Jul 072014

Centos 7 has now been released to the public.

Release announcement can be found here http://lists.centos.org/pipermail/centos-announce/2014-July/020393.html
Release notes can be found here http://wiki.centos.org/Manuals/ReleaseNotes/CentOS7
The fastest way to download is via torrent, I’m currently seeding all images available and am pushing approx 300Mbps (megabits per second) across my servers and have done 200GB+ of bandwidth in under 3 hours.

I will be updating most of my servers over the next few weeks/months and will start updating my tutorials again, happy testing.

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May 242014

I often hear “I don’t need a backup I’m running a raid array” which is completely wrong. Raid has several types but most types allow for 1 or more dries to fail without losing data but this is not a backup it just keeps your storage online/active.


A backup is a separate copy of your data, as a rule if you don’t have 3 copies of your data you don’t have proper backups. 1=Live storage, 2=On-site backup, 3=Off-site backup.

Business user

Now the setup i use for my commercial clients is Raid 1 or 5 in the storage server (This is my Live storage), I then use a NAS box again with raid 1 for on-site backups which i normally locate in a different part of the building where possible. Finally i have off-site backup, now depending on the size of the data to be stored and the average churn of data i use: If its small i use an online server or service but for larger uses i use a simple external usb3 hard drive which is then taken off-site, the other factor for online backup services is the speed of your internet connection.

Here’s a real world example:
Server – Raid 1 with 4TB usable storage
NAS – Raid 1 with 4TB usable storage
Usb3 HDD – 4TB

This client has a really slow internet connection (0.3 meg upload) and a high churn rate on the data in excess of 250GB a week so it would take forever to upload so we have to use an external usb3 HDD.
The server sync’s its files with the NAS over a gigabit network and does this nightly. This give us a full backup but we can only go back 1 day, for some clients they require several days worth of backups in which case you need more storage on the NAS and use an incremental backup system or similar.

Home user

Now for the average home user your backup requirements will be different and can be done very cheaply. I use 2 backup solutions myself, a system like above for my critical business files and a simple backup solution for the non critical personal files (pictures/videos/documents).
I store all of these in a online sync service like Dropbox or Google Drive. This gives me a local copy plus an off-site copy that can be accessed anywhere in the world online. I have used Dropbox pro for years but am moving over to Google drive for 1 reason – Price, i can get 1TB of storage with Google Drive for the same price as 100GB with Dropbox.

In my next post i will discuss how i backup web-servers.

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 Posted by at 5:08 PM
May 052014

Storage Tape

Sony has developed a new storage tape that hold up to 185 terabytes (TB) of data.
Created with help from IBM, Sony’s technology allows for tapes that can store the equivalent of 3,700 Blu-ray discs.
The tape holds 148 gigabits (Gb) per square inch – beating the previous record by more than five times over.

Storage tapes are typically used by businesses to hold huge amounts of data for a long time. Using tapes is cheaper and more energy efficient method of storing data when compared to power-hungry racks full of hard drives.
However, retrieving data from tape is a much slower process, tapes only offer sequential access which means data has to be accessed in the order it was written in. The tape has to literally be moved to the right position for the data to be accessed.

Source Sony

Archivial Disc

Sony and Panasonic have teamed up to develop the next-generation storage discs called “Archivial Disc” which will eventually hold 1TB.

The first generation will hold 300GB per disc and is scheduled for release summer 2015. Over time they will roll out 500GB and 1TB versions of the disc. They are being aimed at big companies that need to store vast amounts of data.
The disc will be double sided and have 3 layers per side.

In an age of cloud storage, some have questioned the need of such discs but actually such systems are crucial. Facebook has begun installation of 10,000 Blu-ray discs in a prototype storage cabinet as back-ups for users’ photos and videos. Such a system will reduce its costs by 50% and use 80% less energy compared to traditional storage.

Source Sony

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Apr 282014

This post is mainly a rant but also discusses my use of a battery backup UPS (uninterrupted power supply).

After a recent fault with my main power supply to the house which killed my new PSU and surge protector (more on that later) i decided to purchase a battery backup UPS.

