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Computer networking/backups/cloud advice

Discussion in 'The Pub' started by northerner, Mar 19, 2013.

  1. So looks like I'm going into business with a guy who runs his own, successful business. Very exciting opportunity for me.

    He is successful in what he does, but he works for himself and is not tech savvy.

    I'm trying to work out the best way for two people to work independently, where they are mainly 'out and about' individually, but maintain coordinated and accessible documents. Any computer work would be from their respective homes so no 'common ground'.

    Looking at the ways I can coordinate well backed up data along with easy accessibility for both parties.

    Anyone in a similar position or have any advise?

    I'm pretty tech savvy (in my head :) ) and use macs, if that makes any difference....

    Cheers :)
  2. first stop, Dropbox......
  3. And while you're at it, be a pioneer and go with the just-released Google Chromebook
  4. Google docs
  5. Office 365 by subscription on a Business Plan.
    Team site, conferencing, public website, full click-to-run streamed Office, Exchange with Calendar sharing (depending on plan) etc.
    From $12.50 per user per month.
  6. You have many questions and should address them separately.

    How do work collaboratively on information?
    You need to provide more information about the types of information you are working on and how you plan on accessing that information. Files are easier to share if only one person works on it at a time, but the information they contain is harder to search so relies on the file name and hierarchy of directories to provide context. If this works for you then something like Dropbox would work well.
    However if you work together on the same content remotely then you'll need something like a hosted wiki like Atlassians Confluence and it's content will be easily searchable.

    How do I backup the documents?
    It depends. There are many aspects: how the data is stored, how important is the data, how much you are willing to pay and how secure it needs to be. The general rule is 3,2,1: have 3 copies of data in 2 different formats with 1 copy off-site. So if you have files in Dropbox then that is one copy. If you have a backup that copies the contents of your Dropbox to another computer every night (like a server in the office) then that is the second copy. If you burn all the files that changed that week to a DVD and store those DVDs at home then that is your last copy and it's off site. You'll probably want the backups on the server and DVDs to be encrypted so only you can hopefully access the data.
  7. Atlassian's wiki (confluence) is a great platform.....

    Although it would be very difficult for you to gain any meaningful advice given the requirements.....

    What would be normal "things" you would want to do each day with your data?
    Do you need anything sophisticated or are you just wanting to collaborate with 1 team member?

    If you're just taking notes and sharing them - meh......Evernote is all you need............takes pictures too.
  8. i'm sorry i'm not much help as i'll leave that to those with more experience

    ....but seriously...best of luck northerner (y)
  9. Thanks for the feedback guys.

    Sounds like dropbox might be the way to go, at least initially. We most likely won't need to work on documents collaboratively, it would be more like a central file system which we can keep everything - reports, data, letters, drawings, accounts etc. - and be able to upload and access everything from anywhere.

    I may have been overthinking it?!

    I will have a look at the other ideas too.

  10. Oh and @Osiris thanks for the note.

    As I understand it dropbox will automatically upload data in a specific folder hierarchy to the 'cloud' and sync across devices. So we would have a full set of data on two separate computers at different locations, plus data stored in the 'cloud', plus I would back up data as I do with my personal stuff - which is a combination of Time Machine (for continuous backup) and Carbon Copy Cloner (for periodic full backups).

    Sounds ok???
  11. Be careful how you set up your cloud sync. A guy I know here wasn't, and it didn't occur to him to check his settings. The result being that everything that had been deleted from his local machine was deleted from his cloud storage ... including all his business archives that he was supposed to be backing up.
    Remember, a computer will always do exactly what it's told to do ... not necessarily what you MEANT to tell it to do, and the two often vary more than you might think.
    Personally I manage all my backups and document movements manually with rsync and avoid any proprietary traps and lock-ins.
  12. Yeah, that fits the 3 copies, 2 locations, 1 alternative media strategy. Might be overboard, but maybe consider storing the copy created by the Carbon Copy Cloner in a different location to the Time Machine.

    Also keep in mind what Dark Angel said by thinking of all the DropBox data as a single copy and not trusting DropBox to back it up for you.
  13. I did some uni work on virtualisation and cloud computing/storage last year. One off the incidents that I used as a case study was the Megaupload legal case.
    The relevant bit being, there were thousands of people who used MU to legitimately store their own files on that service. Many businesses had critical backups there as well. When the US FBI decided to bow to it's RIAA/MPAA masters and illegally storm MU's offices they confiscated all the hardware and sodded off back to the US with it. All of the backups and business critical files were instantly unavailable to their owners through no fault of their own and highly questionable tactics from a foreign government. All of those files are now considered "evidence" and have been sorted, catalogued and filed by that government and will most certainly be used for whatever purpose they see fit.
    Before you put ANYTHING in a public cloud ask yourself: Can I manage if I lose the whole thing without warning? Is there ANYTHING in my files that would hurt me/my business if it were confiscated by aggressive foreign interests (governments OR corporations)?
    If the answer to the second question in particular is 'yes' then do NOT use a cloud service that is foreign owned, takes customers from or has servers in another country. If the answer to the first question is 'no' then don't use a cloud service. Period. Use the classic backup system already outlined; 3 copies, two media types, two (or more) locations.
    If you find you HAVE to use cloud storage in addition to a local backup, then encrypt EVERYTHING and encrypt it BEFORE it gets to the cloud.

    I know, I know, this all sound paranoid, but remember, it's not paranoia when somebody IS out to get you.
  14. #15 1600Nomad, Mar 20, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 20, 2013
    Dropbox works really well and I have deployed Office 365 solutions as well, data retention is always an issue. My advice BACKUP, BACKUP, BACKUP.

    Not knowing the type of information and access requirements, the only concern with cloud use is on the rare occasions there is internet outages will that affect the business in anyway?

    Personally I would go old school and setup a web server at home with secure vpn connections so information is accessible anytime one way or another and have complete control of backing up the data.

    Its not as complicated as it sounds :)

    And I agree, with Dark Angel security is ALWAYS an issue with ANYTHING CLOUD.

    Running on webserver you can secure it yourself ;)
  15. Absolutely correct!

    In a dropbox implementation, however, local copies are synchronised with a cloud copy, so even in the event that all dropbox servers were turned off right now, local copies would not be lost.

    That said...

    What if dropbox suddenly got set to wipe all local copies (intentionally or not) and then got turned off?

    Dropbox is great, but it's not a storage/backup solution. If the data is critical, always have another copy somewhere that you can access in case of emergency, preferably without the internet.
  16. Buy a small business RAID (like a QNAP TS-412). They can be configured to give remote access to all drives. Can even configure you own "cloud" if required.

    That way all your info is right where you want it, and you know where it is.

    Fire up the web server and host your own Wiki.

    Add on external services like drop box and Evernote.

    Press a button and create backups or schedule them to either another network drive or external provider.

    I'm a Mac user too but I avoid time machine as I like to control my backups. Rsync rocks!
  17. Good point, the Qnap NAS devices do work really well and I had a client who dropped SBS Server and implemented a Qnap as the office got downsized due to remote workers.

    My only issue with the qnap in some firmware on some models can be bit funny but really only minor issues. Had one client running the Qnap for about 2 years, accessed 24/7.

    Backups to external USB drive and has RAID, also on a 1500VA UPS and only a scheduled power outaged for a day has stopped it working otherwise its a great unit.
  18. I have that exact model and it's suitable for my needs (storage of photo media). It doesn't fit Osiris' 3-2-1 rule since I only have one copy (that's at least RAIDed).

    Given the OP's needs though, this may be overkill. If I were starting a business, I'd rather focus on the business than sys admin.