ace101

Best Backup Strategy

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I need to come to a good strategy for backing up all my machines. I would expect that I will have around 250 gigs to back up considering all the machines. Do most people use an external hard drive for backups? I had thought about leaving the backup hard disk in one of the machines, but that wouldn't protect it from a lightning strike. What do people do for backups?

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Ok I think I have a solution for this.

I have 2 WD4000YR drives. I am going to have one live on one of the faster computers, and I'll use it to automatically backup all my other computers on a schedule. I'm also going to use this drive to hold my media files (MP3, Video, etc) which I stream throughout my network.

I'm going to buy one of these:

AMS Venus DS3 DS-2316SU2SBK 3.5" USB2.0 (type B) + SATA External Enclosure

and load the other WD4000YR into it, and use it to backup the other live 400gig drive, which contains everything from all my computers, plus everything else on that drive. I'll only connect the external 400gig drive when backing up or recovering.

This way, I'll be able to automatically back up my machines, and "one stop shopping", or in this case one stop backup, to cover all my files.

Sound good?

Edited by ace101

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Sounds like a solid plan having one online and one offline backup (though only one backup for the media files).

I just use regular PATA drives for backup so it's anything but automatic since I have to power down the systems and manually install the drives; certainly not as convenient as an external enclosure, but a lot more compact since I keep them in my pockets on airline flights. But for most, anything that encourages more frequent backups is a good thing. The enclosure you selected has a cooling fan and that's good too.

I keep incremental and full backups on DVD and it would be prudent to keep a copy in a remote location (to protect from fire and other hazards). But then I'm the one here with identical backup systems on separate continents ;) .

Edited by bfg9000

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The hard disk is a good idea. As bfg9000 says, anything that encourages frequent backups is a good thing. I use hard disk drives as part of my backup regime as well.

I'd just like to say that optical disk backups, even with tiny DVDs, aren't that bad in most cases --as long as you keep up with things. Backing up hundreds of gigabytes all at once is a pain, but if you do it ever 4.4 it's not so bad. And well worth your time. Frankly, this is all getting out of control. Even Blu-ray is barely going to improve the situation. That Maxell holographic disk had better not be vapourware... The point is that having the data on optical disk is a whole lot better than hard drive. I've pulled a disk out of the closet before and had it just refuse to start up. It was not a happy day. Hard drives are mechanical devices and age and deteriorate even when not in use. Luckily the data was also preserved elsewhere.

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Guest 888

I also like your strategy planned (one live backup + one cold backup). But I would make it even more safe adding the third backup drive (identical one) which would also be a cold backup just like the second one is. It will stay in cold state in remote place (in other building or even in other town) and at the same time the second drive is used for writing the backup at computer's place. Once it is written there, you will take this 2nd one and carry it to the remote building. Then you will take 3rd one from remote building and carry it to the computer and make the next backup on it when needed. And then again all the same repeats between 2nd and 3rd. The good point in this strategy is that you will always have one drive with backup sitting in other place and there's no worry about data lost problems which may be occuring just during backuping by some mistake in example. Note that during the time the backup writing is in progress (it may well take some hours) you will in fact not have that second backup at all (if there's not the third one standing in remote building).

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Guest 888
The point is that having the data on optical disk is a whole lot better than hard drive. I've pulled a disk out of the closet before and had it just refuse to start up. It was not a happy day. Hard drives are mechanical devices and age and deteriorate even when not in use. Luckily the data was also preserved elsewhere.

But... The real experiences from last years have shown that optical media (especially recordable optical media) tends to have shorter lifetime than HDD or any other magnetical recording or magneto-optical recording. It's big risk to put permanent archive on DVD and then let it in closet for 3...5 years. But magnetical recordings (incl. HDD) have really proven a good stability during the years and even tens of years (if not active in use). Of course the motor starting problem may occur but I don't think it to be so often. And anyway the data is still there on platters even when the motor and PCB fail. If the data is very important you can still get it from there.

Of course, price per GB for DVD is about 5 times better than for HDD. And for short-time backups and especially for incremental backups the DVDs (and CDs) are pretty good choices still. Although the backuping process on them is not so comfortable as on HDDs because of their low capacity and so the need to change them repeatedly in writer. Also the writing time to optical media is relatively slow.

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Great thoughts all.

I especially like the idea of having two backup drives and rotating them in for alternate backups. But I think for me, the most efficient method is:

- Automatic backup of all machines (daily incremental) to my "live" hard disk so all files are compressed and in one place

- Additionally have an XP script copy important directories from each machine onto the live backup drive in normal folder structure

- Store my media on the live backup drive

- Backup the entire live backup drive to the external drive

- Backup all important files from the live backup drive (including all the media files) onto DVD

In the worst case scenario where all backup hard disk drives fail, I'll at least have the critical files on DVD which will allow me to rebuild the machines (big headache of course) and still have my important files.

