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Author Topic: External HD - back up strategies & software  (Read 7998 times)

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« on: May 21, 2010, 16:39 »
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I have just purchased a 2TB WD My Book external HD.  I already had a 500GB WD My Passport external HD. My plan is to use the latter for more frequent backups, the other for more spaced ones. Also things that are or will be no longer in my computer's HD will be in these external units. 

I've been using external HDs for a while, but definitely not in the smart way.  My backups are mostly manual, sometimes using a batch file and XXCOPY (I'm a seasoned DOS user, you know...).  I'm sure there is a smarter way to do backups, and with my current way to do things there is always a risk to forget something.

The HD comes with a software, WD Smartware.  Is it any good?  Any other recommendation?

I also thought of doing more than one back up in the 2TB unit, perhaps even having two partitions in it.  Is there any advantage?  Is it possible to have a hardware failure in one partition while the other is unharmed?

I am not very fond of doing HD images as a backup, as I think a software problem or conflict may also be propagated using it. Any thoughts?  What I normally do is to backup files only, most of which are in My Documents, apart a couple of softwares who keep configuration and working files elsewhere - the latter are what I normally use XXCOPY for, so I don't have to remember which files I have to backup.

Another thing I want to change, specifically with photos and videos, is to keep original files in one directory, edited files in another.  The originals don't have to be backed up more than once, the "edited" directory may change as I edit files or change them eventually.  Any thoughts on this too?


« Reply #1 on: May 21, 2010, 17:18 »
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I use SyncToy 2.1. It comes from Microsoft but is free of charge.
I synchronize selected folders in echo mode, additions and deletions on the internal HDD are repeated on the external drives.
Very simple, it takes one or two clicks to sync one folder pair.
« Last Edit: May 21, 2010, 17:21 by Tom »

PaulieWalnuts

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« Reply #2 on: May 21, 2010, 17:31 »
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If you just want to do automated backups to an external HDD, Microsoft's SyncToy works pretty well and can be set to automatically do backups with some tweaking. Sync Toy can backup all folders or selected ones and can be configured to do additive syncs so it only updates files that have been changed. I haven't tried WD Smartware.

I'm not sure partitions would offer much advantage. If something gets corrupted on one partition you could probably access the other. But in my experience drives usually just totally physically fail which can be expensive to recover if at all.

My main backups used to be to external drives. I did backups manually which I forgot to do way too often. And even with external backups I've had PC drives fail which is pretty disruptive. It can take a day or two to reinstall Windows, all the applications and settings, and reload the data.

So I went with a fully automated backup and picked up an Acer H340 Windows Home Server. It automatically does nightly backups of all PCs on my network. The backups are full images so I can do a full restore and my PC is just like it was before whatever problem happened. You can also backup selected files and folders instead of a full restore. And it can hold up to four 2TB hard drives or 8TB of pooled data. I really didn't want the hastle of multiple external drives so this is great. I still have a 2TB external drive that I use just for a weekly image backup which then goes in a waterproof and fireproof safe.

Hope this helps.

« Reply #3 on: May 21, 2010, 17:44 »
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Thanks about the tip regarding SyncToy, I hadn't heard of it.  But when it says "sync", does it mean it makes things equal in the source and target?  For some directories a real synchronization is desirable - like after a while I may decide some files are not important and I don't want to keep them in the back up either.  In other cases, for things I remove from the PC, I want them safely maintained in the external HD back ups.

« Reply #4 on: May 21, 2010, 18:07 »
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You might want to check Cobian Backup.
I've been using it on fully automatic, once week differential backup.
Never failed and free.

PaulieWalnuts

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« Reply #5 on: May 21, 2010, 18:40 »
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Thanks about the tip regarding SyncToy, I hadn't heard of it.  But when it says "sync", does it mean it makes things equal in the source and target?  For some directories a real synchronization is desirable - like after a while I may decide some files are not important and I don't want to keep them in the back up either.  In other cases, for things I remove from the PC, I want them safely maintained in the external HD back ups.

Here are some of the different configuation options.

Synchronize: New and updated files are copied both ways. Renames and deletes on either side are repeated on the other.

Echo: New and updated files are copied left to right. Renames and deletes on the left are repeated on the right.

Contribute: New and updated files are copied left to right. Renames on the left are repeated on the right. No deletions.

« Reply #6 on: May 21, 2010, 22:39 »
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Thanks, Paulie, it seems interesting.

« Reply #7 on: May 22, 2010, 16:32 »
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Now I am confused. Which version to download?

SyncToySetupPackage_v21_x64.exe  3.5 MB
SyncToySetupPackage_v21_x86.exe  2.9 MB

They don't tell the difference.  They say there are 32-bit and 64-bit versions, but which is which?  I need the 32-bit for my XP.

http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=c26efa36-98e0-4ee9-a7c5-98d0592d8c52&DisplayLang=en

« Reply #8 on: May 22, 2010, 17:22 »
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After reading this suggestion last night, I downloaded the ..._x86.exe version and installed it.  Works fine.  Very useful tool.

