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Old 03-07-2012, 01:52 PM
Chris Bannister
 
Default using bittorrent for backup of personal files

On Tue, Mar 06, 2012 at 07:18:49PM -0500, Rob Owens wrote:
>
> Thanks for any advice you may have.

http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/rss/bitTorrent.html

Sorry if this way off track, but it may spur some ideas?

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Old 03-07-2012, 04:18 PM
0xAAA
 
Default using bittorrent for backup of personal files

On Tue, Mar 06, 2012 at 07:18:49PM -0500, Rob Owens wrote:
> I'm considering using bittorrent to back up large files such as pictures
> and home movies. I am the admin for several of my family members'
> computers. The idea would be to back up my files onto their machines,
> then eventually back their stuff up in the same manner, resulting in
> several off-site backups for each of us.

This idea sounds interesting! I have a lot of data at home, but I have no
personal backup server or something like that, I only copy important stuff from
one harddisk to another disk.

>
> I already use BackupPC successfully for offsite backups between family
> members. Very large files are sometimes a problem, however, which is
> why I'm considering bittorrent to supplement BackupPC.
>

Thats the problem with a very slow bandwidth (I have only 250 kbps) which makes
a backup of more than 1500 GB stuff nearly impossible! The p2p torrent network
has - in this situation - no advantage! The upload with ftp or http has the same
speed. p2p networks are designed to provide a constant "download-speed". But
upload is the problem of your dsl provider.
p2p is more about "sharing" things. It was not built to backup large files. This
is the task of ftp or maybe nfs

> I want to keep this data private. What are my options, besides a VPN?
> I hesitate to use a public torrent even on encrypted data, because the
> computers of tomorrow may easily crack today's encryption using brute
> force.

One possible solution to your privacy problem is that you can encrypt your data
at your local site and load the crypted stuff up to the p2p server. Furter
details can be found in gpg(1).


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Old 03-07-2012, 04:53 PM
Kelly Clowers
 
Default using bittorrent for backup of personal files

On Tue, Mar 6, 2012 at 16:18, Rob Owens <rowens@ptd.net> wrote:
> I'm considering using bittorrent to back up large files such as pictures
> and home movies. *I am the admin for several of my family members'
> computers. *The idea would be to back up my files onto their machines,
> then eventually back their stuff up in the same manner, resulting in
> several off-site backups for each of us.
>
> I already use BackupPC successfully for offsite backups between family
> members. *Very large files are sometimes a problem, however, which is
> why I'm considering bittorrent to supplement BackupPC.
>
> I want to keep this data private. *What are my options, besides a VPN?
> I hesitate to use a public torrent even on encrypted data, because the
> computers of tomorrow may easily crack today's encryption using brute
> force.

Not sure off the top of my head what encryption BT uses, but if it is any
good, it shouldn't be any easier to break than a VPN's encryption...


> Has anybody used bittorrent over VPN? *Searching for those terms just
> gives me hits on VPN services that can be used to keep the MPAA and RIAA
> out of your face.

I know you can do it, I do not know how well. I have heard of people
running it over TOR, which is kind of crazy, TOR is slow enough as is.

I can't think of any reason it wouldn't work over say, OpenVPN.

> My data is sorted in directories by year. *If I make torrents for each
> year, most of the data will be static. *But how should I handle the
> current year's data? *Can I update the torrent file without forcing a
> re-download of all the current year's data?

I doubt it. Probably not that hard to incorporate that into the spec,
but without it being there, it is unlikely.


I don't know what BackupPC does internally, but I would just
use rsync over ssh, with appropriate options. It ought to be pretty
robust

Cheers,
Kelly Clowers


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Old 03-08-2012, 09:24 AM
Andrei POPESCU
 
Default using bittorrent for backup of personal files

On Ma, 06 mar 12, 19:18:49, Rob Owens wrote:
> I'm considering using bittorrent to back up large files such as pictures
> and home movies. I am the admin for several of my family members'
> computers. The idea would be to back up my files onto their machines,
> then eventually back their stuff up in the same manner, resulting in
> several off-site backups for each of us.

From what I know of the BitTorrent protocol it is beneficial only if the
data needs to be transfered to more than 1 site, where the remote
site(s) are not sharing the same internet connection, otherwise it
doesn't bring any benefit over ftp/rsync/etc. It's not obvious from your
message if this is the case.

> I want to keep this data private. What are my options, besides a VPN?
> I hesitate to use a public torrent even on encrypted data, because the
> computers of tomorrow may easily crack today's encryption using brute
> force.

