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[_] Small Computer

Craig Francis craig at craigfrancis.co.uk
Mon Jun 24 12:40:57 BST 2019

Hi [_],

I've been using Raspberry Pi computers as cheap backup machines for a few
years, but I'm finding the reliability a bit of a problem, and was
wondering if anyone had any thoughts on replacements?

I'm after a cheap, small device, which would ideally hold 2 disks (1 x
small SSD for the OS, 1 x 3TB encrypted HDD for their data), everything
else can be minimal, but ideally reliable (as they are hosted in offices a
few hours drive away), and should be easy for me to instruct someone
non-technical to restart.

I would prefer an Intel/AMD chipset, so I can install a more standard
version of Ubuntu Linux.

---

For some background...

I build web-based systems that run all of my clients office tasks (time
sheets, reports, invoicing, etc). That's done on a normal virtual machine
(AWS), with the database running separately (via RDS; with a read-only
replica acting as a backup).

That's fine, but I also want my clients to have a backup within their
office, so it's offsite (outside of AWS), contains a history of their data
(e.g. last 6 days, and last 9 weeks), and provides them with a read-only
copy of their system if their internet connection fails (this also proves
that their backups are working, as it effectively restores from backup
every day, allowing me to easily login and check it).

The RiPi3 has been more than powerful enough to do this.

It's also allowed me to simply post new parts as needed (e.g. a larger
external disk, or an SD card with a new OS); and by using a Pibow Case
<https://shop.pimoroni.com/products/pibow-for-raspberry-pi-3-b-plus>,
members of staff could easily find it (where I believe the bright colours,
and open design, does make them more interested in it, which I see as a
nice point).

But it does have problems, e.g. the SD card, which can't seem to handle the
everyday read/write operations; and sometimes it has power issues. And
because it uses USB power, and an external disk, it seems to suffer from
people messing around with their other in-office servers (e.g. cables
falling out).

One of them stopped responding yesterday, the second time this month, after
reporting a high load again (8.00 8.00 8.00, which I assume is related).
While I'm sure a restart will bring it back up again, after a year of
perfect reliability, having two failures like this, so close together, I'm
not sure I can trust it.

Craig