Battery Backup

I have used several APC units over the years for commercial clients so i choose them again but this time i choose one for the home user that offers 4 battery backup and surge protected sockets along with an addition 4 surge only protected sockets thus allowing me to plug everything in.
Here’s the full spec of the device – quick spec: 700va/405watts.

I currently have the following plugged into the 4 battery backup sockets: Main gaming PC, Dual 24″ screens and the external backup HDD. In the other 4 sockets i have: powered usb hub, 8 port gigabit switch and my laptop charger leaving 1 spare socket for a future device.
I choose this order as it will allow me to safely shutdown the pc without any data-lose or damage, the unit comes with software called powerchute which will allow the automatic shutdown of your pc when the power fails. You can set it to shutdown immediately or when there is 5 minutes remaining on the battery. I choose the latter but it doesn’t make much difference as with everything on i would only get 10-12 minutes out of the battery’s anyway. I tested this by killing the power and timing it while monitoring the powerchute software which will tell you remaining time on battery’s.

Rant time

Now hopefully i won’t have any-more dead PSU’s as it will always be shutdown safely, i say this because after having a fault with my main power supply to the house which caused the voltage to drop to 140v instead of the normal 230/240v. The power dropped several times, the first time it killed the surge protector and then some 15 minutes later it happened again killing my 4 month old Corsair psu AX860i, for those that know psu’s this is a high-end expensive psu retailing for around £170 at the time.

All credit to the power company as they came out within one hour of being called and hooked us up to a temporary supply while they dug up the road, we had a new permanent supply within 48 hours. Now for the downside, there customer relations/claims department that took 2 weeks to get somebody out to look at the PSU and surge protector. They sent a contractor out to collect the items and have them tested, well i got the call today saying they finished testing and would replace the surge protector but the psu is fine! and would be returned to me, I’m not sure how they can say its fine when even the built in self test says failed and it wont power a pc so i have been left with sending it back to Corsair for them to test and report what is faulty and hope they replace it, all this at my expense which will be discussed with the power company’s manager once i have the report from corsair. So that’s where I’m at after nearly 3 weeks.

I will post an update once i hear back and may even name and shame the companies depending on the final outcome.


Its taken 6 weeks but the power company have finally agreed and paid for my replacement power supply, it arrived yesterday and is now fitted.

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Apr 272014

Lastpass What is it

Lastpass is a cross-platform “Trust No One” password manager, That means no one can access you data not even employees of Lastpass. Lastpass is free to use in desktop web browsers but if you want access on a mobile platform you will require the premium version which cost $12 a year.

How to Install

Download the extension for your browser https://lastpass.com/misc_download2.php then create an account, you need to create a strong master password as this will be used to secure your data.

Once installed you will see an asterisk symbol net to the address bar, once logged in you can access various settings along with your vault which is where your passwords are stored. When you login on a website you can click the asterisk symbol which should appear in the login boxes and if you have saved any details you can select them otherwise type in your details, you should then get a bar appear at the top asking if you want to save your details (say yes).

Secure passwords

Lastpass can be used to generate very secure passwords, there is an option to do this from the drop-down menu on the password field. You can set password length, special characters, how many digits are used as well as an option to avoid ambiguous characters so its easy to read if need be. I recommend a password length of at least 16 characters if the site allows it.

The passwords in your vault are synced to all your computers and mobile devices. Lastpass vault is stored in an encrypted form that cannot be read without your master password. There are options to increase security further and i recommend the following: Only allow logins from your country, Disable logins from Tor network, kill other sessions on login, keep track of login and form history, automatically log-off when all browsers are closed (0 mins) and automatically log-off after idle (15 mins). You will also find an option to use multifactor authentications, this requires a second form of authentication the first time you login on a new device. There are several methods of multifactor authentication, i use Google authenticator.
Lastpass provides a QR code that can be scanned using the Google authenticator app.

Password audit

Lastpass can run an audit on all your passwords and report how secure everything is, it checks to see if you are using the same password more than once and also any that require strengthening. They have now added an option which reports if the site was affected by heartbleed and whether you should change your password.

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