Using external hard drive(networkable) as an Off-site Backup option

Posted on 2006-06-22
Last Modified: 2010-04-03
Hi all,

I back up to a dual layer DVD daily for the purpose of off-site backup. Lately, data is too big to fit even in a dual layer DVD.

I am thinking of getting an external Hard Drive(networkable) to use for off-site back up and stop using DVDs.

This external hard drive - LinkStation Network Storage Center - 160GB from Buffalo has good reviews. 

Researched links:,aid,125072,00.asp

I plan to carry the external hard drive with me for off site back up.

Bottom line:
I want a reliable off site back up method.

My main quesion:
Do you suggest to use external hard drives and not use DVD for off site back ups ?

Any pointers will be appreciated.

Question by:S T
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Assisted Solution

IPKON_Networks earned 75 total points
ID: 16964334
It all depends on your personal circumstances. If you intend to carry this drive around, then I would not like to consider it dependable off-site storage for restore purposes. DVD and tape has the advantage of being robust and easily storable ready for recovery. Removeable HDD are slightly more prone to damage if you lug the around.

You could look at internet based storage solutions? Or tapes (you can overwrite them) and look at a rotation process.
How important and how often would you like to recover from this offline backup?
I assume you have an on-site backup that would be used for 99% of restores and this is just belt and braces? If so, then how about spanning multiple DVD's? You could invest in a DVD autoloader if you like this media. However, compared to tape, you are talking a lot of money per gigabyte.
LTO2 drive can store 600GB or so without a problem and is cheap. SDLT will give similar price/gb value and would be better and longer lasting. DVD does have the advantage of being very easy to recover on a foriegn system of course!

Food for thought

Author Comment

by:S T
ID: 16964435
I cannot use internet based storage because our network is not connected to the internet. It is a closed network.

I do have an on site back up.

I want to be prepared for the worst case scenario and hence a reliable off site back up. This is an external hard drive which could be carried off site just like DVD and tapes. Also it costs under $200.



Author Comment

by:S T
ID: 16964453
Somebody also recommended constructing a RAID array but I dont understand how to configure it with an External Hard Drive ??

Assisted Solution

camillemarlow earned 50 total points
ID: 16965221
I would say this largely depends on how much the reliability is worth to you.  Tape is so much less fragile than HDD.  If your company can afford it, i would implement a tape solution.  This way you only have one media type/drive type to own and maintain.  Also, tapes can hold plenty of data.  They also have a much longer life span (usually shelf life).  If budget permits i would go tape.

Another reason you may prefer tape over HDD is thatit does not rely on USB - not exactly a stable connection method.
Also, data recovery services are cheaper for magnetic media like tapes.  I have only ever seen one tape fail and it had been kicked at someone.  I have seen HDD fail simply because they were detached at the wrong time.  Tapes are sequential so there is no file system that can become corrupted like FAT/NTFS etc.  Just some food for thought.
Best Practices: Disaster Recovery Testing

Besides backup, any IT division should have a disaster recovery plan. You will find a few tips below relating to the development of such a plan and to what issues one should pay special attention in the course of backup planning.

LVL 88

Assisted Solution

rindi earned 50 total points
ID: 16966482
Raid is not backup, it only saves you from hardware failures of disks. It should still be used though.

I think the buffalo for backup is very good, but I'd mix it with DVD's too. The DVD's would be used for archiving purposes, data you want to keep for a long time, and the backup on the buffalo system would be data you can erase and replace with newer versions.
LVL 70

Accepted Solution

garycase earned 75 total points
ID: 16971166
The Buffalo NAS device is very well rated and is an excellent drive.   The downside here is that the constant transport of the hard drive is not good for long term reliability -- it could be inadvertently dropped; exposed to temperature extremes in your car; etc.   If you want to use this, I'd suggest you get two -- and alternate the one you use on a daily basis.   That way if one did fail, you could replace it without any significant consequences.   (the potential loss is also mitigated by the fact you maintain a current on-site backup)

For a drive you'll be constantly transporting, however, you may want to consider a portable notebook-drive-based device, as these are designed for shock-resistance and are "expected" to be transported frequently.   This would be a good choice for that:

Note for camillemarlow -- the drive the author is considering here does NOT connect via USB :-)

Author Comment

by:S T
ID: 16971549
The device you suggested is USB. I tried USB but data transfer is too slow compared to ethernet, hence my desire for the Buffalo NAS device. But if the speed is up to mark, maybe I should get two of the Western Digital Passports you recommended.

Tape is not an option. We dont have tape drives nor do we want to use them.

I will continue using DVDs even if more than 1 DVD is needed to store off site.

It boils down to whether continue using DVD's or use external hard drive.  I still need to research more.

Please throw in any more ideas.

I have split points with all of you.

Thanks everyone.

LVL 88

Expert Comment

ID: 16971587
If you are using USB 1, then the throughput would be slow, but with a PCI USB 2 adapter you could easily increase the spead, and these are cheap.
LVL 70

Expert Comment

ID: 16971729
A pair of the WD Passport drives would seem ideal for what you've indicated you need here.   If USB seemed too slow, you most likely were (as rindi noted) using a USB v1.1 data rate ==> if you upgraded the system with an inexpensive USB 2.0 card I don't think you'd be disappointed in the transfer speeds.  A pair of Passports and this card would work very nicely:

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