[time-nuts] While we're discussing backups...

phil fortime at bellsouth.net
Tue Aug 26 14:04:07 EDT 2008

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Neon John" <jgd at johngsbbq.com>
To: "Discussion of precise time and frequency measurement" 
<time-nuts at febo.com>
Sent: Tuesday, August 26, 2008 1:10 PM
Subject: Re: [time-nuts] While we're discussing backups...

> On Tue, 26 Aug 2008 03:34:11 +0000, Mark Sims <holrum at hotmail.com> wrote:
>>Pointless overkill?  Ask those people in New Orleans what happens when 
>>originals and backups are kept in the same city.  I know of several (ex) 
>>businesses that wisely kept their backups in different buildings there... 
>>all were lost.
>>Ask my friends in Jarrell, Texas (or what's left of them after a tornado 
>>leveled the city)...  one friend kept backups at his and his parent's 
>>house...  a lifetime's work lost...  not to mention a lot of friends and 
>>All legitimate disaster plans specify that backups (and contingency 
>>operating sites) are not to be kept in the same geographic area.  Failure 
>>to do so in a corporate setting would expose you to major liability 
> It's a big old world out there and if you look hard enough, you can find
> something to justify most any plan, regardless of how outrageous, if a 
> single
> occurance is acceptable justification.  Of course, by that standard we all
> should walk around wearing Kevlar helmets.  After all, there has been a 
> single
> instance of someone being hit by a meteorite in recorded history.
> If I'd lived and operated a data center in NO even before Katrina, I'd 
> have
> considered flooding to be a high percentage risk and done something
> appropriate about it.  If I lived in the high desert, I'd not worry too 
> much
> about flooding.
> The silliness in your "advice" is that you offered up one of the most 
> extreme
> "solutions" as generic advice and said that anything less was no backup at 
> all
> or something to that effect even though you don't know my or any other 
> list
> member's circumstances.  Let's see how your advice and its associate 
> expense
> fits my situation since I'm the one you replied to.
> I'm retired so total loss of my data would have no financial impact.  A 
> huge
> sentimental and legacy impact, in terms of both my writings, designs and
> digital photos.  Interestingly enough, all those types of data are backed 
> up
> multiple ways including on a set of DVDs resting in a friend's safe who 
> lives
> a few miles away.  My past design work is completely static, my photos 
> mostly
> static and my writings a little less static so updates to that collection 
> need
> be done only a couple of times a year.  They'd only be needed if my cabin 
> and
> its contents suddenly and completely disappeared somehow.
> I live in a cabin on gentle sloping ground about 200 feet above the 
> Tellico
> river.  Short of The Great Flood 2.0, water on the ground cannot reach my
> place.  Period.  That takes NO-style flooding off the table.  The basement 
> of
> my cabin sits on bedrock.  The combination of the gradual slope and the 
> mere
> skim of topsoil takes land slides off the table.
> In my basement there is one of the largest gun safes made, one that I can
> stand up in.  It is set through the concrete block wall, back into the 
> soil
> bank behind my cabin so that the door is flush with the wall.  In other 
> words,
> like a vault.  The safe itself weighs about 2 tons.  The bottom few inches 
> are
> filled with another ton of concrete and the foot of the safe is embedded 
> in
> about 3 yards of steel-reinforced concrete, some of the steel welded to 
> the
> safe's body.
> The lockworks are US government crypto-certified.  I paid a bunch extra 
> for
> that quality of lockwork. The combination lock is a Sergent and Green
> crypto-grade unit and the key lock is a Medico high security one.  Both 
> locks
> must be manipulated to open the safe.  Inside the safe is another smaller
> "valuables" safe, also secured with a S&G crypto-grade combo lock.  It was
> intended for jewelry but I use it for backup media storage.
> Even sitting in the open it has the highest UL fire rating available.  Set
> back in the dirt bank, it is impervious to fire.  The safe is both alarmed 
> and
> booby-trapped.
> (certain immaterial-to-this-discussion have been changed for obvious 
> reasons.)
> I installed this safe years ago when I traveled a lot to protect my gun
> collection.  It makes a damned fine data safe.  So let's evaluate the 
> risks
> Risk             Covered?
> Fire             check
> Earthquake       check
> general flood    NA
> local flood      check*
> explosion        check
> land slide       NA
> B&E              check**
> Tornado          check
> Riot             check
> Nuclear attack   check***
> Nosey neighbors  check
> * broken water pipe, etc.  The basement is drained by gravity plus my 
> alarm
> system has a leak detection facility that kills power to my well pump.
> ** adding to my protection against breaking and entering are all my 
> heavily
> armed and dangerous neighbors.  We put teeth in the term "Neighborhood 
> Watch".
> *** of any nearby strategic target such as Oak Ridge.  Can't imagine 
> anyone
> nuking Tellico Plains :-)  Even if they did, I'm still 25 miles and a 
> mountain
> range away.
> My lights-out server sits inside the safe with the power and ethernet 
> cables
> brought out through suitable secure penetrations.  I put the server in the
> safe after the experience of a previous fire.  My backups were good but 
> the
> hassle, time and cost involved in setting up a new server made using 
> available
> space in the safe for this one a no-brainer.
> Also sitting in the safe is another laptop just like this one.  I stay on 
> the
> trailing edge of technology so buying a second one cost me almost nothing.
> This totally eliminates the risk of even an hour of down-time if I break 
> this
> laptop or it just quits.  I swap them occasionally to equalize the wear 
> and
> tear and to keep the capacitors in the power supply well-formed.
> There is a small CO2 cylinder in the back of the safe equipped with a 
> spring
> loaded, solenoid tripped valve.  The valve came directly out of an Ansul
> automatic fire protection system.  If triggered by an external thermal
> rate-of-rise Fenwal switch, it provides a steady flow of inerting gas, 
> good
> for a couple of hours.
> This setup is a lessons-learned from my house fire when steam and acidic 
> smoke
> got past the "air tight" gun safe seal and damaged thousands of dollars 
> worth
> of guns, even before the fire was completely out.  I had the safe open 
> even
> while the firemen were watering hot spots and my guns were already 
> corroding.
> Insurance paid OK but some of the guns were literally irreplaceable so I 
> still
> suffered great loss.
> Ansul systems can't be reused so the valve setup is a throw-away item at 
> most
> any used restaurant supply company.  The CO2 bottle is an off-the-shelf 20 
> lb
> soft drink dispenser cylinder.
> So.  Given my setup, tell me what risk I'm exposed to that would make 
> shipping
> backup media a hundred miles away and paying someone to store them make
> economic sense?  I think that I have a very well thought-out and complete 
> data
> security system but I'm always open to second opinions.
> John
> --
> John De Armond

"tell me what risk I'm exposed to"
An angry wife !

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