Thursday, September 3, 2009

Emergency

My son was returning to college a few nights ago. He is an organized person. He meticulously planned every detail for his return. He even reinstalled everything on his laptop to ensure that his system would be in prime condition for his senior year. Just before we headed out the door, his laptop crashed so hard that we could not get the system out of 'safe' mode. We only had time for reinstalling the OS and packing up the rest of the application installation CDs before we left.

His data backup was located on an external hard drive that is used to backup all of our systems. I imagined the condition of the external hard drive after it made the round trip to school and back in his duffel bag. I could not ensure that the drive would be kept secure in an apartment with three roommates and their many friends. I could not let the hard drive out of my control. We made plans for his return trip this weekend to restore his data. We rushed out the door.

While returning home that night, I remembered discussions that I was having with the Cloudberry Lab folks about their AWS S3 tools, a browser (S3 Explorer) and an online backup utility (Backup). They had asked me to kick the tires and let them know what I thought about their products. I had my trusty S3 account. "Just maybe", I thought, "I could use Cloudberry Backup to transfer my son's backup files to S3 and then have my son recover his files from S3".

I downloaded Cloudberry Backup the next morning. The set up was easy. I followed the straight forward backup wizard to create the back up script. I selected all of his files, all 21 GB of them. I fired up Cloudberry Backup and off it went copying his files to S3. I noticed that the progress indicator wasn't exactly zipping up to 100% complete. I clicked on details to see that my upload capacity was sitting right at 250KB per second. At this rate, the transfer would take a day. I easily halted the transfer and edited the backup to select 1GB of his most important files. I started the backup again. Within an hour, his files were on S3. I sent a note to him to download Cloudberry Backup and configure it for my S3 account. He was successful and had access to his files. Not bad for a pre-med student. Not bad for Cloudberry and the cloud.

The flexing capability of the cloud enables consumers to use what they need when they need it. While this use case was a desktop application tethered to a cloud storage service, the access to what I needed when I needed it solved the problem. Even with the best of planning, Murphy strikes. The ability to request an extra CPU instance, web server, replicant, IP address or volume when capacity planning fails will continue to propel interest in the cloud. There's no (or little) price to be paid for this latent capacity.

This situation has caused me to realize that I need an on-line backup service. I'll be doing some more shopping around. I hope that the Cloudberry tools plus AWS S3 holds up to the comparison because I liked the Backup usage model and its coupling with my AWS account.

In case you're wondering what field of medicine my son is pursuing, it's Emergency Medicine.


For the record, I have not received any compensation from Cloudberry beyond using the free Cloudberry Backup (BETA) software.

2 comments:

  1. Hello Mark,

    Great post! Here's my personal experience with online storage services over the last 2 years.

    I have been more than happy with S3 (I use it to backup tons of stuff via S3Fox - Firefox client) but I highly recommend Mozy Home (Free 2GB) for personal use.

    For my relative, a pre-med student also, I have setup Mozy Home (free service) so a night before submission deadline he can have access to all the "critical" docs/sheets if his laptop crashes/burns out.

    Also, if you have Windows users in family, try out Windows Live Mesh. I love it when it comes to sharing across devices and upload is lightening fast.

    Cheers,
    -Alok

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