Easy data backup?

Posted on 2005-04-20
Last Modified: 2010-04-03
I want to have redundancy/backup of some of my media in case of HD failure...

1) What are my options?

2) Maybe OS/software driven RAID is the easiest/care free and cheapest way to go?

I have two same 200GB HDs...
2b) How would I be able to set this up? Can WinXP Prod manage it? Or do I need 2K3?

3) Any other software solutions? Any hardware solutions?

Any other ideas, suggestion, tips, tricks are much appreciated ;)

Thank you all...
Question by:InGearX
    LVL 87

    Accepted Solution

    Raid is not a backup solution, but it can help in case of a disk failure. XP doesn't support software raid, 2k3 would, but that alone would be far more expensive than buying a raid controller. There are cheap IDE or SATA raid controllers from Promise, Highpoint etc, or many of today's mainboards already have controllers that can do raid 1 on board. This type of raid is much more reliable than software raid, and works for all OS's.
    LVL 5

    Expert Comment

    First, you have to have a controller.  Some motherboards include RAID controllers onboard, otherwise you can purchase an add-on card.  

    Since you have two of the same sized drives, you could do a periodic Ghost.  This would allow you to restore immediately if from the second hard drive in case of a failure.  Only downtime would be the time it took to boot to the second drive.  

    The RAID is probably a better solution, but if you don't have the controller all ready, then it would be cheaper to Ghost.  These option are very similar though.

    There are a couple of different imaging/ghosting programs, but I still like the tried and true Symantec Ghost version.

    Good Luck
    LVL 13

    Assisted Solution


    What type of user are you, and how casual / serious is the backup task?  For most home users, I'd say get a good DVD burner (I'd recommend the Pioneer "08" or "09" series) and just copy your important files to DVD-R media.  A couple of comments:

    1.  Use "real" ISO-standard DVD formats, do not under any circumstances use UDF ("packet writing") software.  That means that you use the main burning application of one of the major CD/DVD burning software packages (Roxio or Nero -- which both have UDF software also, but don't use it, preferably don't even install it).

    2.  Use one-time media.  Don't use "eraseable" or "reuseable" media, the data tends to not have good long term stability on "RW" media.

    3.  Initially make a full backup of your data (there is not much need to backup your programs), and from then on every week to month, make a new disc (DVD or CD) of the things that have changed.  The Windows "search" or "find" feature has the ability to find files "modified between xx/xx/xx and yy/yy/yy", which is very helpful.

    This is a basically manual file-by-file scheme.  If you need to backup an entire partition, use Drive Image or Ghost or Acronis TrueImage (I prefer Drive image, but it's just a personal preference).  With two drives of 200 gigs, it could take a LOT of DVDs, but you will get 50% compression, and empty space is not backed up.

    If you are a business and are talking full-blown multi-generation backups, then it's more complex, you may need a tape drive and specialized backup software, and the whole issue becomes far more complex.
    LVL 2

    Expert Comment

    If you want a backup, rather than fault tolerance, then there are lots of solutions available.
    Do you want full backup of everything(operating system, registry, etc.), or just your important data files?
    I use a USB disk caddy with a large hard disk in it. I can unplug it, and take it to a different computer (or carry it off site), so it is a good backup solution.
    I use a variety of backup programs.
    For important data files, I use "Second Copy". This installs in your toolbar, and will copy any folders you want to any disk you want. You can set it to keep multiple generations of each file (very handy if you want to go back to the file you had before you made the last two sets of changes). You can set your own schedules, to copy as often as you want (or on demand).
    For backing up the whole machine I use Retrospect. I have this set to fire up and back up the whole machine overnight every Monday, and to do incremental backups (just the changed files) other days of the week. Backing up a full 20GB disk, with verify, takes hours, though.
    I also use Acronis TrueImage occasionally to take a complete image backup of my disk and operating system. It does incremental backups too, and, if I wasn;t using Retrospect to backup other machines on my LAN, I would probably be happy with Acronis on its own.
    If you don't want to spend money on backup software, Windows comes with a backup program which is perfectly adequate.
    LVL 22

    Expert Comment

    RAID is good for fault tolerance or perfornace increases. Striped RAID will offer you better performance but if one drive fails the whole system is hosed. Mirrored RAID offers you redundancy, if one drive fails the other has a mirrored copy, but it means that you only get the space of one of the drives, not both and it can slow performance some as the computer has to do twice the work on any drive access. If you're looking for backup RAID isn't really it.

    For backup you probably want imaging software. For home computers something like Norton Ghost or is probably sufficient and you can make backups every so often to hard drive or better, to optical media like DVD's If you want something a little more high end with better features, I suggest Acronis True Image which the company i work for uses on it's servers and the really important workstations.

    If you're worried about data backup but don't care much about the OS reinstallation, i would also suggest an external hard drive. A nice 300 GB external that you can just plug in, drop your files onto and then store away again can be useful. It's a little heavier than optical media but it's harder to damage and you can get pretty good transfer rates. settle for nothing less than full speech USB2 though or the transfer may take a while.
    LVL 32

    Expert Comment

    All the above are good options and solutions. I just want to mention another that I have used many times in the past in a setup like yours, and works well.

    Assuming what you want is an automated backup from one drive to the other, say once a day:

    You can create a simple .bat file containing the relevant commands to copy any modified files from your C: drive to the backup drive, and schedue it to run once a day. The first time (and maybe every month or two) you can make a Ghost image so you have a clean starting point as well as a disk you can boot and get running quickly.

    If you have an interest in this please post back and I can post the script as well as how to schedule.

    Note that this is not the only backup solution you should have - someone may steal your PC, or both drives may fail at once, etc. Therefore you also want another level of backup for the more important stuff such as documents, photos etc. That should be on CD or DVD, two copies at least preferably stored not all in one place.

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