Backup to CD-RW nightmares

Posted on 2004-03-22
Last Modified: 2010-04-03
Anyone else having  CD-RW backup nightmares?  I am trying to use BackupMyPC to write my data.  Keep getting these "cannot write the required backup fornat to the media" errors, even with different media. Then , the next time I use the same media, it write it fine, usually after formatting.  Then I go back and try to read it and it says the media does not contain a valid backup set.  Also,  I lost my catalog due to a virus recently.  Now, none of the CD's I backed up to are recognized by BackupMyPC, because there is no catalog.  I can use these same CD's to drag and drop data with  Cd createor 6, no problems.

I am ready to go back to tape and trash the BackupMyPC software. !  Anyone have suggestions?


Steve in Cincinnati ( no I don't have to pack heat when I go downtown)
Question by:sreisiger

Expert Comment

ID: 10651816
When you say 'different media' do you mean Tape/Diskette etc or just different CDRW's, as it sounds like the program is attempting to write to a media type (ie tape/Hard drive/daiskett/CD) not of the type it is expecting.

Sorry I can't help more, but I'm not familiar with your program.

btw Is Cincinnati cold? Why the compact heat thing?

HTH -Peace
LVL 11

Expert Comment

ID: 10655416
CD-RW isn't reliable enough to be more than a media for transporting data.  In fact, you'll get better results backing up to a CD-R than CD-RW.. the problem with CD-R is that it is not reusable.

Here's what I'd do:

1.  I wrote a script to "backup" (actually copy newer files) using XCOPY from computerA to computerB, and computerB to ComputerA, etc.  You can actually use one of the free utility from called syncback that does pretty much the same thing.  

2.  Every few weeks/month, I'd do a manual backup from those backup directories to a CD-R.  I also use FTP to backup my photos to a remote site, where it can act as both a web server for viewing, as well as remote backup.  The reason I don't do a CD-R backup more frequently is because the chance of both hard drive being bad is really very small.  If you worry about your data, you can do it more frequently.

3.  I also use the "Shadow Copy" on Windows Server 2003 (which I understand most of you don't have)... This resolves my problem of try to recover earlier version of a particular data.

4.  That along with WindowsXP's ability to "roll back" system state, I think I've got it covered.

5.  Worst case scenario... Whenever I build/rebuild a computer, I always make an image of the system, so in the future I don't have to worry about installing software, registration, configuration, etc.

- Info

Expert Comment

ID: 10659289
I have used both CD-R and CD-RW to do backups, and I can verify that the CD-RW is not very reliable in terms of a regular backup procedure.  A simpler backup can be performed by the following steps:
1) use CD-R's
2) use NTI CD-Maker 2000 or some such CD-R burning tool (I have never had a problem with NTI).
3) Keep your user files in a folder
4) Keep install files in a folder

I think that you'll find #3,#4 to be especially helpful to keep you sane while doing backups.  It really doesn't make sense to do a backup of >10GB worth of data if <500MB has changed since the last backup.  Generally, users create files or install applications.   If your installed application .EXE's or .ZIP's are all in one directory, it will be far easier to make backups of that information; likewise with the user-created files.  You'd just load NTI CD-Maker, drag 2 folders to the new CD image, and click "Write"...  done!
If you scatter files around in your directory structure, backing up the drive becomes much more difficult.  Additionally, if you are backing up the files CD's, you really only need one or two additional copies on CD-R before you can delete those files-- there's no sense in backing up the same thing 100 times. Plus, you downloaded the ZIP files from the internet, etc., so if *all else fails*, you can usually find those files again.  I use CD-R's to back up large image files (4 fit on each CD-R), and the only drawback to using CD-R's is that they are slow to load *large* files (>100 MB) to/from.  

Author Comment

ID: 10668289
Comment to Hippy Warlock, no Cincinnati is not all that cold!  By different media I meant different brands of CD-RW's . By packing heat , I meant  I do not have to carry a gun to go downtown. I was referring to the unrest in a 2 square block area that occurred last year. The major media make it look as though downtown Cinci is dangerous, and that is a crock.  

Thanks to all for the info.  I suppose DVD RW is just as unreliable as CD-RW for backups. If not I'd like to know.  

Accepted Solution

sir_flexalot earned 125 total points
ID: 10668389
I haven't heard specifically that DVD-RW is as unreliable as CD-RW, but I would suspect that it is not as bad. DVD's are more expensive to produce, so it is in the manufacturers' best interests to make the DVD-RW's work more reliably.  I know at least one person that uses DVD-RW's for backup, but they also have a really high-quality burner, which may be why they get more reliable results.  In the mean time, if you can afford it, I'd stick with the -R discs:  -RW discs can be written by the sun - supposedly in just a few hours if left upside down in direct sunlight.

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