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Reliable way of backing up FreeNAS with 1 FreeNAS server only

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loch_nas

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Soon I will have my first FreeNAS server running as the central point of file share. At this time I'm thinking about the best ways for a reliable and easy backup of the FreeNAS server.
My future plan is to build a second FreeNAS server for backing up the main FreeNAS server. I don't exactly know when I will be able to build this second server as this depends on my financial situation.

Let's see what I have now:
I have a Windows workstation with 16 GB ECC RAM and Intel NICs.
And I also have an 8 TB internal disk (let's call it backup disk), which I would like to use as the backup device.

My questions are:
How can I achieve the most reliable and easiest backup solution?
Installing FreeNAS next to windows (Dual Boot) on the workstation and use the backup disk as ZFS storage?
Just use DeltaCopy or rsync to sync data from FreeNAS to Windows on the workstation (with the backup disk as NTFS)?
Or insert the backup disk into the FreeNAS server, leave it there and rsync the data to this 8 TB disk?

I wouldn't like to insert and remove the backup disk regularly as this would mean that I have to switch off and switch on the server every time I make a backup. And I think that this off/on scenario shortens the lifetime of computer hardware (correct me if I'm wrong).

Are there any better, more reliable ways for backing up FreeNAS data without having a second FreeNAS machine?

I would be very thankful for any thoughts, warnings and recommendations as I don't want to walk into any bad traps. Of course I will test the strategies as best as I can, but I would like to know which way is recommended.
 

ethereal

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I use scripts that run hourly on FreeNAS which copies important data from one pool to another.

I also use freefilesync which copies files when I insert a external HDD into my windows workstation.
you can also use it to monitor folders on FreeNAS and can automatically or manually backup them up.
 
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Arwen

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I use a hot swap eSATA drive enclosure on my FreeNAS for backups. Then I use multiple backup disks, rotated, as the targets. Those backup disks are formated as single disk ZFS pools, mostly so I will be able to detect if / when they loose data.

I wrote a resource article on my setup. See the resource tab at the very top of any FreeNAS forum page.
 

loch_nas

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Jun 13, 2015
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Yeah, I already thought about eSATA, but it's really sad that eSATA enclosures are hard to find (and expensive) as everybody uses USB 3.0/Thunderbolt nowadays. I will have a look and try to find enclosures with eSATA. For the time being I'm going to put the backup disk into the server as this seems to be the most reliable method without eSATA if I'm right informed.
I will still appreciate more suggestions as "many roads lead to Rome".

I will have a look at freefilesnyc. Until now I didn't know about that. This seems to be a nice tool for pure file backup.

Thanks a lot for the good suggestions.
 

Nick2253

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I will have a look at freefilesnyc
FreeFileSync is a great program, but be careful with the installer; it has extra "sponsor-ware" programs that will be installed if you just click through it.

Yeah, I already thought about eSATA, but it's really sad that eSATA enclosures are hard to find (and expensive) as everybody uses USB 3.0/Thunderbolt nowadays.
One option is an eSATA dock, and then just dock the bare hard drives, and once you're done with them, you can put them back in the static bag, and back in their padded shipping box. Then you'd only need the one dock (as opposed to many eSATA enclosures).

Personally, I'm planning on setting up a USB drive to work directly with FreeNAS. My biggest problem with eSATA is the 2m length limit. With USB 2.0, I can extend the connection over CAT5 to 100+m. This allows me to put an inexpensive USB drive in my safe, and connect it to my server in my network closet via my house-wired CAT5. And the benefit of a USB enclosure is that it's low power, so I don't have to worry too much about a full NAS overheating in the enclosed safe.

I've tested the proof of concept by using NTFS/my Windows desktop manage the backup (and yes, while USB 2 is slooooowwww, it's not too slow to handle my incremental backups), but I'm interested in using ZFS for data integrity and compression. I agree with the general wisdom that USB drives and ZFS are asking for trouble, though the primary reason for this concern is because you are at the mercy of the of the USB/SATA translation layer. Assuming everything works like it's supposed to, there is no technical reason that USB drives wouldn't work. I'm trying to come up with some kind of stress test that would give me the confidence that my chosen enclosure is working like it's supposed to. (And the reality is that any controller issues apply to any and all file systems.)
 
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Arwen

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@Nick2253, Some USB enclosures now support better disk handling, via UASP, (USB Attached SCSI Protocol). That both speeds things up, and allows SMART monitoring. UASP will work with 2.0 if the host port and it's driver does too.

One issue with USB attached disks, is if they drop off line, the server can get confused. Or even crash, (Solaris ZFS would do that on un-recoverable errors. Better to stop the applications, than give them bad data or corrupt the pool). So, leave your USB attached backup disk exported. Only import it's pool for the backup.
 
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Nick2253

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@Arwen Thanks for the suggestion on UASP. I'm trying to get some information about FreeBSD compatibility, but what I've found is old, and seems to indicate that UASP is only supported via USB 3. Do you perhaps have a resource or a direction to get me started here? I've also read that the USB controller must be compatible, but I'm having a hard time determining if my motherboard supports UASP or not. Any suggestions would be great.

I've ordered a UASP-compatible enclosure, and will be trying that soon.
 

Arwen

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@Nick2253, no, I don't have any FreeBSD knowledge of UASP. My own UASP experience is with Linux.
 
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