Notes on toys for backing up


Well-known member
I have a number of computers lying around that do different things. I dabbled with a Raspberry Pi 4 for a while, using an external SSD at least it was somewhere I could dump files to move from one system to another but I found it was not quite as user friendly as I'd like and much of the software was older versions which weren't secure. It acted as a file server and ran qbittorent. However you can't add memory and they do have limitations.

Dell refurbished have i5 8th generation desktops floating around. The price seems to vary from hour to hour so rather than buy Raspberry pi 5 I brought a 5060 SSF desktop with win 10. The price difference was quite small by the time you factor in heat sinks, SSD drives, power supplies etc. The 5060 machines upgrade to win 11 quite easily although you may have to turn TPM 2 on in the bios, and came with a CD drive which meant I could rip CDs into .opus format to play on my smartphone.

They also will boot from a NMVe SSD so that gave a reliable hard drive with low power consumption which meant I could leave it on all the time. Some have an SSD in them anyway but my really cheap one didn't so Crucial then Crucial's acronis software to clone the hard drive.

Amazon has some used HGST enterprise 10 TB hard drives that are 5 years old but they are data centre drives for $80 so they should last another 5 years at least. 10 TB has plenty of room to back up half a dozen machines.

I dropped one into a Ugreen external USB to SATA box then let it format for two days. Created a share, don't forget to go into security tab on the drive and let everyone in. The advantage is you can turn the the power off on the Igreen enclosure so if you do get hit with encrypting Malware it doesn't affect the data on the drive.

Now I can do backups across the network. The first laptop backed up quite quickly to 97% and then it sat there. I checked on the 5060 and it was still trickling onto the drive. Two hours later it had successfully backed up across the network. For laptops you might want to go into the sleep settings and say don't go to sleep when plugged in.

If you're feeling rich Dell often drop in a single memory stick rather than two. So pullout the 8 gig memory stick and drop in a pair of 16 gigs sticks. Upgrading to 32 gigs of 3200 memory was cheaper than 16 gigs of 2666 memory by the way. Occasionally I have got way with adding a second 8 gig stick and got dual channel however it's best to drop in a matched pair.

Cheerio John

That's a great idea. I was lucky I never had to purchase anything other than some hard drives for years. I was given some nice equipment that was retired from the places I worked.

The first machine I set up was an old Dell Power Edge server. The beast, as old as it was, was quite a machine with its dual Intel Pentium P-90 CPUs. I installed 5, 9 GB hard drives and configured them as a RAID 1. It worked for years until I moved everything to a Sun SPARC 10 running SAMBA file shares to support the multiple PCs in the house. When I got a Sun Ultra 5, which ran at 450 Mhz instead of 20 Mhz, I moved the 10 GB of data over there with the SAMBA shares. SAMBA is an open-source file-sharing service that can be installed on 'nix to allow SMB-protocol based computers to access file-shares located on 'nix computers. Back in those days, I had to manually create the binaries for Solaris 5 and later Solaris 8 using a make-file after setting up the program folders and storage folders on the old workstations. I tried Solaris 9 which was too heavy for the old hardware so I went up to Solaris 8 only.

We all had mapped logical drives on the PCs so that the users could copy data over to either via a simple file copy, or through a free backup utility called Backups that did a fair job.

In addition to having user-shares on the servers, I also had a software folder where I stored drivers, updates, program installers (all licensed), and anything else my brother and father needed including a substantial clipart library used for the silk-screening business including a common-access share so more than one person could share data between users.

Today, we use a Synology DS220J. The box was about $200 and all it required was a hard drive. I had a 4TB hard drive on the shelf I purchased ages ago for another project. The big servers are gone and the Suns are ready to be retired. These big power-hungry servers and old workstations are no longer necessary. Good backups and storage are a godsend. Today, my brother's workstation crashed and required a fresh OS installation. Since he had a recent backup of his important data on the NAS-box, we were able to get him up and running quickly.
Some time ago I bought a NAS drive. This had an Ethernet cable to our router and its own power supply. Unfortunately, it was a had and eventually gave out.
However, it was really useful for back-up from any of our computers.
Perhaps a more compact solution.
If you check your router it probably has a USB port. Plug an external 1 TB SSD into that and you have a small NAS without needing a power supply, with a hard drive you'd need an external power supply so possibly another Ugreen box? I checked the power draw of the 5060 sff on idle and it wasn't much more than the raspberry pi 4. It has a gig Ethernet port as does the router, my internet connection is much slower. I switched a couple of cables to CAT 6 and now loading files across the network is about as fast as if it was a locally attached file.

I like the external Ugreen drive cases as they have a power switch. When the drive is powered down it can't be encrypted by Malware so the backups are secure. The 5060 SFF can also act as a NAS box. Sometimes gets the permissions correct in Windows is a pain but doing backups from an admin account and connecting using dell5060\user were user is a local admin account on the dell 5060 seems to work.

Cheerio John
Unlike the olden days, we only have two users now that actually use the NAS box with my brother using that the most. I keep my data local on external hard drives that are kept offline unless I need to access them. This prevents, as you said, malware from attacking them.

In addition to the NAS and external backups, I use an external drive enclosure for my data drives for my desktop PC. The Oyen multi-drive external box has hot-swap capability. The USB-C connection is as fast as the internal SATA ports and there's no noticeable difference accessing those drives compared to an internal drive. With this external enclosure, I can easily move my data from one system to another should my system crash completely. During a fresh install of Windows, I turn off my data drives and only "see" my internal SSD as the install location. Once everything is setup, I then redirect document folders and everything else I need to, to the external drives.

What I really hate about the latest service packs for Windows 10 and now Windows 11 is Microsoft forces users to use their cloud storage, meaning their One Drive. With more than 2-TB of data in my documents folder, this was an issue when I first installed my system. One Drive immediately started copying my data and complained when it ran out of space on the cloud. Well, Doh! I didn't specifically set up the copy to the cloud in the first place. What was more annoying was I had then play with the One Drive configuration and group policy settings to kill the One Drive connection. I then went through great trouble pointing the usual pictures, videos, and documents folders to the local drive.