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External Hard Drive/backup Questions


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#1 bad_bizarre

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Posted 28 September 2006 - 11:18 PM

Hey everyone, I have some questions about my external hard drive. A few months ago, my internal hard drive crashed on my laptop and I lost everything. I definitely learned my lesson and bought a Seagate 160 GB external hard drive to back my laptop up.

So first of all, what should I back up, other than my documents? Getting my computer back with a new internal hard drive with just about nothing on it was a real pain trying to get it back to how it was (and I still haven't). I would like to be at a point where I can just have everything I need on the external so if anything happens again, I can just plug it in and have it just about how it was before. Is that possible? If so, how do I go about doing that?

Second, I already backed up all my documents and some other settings (from the WindowsXP Backup program) so I have a folder called "Backup" in my external hard drive. I tried making another backup tonight but an error came up that said I either ran out of space or the backup was too big. I absolutely know I have enough room (I have 145 out of 149 GB open) so what happened? Does it have anything to with with FAT32 formatting? It says if I have FAT32 formatting on the external, the maximum backup size is only 4GBs...should I format it to NTFS? I found out how to do that.

Basically I just want to do whatever is best for backing up a laptop as much as I can with 145 GBs on my external hard drive. Thanks for any help you can give me!

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#2 dc3

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Posted 29 September 2006 - 02:25 AM

The FAT file system does only have a capacity of 4MiB, and the NTFS file system has a capacity of 16Eib, so yes you should format with NTFS.

From personal experience I would suggest that you save your important files to either a CD or DVD, the back up hdd could die but the disc will still be around. If these files are very important you might want to consider using a back up program like Drive Image which you can update, and if there is a failure you just use the disc to restore the files.

Edited by dc3, 29 September 2006 - 02:26 AM.

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#3 Enthusiast

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Posted 29 September 2006 - 06:52 AM

Disks you burn on home cd burners have a shelf life and the dye in them disintegrates after a certain period of time.

The hd can die.

So its 6 of one and a half dozen of the other and since it is a backup it is unlikely for both your internal hd and the usb drive to die at the same time.

It is more likely that the cd gets scratched or rendered inoperable some other way, plus you cannot perform an incremental backup using cds, but you can using the external usb drive.

Reformat the USB drive to NTFS using the Windows format utility, do a full backup including a second one for settings, and in subsequent backups choose the incremental option in the advanced settings.

#4 dc3

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Posted 29 September 2006 - 10:56 AM

Disks you burn on home cd burners have a shelf life and the dye in them disintegrates after a certain period of time.
It is more likely that the cd gets scratched or rendered inoperable some other way, plus you cannot perform an incremental backup using cds, but you can using the external usb drive.


The shelf life of CDs and DVDs is still not certain, IBM thinks that the average disc once burned will have a shelf life of two to five years. And then in the same article they have this from NIST.


The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) published results of accelerated aging tests on CD-Rs and DVD-Rs in 2004. CD-Rs that used phythalocyanine dye and had a gold and silver alloy coating performed best. Overall, the study estimated that 13% of discs would fail within 50 years, if the media was stored under normal office environmental conditions.


I haven't found any test results newer than 2004 that are conclusive.

What does strike me though is the fact that I have DVD movies that are over a decade old and still play just fine. For that matter so does netflix and blockbuster.

As for them getting scratched, if the disc is important to you, you will take of it.

A second thought here, the media we are using today could be out dated in a couple of years from now, who knows what's out there on the horizon.

Edited by dc3, 29 September 2006 - 10:58 AM.

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#5 TMacK

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Posted 29 September 2006 - 11:26 AM

Windows NTBackup is capable of providing a basic backup solution.
A far better option would be to obtain a program such as Norton Ghost (now called Save and Restore)or Acronis True Image. Both of these programs are capable of backing up your entire drive.
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#6 Enthusiast

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Posted 29 September 2006 - 11:50 AM


Disks you burn on home cd burners have a shelf life and the dye in them disintegrates after a certain period of time.
It is more likely that the cd gets scratched or rendered inoperable some other way, plus you cannot perform an incremental backup using cds, but you can using the external usb drive.


The shelf life of CDs and DVDs is still not certain, IBM thinks that the average disc once burned will have a shelf life of two to five years. And then in the same article they have this from NIST.


The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) published results of accelerated aging tests on CD-Rs and DVD-Rs in 2004. CD-Rs that used phythalocyanine dye and had a gold and silver alloy coating performed best. Overall, the study estimated that 13% of discs would fail within 50 years, if the media was stored under normal office environmental conditions.


I haven't found any test results newer than 2004 that are conclusive.

What does strike me though is the fact that I have DVD movies that are over a decade old and still play just fine. For that matter so does netflix and blockbuster.

As for them getting scratched, if the disc is important to you, you will take of it.

A second thought here, the media we are using today could be out dated in a couple of years from now, who knows what's out there on the horizon.


Commercially burned cds and dvds use a different process and do not use the dyes to be laser burned by the home dvd/cd writer.

They burn the data directly in the disk - no dye to disintegrate over time.

#7 usasma

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Posted 30 September 2006 - 10:04 AM

Just my 2 - you can use a disk imaging utility to backup the entire hard drive. That way, should you have problems, you can reinstall the entire hard drive in about 20 minutes.

This usually is used for problems with corruption of the operating system on the computer - and it's a lifesaver if you experiment with programs, settings, and tools..

It's drawback is that the files are very large - so they shouldn't be used for routine backups. But it does provide a place to "go back" to where the computer was working well.

I prefer Acronis True Image for this ($50 US) - but there are also freeware solutions available.
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#8 Enthusiast

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Posted 01 October 2006 - 07:22 AM

With the external hard drive you can have both - images like Acronis of Ghost and for regular incremental backups you can use backup software like Dantz Retrospect or the Windows Backup utility which can do incremental backups on a scheduled basis and system state backups as well.

Dantz is more capable and more configurable. There are others as well.

You can also use Erunt backups too.

The External hard drive can be shared just as any other drive can if you have a network so your other computers can utilize it too.

Incremental backups are the way to go as it is far easier than burning cds every day or however often you need to backup your data.




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