Archive | Virtualization

Cloudberry Backups to an SFTP server

Backing up your data to a Linux based SFTP server is an inexpensive method that separates network shares (which can be attacked by crypto viruses) from your backups. You can configure Cloudberry’s SFTP backups with either password based access or with a shared cryptographic key so that regular passwords aren’t used. This document provides steps on using both methods to access an SFTP server with Cloudberry Backup.

SFTP advantages:

  • Linux is easy to install.
  • Doesn’t require advanced hardware.
  • SFTP comes pre-configured with CentOS 7 server.
  • Can easily be run on a cloud server, such as Digital Ocean or Linode.
  • On systems with multiple mounted drives, you can specify the storage locations.

SFTP disadvantages:

  • Not as fast as some other protocols, such as Minio

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More Backups and Synchronization

I have spent rar too much time this past week reviewing and updating the backup procedures on my development workstation. In the past, I was:

  • Using Acronis to backup the files on drives C, D to drive Z.
  • Using Syncback to occasionally copy Videos, Music and Photos to an SMB share on a Synology DS209J.
  • Using the Synology DS209J as a media server.

The challenges I faced:

  • Acronis has failed in the past, so I need to either trust it again or dump it.
  • The Synology server is embarassingly slow. File copying is slow, and videos occasionally stutter.
  • I’m concerned about SMB shares being trashed by a possible Cryptowall virus.
  • Am a bit low on disk space in areas.

Hardware changes made:

  • Replace the Synology with a CentOS 7 VM running on an existing ESXi server, and install Plex on it.
  • Add a 4TB WD Red drive to the ESXi server, create a 4TB ext4 volume and attach it to the CentOS VM.
  • Replace an existing 10/100 ethernet switch with a 10/100/1000 ethernet switch.

Functionality to test:

  • Disk and file backups with incremental and block level support for extra large files.
  • Cataloging of the backups.
  • Directory/file synchronization.
  • Cloud and SFTP support.

Software tested:

  • Syncback (I have been using Syncback free)
  • Syncovery
  • Acronis Backup/Recovery (I already own this)
  • Acronis True Image
  • Cloudberry


A Realization

It slowly dawned on me that when performing occasional full backups with Syncback, what I really wanted to do was to perform file synchronization. In this case, I didn’t want incrementals or the ability to restore an old version. I just wanted a source and destination synchronization of my media directories. It also turns out that dedicated backup software such as Acronis or Cloudberry don’t really support that functionality. So, let’s look at each of the packages I tried.



There are several versions of this product, and Syncback free has allowed me to backup across SMB shares without any problems in the past.

It does not support block level backups, which I felt were important with the number of Virtual Machines I’m using.

In order to Synchronize to the CentOS server via the more secure SFTP, I needed to purchase Syncback Pro (and not SE).

Being about same price, the block level support of Syncovery put it ahead of Syncback Pro.


This product costs about the same as Syncback Pro, but does support block level backups, as well as file/directory synchronization.

I ended up buying a copy of this to use strictly for synchronization with the new media server. Maybe I’ll use it for full backups down the road once it gains my trust. I’m not there yet.

Acronis Backup/Recovery

I already own this product, so I spent time determining if I wanted to continue using it or replace it with an alternate. After significant testing, I decided to update it and use it for backups. One of the main reasons was that using the catalog for file recovery was easier to use than the alternatives.

Acronis True Image

This package had great reviews, however the simplistic interface was not for me. I ditched it early on.


This product performs backups to various local and Cloud services and worked very well. I have a client that uses it and it’s a good product. In order for me to purchase Cloudberry, Acronis Backup/Recovery had to fail in some significant fashion and the only weakness I could see with Acronis (other than the fact that it’s huge), was that the version of Acronis I own does not support Cloud Services. Fortunately for me, that was not a requirement and as a result, Cloudberry was off the table.


Current Status

Acronis now performs custom daily/weekly backups of drive C and drive D to drive Z as well as to the CentOS server via SFTP. One of the advantages of the custom configuration is that I can tell it to purge old backups when the destination drive gets full. At 4TB, that should take a while.

Syncovery synchronizes the Photo, Music and Video directories to the CentOS server via SFTP for use by the Plex media server. It also does so at a MUCH faster clip with the new gigabit switch.

Oh, and I’m also running Crashplan as a backup of last resort. When it comes to backups, you can never have too many.



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Ubuntu and Mint on VirtualBox

I use Oracle’s VirtualBox to run VM’s on my Windows 7 machine. I use it for web site development with WordPress, Drupal and have several tools to support this, such as Git, NetBeans, Samba and so forth. Unlike VMWare Player, VirtualBox provides Snapshots, which allow you to quickly backup and restore your VM.

I’ve been trying different versions of Ubuntu and Mint to find out which works best with VirtualBox (for me) and am finding that Linux Mint with Mate seems to be coming out on top.

  1. Ubuntu 12.04 worked OK, that is, until you applied patches. Sometimes, re-installing the Guest Additions fixed any graphics issues, and sometimes they didn’t.
  2. Ubuntu 12.10 required patches in order to work with VirtualBox at all.
  3. Ubuntu 12.04 kind of worked with the seamless mode, but then again, it kind of didn’t.
  4. Linux Mint with Cinnamon was problematic graphic wise with VirtualBox.
  5. Linux Mint with Mate seemed to work the best. It survived updates and the seamless mode works like a charm. In addition, it uses the same ‘apt-get’ features of Ubuntu.
  6. I haven’t spent much time with Ubuntu 13.04, but did have some initial installation/graphics issues with it.

Unless something else comes up, I’m switching over to Mint for my LAMP development environment.

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A Short VMWare and VirtualBox Comparison

‘ve been using Oracle’s VirtualBox software for a few years and have been considering using VMWare Workstation. VirtualBox works great with Linux Mint 15 with Mate (running Gnome 2), but I’ve had some level of difficulty with almost every other distribution of Linux. That’s not to say I couldn’t eventually sort out most issues with a greater or lesser amount of fiddling. I just don’t want to.

In the case of Mint 15 with Mate, I can resize the parent window, and Mint will resize itself to accomodate the new window size. Mint also works flawlessly in full screen as well as in VirtualBox’s seamless mode. All this without having to install the VirtualBox Additions. Ubuntu 12.04 was the last distribution of that family that came close to Mint’s ‘out of the box’ performance with VirtualBox. I’ve also tried some other distributions such as Debian, Fedora, Kubuntu, Centos, Mint with Cinnamon. Unfortunately, none worked as well as Mint 15 with Mate.

This doesn’t necessarily bode well for VirtualBox though, as I feel it should be working better with the newer distributions, again ‘out of the box’.

VMWare Workstation 10, on the other hand, works very well with Ubuntu 13.10. Performance is absolutely spectacular in full screen mode.

Mint 15 with Mate doesn’t fare as well under VMWare though. Like Ubuntu, it has fixed screen sizes in Windowed mode, but it doesn’t automatically adjust the screen size in full screen mode. Furthermore, the missing 1920×1080 display settings option (well, it didn’t show up for me) also leaves me pretty cold.

As far as licensing goes, VirtualBox is free, whereas I would need to purchase a $250 license for both of my laptop and desktop computers. That clearly takes VMWare Workstation 10 off the table for me.

If I could purchase a single license to support both my laptop and desktop, I consider taking the VMWare Workstation plunge, but would need to perform a LOT more testing before doing so.

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