[rescue] Tape storage, previously: Corrupted list messages

Jonathan Patschke jp at celestrion.net
Thu Sep 30 15:02:57 CDT 2021

On Thu, 30 Sep 2021, John Floren wrote:

>> Backups stream over the VPN periodically,
>> eventually draining to tape when I remember to turn the library on.
> Interested to know what hardware/software you're using for tape
> backups. I'd like to start doing local copies in addition to my
> existing daily pushes to Backblaze.

I can't recommend the library (A SAS-connected Dell PowerVault 124T)
because it's a noisy[0] pile of junk with an almost useless mailslot
implementation.  But it was extremely cheap, so I couldn't resist.
There are definitely nicer 2U tape drives; the IBM ones tend to go cheap
second-hand for some reason.

The software is pretty simple.  Periodic rsync sends from the service
boxes to dedicated ZFS datasets on a fileserver, periodic zfs snapshots
on the fileserver using a zfs snapshot rotation script I wrote probably
10 years ago, a cron job to look for the library, a dumb little script
to send the snapshots to files, GNU tar to batch up the job, lpr to send
the barcode list and manifest to the printer, and Thomas Maier-Komor's
excellent 'mbuffer' program to keep the tape drive fed.

The overall feel is like rsnapshot, only lazier.

I really wanted to like Restic as a backup tool, since I'd heard such
good things about it, but I just couldn't figure out how to make it fit
a similar workflow.  Learning Bacula's on my to-do list, so maybe it'll
replace my precarious stack of hacks someday.

[0] Lots of lightweight plastic gears, a fixed grabber with two
     chattering tape carousels, and stepper motors that could double as
     alarm buzzers.  At least replacing the fans cut the noise level by
     enough to be tolerable.
Jonathan Patschke
Austin, TX

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