I run Vista, 32 bit version.  I *think* the x86 refers to the old line of 386-486 and so on version of computer.  Is it possible?

Claude

« Reply #9 on: May 22, 2010, 17:29 »
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I use GoodSync (see http://www.goodsync.com), which is a bit more sophisticated than SyncToy and has multiple scheduling options - but you do have to pay for it.  Not expensive though.

PaulieWalnuts

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« Reply #10 on: May 22, 2010, 20:01 »
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Now I am confused. Which version to download?

SyncToySetupPackage_v21_x64.exe  3.5 MB
SyncToySetupPackage_v21_x86.exe  2.9 MB

They don't tell the difference.  They say there are 32-bit and 64-bit versions, but which is which?  I need the 32-bit for my XP.

http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=c26efa36-98e0-4ee9-a7c5-98d0592d8c52&DisplayLang=en


x86 is 32-bit, x64 is 64-bit

« Reply #11 on: May 22, 2010, 20:09 »
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Maybe I'm naive and certainly I'm OT but I'm wondering why people are still using external HD for backup, instead of a storage service like Amazon S3.    Is it just a lack of trust, even when the vendor is the size ofAmazon?  Yes I agree, even the big boys have their disasters, but it's hard to imagine Amazon, with all of its distributed redundancy, actually losing content.  I haven't heard of it happening.

« Reply #12 on: May 22, 2010, 20:47 »
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Maybe I'm naive and certainly I'm OT but I'm wondering why people are still using external HD for backup, instead of a storage service like Amazon S3.    Is it just a lack of trust, even when the vendor is the size ofAmazon?  Yes I agree, even the big boys have their disasters, but it's hard to imagine Amazon, with all of its distributed redundancy, actually losing content.  I haven't heard of it happening.

I like to backup all my photos, in RAW, so it could easily go up to 1 Tbyte quite fast.  Uploading all those files to Amazon would take a lot of time and lots $$$ !

Claude

PaulieWalnuts

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« Reply #13 on: May 22, 2010, 21:17 »
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Maybe I'm naive and certainly I'm OT but I'm wondering why people are still using external HD for backup, instead of a storage service like Amazon S3.    Is it just a lack of trust, even when the vendor is the size ofAmazon?  Yes I agree, even the big boys have their disasters, but it's hard to imagine Amazon, with all of its distributed redundancy, actually losing content.  I haven't heard of it happening.

I have 1.5 TB of images. It would take weeks to back that up to an online service. I already tried. And I forget the cost but I think 1.5 TB at Amazon would be over $1,000 per month.

I'll stick to an external drive in a safe.

« Reply #14 on: May 22, 2010, 22:12 »
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Maybe I'm naive and certainly I'm OT but I'm wondering why people are still using external HD for backup, instead of a storage service like Amazon S3.
1 - Because in Europe, I have to pay per volume block. Net backup would be too expensive. Also upload is throttled down to avoid people running servers.
2 - Because in the Philippines, I am on wifi by antenna, averaging 40kbps. The contract actually says "up to" 400kbps but you'll need to pay a monthly bribe under the table to the tech guys to get it.
(For me, a real backup includes the 16-bit TIFs which are around 120MB full 21MP)
3 - My storage needed is 600GB at the moment. A monthly fee of 150$ (on A S3) for that would absorb most of my microstock income. For that price, you can buy a 1-2TB external HD easily.
« Last Edit: May 22, 2010, 22:33 by FD-amateur »

« Reply #15 on: May 23, 2010, 01:55 »
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I use syncback se (freeware version) for my backups, extremely good and powerful, copies faster than windows too

in the process of upgrading my main drive (putting in one the 2tb WD Blacks (5 year warranty) as my main drive.
this will backup nightly to my 1.5tb 2nd drive in my machine
and 1.5tb drive in the network server (server is an old PC and about to be replaced with NAS)
+ 2 x 1tb external drives which I keep in my drawer at work (offsite) and bring home do a backup and take back to work.

(+ all microstock images are on mostphotos where I can download them for free and there is no rejections so they have the lot.)

« Reply #16 on: May 23, 2010, 05:21 »
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I use Drobo and it's a joy to use. It stores and backs up data at the same time. I highly recommend it to anyone. Check it out here: http://www.drobo.com

« Reply #17 on: May 23, 2010, 06:28 »
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I also use SyncBackSE (and have used it for many years).

It has loads of features, one of which is the ability to save versions.  While this feature obviously uses more space, it is worthwhile for some documents.

They also have a free basic version (SyncBack) that you can try out.

