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Mech brought up a subject in his thread on dealing with his Seagate 7200.11 drive woes that I thought deserved it's own thread; namely, what is the best way, or the most used way, of backing up hard drive data?

My experience backing up hard drive data for the last 25 years has not been good. I have had problems with what device to back up TO! I have backed data up to floppies (bad idea, not reliable), two different types of streaming tape (not reliable, perhaps just my personal experience), recordable DVD (lost 100 movies due to the discs not being playable 6 months later!!!), and CD (these work, but don't hold a lot compared to todays hard drives).

The best way I can see to back up hard drive data is to use another hard drive (external) or perhaps some of the larger flash drives (expensive and I'm unsure at to their reliability for long-term storage).

Please share your opinions and experiences!
 

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On my home built HTPC I use RAID 5. Four 300GB drives. I think I'm going to reconfigure it to mirrored drives. Two 1TB drives. Drives have gotten bigger and cheaper since I built the HTPC. In either case, if a drive goes bad, I don't lose everything. I also use a web based backup service. This protects my data if the house burns down and my HTPC with it. I back up my laptop using the web service.
 

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I use syncback free to back up to a 2nd hard drive. This is nice because, let's say I have 2 500GB drives, but only 200GB of info to back up. Instead of using Raid 1 and having only 500GB of usable space, I now have 800GB of usable space (that 200GB of info backed up on 2 separate drive. Plus I can use an external for offsite backup without having to come up with a separate backup process.
 

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I back up to other harddrive(s). When you get down to it, there just isn't anything that works as well for home use. Optical media lacks the space, and magnetic tapes are only worth it on the high end.

So the simple thing to do is get another external harddrive. Just a USB (or firewire or eSATA) unit. Back your data up to that periodically. I personally use Microsoft's Sync Toy since it's free and just copies the folders I want, but you may want to get something like Acronis Trueimage.

An alternative if you really don't have much data is a USB flash drive.

A good idea at that point is to get yourself a safe that is rated to withstand fire and water. You then put the backup drive in that. That way, even if your house catches fire or gets flooded your data probably survives. They are also decent at keeping thieves from taking it. This is a good idea anyhow since you toss your important documents in there too.

Now is that enough? Well depends on the data. For anything I can think of on a normal computer this should be fine. However if the data is really important, you'll want to arrange an offsite backup. For my most important data I back it up to our NAS at work. If you are in a situation where you have data like that, I can look in to some services to recommend to you.


As for me I have three levels of data redundancy:

1) A RAID-5. That is an array of drives (3 or more) such that if one fails you lose no data. Two or more must fail for data loss to happen. This is not a backup, though many confuse it as such, since it doesn't protect against you accidentally deleting something. It is a reliability thing. If a drive dies, I can keep using my computer while I wait for a new one to come in, and I don't need to reinstall.

2) Another internal, non-RAID backup disk. This is an easy, fast backup for my data. I sync to it often, since it is always hooked up. It is also there should I decide I need to reinstall, I don't have to go and fetch my data, just copy it back over. Everything important is on both the array, and the backup disk.

3) An external drive in a safe. Every so often, like every month or so (or if I've done something I consider more important) I trot that out and sync it to my backup drive in my system, then back to the safe. That way, should there be a fire, or should my computer short out and blast my disks or whatever, I have a backup.

For me, works pretty well. It'd take a fairly major event to destroy my data, and at that point I probably don't really care about it anyhow.


As for long term reliability, yes harddrives do have problems in the long term. You do not want to put a backup on a HD and not touch it for 10 years. However, there is no problem so long as you do two things:

1) Check your backup. You should be doing this anyhow, as you go and update it with new stuff to backup.

2) Replace your HDs every so often. This will likely happen anyhow as you get more data, but even if not, if you are getting in the 5-7 year range, think about buying a new one.

Remember that the reason digital data is so resilient is not because the storage devices themselves are infallible, but because it's easy to copy. So as long as you make copies, and keep those copies on current technology, you should be good.
 

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Hi, first post here.

I run a Squeezebox network at home. 3 classics and 1 transporter. Everything is served off a single 1 TB (soon to be 1.5 TB) external hard drive.

I use a combo of DVD's and a second external hard drive to backup. I keep both off site at my relatives houses.
 

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I use 3 320 gb harddisks in raid 5 as my main storage: this contains my media collection. On this server I also run backuppc, a linux backup daemon. This backs up the important files from other pc's (documents, settings, etc) to this raid5 volume. I regularly export those backups as an "archive" to a usb external harddisk which I only connect when it is archiving this data. I manually copy my multimedia data regularly to another usb harddisk.

I agree with above posters, that external HD's (usb, firewire, esata) seem the best option for "consumer" backups. Just make sure that the backup disks are somewhere safe when not in use.
 

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Raid 1 at the office.

Two hard drives on my laptop with Acronis backing up to one, then I do a backup all along to an external USB hard drive.
 

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I have 4 hard drives in my computer - one with the OS and programs, one with my data and the other two for backups of the first two. I had a RAID setup in the past but ran into some problems and then ditched that. Now I use Symantec Ghost 14 and run regularly scheduled backups (weekly). I also have a MS Home Server that backs up my critical data daily (automatically) - I guess I am just paranoid :)
 

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Mac have a great back-up system using "Time-Machine". Automatic back-ups and option to reinstall selected files instead of complete system restore as in Windows.
 

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I back up all my computers to a Windows Home Server that sits in my network room. It does it automatically every night.

One of these days I'll get around to setting it up as a full fledged media server. Right now it just serves up music.
 

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I use an USB harddisk for backup. I have it connected to my computer all the time, but I turn it on only when making backups, because the drive has a bit of an annoying whining sound. I am very sensitive to noise from computers, I have put quite an effort in silencing my computer. :)

I think I will get a networked NAS harddrive someday, and put it in a cupboard and close the door, then I won't be bothered with the sound, at least.
 

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i have 3 external hard drives one for music 1 for my home pics and vids and what ever i wanna put on it and 1 for movies
 
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