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Backing Up - With What?


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#1 whatapalaver

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Posted 02 April 2006 - 07:13 AM

Computer - AMD Athlon[tm] XP2400T. 2.00GHz. 1.00 GB of Ram.
System - Microsoft Windows XP. Home Edition. Version 2002. Service Pack 2.

I am a researcher, transcriber, cataloguer. I cannot afford to lose the ten years work that is on my Data Folder, on disc C. The Data Folder has 2655 folders and 8557 files, and its size on disk is 1.02GB.

I am daily changing and amending the content of the Data Folder files, and also adding new folders and files.

I have been backing up my Data Folder with Nero. After the Data Folder exceeded the capacity of a 750MB disk, I compressed the data. But now I need another reliable way to backup my data and I am unsure what to do.

I have a friend who has told me to buy an external hard drive that has a 2USB connection, and then to backup [download] the Data Folder into it. He tells me that if I do that, all I need do at the end of each working day, is download the Data Folder, and the next day do it again, and again, until the external hard drive is full. He has told me to forget about incremental backups because that I am not burning to a disk. He says that the external hard drive will sort the data out when my Data File is downloaded into it, and that if my computer breaks and I have to do a restore into another computer, my Data Folder will be safe.

But I am wondering if I would need two external hard drives, to do alternate backups? Back up with the first on a Monday night and backup with the second on the Tuesday night. Then, wipe the first on the Tuesday night and use it for the Wednesday night back up? I used to do that with CD-RW disks.

Is my friend right? Will my data be safe if I do what he says.

I shall be very grateful for some timely advice because my Data Folder is growing rapidly.

Best wishes. whatapalaver

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#2 acklan

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Posted 02 April 2006 - 08:18 AM

That is one way. The other is an internal hard drive with a RAID 1 or Mirror a drive. This is simple a on the fly exact copy of one drive to a second drive. This is something you can do your self. It is of the shelf technology.
There are software and hardware RAID.
SOftware RAID is just as the name implies. It is RAID that uses software to mirror drive 1 to drive 2. In the event of primary drive failure the second drive would take over and the primary drive.
Hardware RAID would be a card that is installed inside your computer to manage the operation of the RAID.
This will that a little setting up but in a "mission criticial application is a good solution. If CD-Rs are not larger enough, you may want to step up to dual layer DVD-R. The capacity is 8gb+. You should still backup your work product and save it off site in the event of a disaster, like fire, flood or the thief of your computer.
I hope this was of help.


Reference:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RAID
http://www.promise.com/product/product_lis....asp?familyId=2
http://www.directron.com/sbtsrd2.html
http://www.pcguide.com/ref/hdd/perf/raid/l...leLevel1-c.html
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#3 supervisor5

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Posted 02 April 2006 - 09:52 AM

You might find that a simpler solution would be to create a second partition on your hard drive and back everything up to that. The Microsoft Knowledge Base article at http://support.microsoft.com/kb/309000/#E0TB0ACAAA tells you how to do this.

#4 acklan

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Posted 02 April 2006 - 10:23 AM

That would work unless she had a drive failure.
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#5 Enthusiast

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Posted 02 April 2006 - 10:49 AM

What I have done is to use an external USB drive.
They have become relatively cheap nowadays and you can get a reasonably large drive for not too much money.

If you get what is called a "combination drive" by Western Digital (although I would recommend Seagate drives because of their five year warranty vs one year for most if not all others), they can come with Dantz Retrospect (or some other backup software) that will backup incrementally on a schedule you set - every day - many times a day - once a week - whatever suits your needs, or you can buy that kind of software separately.

"Incremental" backups just add what you added since the last backup - documents - changes in documents - etc.

You can also put a "snapshot" or multiple snapshots every time you make changes to your system state on the drive which will be unbelievably useful when your main drive decides to kick the bucket.

Edited by Enthusiast, 02 April 2006 - 10:50 AM.


#6 acklan

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Posted 02 April 2006 - 10:55 AM

We have a winner. I believe Enthusiast has presented the best option. Simple, redundent, relialbe, cost effective, and could be detached easily for storage.
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#7 Herk

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Posted 02 April 2006 - 12:48 PM

Other options might be to break the files up into two directories and go on using CD's. Or get a DVD burner and copy them to DVD's. Put them on a second computer so that you know the copies actually work. The more important backup files are, the more successful your backup plan has to be. Personally, I have trouble with RW disks and would prefer to back things up using CD's that can be used on any computer that has a CD-Rom.

#8 jgweed

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Posted 02 April 2006 - 01:32 PM

Since these files are very important, the more ways you can find to back up the data, the better the disaster recovery. Having the files, in addition to any other place, on disks that are kept separate from the computer area, seems like a good idea.
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#9 Enthusiast

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Posted 03 April 2006 - 02:14 AM

One tremendous advantage of the external hard drive is that it can be easily hooked up and used on any other computer at any time to access or restore data, and - it can be used just as any hard drive for storage of ANY data, just as any hard drive can be. You can keep copies of your registry on it, mail and contacts, everything and anything you may need sometime!

You might even consider a 2 gig jump drive which is really portable, although more expensive currently than a 100gig plus external hard drive)!

