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I would like to back up and store all my files in one place. I am quite tempted by a Western Digital my book live because of autobackup from Windows and the ability to access the files on the network and also through a personal cloud. At home I have a mixture of Win 7, Xp and Ubuntu 11.04, 11.10 (though shortly both will be 12.04)

I am looking for a personal cloud like solution that I can use to both back up and access from windows and Linux. I want autoback preferably from Linux and Windows.As I have a mix of OS I wondered how well these drives play with both OS.

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I'm a little confused as to what's the question here, are you looking for external harddrives or a push button backup solution like the one you had with windows? – ppetraki Mar 29 '12 at 13:21
I am looking for a personal cloud that I can use to both back up and access from windows and Linux. I want autoback preferably from Linux and Windows.As I have a mix of OS I wondered how well these drives play with both OS – user22444 Apr 1 '12 at 8:33
up vote 1 down vote accepted

If you have a ton of files, be them music files, videos, raw data or if you are just looking to expand your hard drive space for the heck of it… you simply can not go wrong with the MyBook line of products.

I now have over 3 terabytes worth of storage at my beckoning call and I could not be happier. Invest in a MyBook and you will be happy you did.

Look at the USB 3 model it will also work with USB 2 with the pigtail adapter. The 7200 RPM drive is also very fast. Comes plug n play for Windows.

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Does it work well with Ubuntu as well? I am looking for a solution that works well for both Windows and Ubunutu – user22444 Apr 1 '12 at 8:34
mine does just fine – Ringtail Apr 1 '12 at 19:43

At a high level, the actual equipment you use doesn't matter, it's all compatible. What really needs addressing is the configuration of that equipment and the software to drive it. It's a pretty tall order and there is risk here sharing files between two operating systems. You've got two main concepts here: backup and file sharing.

A hardware free solution would be to give up on the local harddrive and go with a solution like Ubuntu One, that gets the multi-OS sharing requirement down, but not back up (yet anyways), it will sync all your files though.

Depending on how you execute your backup will directly impact how those files are shared. For example, using something like duplicity on Linux, all the files are compiled into archives and then expanded incrementally, you can't browse the backups. You can restore from any point in time but the trade off is you don't have immediate access to them. You need to settle on what "backup" means to you and stick with that notion, if that means just the latest copy of everything that matters to you mirrored somewhere else, then things get a lot easier. However if you're considering backup in the traditional sense, which is incremental, what you're asking for, to my knowledge, doesn't exist, and would need to custom written.

Let's keep it simple for the sake of argument and suppose you want to do a straight mirror of the files, like a snapshot, no incrementals. Now you still have the problem of sharing files between to different operating systems. You have to compromise on the filesystem here, like FAT32, so both Linux and Windows can have an easy time sharing volume. There are trade offs however, as FAT32 doesn't support UNIX symlinks. Don't get fooled into using something like NTFS between the two, the Linux support has issues supporting WRITE and can corrupt the filesystem.

Once you've settled on the filesystem, you then need to really think about how the automatic backups will function and what demands they'll make of the filesystem you did choose. It may come to be that the software the WD comes with just doesn't work well with FAT32, in which case you'll need to search for a new solution. I would suggest searching for cross platform backup solutions first and then build out your configuration from there.

Finally, backup means backup, if you have a single disk, and it's not part of a redundant array, that disk goes bad and you've lost everything. Backup systems should really be atleast RAID1 with a hotspare on hand.

I give up on maintaining piles of HW after doing this for a better part of a decade and created a hybrid solution, using duplicity, an external disk and, my backups are replicated to both. So if I have a problem, I can restore from the local external disk, which is fast, no network. If that drive fails too, I either replace it, or restore the computer directly. No local RAID array humming at home, no additional HW for care and feeding, I maintain only what I need, as I have better things to do.

Now what I just illustrated isn't a cross platform solution, which is even harder to pull off. There's a reason why these online cloud sharing solutions like U1 and dropbox are so popular, they just work. If you've got the time and inclination, you could probably create a custom solution too, but you also would need to understand how it works well enough to troubleshoot it. After all, what good is a backup if the system you deployed malfunctions, breaks down, and you lack the time/inclination/expertise to bring it online again?

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