You can find more info here:
http://www.2brightsparks.com/syncback/compare.html

http://www.2brightsparks.com/syncback/sbse-features.html

But with any backup strategy, you need to ask yourself what are you trying to protect against.

For example, if your hard drive fails, then having another hard drive with a copy of your data would be a good solution.  But what happens if someone breaks into your residence and steals your computer equipment?  Or you have a fire?  Or a flood?  Or a lightning strike hits?

You need to figure out what you are trying to protect against first, and then come up with a solution for each scenario.

I also thought of doing more than one back up in the 2TB unit, perhaps even having two partitions in it.  Is there any advantage?  Is it possible to have a hardware failure in one partition while the other is unharmed?


No.  While technically it might be feasible to recover a single partition, it would be extremely expensive.  From a practical viewpoint, once a drive fails, it isn't worth trying to recover.

« Reply #18 on: May 23, 2010, 10:25 »
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Yes, you guys with terabytes are in a different situation.   

A terabyte on Amazon S3 would cost $150 per month - or on their new 'reduced redunancy' plan,  $100 per month.  The 'reduced rendundancy' service is for data that you could reproduce if necessary, i.e. you could survive its loss at Amazon.  With regard to initial uploading time and cost, I think you can ship them a physical drive, and they'll copy it and ship it back.

Online storage costs should come down - I'm sure Amazon realizes that many people now have so much content (movies, music, photos) that S3 is still priced too high.

« Reply #19 on: May 23, 2010, 10:36 »
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their new 'reduced redunancy' plan,  $100 per month.  The 'reduced rendundancy' service is for data that you could reproduce if necessary, i.e. you could survive its loss at Amazon.
If you can reproduce the data, why would you pay 100$ for an (insecure) backup?

« Reply #20 on: May 23, 2010, 13:06 »
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I backup once a month to an external hd using Acronis True Image Home  ;D and Mostphotos .com

« Reply #21 on: May 23, 2010, 14:08 »
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Wow, so many choices, I think I need a poll now.  ;D  Thnaks for your answers.

As for an online storage, I don't think it's practical either for the size and the fact that any company can go out of business at any time.  And even if they make an announcement, imagine the time do download everything, and consider that I may be away in the middle of nowhere when they announce that. 

As for safety strategy, my external units will not be always connected, so it's not likely that a power problem will harm them, and I avoid using the PC in a lightning storm. I don't fear a robber (I live in Rio, but it's not like you may have heard about) or flood (I live on the 7th flloor - if flood strikes here, it's possibly armaggedon, so why bother with a backup?  ;D ).  Fire is indeed a concern and I have already thought of having a third unit at work, although with even less frequent backups.

« Reply #22 on: May 23, 2010, 14:23 »
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One solution is to have your own hardware for online backup. I have a 2TB Intel SS4000 in a server central with static ip-address. Cobian backup doing the scheduled work.

« Reply #23 on: May 23, 2010, 16:17 »
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their new 'reduced redunancy' plan,  $100 per month.  The 'reduced rendundancy' service is for data that you could reproduce if necessary, i.e. you could survive its loss at Amazon.
If you can reproduce the data, why would you pay 100$ for an (insecure) backup?

yes seems weird to me. US$100 would buy me a 1tb drive and US$150 a 2TB, I could buy a new drive every month (and keep them at my mums, in laws, brother, etc etc if I was really keen)

« Reply #24 on: May 23, 2010, 18:17 »
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their new 'reduced redunancy' plan,  $100 per month.  The 'reduced rendundancy' service is for data that you could reproduce if necessary, i.e. you could survive its loss at Amazon.
If you can reproduce the data, why would you pay 100$ for an (insecure) backup?

yes seems weird to me. US$100 would buy me a 1tb drive and US$150 a 2TB, I could buy a new drive every month (and keep them at my mums, in laws, brother, etc etc if I was really keen)

It's called 'reduced redundancy', not 'hanging by a thread'.  There's still redundancy, just a somewhat larger chance of data loss. I agree it sounds odd, but I suspect it makes sense in the right situations. It's not aimed at archival backup, but at content that is easily regenerated.  Many sites are actually serving content (i.e. images) directly from S3; they might for example have a huge number of thumbnails cached there which could, in an emergency, be recreated.

I feel like I need offsite backup. Yes, I could buy drives and put them at friends' houses - but how will I keep them current? 

S3 solves the problem for me for a few dollars a month - I use JungleDisc to automatically maintain a complete backup - I never think about it.  For people with terabytes, the price is way too high.  But you people nevertheless need offset backup.  I think online storage costs will continue to drop until running around town with backup drives no longer makes sense.

There are also software products that will allow you and a friend to access each others' hard drives online, for offsite backup.  That's a good cheap solution, I think.


 

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