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CloudPlug Wall Wart Backs Up Linux

Local Backup, Offsite Backup

April 16, 2010

Let's face it. Most people don't back up their important computer files with any regularity. The time you do think about doing a backup is typically right after you discover your hard drive has crashed. At that point it's too late. The only real way to consistently backup your files is to have it done automatically for you.



Enter CTERA with their CloudPlug device. If you examine it closely you'll notice that the CloudPlug looks a lot like the little wall wart computer we reviewed a while back. Both devices share the same basic internals consisting of a Marvell SheevaPlug. The CloudPlug adds an eSATA connector for hooking up a big and fast hard drive.

Simple Setup

Setting the device up is a breeze. You simply connect the provided Cat5e Ethernet cable to your network switch (Gigabit speeds supported), attach an external hard drive and plug the device into the wall. After that you'll need to go through a few simple setup screens using the Web interface to initialize your hard drive and you're basically done.

CTERA provides a trial period for their cloud-based backup service to get you hooked on off-site storage. You can sign up for the service when you install the device or not at all if you so choose. The Web interface to the CloudPlug provides access to a long list of additional features including configuring users, determining backup rules and enabling specific services. You'll need to enable the RSync service to allow your Linux clients to connect that way.

Sync rules support synchronizing data from and to network computers using a variety of methods, including Windows File Sharing (CIFS), WebDAV, and RSync. You can also use sync rules to keep two local folders on the CloudPlug in sync. All of this is configured through the Web interface to the CloudPlug. Clientless sync is a way to automatically sync any two shared folders either on client machines or even on the CloudPlug itself. Syncing files to the cloud supports folder-by-folder designation, so you can select specific folders for syncing, and only those folders will be sent up to the cloud storage.

Client Magic

Automatic backup for Linux clients uses RSync. Configuring RSync requires a few command line instructions to specifically designate which directories you want synchronized with the backup device. They would typically look something like the following:

rsync -av localFolder/ NAS::/share/remoteFolder/


where localFolder and remoteFolder are the local and remote folders path, and NAS is the CTERA CloudPlug name or IP address. The CloudPlug provides a typical CIFS file share providing simple access to any computer attached to the local network. That means you can just copy files manually to the CloudPlug and access them directly as well.

The CTERA CloudPlug also supports connecting to a remote RSync or CIFS server for syncing files. Both in-bound and out-bound synchronization are supported for these types of servers. That means you must choose which file source keeps the master copy of all the files. If you combine synchronization with snapshot backups, you should have a reliable way of keeping two file shares in sync and backed up at the same time.