Being separate from the computer itself, neither is subject to the same kinds of disastrous occurrences should a power supply fail, a power surge occur, a motherboard or internal hard disk failure happen, a fire, etc, and you do not have to deal with piles of multiple, numerous, mostly redundant cds or dvds, or worry if their media quality allowed good copies to be accomplished. (it varies even using the same brand from the same spindle)

The incremental backup ability means that you always have an exact copy of the documents as they were at the last save event (you configure when and how often you want your data saved), not a separate cd or dvd (if and when you remember to make one or one of hundreds over time depending how often you back your data up), and the fact that you can automate the process of incremental backups is a tremendous convenience and time saving factor. You do not have to make the conscious effort or take the time to burn today's cd or dvd, plus, you won't accidentally loose it, scratch it or in any way disable or limit it. You can use it between computers - one at work and one at home - just transport it back and forth setting up files for both computers on it.

For really important data external, incremental backup media is the safest and most foolproof way to go - either tape drive or external hard drive, and the fact that they have become so inexpensive makes it a no brainer.

Commercial systems have been using external removable media for backup for years - usually tapes in the past. External hard drives are more efficient, faster and better.

Edited by Enthusiast, 03 April 2006 - 02:28 AM.


#10 usasma

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Posted 03 April 2006 - 10:32 AM

A "general" backup theory:
1) Backup to the same computer
2) Backup to removable devices (CD, DVD, external drives, etc)
3) Backup to another system on the LAN
4) Backup to another system locally
5) Backup to another system out of the region
6) Backup to another system out the country
7) Backup to another system off planet.

Each choice becomes harder to do - but each choice increases the chance that you won't lose your data. Imagine your data being in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit.

I back up the data from my wife's office using the first 4 methods. And, I'm looking at the 5th for her also (we live near the coast in CT). These are her complete client records for the last 10 or so years - and as such are irreplaceable.
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#11 acklan

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Posted 03 April 2006 - 02:44 PM

What usasma reccommends it good advice. I am a fire fighter and I see computers destroyed almost daily. If the fire and heat does not get them then the steam and water generally do. Not to menition buglury. Thievies don't care about you personal or buniess data.
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#12 Papakid

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Posted 04 April 2006 - 12:17 PM

Yeah I think USB Flash drives are the best way to go. There was an ad in the local Sunday paper for a SanDisk 2 GB drive for a reasonable price after rebates.

But I am wondering if I would need two external hard drives, to do alternate backups? Back up with the first on a Monday night and backup with the second on the Tuesday night. Then, wipe the first on the Tuesday night and use it for the Wednesday night back up? I used to do that with CD-RW disks.

You could do that, but since a flash drive (or even an external USB hard drive) is much easier to write to than CD/DVD, wiping isn't necessary so this would be more complicated than it needs to be. But if you did have two USB drives, you could move your original data folder to one, say F: and back the folder up to another, say E:. If they were both Flash drives, you could disconnect F when you are away from the PC and keep it on your person--it's popular to attach these to keychains--at all times.

It is advisable to keep two backups so you don't get caught by Murphy's Law. Another method that hasn't been mentioned specifically is to use a service to store your files by uploading them over the internet. There may be some free services out there, but you'll usually have to pay a fee for any significant amount of storage space.

My suggestion for the most cost effective way to keep your data safe is to save your data to your main hard drive, use backup software to back that folder up to USB Flash drive every day and, if you can afford it, once a week back your files up somewhere offsite in case of disaster such as Acklan has mentioned.

Windows XP includes a backup utility that you can use to backup automatically. It's not quite as intuitive as some third party utilities, but it is there if you need it. Unfortunately MS decided to only install it as part of Windows setup only for XP Pro. Since you are running XP Home, you may have to install the Microsoft Backup Utility from your XP CD. More info here: http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/using/s...t_03july14.mspx

I'm running XP Home also, but MBU is already installed. It's a pre-built, so it must have been installed at the store along with the operating system. So you may want to check if that's the case with you before looking into installing it. http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/tutorials/...l58.html#backup If you don't find it in System Tools, try right clicking your hard drive in My Computer, Properties, and see if it's under the Tools tab.

So you see there are lots of options, but the portability and ease of use of of USB Flash drives makes them much more ideal, IMHO. :thumbsup:

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#13 Herk

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Posted 04 April 2006 - 09:48 PM

So you see there are lots of options, but the portability and ease of use of of USB Flash drives makes them much more ideal, IMHO


They're great. I use 'em for moving files from computer to computer. Note that there is a limit on the number of files. I ran into that once using a one-gig drive. Seems as if I had to break the files up into two folders to make it work. It was quite a while ago. Just piling a lot of files onto the thing won't always work.

#14 tos226

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Posted 04 April 2006 - 10:23 PM

I vote for small external drive(s). Office Max the other day was selling 80gig ones for $79. While I'm in love with my 128meg and 256meg flash sticks, they are not as cheap. 2gig ones cost as much as the Western Digital drive I saw. It, too, included Danz software if you like that sort of thing.

Why small? So you can easily move it to use elsewhere. USB connections are ubiqutous (how do you spell that?) so no converters or anything is needed.

I combine snapshot backups (I date them in file name) with incremental. On XP, by the way, Robocopy is a great utility you can get for free from Microsoft in their Resource kit for NT. Works fine on XP. But it does require to how to write switches on the command line. NTBackup is another good one and has a decent UI.

Edited by tos226, 04 April 2006 - 10:26 PM.


#15 whatapalaver

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Posted 05 April 2006 - 06:52 AM

Thank you everybody, for being interested in my question. Your helpful replies have given me much to think about and very soon I will have to decide what road to go down. I'm persuaded to have an 80Gb USB connection external hard drive and software that will allow me to do incremental backups. The data file has grown to 1.2Gb since the addition of hundreds of PDF images. There are boxes of documents in here and I intend to PDF everything.

Best wishes, whatapalaver




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