If the backup fails is it really a failure?

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Leeland's picture


Storage problem in Backup - March 10, 2008 - March 17, 2008

Start Time Monday, March 10, 2008, 15:12
End Time Notification will be sent once normal services are resumed
Time Zone Local Seattle Time Zone
Affected Systems/Servers All systems connected to home backup service will be without backups until backups restored, also previously backed up files are unavailable
Outage Reason WD 500GB My Book USB drive problem
Instructions for Users Pray you didn't delete a critical file recently

OK so that is a tad over the top. But really I bought the WD 500GB USB "My Book" to do backups. And it was the disk that died.

So did I really loose anything?

The answer is YES!! I lost the 100s of hours it took to get my laptops, desktops and linux servers backed up to that disk in the first place. I lost the disk images that were there so that I could restore my systems to a pristine state.

Luckily I had a backup of my backups (and here is a big raspberry to all of you that called me paranoid :^P ).

What happened? Well Western Digital's overall USB support is horrible. The My Book series really shouldn't be trusted too far. Although it is slower you really should use the firewire connection (can you feel the difference between 480 Mbits / second at USB 2.0 and 400 Mbits / second on firewire? I know I can). However, the My Book enclosure is a lot more stable on firewire. Not that it is 100% stable there either. Frankly I am going to switch to something else when my tax return comes back. I think it is time to get a Drobo.

Two things that are good from this:

  1. Costco has blown me away. I bought the 500GB My Book at Costco "some time ago". No receipt, no box, no paperwork from box, hat in hand I took the broken thing back to Costco in a feeble attempt to trade it in for a new one and let them deal with Western Digital. They looked up the purchase on their computer (April 4, 2007 OMG has it really be almost a year) and said "No problem." Gave me in store credit for the FULL purchase price plus tax and sent me in to buy more stuff.
  2. Mozy really is very good. I said I had a backup of my backups. Well it was an off site service called Mozy ($54 per year, practically unlimited backup space with a handful of caveats which I can explain if you want). So all of the really important things (mp3 collections, family pictures, personal documents, database backups, source code repositories and the odd funny video or two) are all back on my brand new My Book now hooked up with a firewire link instead of USB 2.0 link. The only things missing are the huge disk images (one of those caveats is that it is an Internet Link and lets face it trying to push a 65 GB disk image to a backup service over the internet is just NOT feasible unless you have FiOS max at your house, which I don't ... yet )

Take home from all of this: Have more then one backup. Be prepared for your backups to fail. If you have critical HUGE backup blobs (such as the aforementioned disk images) figure out the silly DVD burner and get them imaged off to something else. One copy of anything is a single point of failure.

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