Futurism

Current workstation

At work I develop real-time image generator software, so I figured I need a strong workstation at home too! But I guess this will fall by the wayside quickly enough…

I recently made the switch from Debian to FreeBSD. Yes, systemd was the culprit…

Storage

For main storage outside my workstation I have a NAS running RAID5 with 4x 2TB 4TB SATA hard drives. If I were to reconfigure the NAS, I would probably choose RAID1 over RAID5…

When the first 2TB drive failed, I replaced it with a 4TB drive. Then gradually continued to replace drives with 4TB versions over the course of a few months, reusing the functional 2TBs in other computers. It worked perfectly to just expand the filesystems when all four drives were upgraded, so now I have 12TB of redundant NAS storage. Would still prefer RAID1 to RAID5 though.

Backup

Since I’m collecting ever more information, some produced by myself and some quite unique and rare and difficult/impossible to replace, it’s becoming more and more important to avoid data loss. That means: redundancy!

Here’s how I try to reduce the risk of data loss:

The first defense is to use RAID on all important storage. In fact, for any newly installed computer I will most likely run RAID1 for all its local storage.

The second defense is to mirror locally on two different machines the most important data. In my case that means that I keep a copy on my local NAS as well as on my workstation’s local storage. It’s important to keep these in sync, of course.

The third defense is to mirror the most important data to an online storage service. Currently I’m using dropbox but this may change. Of course, since my data is private, I don’t simply upload it to share with the world. Instead I have developed a small utility, called strongbox, that basically imitates rsync, except that it encrypts the files (including filenames) and stores the metadata in an index files which is also encrypted. Strongbox does not directly access dropbox but first mirrors to a local harddrive (RAID-1) which is then set to be mirrored to dropbox through normal procedures. There actually exists a cryptified version of rsync (rsyncrypto) but I don’t trust its “reduced strength” mode to gain the ability to separate files into blocks. Sounds too much like the electronic codebook fiasco. Also, I have no need for such separation: pretty much the only files where only parts are modified are textfiles, which are small, so it’s not a problem to mirror whole files.

My last line of defense is the classic backup. I used to backup to external harddrives, but I’ve since moved on to traditional magnetic tape, LTO3 in my case. Harddrives are not really intended to be stored offline so it’s a gamble if they will start when they are actually needed the most. LTO3 tapes can store about 400GB of data, which is maybe a little on the low side, but on the other hand. I will probably upgrade to LTO5 when it becomes more economically feasible. One great thing about LTO is that there a “two generation” compatibility mode, which means that LTO5 drives can read (but not write) LTO3 tapes. Tapes are regularly (but unfortunately quite infrequently) moved to geographically remote storage.

Graphics workstation

This used to be my old main workstation but now it’s taken on a smaller role as a graphics workstation. Recently updating the GPU from a Quadro 6000 to a GTX 1070. Now used for some 3D-modeling as well as taking over as my DAW.