Hi all, I am going to have to get a backup storage device soon, and I could do with some advice as to the pros and cons of the various devices. I am keen on tape backup, as it seems int he long term better value for money. It MUST be external, and utilise a parralell port, so as I can use it on all my PCs. Any info from any party with knowledge of these beasts will be greatly appreciated, Bfn Mal.
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In my opinion the most reliable type of back up would be a cd-rw. This storage medium is extremely durable, up to 50 yrs im told. also the cd-rw can be re-written or used over again. Its important to get one with a higher write speed if you are storing large files.

Parallel writing is painfully slow.

Get an external backup drive and install scsi cards with external connections on your machines.

Seagate make excellent tape drives and being able to backup 8gig (or more depending on the model) without having to change a disk is an easy relaxed way to do things.

Using cd's is better if you are storing files for library achival purposes but a cd writer won't work from a parallel port.

For my money CD is the best. With tapes if you need to load the tape onto a different machine you have to have a floppy/CD with the tape drive software, install the software, install the hardware and *THEN* (maybe) you can read the tape. But if you archive to CD you can just drop it into any system with a CD and *bam* you're there.

Tapes need to be wound end-to-end (retensioned) annually. They are fussy about dust, magnetic fields, liquids, etc. CD's shrug off conditions that will wipe out tapes.

CD media prices are under $1 per CD. Thats about as cheap as you can get.


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NETMANGE has given you the best answer, in my opinion, as
I have done the same as he has, I installed SCSI CARDS IN
ALL MY COMPUTERS, with external connectors, except that
instead of using a tape drive, I use a YAMAHA 6416S CD-RW
mounted in a SCSI enclosure with a SCSI 2 external cable.

I have ADAPTEC CD CREATOR DELUXE installed on each
computer and I can back up whatever I please to the
rewriteable CD-ROM Disks or to CD-R, if I desire.

The only drawback is the amount that I can copy at any one
session is 700MB with the new 80 minute disks.

With the same setup you could connect a SCSI 20GB

I prefer the external SCSI as suggested by netmange, because
it is so much more reliable than using the Parallel Port.
Are your systems networked together?  

My prefrence would be to get a large capacity SCSI tape drive, or a CDRW and have it backup the important data on each system on a standard schedule.
Depends on your definition of Back-up.
There's a drive back-up and there's file archiving.

As everyone else seems to have already suggested - I'd avoid tape.  

CD's are outstanding - 650MB unformatted capacity.

JAZ drives now hold 1 or 2 GIG depending on the model and will support parallel connection.

ZIP drives offer 100 and 250 MB capacity and are parallel compatible as well.  

LS-120 drives offer 120MB disk capacities and read 3 1/2 floppies as well.

SYQUEST makes a variety of storage solutions up to 1 GIG capacity - most or all of which are parallel compatible as well.  Their SPARQ 1 drive is a 1 gigabyte, removable cartridge drive, very similar to an Iomega ZIP drive, that can be connected via the parallel port.

If your not concerned about cross-over uses (Being able to use the drive to share files with other people/computers) then any solution is viable.  ZIP drives are a widely used format which everyone seems to have or have access to which makes sharing a breeze.

Also mentioned in other comments was the SCSI option.
Here's what you're looking at for data transfer rates:

Parallel:  IEEE 1284 (ECP) will ALLOW
           1-2M/s but more like 300-

IDE:  3.3 - 16.6M/s (depending on PIO

SCSI:  5-40M/s

In other words, SCSI is fast, real fast - Parallel is slow, real slow, so slow it can't get out of it's own way.

As far as $$$ goes,

CD/RW drives:  $150-$500
CD-RW media:  normally $1.50 per disc
              many times you can
              find large retailers
              selling these with a
              rebate for the price
              essentially making them

JAZ: $200-$400

ZIP DRIVES:  $100-$200

LS/120:  $120

SPARQ 1 GIG:  $200

SCSI CARD:  $50-$300 but will depend on
            compatibility with the
            drive chosen.


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malfisherAuthor Commented:
Yes it seems that I need to totally define my needs here. The PCs are not currently networked although that may be part of my problem. The only reason that I am considering external parralell port devices is that only the main PC has USB, and cost is a large factor. Thanks to all it is giving me food for thought, any more ideas? Mal.
If you are only backing up a fairly small ammount of data, a paralell port drive may be ideal for you.  If you have allot of data to backup on a regular basis, that may not be the best answer.
malfisherAuthor Commented:
What I have in mind is to be fair, a little difficult to quantify, as it is based on a future project. If the project fails to take off, I will only need to back up my own personal material, so it is a little bit of a guessing game at present, as there is a possibility albeit slight, that I could get away with an internal device, more thought needed on my part I think! Mal.
Good luck in your search.  As you see, today there are many difrent ways to accomoplish this.
malfisherAuthor Commented:
Thanks to all, Mal
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