This Space for Rent

Backing up my home server the hard way

It's not that I don't back up my home server. I do. But I back it up to another machine that sits right above it in the rack, so if my server catches fire the flames will zap the backup machine en passant. This has been pointed out as a somewhat suboptimal solution, so I've been working on a redesign of the home network (replace the two home servers with one machine that's got a couple of tiny [and quiet. And low-power -- the two mini-itx boxes I have right now pull a combined 95-97watts to drive the system disk, the two backup disks, and a couple of home disks. The single replacement machine consumes 19 watts] SATA drives and a flash disk for /, then move the old disk pack into the colo so that I've got full backups in two separate locations. But that's not going to happen for a while (the process of moving hardware into and out of the colo isn't difficult, but it's time consuming, particularly if I have to do an OS rev as part of the hardware shuffle) so as a short term solution I went out and bought a 160gb seagate USB disk as a temporary backup that I can drop into my purse and carry with me.

So I've got this USB disk, and I want to attach it to downbelow (running FreeBSD) to make sure it works. It starts making an annoying beep-beep-beep noise, the kernel complains about being unable to initialize the hub, and that's all that happens. Is the disk bad? No, of course not; if I plug it into my Windows laptop, it fires up and I can (after scrubbing off the point and drool backup manager they provided with it) format it and read and write to it without any problems. Ditto for the commercial Linux distribution I've got on my workstation at work. But just not the EPIA 5000 that FreeBSD is installed on.

Okay, so this means I don't have any *Unix* machines that will talk to this disk. So this would be a problem, no? Actually no; the Windows machine has a copy of Qemu on it, and I installed Mastodon on a Qemu partition earlier this week. So I plug the disk into the Windows machine, fire up Qemu, assign the disk to my Mastodon vm, fire it up, and Bob is my uncle.

It's pretty sick, but it works. And this will give me my offsite backup, even though it's in a way that will make many system administrators get sick to their stomaches.