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Posted on 2010-01-11
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I have a bunch of archival data that I want to periodically backup.  I have windows 7 and it has a backup utility but I don't like how you can't specify a directory for the backup.  I also have drivesnapshot for backups.

However, I have some trepidation about using this for archival software only because it saves the data in large files which could get corrupted.

Rarely have I seen files get corrupted on a direct copy from disk to disk however, I have seen backup "images" get corrupted consequently corrupting the entire image.

So why use a backup software for a non-system drive vs a scheduled Batch File (XCOPY, ect...)?

Any ideas,
JOe K.
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Question by:ClaudeWalker
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11 Comments
 
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by:BitsBytesandMore
BitsBytesandMore earned 400 total points
ID: 26289656
Have you taken a look at GoodSync www.goodsync.com....
It will monitor any changes on the source and syncronize (only the changes) to the target.
I, just like you, prefer to copy the files individually rather than the typical backup where you are copying files that could corrupt. Goodsync does this....it copies all files from Point A to Point B and then compares if any change has happened on either side.
 
Bits....
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by:BitsBytesandMore
ID: 26289723
In my case I created this scenario for a customer who has several computers at his home but he does not want to use a server. He uses a NAS drive.
So on his Windows 7 computer, I configured Goodsync to copy everything under his name in the USERS folder, so for example, you configure it to copy John and everything under it to the NAS drive (Network Attached Storage - basically a normal drive plugged into the Ethernet Network).
When he uses another computer..... he "Syncs" so any change made under John in the computer "Downstairs" gets synced to his "Upstairs computer (all his documents, pictures, videos, music, etc) via the NAS drive.
Since all his computers are syncing with the NAS drive, all his computers have a copy of the latest data. If one of them goes bad, his data is safe on the NAS drive. If the NAS drive goes bad, all the computers have the latest copy of his data so no data is lost and he would just need to replace the NAS drive and sync it with any of his computers.
As a "redundant" feature, he uses Carbonite www.carbonite.com. So if his whole house burns down or his computers get stolen or for whatever reason he needs to recover his data, he can be wherever he wants..... China..... and he can access his data through a Carbonite restore.....
I prefer this "redundant" method than the traditional methods because it gives him multiple "fail-safes" without the need of him to learn how to install or configure or maintain a server and without the need for him to do anything about his data.
You can configure GoodSync to run automatically at whatever schedule you decide is more convenient for you (every hour, every 5 min...etc) and each computer that is "ON" will synchronize with the NAS drive..
Bits ....
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by:SelfGovern
ID: 26295938
People use backup programs rather than straight file copies for several reasons.   You'll have to weigh the benefits a traditional backup can deliver yourself, to see if it's worth it to you.

A backup regimen should:
- Provide incremental or differential backups as well as periodic full backups.  This allows you to have several generations of a file with automatic storage of generations of data (for instance, the traditional Grandfather/Father/Son).   Why is this important?  You might have some corruption or error introduced two weeks ago that you don't find out until today.  If you've already overwritten two weeks ago with last week's backup, or have a slow-moving virus, you're out of luck.
- Provide a way to get your data offsite.  If your "backup" is in the same room as your data, it's still subject to fire, flood, theft, ...    In other words, it's not much of a backup.
- Store your data offline.  If your backup data is still on online disks, it's still subject to accidental erasure, disk corruption, OS or SW corruption, user errors, virus corruption, etc.  
- Put your data on media with an archival life appropriate for your needs.   Hard drives have a necessary background process that scans the sectors and checks for signal integrity periodically.  If the hard drive is unplugged, that process doesn't run, and there will be corruption eventually that you'll never know about until it's time to do a restore.  Will you be able to read the disk in a year?  Two?  Five?  Nobody knows.   But if you keep it powered on, you've got the issues of power consumption and drive wear-out.    

I do NOT recommend RAID or any kind of mirroring/replication software as a backup solution.  Neither one does anything to protect against accidental deletes or mistakes (If I am replicating and I overwrite a file, it's overwritten on both ends because of the replication.  Likewise, virus-caused corruption will be replicated or mirrored.).   And if all the copies of the data are at one location, when the flood or fire or thief hits, you've lost all your data as well.

