Jack of all trades and a master of some

Finally some peace of mind: my 2016 storage and backup setup

For many years I have spent quite a lot of time figuring out ways to savely store my data. Many iterations have past by now, but recently I have finally reached a stage that is worthy of talking about.

For a few years I have been running a decent homeserver (a.k.a NAS) handling the heavy lifting when it comes to mass storage. The machine is fairly powerful for what it does; a Xeon E3-1230 v3, 16GB of ECC RAM, and 9TB of raw storage configured as a ZFS pool running in RAIDZ1 (meaning one drive may fail and the pool can still be rebuilt—the superior RAID5 equivalent in ZFS). The server mostly handles SMB shares in my local network. I am not good at deleting stuff, so I rather push stuff from my “daily driver” down onto the NAS to free up some space while still keeping an extensive archive of all my files.

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It’s finally happening: HDD shipments starting to drop massively

It’s finally going down: HDDs are on the decline. AnandTech has a (just as always) thorough analysis of the market in first quarter of 2016 and I see what I expected to happen for quite a while now.

Looking at the data (most graphs on page 2 of the article), there is clear signs that the phase-out of HDDs for consumer products has begun. The declines are almost exclusively happening to the non-enterprise(-ish) products, and that is good. I swapped my last HDD into an SSD about three years ago and have never looked back. Especially when it comes to mobile computing in laptops, HDDs are just the wrong kind of storage. Spinning platters, and moving heads have no place inside of a device that moves just as much.

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How to remove the Samsung Portable SSD Daemon

I recently got myself a Samsung Portable SSD T1. Basically a fantastic product, finally some SSD-based storage for even the tiniest pockets. I really like carrying like 3-4 USB thumb drives with me when I’m on the go, since there is always something to copy, and or reinstall or whatever.

Anyhow, after unpacking the T1, the first thing you need to do is set it up. It comes with some fucked-up proprietary encryption software that is (of course) only compatible with the proprietary two of popular operating systems (Windows and Mac). So it’s the first thing I get rid of. But even if you don’t want to use the encryption you still have to click through some weird setup assistant, and only after that will you be able to actually use the drive.

What you might not notice is the setup assistant instatiating a daemon for handling the encryption. Yes, even though you selected not to encrypt the drive. And—as you’d expect proper bloatware to behave—it doesn’t come with an uninstaller or other removal tool. I still managed to remove that thing and here is how:

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Move your iOS device backups out of iCloud to your Mac

So you might have heard about how the FBI is currently trying to push Apple to decrypt information on an iOS device owned by one of the San Bernadino terrorists. I’m not well at explaining such events, but there are lots of reports on the case, and Gernot Poetsch wrote about the technical side of things.

At the end of Gernot’s article there is a suggestion that privacy advocates have been screaming from the roofs ever since Apple drastically simplified iOS device backups by moving them to iCloud: Don’t use it. Any iOS device backups in iCloud are subject to any subpoenas or court orders that Apple might receive. And since they are not as encrypted as they are when done locally, they are practically like an open book to anyone holding a (really really big) grudge against you.

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