Monthly Archives: February 2014

CrashPlan vs Carbonite for a Home Backup Solution

After getting semi-serious in the photography arena, and having some paid-for shoots, I made the decision that it was time to bite the bullet and get an off-site backup solution. My “basement fileserver” has RAID1 (mirroring) so if one disk failed, the other one would still work. This doesn’t protect me from other physical disasters (such as a leaking, spraying water heater pipe that sprayed dozens of gallons of water onto the side of the desktop case) and other things like theft, fire, someone knocking it over, etc.

After looking at several solutions, I settled on a bake-off between Carbonite and CrashPlan. Both gave free trial solutions, and both were similarly priced for a single-computer unlimited backup. I tried CrashPlan first, and was pleased. I can control the hours that the backups take place (or unlimited), throttle it based on bandwidth, validation frequency (how often it checks for new files), CPU usage, encryption, and many other options. One other thing I really liked was the fact that you can use it for free to another computer. For example, a friend of mine and I want to back up the other’s files, so we can download their tool and use it completely free of charge rather than writing our own rsync/scp/etc scripts. It had a Linux client, and Windows client (since that’s all I currently have, I didn’t look for any other solutions).

Next was Carbonite. I went to the site and downloaded the installation package to try it out on my desktop (running Windows 7). It seemed to work okay and had many of the same features as CrashPlan, so I decided to try it out on my fileserver (running Linux), but alas, found that there was no Linux client — it is Windows and Mac OSX only. That cinched it for me… no way was I going to convert my fileserver over to Windows, so CrashPlan was the winner.

I later looked into Amazon AWS Glacier storage, since the storage fee was a penny per GB per month, with free uploads. The catch is that they assume this is “cold storage” (hence the name), so you get severely penalized for downloading content. You get 5% of your total storage free per month, but it’s prorated over 4 hour chunks throughout the month. The forums tell stories like how one user got charged $127 for downloading a 638MB archive in one day…. it all has to do with how much total storage you have vs how quickly you download the archive, and quite honestly, I wasn’t willing to worry about such a thing, so I ended up sticking with CrashPlan for now.

The one thing I don’t like in CrashPlan is the option to “keep deleted files”…. I uploaded several really old directories of photographs, ones that I likely will not look at for a long time, and deleted the local copy. I have the option checked to keep those deleted files on CrashPlan’s servers, but if for some reason that box gets unchecked, I’ll lose it all. I know the better solution to that is to get more local storage, but I’d rather have the space for other things.

All in all, for $5.99/month (on a month-to-month basis, it’s cheaper if you buy longer time periods at once), I’m satisfied. I just have to be careful, and this is one computer that nobody else in the house logs into for any reason.

Windows 7 – User Account Control settings

After several years of a single installation, I was having some issues with my Windows 7 desktop computer at home. I decided to offload all of my important files and perform a fresh reinstallation. After getting the base OS loaded, I started the tedious process of reinstalling my applications, starting with an antivirus program. Shortly followed by Synergy, so I can access my Fedora Linux box that is next to my Windows PC. Synergy installed fine, but when the computer said the service was started, I continued to get “Service not available” messages. In trying to stop the services through the task manager, I received a “Access denied” message. I don’t recall having this issue in the past, but it was years ago that I first installed…

After some quick Google-fu, I came across a similar issue and found that the “User Account Control” settings restricts what you can do, even if your ID was set to be an administrator (which mine was). After changing this setting to the minimal setting (basically disabling it), I was again able to start and stop any services on the computer. Way to go Microsoft — nothing like making an administrator bend over backwards to be able to manage the system.

Installing and Configuring Nagios on Fedora 20

In spite of a large corporate installation of Sitescope and Service Center, I decided to take a look into Nagios for the first time. Instead of having to install via source as I expected, I was pleased to see that both Nagios and the Nagios plugins were available in the fc20 repo.

The first thing I noticed was that the instructions were for Fedora 6, when there was no option to install via yum or rpm, but rather from source, so many of the steps could be ignored or had to be altered. For example, to set up login security, here was the command:

htpasswd -c /usr/local/nagios/etc/htpasswd.users nagiosadmin

Now that nagios was installed via yum, the default installation directory is /etc/nagios, so you have to modify the commands slightly.

I finally got the console to work, only to find that nothing was being reported because apparently of missing plugins (error code 127: out of bounds). In the end, it turned out to be that the plugins were owned by root, and they needed to be owned by the nagios ID. On FC20, the plugins directory (assuming 64 bit) is /usr/lib64/nagios/plugins. These files need to be owned by nagios (and for consistency sake) have the group set to nagios as well. Once I did that, after about 90 seconds all of my monitors cleared and my system was in the green.

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