But it's also possible that the data you have is not critical business data, and it's enough to have a copy on a USB drive sitting next to your computer.   Just realize the limitations.
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Expert Comment

by:BitsBytesandMore
ID: 26296053
Read this article on the Goodsync web site regarding Sync vs Backup:
http://www.goodsync.com/syncvbackup.html
Another feature I really like about it is that it also creates "previous file versions" in case you need to revert to one of them.
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Author Comment

by:ClaudeWalker
ID: 26306518
@SelfGovern:  Thank you for your detailed response.  Does a differential backup delete files?  

Example:
So lets say I have 3 files (300GB a piece for the example) on my main drive: A, B, C  

and I back them up

Main drive:  A, B, C
Backup drive: A, B, C

Then I modifiy file B to B1 (name is the same) and delete file C

in a differential backup will then end result be
main drive:  A, B1
Backup Drive:  A, B1 where A is untouched (preserving write cycles/Spin time)?

Hope that makes sense


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Author Comment

by:ClaudeWalker
ID: 26306529
@BitsBytesandMore:  Does GoodSync have background services that run or is it a run on-demand kind of deal?
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by:BitsBytesandMore
ID: 26307824
Not as we are familiar with "Background Services". It can be set to start with Windows and it does allow for schedulling:
"....Start GoodSync when Windows starts (off by default)
If checked then Windows starts GoodSync automatically when you log in to your Windows account.
Started this way, GoodSync shows only taskbar icon and no main window.
You can double-click the icon to call up the main GoodSync window.
Turn this option on if you run jobs automatically, that is, if you checked any boxed in Job Options -> Auto tab.
....."
I am attaching a copy of the manual for you to review.... (I should be working as a salesperson for them)....lol

GoodSync-Manual--File-Synchroinz.pdf
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Expert Comment

by:SelfGovern
ID: 26307904
Strictly speaking, a "backup" should never delete the original files, whether it's a full, incremental, or differential.

Traditional backups use pools of storage -- a partition on a disk, or a physical tape, for instance.   In the backup application, you can set expiration dates for each job... so that weekly backups are overwritten after four weeks, say.    A business will typically keep each monthly full for years.  How long you keep a backup is dependent on your needs.

Very few if any programs will be smart enough to compare files with different names and only back up one of otherwise identical but differently-named files.   If you expect a program to delete one of that kind of file by itself, you're asking for trouble!

You can search online for good definitions of incremental and differential backups.  It boils down to this: a differential backup backups all files that have changed since the last full backup.  At most you need the last full backup and one differential to perform a restore.

An incremental only backs up files changed since the last incremental backup.   So to restore a file on Thursday, you'd have to have Saturday's full backup, plus Monday's incremental, plus Tuesday's incremental, plus Wednesday's incremental.
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Author Comment

by:ClaudeWalker
ID: 26308671
@Self Govern:
I have done some reading on incremental and differential backups.  Those make sense.  It looks like they accumulate changed data over time.  The difference is when they take their data from.

regarding your quote:
"Strictly speaking, a 'backup' should never delete the original files, whether it's a full, incremental, or differential."

I do a full backup up on week 1 and have 3 files A, B, C

Main Drive A, B, C
Backup Drive A, B, C

and then I change Delete C and change B

Will my backup be

Main Drive A, B
Backup Drive A, B  

Where B is the most recent modified version and A is not Overwrote?

I'm trying to figure out if it will save write cycles
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Accepted Solution

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SelfGovern earned 1600 total points
ID: 26311241
If you use a traditional backup application, you'll start with a full backup, backing up A, B, C.
Day 2, you'll perform an incremental (say).  Only changed files will be backed up.  In your scenario, at the end of day 2, you will have the full backup with A, B, C, and the incremental backup with B, the only file that has changed.

An incremental backup will cause less data to be saved than a differential backup over time.  But a differential backup is easier to restore from, and may have a bit of extra 'security' in that it's not affected if an intermediate backup fails, and you have multiple copies of changed files.

I've pretty much assumed you are using a backup program in what I've written.  If you're doing it with an xcopy script, you can do the same thing, it's all in whether you reset the archive bit or not during an intermediate backup (incremental does, differential does not).   The advantage of a backup program is that it automates the process, and can also have the ability to back up open files and such, plus work with tape instead of a disk.

By the way, because this might have been what you were asking -- in a backup program, you could tell it to overwrite backups that are 30 days old to recover space.  In that case, your delete file C is around for a month -- not a bad idea, because people do delete things by mistake.
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Author Closing Comment

by:ClaudeWalker
ID: 31675885
Thanks guys
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