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Backup Drives

NigelRocks asked

I'm putting together a long-term hardware backup solution, and I'm interested in what others would recommend as far as make, etc.  I definitely want to go USB with these.

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What I did is buy an enclosure that holds the drives and physically connects them.  The enclosue then has output via a usb port (it also uses raid between the drives for failover)
This is what I have

If I was going to go buy another today i would look at something like this

For PC backups, Seagate is putting out some good cost effective USB drives with 5 year warranty.  These drives have nice small footprint as well.  My only complaint is that the design is for vertical orientation only.  Could lay the thing on it's side, but it would be awkward.

Of course SimpleDrive and Western Digital have been doing the USB for awhile.  WD is only putting a 1 year warranty, and SimpleDrive was the same last time I checked.  USB drives seem to be a "me too" market now, but very few choices for known drive manufacturers backing the product with strong warranty periods.

For servers do not go USB unless you are dealing with small office type stuff or doing "snapshot" type backups (vs. nightly).  The thoroughput just isn't there yet.  Also, there are still some USB quirks that can create undesireable affects...especially on older server hardware.

What is the scale of your backup needs?  

How often are you planning to back up?
Is the time needed to back up and restore a factor?
How much are you planning to back up?
What is your retention going to be?
Are you archiving as well as backing up?
What level, if any, redundency do you need?
Hmmm... this ia a bigger problem then it immediately appears.

Any normal USB external hard drive would probably have enough storage for you to at least keep your backups for a while. You can easily buy one that holds a terabyte of data. Personally I recommend the Western Digital MyBook series. For example:
or http://www.wdc.com/en/products/products.asp?driveid=361&language=en

You can get at least some of these models at any futureshop or best buy or a typical computer store.

However a longterm backup solution requires you to think about other things. In particular, reliability over the long term. Will a hard drive last 10+ years of inactivity and still be readable later? Also, what happens if there is a fire in your building? Most hard drives will not survive even if they were in a firebox, because temperatures even as high as 60 C compromise the metallic platters on the drive.

I would suggest a standard external hard drive like one of those above for your regular backups, you can make backups as often as daily if you like. Then, as backups age, you eventually archive the occasional one to CD or DVD, or eventually BluRay when the technology gets a bit cheaper, and then delete the old ones off the hard drive. Those DVD's become your longterm solution while your hard drive only holds archival backups of the last year or so.

If this scenario is going to be your mission crtical data I would definately buy a usb drive that uses redundant technology such as raid.  If you dont and your drive dies your in for some work to get the data back.
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process Advisor
Most Valuable Expert 2013
What you buy and do depends entirely on the importance and quantity of your data - neither of which did you touch on.  I would strongly recommend you review my comment on backup (started out here a couple years back as a comment and turned it into a web page so as not to keep filling up posts with the same information).




Right now I've got around 200Gb (including apps, etc.), and I could see growing to 500Gb in 2 to 5 years.
>>>>>How often are you planning to back up?
I'd like to back up every day (on some level) in the wee hours of the morning).

>>>>Is the time needed to back up and restore a factor?
Hopefully not.  Between 1 am to 6 am I should be able to back up alot (automatically).

>>>>>>>>>>>Are you archiving as well as backing up?
Mostly backing up, but more and more archiving as time goes on.  I'm thiking I'd do a redundant hard-drive backup (like RAID) and backup/archive to tape.

>>>>>>>>>What level, if any, redundency do you need?

2 hard drives, 4 rotating tape cartridges, and off-site storage for data (I already have that).

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