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You should do two things.

-Archive static data. You can do this on CD, DVD, tape or disk, whatever strikes your fancy. Since this doesn't change you won't have to worry about speed (tape is slow) or cost too much. If that data is important to you, you will be happy to spend the money on DVD's or tapes. I'd rather use a combination of tapes and DVD for longterm backup over hard disk drives. Tapes and CD/DVD are less likely to fail than a hard disk sitting on a shelf for a couple of years. If you have both DVD and tape, you have the best of both. DVD's are easier to to use - just pop one into any PC with a DVD drive and you've got your data. Tapes OTOH last longer.

-Backup data that changes, like email, ... If it's not too much, you can easily do it on tape or DVD. If it's a lot, hard disks are the best option unless you're filthy rich and can afford top of the line tape streamers.

Personally I've archived all my important data on CD - haven't gotten around to write it on DVD yet - and I make more or less regular backups of whatever is in my documents, email, favorites, ... on tape. That's less than GB so it fits nicely on my DDS-4.

For a client who has one PC with a lot of important data I use the following backup strategy. Server makes daily full backups on tape of the server and makes a backup to disk of that pc on the server. Due to the volume, this data is NOT written on tape except on Fridays. So once a week, they have a full backup on tape of the server and pc. The other weekdays it's a backup of the server on tape and a backup of the pc onto the server's disk. They're also going to archive all the data on that pc on DVD themself.

What you do have to take into account with tapes is that you choose a technology that will be available several years in the future. It would be silly to have all that precious data on tapes that you can't read once your streamer dies. That's why I stay with DDS because it has a good chance of being available for the forseeable future.

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Guest 888
You should do two things.

-Archive static data. You can do this on CD, DVD, tape or disk, whatever strikes your fancy. Since this doesn't change you won't have to worry about speed (tape is slow) or cost too much. If that data is important to you, you will be happy to spend the money on DVD's or tapes. I'd rather use a combination of tapes and DVD for longterm backup over hard disk drives. Tapes and CD/DVD are less likely to fail than a hard disk sitting on a shelf for a couple of years. If you have both DVD and tape, you have the best of both. DVD's are easier to to use - just pop one into any PC with a DVD drive and you've got your data. Tapes OTOH last longer.

Yes, tapes are a good and time-proof solution for long-time archiving. Of course, only if the tape-reader is available in future too, as you said. And if you do not use them very often (slim tape tends to stretch out very easily and this is sure kill for digital data then).

But the CDs and DVDs are just too small-capacity ones for archiving hundreds of gigabytes or even terabytes of data. You must plan where and how to split the data and you must manually change hundreds or thousands of disks during this backuping process. I am also very pessimistic about long-time lasting of CD/DVD disks. Usually they tend to start degrade significantly already after 1...2 years (of course it depends on brand and manufacturer but today's mass-production isn't very reliable at all). But I have many arhaic floppy disks from 20 years ago and some HDDs from 15 years ago which are all well readable also today. Plus, if to take analog magnetical recording experiences, my oldest music tapes from 1950s are also listenable without any significant sound difference from what I think to remember it were originally. But nobody can't guarantee the reliability of today's optical media. Yes, for short-term archiving CD/DVD disks are still very ok solution, especially when write two copies on two different brands and on two different recorders.

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I need to come to a good strategy for backing up all my machines. I would expect that I will have around 250 gigs to back up considering all the machines. Do most people use an external hard drive for backups? I had thought about leaving the backup hard disk in one of the machines, but that wouldn't protect it from a lightning strike. What do people do for backups?

A safe backup must be away from the original data and it should not be in the same network, why don’t you go for any online backup service than the traditional DVD’s or tapes.

By online service your data would reside in a safe data center with lots of security features. You can also access your data from anywhere and if necessary share your data with your friends or partners.

We use this online storage service for years, it is reliable and works efficiently.

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If all your clients are XP, you could use the Microsoft XP Synctoy to sync the clients to the server.

Otherwise, you could use a Microsoft Robocopy script to do the job.

That's the local backup part.

Are your 2 sites both hooked up to the internet using a fairly decent connection ?

Hannah's suggestion is great, but for some people/companies it is not acceptable to have their data on 3rd party servers.

Alternatively, connect your 2 sites through VPN and sync them automatically over the internet.

Or use FTP, using 2BrightSparks Syncback freeware or some other FTP solution.

That way, you would have your main server and a backup server in sync, geographically seperated too.

If backups are made too, you would be about bulletproof in protecting your data.

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