My Home Backup Solution
A few months ago I began my search for a way to backup and share my photos and other stuff online. I thought it would be easy – someone must have cracked this by now? I asked Twitter:
I want to back my photos up online… Which service should I use?
— James Marshall (@jamesbmarshall) April 13, 2012
My requirements were simple:
- Backup over 50GB of data including photos, music, documents and videos online.
- Access the data easily from anywhere, ideally on any device either natively through the OS, an installed app, or web site.
- Selectively share some of the data with one or many people easily, and be able to revoke sharing too.
- Low cost, reliable and simple to use.
I have a home server, with a bunch of storage made up of a combination of internal HDDs and external ones. Unfortunately most of the online services didn’t support backing up from a server OS (in this case Windows Server 2008) without paying a lot of money, nor did they support backing up a mapped drive so I couldn’t cheat and backup from my desktop either. Even when I did think I was making progress the services seemed to specialise in backing data up, but not accessing or sharing it easily. That is until Microsoft announced the latest changes to SkyDrive…
I’d eyed SkyDrive as a solution before but immediately discounted it due to needing more than 25GB of space, but when Microsoft announced the paid storage options I took another look. I found that I could install the SkyDrive desktop app to my home server, sync my data to SkyDrive (I have paid for an extra 50GB of space) and for extra safety I also copy the data internally to some network attached storage (NAS). It looks a little like this:
My home PC, and laptop, both use mapped drives to the synced folder on the home server to access the data locally, and when I’m out and about I can access my data directly from SkyDrive. This works really well from my Windows Phone and my iPad as well as via the browser.
If my home server dies, I have a copy in SkyDrive and on the NAS. If the NAS dies, I have a copy on the home server and in SkyDrive and if all fails internally, for whatever reason, I have my copy on SkyDrive to fall back to. I think that covers all bases! What’s more – it’s really easy for me to share individual files and folders in SkyDrive; sharing that family holiday album with my parents, or the Christmas list OneNote with my girlfriend, takes just a couple of clicks and means I don’t have to have several copies of my data in different places.
So that is my solution, it seems to be working pretty well and I am happy that it ticks pretty much every box of my requirements. I’m really keen to hear how other people have approached this; is there a better way? I’d love to hear it!