Wednesday, May 11, 2011

An experiment in distributed community based data backup

For the last few years, I've been looking for cheap and reliable ways to back up large amounts of data. While the cloud based solutions seem tempting, I kind of wanted something with a little more redundancy and more cost effective. So today starts a new experiment that I think it both simple and cheap: distributed community backup via Bittorrent.

The idea is indeed as simple as it sounds: create an encrypted archive of your data then upload it into the Bittorrent system. Don't try to hide what it is or be stealthy, just let people know what you're doing and ask them to help by seeding the file. Eventually, if everything works out, you've got a few hundred people seeding your backup and, if you experience a crash, you can easily go and retrieve your data.

Security is accomplished through using strong encryption with a good password. I encrypted my data with a 65 character random string of numbers, letters, and special characters using the AES-256 symmetric algorithm built into GnuPG. Protecting my data was as simple as typing a single command then the password twice (I pasted it). My data should be secure and I have no worries.

The only drawback I can see is that this might not work well for changing data. If my data changes, I have to recreate the torrent and ask people to download the and seed the new file. But I'm looking for ways to make this easier and it might not pose as big of a problem as I think it might.

All-in-all, it's easy, cheap (free!) and pretty secure. What are your thoughts?

Want to participate? Click here to download my data!

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