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Cheapest way to Back up lots of data once

My question is simple.. I work for a Vision Sytem company and we have lots of video from clients.  We need to back up this video. Currently we have about 750 gigs, soon we will have more...  I would like to back up this information to some sort of device just once as the clips don't change.  What is the cheapest but yet most consistant (won't ruin the data) way?

1 Solution
Hi sporenza,
There is no easy answer. The cheapest is probably DVD but you will need approx 200 DVD's so this will be a big task.
You can get some very big tape drives (AIT, LTO, SDLT etc...). You can get backup systems with large drives and autochangers which will back up far more than you have. The tape drives are very expensive though and tapes are not really designed for long term storage.

Personally I would use tapes but perform a fresh backup onto a new tape of the archived data every couple of years so that you always have the data on a fresh tape.
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
I would say external hard drives.  For example, given your described circumstance, I would do this.

Buy the following items:
1.  $150 - Firewire DriveDock - see www.wiebetech.com
2.  $40 - Firewire controller (if needed - from anywhere)
3.  $215 - 300 GB ATA Hard Drives - get 6 (from newegg.com)

Total cost $1500 or so.
now, copy/backup the video files to the 300 GB drives make copies of the backups too, that's why I said 6 drives and not 3.  Hard drives, especially when they are sitting on a shelf, should be good for years, but if one does decide to die, you'll want a backup.  The files will be instantly accessible (unlike tape) and you can buy the cheapest raw drives out there - as opposed to buying enclosures and spending 20 minutes per drive "enclosing" them.  The Firewire Drivedock allows you to connect the raw drive to the system without an enclosure.  And the solution is quite expandable - just buy another couple of drives whenever you run low on space - and you can get them from almost anywhere.
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
I don't like a tape solution in THIS case because tape systems get outdated quicker and are more costly to implement than merely dumping the data to a drive.  (In an enterprise environment where you're backing up files and databases that change constantly, tape is the way to go, but not how I'd do it in this case).
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Well Blue Ray could be the answer ... the top level ones are 50 Gigs peace but probabyl not really cheap ... still have too look and find some devices they are still the upcomming technology.
I'd suggest you try getting a Streaming tape ...there are some like 4 Tb ... should be plenty of space to store all your need on one tape, but probably not cheap ... I think the price is the tricky part ...

for backup tape drives you can look up ... at


But like grblades noticed .. playing with 200 DVD's around ain't that easy... you'll have to sit alongside the computer to burn those 200 pieces ... and that's going to take a looots of time ...

But for the price of Stream tape drivers .. you could get a good price on HDD drives say new Maxtor 400 Gb piece... few of those could do the work to .. make a lil's file server and take it online from time to time when you need to do some backups ..


Well hope this helps ...
I would agree with most of leew's answer but I would consider a slightly different solution.

The use of external drives through firewire or usb will only allow for 10-12 MB/s of data transfer speed.  If you took the same drive and put it internal to the pc (even if only temporarily) it should be able to transfer off at @ 50 MB/s (depending upon actual hardware configuration).

Another option that would be between these 2 ideas would be to use external SATA drives to store the data.  SATA external allows for hotswap features without being limited by USB/Firewire speeds.

You coud use something like this to hold the drives: http://www.macgurus.com/productpages/sata/hotswapsatakits.php.  These are available in 2-8 drive configurations.  This device would be hooked to something like this: http://www.macgurus.com/productpages/RAID/SyncRAID.php.  If you went the SATA external route you could also purchase the new Hitachi 400 gig SATA HD: http://www.newegg.com/app/ViewProductDesc.asp?description=22-145-074&depa=0.  While these are a bit more pricey they would allow you the highest capacity per drive and allow you the best scalability for any given drive quantity.

Either solution utilizing hard drives is a bit more expensive per gig than the use of DVD's but the sheer amount of work involved in burning 200 or so DVD's would greatly outweigh the difference in price of the HD solutions.
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
Sevn, I don't entirely disagree with Sevnn - but I believe the throughput on firewire is more like 15-25 MB/s - about 1 GB a minute.  Maybe faster.  I've stored video files and the like and while it doesn't transfer as fast as an internal drive, I've been able to fill an 80 GB hard drive in about an about 60-90 minutes.  Theoretical speeds are 50 MB/s, but in reality you tend to get about half that with firewire and a little less with USB 2 (even though it's potential is 20% faster).

> Performance
> As expected, the Firewire interface outperformed USB 2.0 ? significantly. For some reason the Firewire interface was a bit inconsistent, but nothing bothersome. There were no issues at all with the USB 2.0 interface. It was dead reliable, if a bit slower. The below benchmarks were obtained with SciSoft?s Sandra Filesytem Benchmark.

> SiSoftware Sandra

> USB interface
> Drive Index : 19MB/s

> Firewire interface
> Drive Index : 35MB/s

These numbers are faster than previous benchmarks I have seen showing about 10 MB/s for USB2 and 12-13 MB/s for Firewire 400.  With this performance, the external solution would be a doable solution but I would still recommend the external SATA for drive density and increased transfer possibilities.
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
Thanks for the post, Sevnn, good info - and like I said - I don't entirely disagree
I recommend norton ghost 9.0 which allows imaging of the OS while it is on.  You can also sheduel backups
Lot's of good input here. The best solution depends on what your requirements are.

If the primary/on-line clip is corrupt/unavailable, what's the time-frame to make it available?
Will this serve as a disaster recovery solution or will it remain on-site?
Need more specific details.

Like many have said, you need to balance reliability, availability and cost. Is this a repository for clients that have strict SLA's with your company? Are you generating revenues by serving clips on demand?

leew's idea's look good based on the limited info provided.

My take (if I were king):

Build a workstation or server using Seagate 320 MB/s 15K RPM drives with a simple RAID 5 config. This will help sell management on reliability, disaster recovery, etc. Copy files. Backup to DVD at your leisure.

Less costly would be replacing the disk subsystem with leew's original post.


The simplest answer for that issue is:
Does speed is a factor? If not, why wont you just span those 750GBs to 90 dual sided DVDs and sum the price to 250$.

If it is a factor, the price will rise as you get a faster system; the above input is enough to prove it;

hi leew,

got alot of suggestion up, but think about the backup reliability. cost would become practical if you have god backup device. specially big company it is a must to invest with this device.

i suggest two option.
Go with cutting aged backup technology RE-1000 with 1TB Capacity that can extend for future used. check www.cuttedaged.com for referrence.
Stablish a workstation capable of handling 1TB and up, put 4 HD @ 300GB with 10T RPM. share  the drive and shedule the backup.
-or if posible maximze the drive of server by adding more.

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