with a bit of fiddly with fstab I was able to get her to boot again, allowing me to install and format the new drive. I then started the process of restoring the backup from S3.

Backup in progress
Thirteen hours and 55 minutes later, the restore is complete. Astonishingly, Constantia is now as she was before the backup. Best practice is to test not just your backup process regularly, but your restore process as well. But it’s a time consuming and potentially dangerous process in itself, so I’m not proud to admit that this was the first time I’d attempted restore. I’m therefore happy and astonished to say that it worked flawlessly. It’s as if I turned Constantia off and then three days later turned her back on again.

Credit goes to the duplicity and déjà-dup authors. Your hard work made my life so much easier. What could have been hugely traumatic turned out to be just some lost time. On the other hand, it also puts into perspective other events that have been happening this weekend. BA also suffered a power surge which took out its systems on Saturday morning. It took them two days to get their 500 machines spread across two data centres back up and running, while it took me three days to get my one server restored.

Comments

blog comments powered by Disqus