I'm not sure what you consider to be a "public" torrent, but in my very
un-informed opinion, encrypted torrents should be quite secure already,
just don't use a public tracker or distribute the DHT key. Yes, there is
a bit of security-by-obscurity here, but I wouldn't worry about it
unless it was really sensitive data.

> My data is sorted in directories by year. If I make torrents for each
> year, most of the data will be static. But how should I handle the
> current year's data? Can I update the torrent file without forcing a
> re-download of all the current year's data?

Not sure, but even if you create a new torrent each time you add more
data, all clients I have tried so far will not re-download, but they
will re-check the hash on all existing data.

Kind regards,
Andrei
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Old 03-08-2012, 12:00 PM
Andrew McGlashan
 
Default using bittorrent for backup of personal files

On 8/03/2012 9:24 PM, Andrei POPESCU wrote:

On Ma, 06 mar 12, 19:18:49, Rob Owens wrote:

I'm considering using bittorrent to back up large files such as pictures
and home movies. I am the admin for several of my family members'
computers. The idea would be to back up my files onto their machines,
then eventually back their stuff up in the same manner, resulting in
several off-site backups for each of us.


From what I know of the BitTorrent protocol it is beneficial only if the
data needs to be transfered to more than 1 site, where the remote
site(s) are not sharing the same internet connection, otherwise it
doesn't bring any benefit over ftp/rsync/etc. It's not obvious from your
message if this is the case.


A bit torrent client that is still downloading content can and does
serve whatever it has already downloaded to other clients.


With multiple machines in various locations involved, BT might be a good
solution. As one piece [chunk] of the data gets to two or three
machines, then the fourth or fifth machine in the group can maximize
downstream links.


A shared drop box or better still, wuala storage might be an option too,
but then you have to worry about how much data needs to be in the shared
storage.


Wuala at least encrypts everything and if you forget your password, then
the data is not even good for you. They don't store your password, they
cannot do password resets and they also cannot decrypt your data at all
-- but again you have limits on storage space.


A couple of other ways to deal with the issue, at least for historical
data, is to swap HDDs or memory cards often or even keep sending new
HDDs or memory cards -- they are quite cheap.


For the current and changing folders, probably rsync is worth using.


Cheers

--
Kind Regards
AndrewM


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Old 03-08-2012, 10:37 PM
Rob Owens
 
Default using bittorrent for backup of personal files

On Wed, Mar 07, 2012 at 06:18:40PM +0100, 0xAAA wrote:
> On Tue, Mar 06, 2012 at 07:18:49PM -0500, Rob Owens wrote:
> > I already use BackupPC successfully for offsite backups between family
> > members. Very large files are sometimes a problem, however, which is
> > why I'm considering bittorrent to supplement BackupPC.
> >
>
> Thats the problem with a very slow bandwidth (I have only 250 kbps) which makes
> a backup of more than 1500 GB stuff nearly impossible! The p2p torrent network
> has - in this situation - no advantage! The upload with ftp or http has the same
> speed. p2p networks are designed to provide a constant "download-speed". But
> upload is the problem of your dsl provider.
> p2p is more about "sharing" things. It was not built to backup large files. This
> is the task of ftp or maybe nfs
>
What I like about bittorrent is that it is very easy to throttle the
upload and download speeds. That makes a big difference in internet
usability (at least in my experience). Rsync (as done with BackupPC)
tends to max out your connection speed, making web browsing slow.

> > I want to keep this data private. What are my options, besides a VPN?
> > I hesitate to use a public torrent even on encrypted data, because the
> > computers of tomorrow may easily crack today's encryption using brute
> > force.
>
> One possible solution to your privacy problem is that you can encrypt your data
> at your local site and load the crypted stuff up to the p2p server. Furter
> details can be found in gpg(1).
>
Yeah, but I don't like the idea of allowing my encrypted data to be
downloaded by anybody. The data will essentially be available forever
if I use a publicly-available torrent. Someday my encryption may end up
being crackable. I'm not dealing with extremely sensitive data, just
family photos and stuff. But I still would rather not rely on gpg to
keep my data secure *forever*.

