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If you’re like me and have terabytes of data lying around then the standard of the self solutions for a home office simply aren’t going to work.

I’ve working with a small local company computer assistance to develop a scalable robust solution.

Current Issues

My main protection is the mirrored raid array in my main workstation. I’d be unlucky if both drives went at the same time but it could happen…

Archives and Backups

My simple solution for archiving was to buy a small external HDD every few 6 months. When I finish a job I copy the project to the HDD, stick it on a shelf, and leave it there. Backups are similarly haphazard… Trying to do everything manually is time consuming to get right and I end up with a lot of duplication.

As a result I have several TB of data lying around. Lots of duplication and a few heart-wrenching losses.


Goals of my backup and archiving strategy:

  • Automatic, or systematic. If something is a hassle, it is not going to get done. I want something that works in the background, and involves simple and quick input from the user (me).
  • Manage multiple machines. Work needs to be synchronized across several systems.
  • Multiple locations. Offsite and onsite backups
  • Multiple copies.

I can’t do all of this at once, but I aim to have some sort of roadmap to a complete solution.

Types of Data

Backups and Archives are not the same. Ideally should keep backups of all my data. But I should only backup data that changes. Repeatedly backing up static data is a waste of time and storage space.

Working folders

I have a 1TB mirrored raid array on my main machine. It holds a mix of data: asset libraries, active and completed projects. It tends to hover in an almost full state for far too long, this is part of motivation to make backups and archiving easier… 1TB is a LOT of data to manage manually. It quickly falls of my list of things to do when I’m under pressure, and of course that’s exactly the point I should be most conscientious.

Asset libraries

I have libraries of textures, models and sounds. This data changes infrequently, so I don’t need to Back it up as often as my working folders. Remote access to this stuff would also be useful for when I working away from my office.


Data I may not be using and may never use again.

Types of storage

Working storage (PC)

I’m currently running 4 drives in my main machine:

  • Windows OS – SSD
  • Cache drive. – SSD
  • Data – 2 samung 1TB drives in a mirrored raid array

Near storage (NAS)

hp-proliant-n40l-microserverHP ProLiant MicroServer
This will be the new heart of my new backup and asset library system.
It runs NAS4Free and with a ZFS file system. It’s kind of hardcore and not something I’d want to run without some unix tech support.


Anything that I don’t need to hand can be saved on some big Lacie hard drives and then parked on a shelf for a few years.


cloud storage

Small files can be backed up instantly on the cloud. Dropbox is easy to use, encrypts the data. Plus documents are accessible using smart phones and tablets.

iso backup (system image)

Every now and the windows updates kills my PC. Now before doing a windows update I create an ISO image of the of windows OS drive.

Here are some instruction on groovypost.com


Note: How to create a disk partition on HDD

  • Control Panel >Administrative Tools > Computer Management > Storage > Disk Management
  • Right click on the drive to bring up the partition menu.

Incremental backup

A big 2TB external hard drive attached to my main PC via eSata.


Windows Backup and Restore

Microsoft has a history of shipping bad backup programs with Windows. However with windows 7 and now windows 8 they actually seem to create something that’s rather good.


Other issues

Windows EncryptionFileEncryption

I don’t need this level of protection, and generally I’ll try and remove the security from my working folders.

The problem is that without an encryption key secure files are inaccessible and unrecoverable.

I have Gigabytes of data on external drives made useless ( I can’t even delete it) because I re-installed the OS without backing up the windows encryption key.