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i got another external hard drive today. the main reason is that i want to encrypt my (current) backup harddisk, which requires reformatting the disk. but if i do so, i’m left with nothing but the original data on the laptop, and no backup. in case something goes terribly wrong, i’m screwed. i just created an encrypted partition on the disk; this is really pretty easy and not much command line typing is required, in particular if everything is set up: then linux will ask me for the password as soon as i plug the usb cable in, and automatically mount it using that password. that’s how it should be. and so far, it works perfect.
currently, rsync is mirroring my home directory onto the disk. as soon as it is done, i will copy some stuff from the other backup disk over (like my server’s backups) which i don’t have on the laptop’s harddisk (which is 180 gb smaller than each of the backup disks), and after that, my old backup disk will be reformatted as well and also filled.
after that, i will deposit one of the backup drives somewhere outside my apartment: in case something goes wrong (like house burns down, someone decides to break in, …), i still have a backup somewhere. and, as it is encrypted, nobody but me can read it. (even if someone breaks in here, and steals both laptop and backup, they can’t access the data without my password. and yes, i am aware of xkcd.)


Kornel wrote on august 28, 2009 at 06:43:

The last backup stored outside our apartment is 6 years old… unencrypted.

But actually most interesting stuff is now also on my web pages, in some SVN Repositories or on some server. The only thing lost would be private photos – bad enough, but I am too lazy. :-)

How many total loss of data did you had in your life?

felix wrote on august 28, 2009 at 15:04:

I had several crashes during my life, though for most I had backups or could somehow else rescue most of the things. In 2006, my hard disk died and I lost a lot of data: lots of photos, essentially all my mails (I was using POP3 back then), and a lot more. Since then, I’m trying to make backups more or less regularly (more less than more ;) )
And you should make a backup of the photos, loosing them is really annoying, believe me! :)

Kornel wrote on august 28, 2009 at 16:07:

I think for a while now about using a web service like picasa or flickr for at least non-private photo backups (with the positive side effect that other people can find and use them under some CC license). But I never decided about which service to use (images saved in full not recompressed resolution, management, reliability, …).

felix wrote on september 2, 2009 at 03:35:

i don’t like the idea of using a web-based service. what i would use is a webspace which only i can access. unfortunately, my server’s webspace is too small to store all photos (well, currently it has enough space, but not for too long anymore).

felix wrote on october 5, 2009 at 02:27:

note to myself: this document is also very useful, especially if it comes to the task to check the filesystem on the disk.
for that, i connect the drive, do not mount it (or unmount it after mounting), and do something like
sudo cryptsetup luksOpen /dev/sdb1 backup
followed by
sudo fsck -v -C -n /dev/mapper/backup
sudo cryptsetup luksClose backup
note that the fsck will not* correct any errors, but report them instead.

*depends on the filesystem; according to my fsck manpages, reiserfs will correct errors nonetheless, and other filesystems might not work. so, check it yourself before doing something.

[...] (which might go offline once), i decided to sum everything up in a post. parts can already be found here in this blog. note that the disk device name can differ from computer to computer, so i used [...]