So you’ve taken the plunge and gotten yourself a cool new Synology NAS. You may be using it for extra general storage, or maybe you’ve set up one of the really useful apps like Moments, or a custom web application like Bitwarden Password Manager. Now would be a good time to think about setting up Synology HyperBackup with AWS.
Backup Your Backups
This may seem like a foreign idea but creating a backup of your backups is actually a very smart thing to do. It’s all about levels of redundancy. When it comes to storing data, you want to have protection against three common threats: hardware failure, software failure, and human failure.
If you’re using a NAS with more than one disk in its array, you more than likely have protection against a disk (hardware) failure but what happens if a power surge fries the entire system and all the disks with it? What about a faulty firmware or software update, or accidentally deleting something important? Having a backup copy of your critical data in these cases can be a lifesaver and using Synology HyperBackup with AWS makes it easy.
Why Use Amazon S3?
HyperBackup can connect to a variety of backup destinations like another Synology NAS, or file server but the average user (myself included) probably isn’t going to have a second NAS, let alone a second site with internet to save backups to. So let’s look at the cloud options. HyperBackup can back up to popular cloud storage services like Google Drive and Dropbox and I have used both services at some point in my career. However, I will tell you why I prefer Amazon S3 – it’s flexible.
Amazon S3 pricing is based on usage, meaning I pay only for what I use each month. Other subscriptions services are a flat fee charged yearly or monthly, regardless of usage. I can back all of my photo albums and some other data (over 350GB) for about $4 per month at the standard S3 tier. There are cheaper tiers available based on how often you will need to access the data and how many requests you make to S3. One of the cheapest tiers is called S3 Glacier which is made for very infrequent access, perfect for quarterly or annual backups. Prices there can be less than 1 cent per GB, per month (as of the date this post is published).
S3 is also flexible in how data can be stored. I can choose to create storage in different parts of the country or across multiple locations. Also, since S3 is part of Amazon’s larger AWS ecosystem, it has a mind-boggling amount of features to play with if you are technologically inclined. A lot of the options available are more geared towards business use but it is cool to use such a great platform, even if I’m only storing a few things.
How to Get Started
Getting started is as easy as signing up for an Amazon Web Services account. You should create a specific user and access keys to use with HyperBackup. It’s not recommended to use your AWS main (Admin/Root) account for any services. This is just best practice in the AWS environment.
Once you have the access keys for your AWS S3 user, you can create a new data backup task in HyperBackup and choose S3 Storage as the destination (download from the Package Center if you haven’t already).
Keys and Buckets
Next, you’ll be prompted to input your access key and secret key. If you’ve already created a bucket in S3 (buckets are like separate storage containers within your S3 account) you can choose it from the list, or create a new one. The S3 bucket name must be unique across all of AWS, so you can’t just pick something common like “backup” or even “hyperbackup”. I use a naming convention that includes something unique plus the name of whatever app or folder I’m backing up. For example, I might use domainname–wordpress if I were backing up my WordPress site. At this step, you can also choose a location to create the bucket.
What to Back Up
On the next two screens, you can choose the folders you want to back up, or the applications (on the second screen). Some notes on backing up Drive, Moments and Surveillance Station. If you pick any of these apps on the second screen, it will automatically back up all of the data contained within each app’s folder. Also, if you choose Moments, it will require Drive to be backed up as well since the Moments folder is part of Drive.
Backup Settings & Rotation
The last two pages you can adjust the backup settings like notifications, compression, transfer encryption, and schedule. You can always go back and adjust these later but I only change client-side encryption** (turn on) and set my preferred schedule. If you use client-side encryption, your backup will be encrypted before going to S3 but make sure to remember your encryption password!
**This protects your data while at rest in the cloud.
For rotation settings, I go with the first option which is the simplest to understand. You select how many versions you want to keep and once the backup reaches that number, it starts deleting the oldest versions first. So if you have a weekly schedule and set rotation to 12 versions, you get 12 weeks of backups. You can adjust this to your liking just keep in mind that S3 charges you by usage so the more versions you keep, the more it may cost.
**Note - HyperBackup uses the incremental backup method so only new data is backed up during each run, after the initial run.
Backing up your NAS with Synology Hyperbackup and AWS is a great way to protect your data while minimizing costs. Having a backup of my irreplaceable photos is important to me. Backing up applications like the Bitwarden Password Manager is also great because I don’t have to worry about configuring it from scratch if I break something. I hope you enjoyed this post and thanks for reading!
If you’re in the market for a NAS, I recommend Synology.
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