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Best backup method.... is it Carbonite?

Posted on 2010-11-15
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Last Modified: 2012-06-27
Hello,
I need to setup a backup system for about 100Gig of data. I used to use Retrospect software and backup to two external hard-drives rotating every week and store the latest one in a fireproof safe.
Well I have outgrown my external hard drives and I am looking for an inexpensive alternative.

I have heard about Carbonite many times and was wondering about its practical use. I have a home based business and the I need to have a reliable and east way to backup.

Do any of you experts out there recommended this Carbonite?. or should I just upgrade my external hard drives and continue backing up the way I was? One thing to note, I do like to reformat my work station at least once a year, so I will need an easy way to restore ALL my data at least once a year. Will  this Carbonite be quick with this? My internet connection is giving me about 12 Mb/s downloads and 1Mb/s uploads....What do you folks think?...Thanks Fred
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Question by:fdbguy
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14 Comments
 
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Expert Comment

by:chqshaitan
ID: 34139464
Hi,


Is it the business or home backup system you are talking about?

I have investigated the various online backup companies for home, and the general issue is that they only keep old files for a set number of days. typically 30-90 so to use them for long term backup is not realistic.

I am not sure about the business accounts though but no doubt this will cost a lot for the amount of bandwidth you are looking at.

I would suggest a multi tier approach for backup.

Use a o/s that supports shadow copy (ie windows vista or 7) as this will ensure that any accidental of current files can generally be restored without any issues.

Use a usb attached backup as your first medium term backup strategy and then investigate a suitable online backup strategy.
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Expert Comment

by:Rich Weissler
ID: 34139538
I've configured Carbonite for use on my wife's machine after a friend who runs her own technical support business mentioned using it on her machine and her clients.  I chose to go with Carbonite because it requires very little user interaction, and simply runs in the background, and if her machine were ever to 'blow up', I'd never hear the end of it.  A few observations however,
   1. Her machine is an older XP machine.  The load on the machine isn't terrible, but it was noticeable.
   2. There is about 4-5 GB of data she actually cares about, so this is what we told Carbonite to backup.  I don't have solid numbers on how long it took to upload the first time, but it seems to me it was most of a weekend.  (And I believe I have ~7.5 Mb/s both ways.)
   3. From my friend with her business -- files which are constantly locked open, the way some email programs like to do -- are prevented from being backed up.  It makes sense, but it is something to consider.  (And she has reported that some files couldn't be restored... and technical support reported that they must have been locked in a perpetually open state, 'cause they didn't have backup copies of those files.)
    4. I was anticipating having to perform a complete restore on my wife's system a month or so ago, and the software estimate the restore time in days.  You CAN prioritize what needs to come back first, and I would hope we could have restored everything, but it's a long process.  (I ended up compressing everything she cared about to spare disks and restoring from those.)  We do keep carbonite on her system, but it's for a catastrophic event.  I'll keep spare disks around for the more routine reformat/reinstalls.
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Author Comment

by:fdbguy
ID: 34139556
Hello...
I have a home based Engineering Design business. I am backing up mostly CAD data. Much of the data I haven't used in a long time and probably wont. But I do want to keep all my old data because I do reference back to some of my old designs from time to time. Some of the data is 10+ years old.

So your recommending backing up to an external usb harddrive and an online backup?
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Expert Comment

by:chqshaitan
ID: 34139693
i would suggest doing both. Also dont forget mate that carbonite does not keep old files (http://carbonite.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/1362/kw/version)  
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Author Comment

by:fdbguy
ID: 34139765
If Carbonite doesnt keep old data, then I see no point in using it....I could just buy an NAS system and go that route for the immediate backups and the long term backups...hmmm. I used to use a MIRA Nas but it crashed years ago and then I went the externall usb HD route.
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Expert Comment

by:chqshaitan
ID: 34139807
Another option is to have a local and remote nas that syncronise changes on a regular basis. This wont have any limits on old versions of the files (depending on the software you use) and means that you can access the files at both locations.

Do you have another location where you could setup a nas box that is a reasonable distance from your main base? ie girlfriends / family members house.
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Accepted Solution

by:
Rich Weissler earned 668 total points
ID: 34139843
I believe Carbonite does keep old files, it just doesn't keep an infinite number of versions of files.  (At least that's what your link dealt with.)
Between spending a month for upload and download to carbonite, and your need to perform a yearly restore -- I like the NAS idea better, especially if you get one of the NAS enclosures which supports RAID 1 or 5.

Of course, you may still need a mechanism for synchronizing versions between your local system and the NAS.
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Assisted Solution

by:chqshaitan
chqshaitan earned 1332 total points
ID: 34139880
hi Razmus, just to clarify mate carbonite does keep old versions of current files but if a file has been deleted over 1 month ago you have no way to recover it.

This to me means that it is not a foolproof backup solution as you cannot obtain old files that been deleted, but only existing ones.
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Expert Comment

by:chqshaitan
ID: 34139892
i recently setup a nas to nas backup solution using synology ds209+, it uses rsync as the underlying technology and works well, like everything there are caveats :)
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Expert Comment

by:jimbeam69
ID: 34139920
I would say buy more external hard drives. it's so much cheaper and faster....plus you know no one else has access to your files for sure!
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Expert Comment

by:Rich Weissler
ID: 34139960
@chqshaitan - Ah!  Whew, that's what you meant.  I was worried and poked around, 'cause most of the files my wife cares about haven't been modified in years.  Yes, if you have different version of a file, you can't go back more thank three months, and apparently if you delete a file, you have one month to retrieve the file.

   Of course, if you are using a USB device or a NAS box, depending on how you have the synchronization configured, there is a fair chance you'd have no way to recover the file after the next sync operation.  (And of course, if you are performing backups of working directories, and don't removed deleted files, I suspect there is a fair chance your backup media will quickly fill up with temporary files...)

   Without archival media, it's hard to build a foolproof backup solution that overcomes that limitation.  :-)
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Author Comment

by:fdbguy
ID: 34140146
So Carbonite DOES keep old files, just not multiple versions of them...So if i understand correctly is this how is goes?....file "x" is five years old and will be backuped and store for as long as I use Carbonite. Then say today I modifiy file "x"...the new version of file "x" will be backuped up and the five old verison will be lost....I am understanding Carbonite correctly?
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Expert Comment

by:Rich Weissler
ID: 34140369
Yes, that's the way I would interpret the help file.  But having worked with backup software in the past, I'd say there is a non-zero chance you could still recover the old version of the file if you attempted a restore very quickly.  Normally a grooming has to take place of the backup database before the old version is really gone.  (I won't COUNT on the file being available, but you MIGHT be able to recover it... and it wouldn't hurt to try if you had to.)
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Assisted Solution

by:chqshaitan
chqshaitan earned 1332 total points
ID: 34140476
yea raz, i wasnt specific enough in my first answer :) but i still consider it not to be a proper backup solution, as you cannot get to old deleted files, maybe i am just being a perfectionist :)

There is a backup solution that does keep old copies and uses a good version system, which is based in the uk.

http://www.squirrelsave.co.uk/

and a review

http://www.expertreviews.co.uk/software/1278967/memset-squirrelsave-home

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