Seeding Replication

I’ve installed TrueNAS Scale boxes at my place and at my parents’ house, but have yet to set up replication between them (been on the todo list for a while now.) Since I’ll be home for the holidays I figured I could seed replication between them without running several TB over my residential connection and getting my ISP in a tither, but I’m fuzzy on the specifics of how to do that exactly. I’m sure I could lug my server with me, but I’d rather just use an external HDD if possible. Would I just need to pipe a zfs send to a file output on one end of my trip, then cat that file to a zfs recv once I get there? I feel like it’s more involved than that and hoped you fine folks might be able to help guide me here.

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I’m a little disappointed no one has answered this so I’ll have a go. I’ve done this a couple different ways.

  1. Assemble the “remote” on my premises and send/recv over the local LAN. The benefit to that is that I can try the solution locally and make sure all of the parts work so that when I move the “remote” to another location, I have high confidence that once any networking issues are addressed, it should all work.
  2. Format a portable drive with ZFS, send/recv the filesystems to it. Transport the portable to the remote location and then send/recv from the portable to the final destination. If you do things right, you can then send directly from the local to the remote (bypassing the portable.)
  3. The output from zfs send is just a data stream. You can pipe that to zfs recv directly, over a network or via some intermediate media. (Compression can reduce the data volume.) That’s the option you describe. That can work. However, if there is any problem importing the file, you may not be able to fix that w/out access to the original data set.

My “remote” is a 6 hour drive to my son’s place. I provisioned it in my home lab and populated the backup at that time. Once at the remote site, I remoted into my home lab and ran the backup to work out any kinks. It hasn’t always been flawless and I’ve reconfigured it a couple times. I can’t recall if I ever had to repeat the transfer of several TB of data, but if I did, I used the strategy described in #2. Other times I mailed a DVD with an incremental zfs send output and asked him to pop it in the DVD drive. That’s more like #3 above. The advantage to #2 is that you have the benefits of ZFS data integrity for a larger portion of the path.