Lacie NetworkSpace Backup is a Waste of Space

Around September 2008 I purchased a Lacie NetworkSpace 1TB hard disk, a nice little number with built in Ethernet so it could be tucked away where the sun don`t shine and keep all my files nice and safe whilst I flung the laptop into my bag for the day-to-day.  Since then, I`ve been filling the drive up will all manner of crap.  Having become more interested in photography, there`s now several GB of photos, RAW files, etc. and lots of my CDs on there.

A "successful" backup...

A "successful" backup...

The drive itself was “designed by Neil Poulton”, and if it`s anything to go by, Neil Poulton is something of a manic depressive, unimaginative lazybones.  The casing is shiny black, rectangular, and features a very bright, blue LED – flavour of the month.  So, it`s essentially a black, shiny brick.  The little ventilation holes look OK – little squares – and the device can run pretty hot.  Round the back we have the power, a switch (handy – and the drive waits until it shuts down before fully powering off), and the ethernet port.  At the front is the LED, and a USB connector.  And here lies the problem…

Being a middle-aged worrying sort, I didn`t want to risk losing all that stuff – absolute shite to most people, but a lot of stuff I`ve made, taken photos of, etc. and bought a 1TB USB external drive to use as a backup for the Lacie.  Through the Lacie`s web interface, I saw it was possible to set up one drive as the source (Lacie) and one as the destination (new Toshiba drive) and thought “easy peasy – link them over USB, click the buttons, and off it goes”.  And off nothing went.

After around 2 hours, the only backups I have apparently made have been 8 empty directories on the Toshiba, from a total of several thousand files.  Not a great ratio.  I thought I must have cocked something up in the plethora of 4 or 5 options, so tried again, with the same result.  Then I took a look at the logs from the Lacie.

The Lacie uses some form of embedded Linux – a few blogs mention it may be Yellow Dog – and does its biz using BusyBox, so I figured there would be some useful, sensible, really nice logging.  Here`s what I saw:

Apr 26 00:37:40  httpd:                     pam_unix(httpd:session): session closed for user admin
Apr 26 00:37:59  httpd:                     pam_unix(httpd:session): session opened for user admin by (uid=0)
Apr 26 00:37:59  httpd:                     pam_unix(httpd:session): session closed for user admin
Apr 26 00:38:13  httpd:                     pam_unix(httpd:session): session opened for user admin by (uid=0)

Now, pardon my French, but what the fuck use is that to anyone? No mention of backup starting, backup finishing, backup failing, backup progress. Not a sausage. There`s only one thing worse than no logging, it`s useless logging. And here we see a combination of both, almost bugger all logging, and what`s there is completely useless. I know I was logged into the web interface – I just want to check my supposed backup!
So it`s likely to be a case of the Toshiba drive becoming a work drive, and having to run rsync to backup to the Lacie as it`s just a little too slow to use as a primary drive over Ethernet. Very disappointed. The drive has been great for a number of months – not spectacularly fast over the home network (wireless G / 100Mb Ethernet – it has Gb Ethernet I believe), so I can`t do the device itself down. But come on guys – what`s the point in using a completely shite backup function as a selling point?  There also doesn`t seem too be a way of upgrading the firmware or operating system short of unofficial hacks, ruling out fixing this awful functionality.  It may work – somehow – under Windows, but if it`s a case of linking two drives and pressing a few buttons, using the advertised method, it`s surprising this simple operation can`t be carried out.  If there had been anything in the logs to suggest too-long filenames, extra-long paths – whatever – I could have done something to rectify.  But zilch.

So it`s off to rsync I go… farting in the general direction of Lacie.  Several times.  Poo poo to you.

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2 comments on “Lacie NetworkSpace Backup is a Waste of Space
  1. rich says:

    An update as this finally worked – in a roundabout kind of way. In order to achieve a successful backup, it was necessary to reformat the Toshiba drive as ext3 (the Lacie is preformatted ext3) by directly plugging the drive into a PC running Linux. The backup then completed successfully. The Toshiba comes preformatted as FAT32, so although I could maybe understand FAT32 going bananas when attempting to copy a load of ext3 content to it, the other way round should be fine – so I`m pointing my old finger at the backup software.

    Well, I say successfully – the backup is stored off the root of the drive in a directory with a timestamp as part of its filename. This means that if I want to backup again, I get 2 directories on the root of the second drive, both containing, probably, 99% identical data. There`s no concept of any other backup strategy than full, and full is placed into its own directory. That means that my current Lacie drive can be backed up twice before the Toshiba drive is full.

    So it looks like I`ll have to head off to rsync after all – I just wanted 1 completely up-to-date backup! All that hassle, and that`s before even thinking about offsite backups… meh.

  2. rich says:

    And another update!

    So, I`ve added a bunch of stuff to the Lacie drive – some backups of work, etc. and a couple of VirtualBox disk images to keep them safe, plus I`ve taken a bunch of RAW photos (which ain`t small). Then I had the bright idea I`d kick off another backup to the external USB drive attached to the Lacie. But oh no! The Lacie now contains about 550GB of stuff, and the USB drive contains about 450GB as a previous backup in its own sodding backup directory.

    As the Lacie can`t do incremental backups, that means I`d need to full backup. Except there`s not enough space now on the USB drive to hold 2 full backups. So I thought “Ah! I`ll reformat the USB drive and start clean”, and logged into the Lacie admin interface to reformat the USB drive. But I can`t do that from the interface. I now have to ask Windows to spend a week with its crappy file Explorer deletion facility – no quick mkfs or anything.

    Very disappointed!

    Also, if anyone has any ideas as to what exactly the Lacie is doing all day long, whirring away, doing something.. anything.. making noise.. when the laptop is switched off and no-one else has access to the drive. Does it run hourly crons to move files around? Any information would be appreciated!

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