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Figuring out the right kind of backup solution to use


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I'm good at long rambling posts FYI.

So I've been wanting to set up an older PC of mine to store all my larger files (Mostly disc based games, movies and TV shows). I've dabbled and read up on NAS setups, RAID, all that kind of stuff. 

Thing is, I'm the only one accessing the files and I don't need it available 24/7 with drives constantly spinning. I do own plex and being able to pull up a show on my phone sometimes was fun but not completely necessary.


So what I'd ideally want is this...

1. Be able to access the files when I'm on my main computer, and stream from it. Such as pulling up Plex and choosing a show to watch.

2. Have a backup in case of a drive failure. I know having it all on one system isn't a true backup, but I'm fine with that for now. 

3. Only backup certain files or folders. This may change if I have more space, but something I could easily download again are ok not to have a backup. (Like the movies I own on rifftrax.com, I can always log in and download them). 

4. Automated backups. Like if I download something to a folder that I want to have backed up, it'll make sure there's a copy of it every so often. Doesn't need to be daily, weekly maybe?

5. Compression? It would be nice if I could save some space by having the files backed up and compressed, as long as it's not something I'd have to worry about if I ever need to get them back. Tall order I think so not too concerned about it.  

6. Lower power/wear and tear. I'm not constantly accessing things on this computer, so having it only turn on/spin up as needed. I think this is where wake on LAN comes into play?


I think that's everything. I know a few users here use NAS and other types of backups so I thought I'd see if anyone had suggestions. Right now I'm leaning towards something like a windows based system with something like Acronis True Image.



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A 2-drive NAS will do much of what you are looking at (depending on how many TB looking at may have to go to large bay units).  I have Synology 8 Bay 1817 and 1821, but other brands like QNAP have similar features and would meet Items 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.  For example, Synology has normal backup process (daily, weekly etc) or you can use a mirror process where you keep an exact copy of the target drive update all the time on NAS (basically, local cloud).  Most also have a true cloud option, so for example the Synology NAS copies my critical /non-replaceable files to my OneDrive account as a mirror which is encrypted on Synology side.  NAS will typically have some RAID features, but that isn't a "backup" solution, and only deals with a drive on the array dying and giving you potential to replace.  Synology offers a compression option, but don't see it gaining that much space wise and then there is speed hit  (similar to Windows driver compression options). 

As for 6, I keep my NAS on 24/7, mostly because run Plex and not so much from the game aspect.  You can set it to spool down the drives and go into low power mode.  It does have Wake On Lan but my experience (back to ReadyNAS days) was that was more bother than worth and takes a bit of time for NAS to wakeup, boot OS, check drives, etc.  Just having the NAS send the drives to sleep mode is your biggest power buck anyway.  Wear and tear is somewhat irrelevant in my mind if you are getting high quality NAS drives like Seagate IronWolf or WD Red drives.  They will run for years on end 24/7 with no issues.....just make sure you have a UPS if doing 24/7.  

I have True Image that use to back up my C:Drive on my main PC to NAS but have never been 100% thrilled with it.  They put their files in their own compressed format (tibx).  The reality is I could use the NAS applet to do the C:Drive backup, but "it works" and just haven't messed with it.  In theory, the True Image software should be a bit better than NAS applet backup solution on the restore end of things.  But I have found True Image can be problematic on some motherboard/driver combos if doing a full restore of your C:drive.  You are also basically on a subscription model if want bug fixes/features beyond 1 year (still works, just major bug fixes only).

I still use "simple" approaches to a couple things though. For example, I have a cheap Costco WD external USB drive that I occasionally use FreeFileSync to mirror a copy of my 8 TB Games drive. I only use that USB drive for backup.  I use this as a "I just screwed up my emulation games setup somehow".  It has saved me on occasion, particularly with Retroarch or I used a batch file that went haywire.  That is the issue with a mirror of target drive solution, if do something bad then will replicate back to your "backup".  In my experience it is this issue (deleting something accidently, making major mod that shouldn't have) that happens most often versus "drive dies".  

There are also homebrew NAS solutions like Unraid and TrueNAS. But ultimately, for any NAS, the drives are the big expense.  


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