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SATA Backup Method (w/RAID)

Posted on 2004-04-19
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Last Modified: 2012-05-04
I have been backing up my system by connecting an internal IDE HD to my PC and running Norton Ghost Clone.  I then keep this HD off-site.

I have upgraded my PC (due to arrive soon) and it comes standard with the following configuration:

120Gb HD SATA RAID 1 mirror with 8MB DataBurst Cache
120Gb HD SATA with RAID 0 Controller Card

I have never used RAID before and would like to know the best options:

1) Should I change the settings to RAID 0 from 1 and use the HD together, and backup my data to a DVD, using standard copy / paste. (or to the IDE HD I currently use for backup, via an IDE -to- USB converter)

2) I presume it is not worth mirroring my HD's since if I get a virus, or a major software error, the problem will just get mirrored.

3) Would I be best removing the RAID from the machine, and one of the two HD's and use my origional backup method (Norton Ghost).  I would have to remove raid to avoid issues with Norton Ghost and I do not mind losing the 120Gig space, since my disk space requirements will be fine with one drive.  In this case, which would be a better solution from the options bellow:

SATA to USB

http://www.snt.com.tw/product.php?mode=show&cid=21&pid=79

Removable SATA Drive

http://www.snt.com.tw/product.php?mode=show&cid=3&pid=80

With the above, one of my concerns is the speed at which Norton Ghost will clone via USB2.0 (since prior to now I have had USB1.0, which was too slow, & therefore always opened up my PC and connected directly to IDE).

One thing that crossed my mind was to use the removable SATA (as above) and keep the mirror RAID 1 in place, turn on my PC, then turn off the PC, remove the mirror drive & keep it somewhere safe.  (I presume this would be in-effect a cloned hard drive) although I am not sure how the PC will respond when it is then turned on again without the mirror drive connected?

Interested in your views and advice, thanks.
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Question by:semmes
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by:prof666
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semmes,

Depends upon how large that IDE disk is. You can get (as you mentioned) kits that allow you to have an external caddy for you IDE drive, that connects via USB2.0. USB2 is vastly faster than 1.1, and will easily be able to cope with backups.
I use a tool called Handbackup where you can sync up directories (or root drive letters) to another source. This wouldn't be an image file like ghost, but will allow you to backup files.
Another option is to use DriveImage 7.0 by powerquest, which can create images whilst the PC is online. Therefore you would plug in your USB drive, run the backup to image, and then disconnect the USB. This assumes you are running Win32. If using Linux then look at http://www.sysresccd.org . This will allow you to do much the same deal, but from a bootable CD. There is full Docs on the homepage.
As long as the IDE disk is large enough you should have no problem. Both tools (sysreccd and Drive Image) only make images of used disk space so in fact your disk can be much smaller, but keep an eye on that one.

Da Proff
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by:caffeineshark
caffeineshark earned 50 total points
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I think it's well worth mirroring, if your main concern is backup.  It's instant and doesn't require external software or scheduling.  The 'exact copy' of raid1 is awesome, should a drive fail - you can use the backup as your main without missing a beat.  You don't need Ghost to use raid1, but you will lose the 120gb storage space, as it will be the backup.

As for removing the hot-swap SATA drive, which you mirrored, you will have to go into the BIOS and undo the RAID1 configuration when rebooting.  This will obviously only save to a certain point in history, so you lose all changes made after that.  Not a real good use of raid1, and I wouldn't recommend using it that way.
If you want to go that way, set a Backup Point on your system, and burn backups at regular intervals.  

Viruses and software errors can be fixed - there's no reason to use them as a defining factor when setting up your system.  The proper setup of virus scanning and backups will avoid the majority of problems.  
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by:semmes
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Would you recommend RAID 5 or 10 (I am not to sure on RAID, but does'nt one of them offer both mirroring and performance).

Also, would I be better off (speed, reliability) using my second HD as a hot-swap SATA drive (http://www.snt.com.tw/product.php?mode=show&cid=3&pid=80) than cloning?  Is it only the bios during boot that would have to be configured, or would I also have to make changes to hardware jumpers, and software. - The reason I ask, is due to added backup security, so I can keep the backup off site in the event of a fire, etc...  and I will be sure to have backed up everything!
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by:semmes
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Also, if using RAID 1, when I put the mirror drive back into the system to do another clone / mirror, how long will the drive take to be completely mirrored & how will I know it is complete?
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prof666 earned 50 total points
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semmes,

As RAID uses block for block copy, a re-sync when adding in a new mirror on RAID 1 will take some time, and system performance will be affected during that time period. There is no indication in windows if the rebuild is complete as this is being done on a hardware level by the controller. Both Raid 5 and RAID 10 have added benefits , but alos require more storage (a lot more in case of RAID 10 as you will have effectivly 3 spares for 1 data.) Raid 5 has the best space/protection pay off, but will be slightly slower than both RAID 1 and RAID 0 as parity has to be calculated for each write. As caffineshark states your best option is to use a combination of the methods we have described:

1) Use the two SATA disks as RAID 0 for performance and reliability.
2) Make backup images of the boot volume using Drive Image / Ghost and store on external USB IDE drive, and then offsite.

If you make an image in the USB drive, make sure you run a verfiy of the image after creation to make sure it's valid.

This should allow you to restore in a DR sutuation, but also give you some decent HDD crash protection.

Da Proff
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by:Montabahn
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I have been using RAID 1 mirror as a backup for over one year, and it works great.  Once a week, I rotate one of my three hard drives, slide it in the removable drive try and rebuild the mirror and then remove the drive for storage.  When I boot up, I received a warning that the mirror is broken, and after five seconds it boots automatically on the remaining drive.  

Ideally, I should get one more drive and keep the mirror permanent, but those raptor 10,000 rpm drives are not cheap.  
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