Home Lab – No More iSCSI – Backup Plans

This post is part of a short series on migrating my home hypervisor off of iSCSI.

It is worth nothing (and quite ironic) that I went through a fire drill last week when I crashed my RKE clusters. That event gave me some fresh eyes into the data that is important to me.

How much redundancy do I need?

I have been relying primarily on the redundancy of the Synology for a bit too long. The volume has the capability to lose a disk and the Synology has been very stable, but that does not mean I should leave things as they are.

There are many layers of redundancy, and for a home lab, it is about making decisions as to how much you are willing to pay and what you are willing to lose.

No Copy, Onsite Copy, Offsite Copy

I prefer not to spend a ton of time thinking about all of this, so I created three “buckets” for data priority:

  • No Backup: Synology redundancy is sufficient. If I lose it, I lose it.
  • Onsite Copy: Create another copy of the data somewhere at home. For this, I am going to attach a USB enclosure with a 2TB disk to my Synology and setup USB copy tasks on the Diskstation Manager (DSM).
  • Offsite Copy: Ship the data offsite for safety. I have been using Backblaze B2 buckets and the DSM’s Cloud Sync for personal documents for years, but the time has come to scale up a bit.

It is worth noting that some things may be bucketed into both Onsite and Offsite, depending on how critically I need the data. With the inventory I took over the last few weekds, I had some decisions to make.

  • Domain Controllers -> OnSite copy for sure. I am not yet sure if I want to add an Offsite copy, though: The domain doesn’t have enough on it that it cannot be rebuilt quickly, and there are really only a handful of machines on it. It just makes managing Windows Servers much easier.
  • Kubernetes NFS Data -> I use nfs-subdir-external-provisioner to provide persistent storage for my Kubernetes clusters. I will certainly do OnSite copies of this data, but for the most important ones (such as this blog), I will also setup an offsite transfer.
  • SQL Server Data -> The SQL Server data is being stored on an iSCSI LUN, but I configured regular backups to go to a file share on the Synology. From there, OnSite backups should be sufficient.
  • Personal Stuff -> I have a lot of personal data (photos, financial data, etc.) stored on the Synology. That data is already encrypted and sent to Backblaze, but I may add another layer of redundancy and do an Onsite copy of them as well.


Honestly, I thought this would be harder, but Synology’s DSM and available packages really made it easy.

  1. VM Backups with Active Backup for Business: Installed Active Backup for Business, setup a connection to my Hyper-V server, picked the machines I wanted to backup…. It really was that simple. I should test a recovery, but on a test VM.
  2. Onsite Copies with USB Copy: I plugged an external HD into the Synology, which was immediately recognized and a file share created. I installed the USB Copy package and started configuring tasks. Basically, I can setup copy tasks to move data from the Synology to the USB as desired, and includes various settings, such as incremental or versioned backups, triggers, and file filters.
  3. SQL Backups: I had to refresh my memory on scheduling SQL backups in SQL Server. Once I had that done, I just made sure to back them up to a share on the Synology. From there, USB Copy took care of the rest.
  4. Offsite: As I mentioned, I have had Cloud Sync running to Backblaze B2 buckets for a while. All I did was expand my copying. Cloud Sync offers some of the same flexibility as USB Copy, but having well-structured file shares for your data makes it easier to select and push data as you want it.

Results and What’s next

My home lab refresh took me about 2 weeks, albeit during a few evenings across that time span. What I am left with is a much more performant server. While I still store data on the Synology via NFS and iSCSi, it’s only smaller parts that are less reliant on fast access. The VM disks live on an SSD RAID array on the server, which gives me added stability and less thrashing of the Synology and its SSD cache. This is no more evident than the fact that my average daily SSD temp has gone down 12°F over the last 2 weeks.

What’s next? I will be taking a look at alternatives to Rancher Kubernetes Engine. I am hoping to find something a bit more stable and secure to manage.