-Rob


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Old 03-08-2012, 10:46 PM
Rob Owens
 
Default using bittorrent for backup of personal files

On Wed, Mar 07, 2012 at 09:53:31AM -0800, Kelly Clowers wrote:
> On Tue, Mar 6, 2012 at 16:18, Rob Owens <rowens@ptd.net> wrote:
> > I want to keep this data private. *What are my options, besides a VPN?
> > I hesitate to use a public torrent even on encrypted data, because the
> > computers of tomorrow may easily crack today's encryption using brute
> > force.
>
> Not sure off the top of my head what encryption BT uses, but if it is any
> good, it shouldn't be any easier to break than a VPN's encryption...
>
I have read that BT's encryption was not intended so much for security,
but more to help prevent ISPs from throttling your torrent downloads.
I should look into it more, though.

> I don't know what BackupPC does internally, but I would just
> use rsync over ssh, with appropriate options. It ought to be pretty
> robust
>
I have BackupPC configured to use rsync over ssh. It works well, but
its main problems are:

1) It typically maxes out my internet connection. Plain old rsync
would do this too, unless there is a throttling option that I don't know
about. Rtorrent, which I use, has a throttling option.

2) If the transfer is interrupted, BackupPC allows you to pick up where
you started just once. This is a simplified explanation, and there are
workarounds, and it only applies to the first full backup. But that
first full backup is sometimes huge and could take days or weeks. Throw
in a user or two who dual-boots to Windows, and that complicates the
issue even further.

Thanks for all the ideas, everyone. Keep 'em coming.

-Rob


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Old 03-08-2012, 10:56 PM
Rob Owens
 
Default using bittorrent for backup of personal files

On Thu, Mar 08, 2012 at 12:24:10PM +0200, Andrei POPESCU wrote:
> On Ma, 06 mar 12, 19:18:49, Rob Owens wrote:
> > I'm considering using bittorrent to back up large files such as pictures
> > and home movies. I am the admin for several of my family members'
> > computers. The idea would be to back up my files onto their machines,
> > then eventually back their stuff up in the same manner, resulting in
> > several off-site backups for each of us.
>
> From what I know of the BitTorrent protocol it is beneficial only if the
> data needs to be transfered to more than 1 site, where the remote
> site(s) are not sharing the same internet connection, otherwise it
> doesn't bring any benefit over ftp/rsync/etc. It's not obvious from your
> message if this is the case.
>
I intend to transfer to more than 1 site. Both for the purposes of
backup, and for sharing the files with my family members in several
different households.

> > I want to keep this data private. What are my options, besides a VPN?
> > I hesitate to use a public torrent even on encrypted data, because the
> > computers of tomorrow may easily crack today's encryption using brute
> > force.
>
> I'm not sure what you consider to be a "public" torrent, but in my very
> un-informed opinion, encrypted torrents should be quite secure already,
> just don't use a public tracker or distribute the DHT key. Yes, there is
> a bit of security-by-obscurity here, but I wouldn't worry about it
> unless it was really sensitive data.
>
I'm a bit of a novice, so my terminology may be off. But by "public" I
mean a torrent that I upload to any public tracker, like
thepiratebay or something. Anyone could download my torrent, not that they
would know to look for it.

> > My data is sorted in directories by year. If I make torrents for each
> > year, most of the data will be static. But how should I handle the
> > current year's data? Can I update the torrent file without forcing a
> > re-download of all the current year's data?
>
> Not sure, but even if you create a new torrent each time you add more
> data, all clients I have tried so far will not re-download, but they
> will re-check the hash on all existing data.
>
I'll have to experiment with that. I haven't ever created my own
torrent, but I guess I could figure this one out by creating a small
torrent with dummy data, and then modifying it.

-Rob


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Old 03-08-2012, 11:04 PM
Andrei POPESCU
 
Default using bittorrent for backup of personal files

On Jo, 08 mar 12, 18:56:19, Rob Owens wrote:
> >
> I'm a bit of a novice, so my terminology may be off. But by "public" I
> mean a torrent that I upload to any public tracker, like
> thepiratebay or something. Anyone could download my torrent, not that they
> would know to look for it.

You don't need a public tracker, you can either set up your own tracker
or just use DHT.

Kind regards,
Andrei
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Old 03-09-2012, 12:17 AM
Jason Heeris
 
Default using bittorrent for backup of personal files

On 9 March 2012 07:46, Rob Owens <rowens@ptd.net> wrote:
> 1) *It typically maxes out my internet connection. *Plain old rsync
> would do this too, unless there is a throttling option that I don't know
> about. *Rtorrent, which I use, has a throttling option.

Slightly tangential, but do you know about "trickle"?

Trickle is a voluntary, cooperative bandwidth shaper. it
works entirely in userland and is very easy to use.

I've only ever used it for simple things, so I don't know if you can
change throttling on-the-fly, but you might want to look at it.

Cheers,
Jason


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