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Backing up personal data, cheap and stability are good. Flash Drive?

Posted on 2011-03-08
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2012-05-11
I read something recently that stated DVD's like you buy in the store can lose their ability to read after something like 5 or so years. I have been putting personal data on DVD's but every time I want to back everything up it takes about 3 DVD's which isn't too bad but I would like it if I could feel confident they will last many years down the road if I ever need to restore data from them.

One idea I had is to buy a good size flash drive and then use a robo copy script once a week or once a month to copy everything to the flash drive, maybe alternate through two or three flash drives, and when not bakcing data up they would be kept in a fireproof safe and probably one drive at my parents house or possibly a safe deposit box at a bank. Depending on how much data I back up and the size of the drives I with three flash drives I could possibly keep about 6 full backups available between the three drives.

Another option is a solid state drive since I think they are more stable than a hard drive with plates but for the cost, unless you need the amount of space I don't know if it offers anyhting more than a flash drive considering what I am thinking about using it for.

So a few things I would like to ask are....

1. Is that true about DVD's or are there certain brands or types that will last indefinitely for data backups?

2. Are there any other options that a re good for home backups? I don't like the idea of using a normal hard drive since it can be damaged easier by impact. Network storage is good too but again one bad zap and you could lose it all.

3. Would a flash drive work Ok like I mentioned above, would it be more stable over the years than a DVD? As far as I know flash drives will not damage or lose data unless you unplug them incorrectly, assuming it is a good quality drive and not a knock off.

4. Would a solid state drive be better/worse/same, they cost a lot more that a flash drive though.
Question by:REIUSA
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Accepted Solution

dbrunton earned 336 total points
ID: 35078908
CDs and DVDS http://www.clir.org/pubs/reports/pub121/sec4.html

Use a cool dry storage facility.  Also use a good brand.

Hard disk.  If you can get oldish good condition drives for a low price they will do the job.  I do like hard disks as it is essentially plug and recover.  Keep them in a padded dry container like CDs.

They will be cheaper than SSDs for storage.  Can't speak on the life expectancy of SSDs in the long term.

And again can't speak as to well flash drives will last.

And you'll probably get more interesting opinions from other experts.


Assisted Solution

Paul_McClure earned 332 total points
ID: 35079363
standard hard drives are so cheap now that you could use 2 to backup (what I do).

The best program that I have used for backup is Shadowprotect. This backups your whole computer via imaging which is extremely easy to restore from (yep, I've had to do it as well). With options for incrementals images this is the best software I've tried. You can do for example incremetal images every 15 minutes if you want which gives you a huge amount of options on restoring and it's really easy to use. I've used Shadowprotect for a huge amount of clients and it's always been extremely easy (even restorable to a virtual image for VM's). Check it out:


Best software you can use in my opinion... DVD's are old and cumbersome tech and hard drives are so cheap now so just buy a couple.
LVL 93

Assisted Solution

nobus earned 332 total points
ID: 35080282
you must realise that pc technology changes very fast : 10 years ago, a backup on floppies was normal -  now nobody uses them anymore.
This means - for a backup you want to use after more than 5 years, you should keep the technology (eg DVD drive, disk, even mobo ) too
the best is to update on a regularbasis, and have more than 1 backup - if posssible.
For this, normal Disk drives (can be with eSata, or USB interface) are the cheapest
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Assisted Solution

silverkorn earned 332 total points
ID: 35084131
1. DVDs and CDs (even Blu-Rays)
they limited to space, require "special" hardware to read them and can be considered fragile.

2. Hard Drives
are the more cost effective of your 4 options. Make sure to get an external hard drive using USB 2.0 or 3.0 interface. eSATA can be nice but often requires a separate power cord to power up the hard drive it self. I would recommend only having the hard drive connected and powered on when you want to run the back up. The longer the hard drive is powered on and being used the shorter the shelf life.

3. Flash Drive
Do not use for a means of primary backup. This is a good alternative to having a second copy of your data to leave in a firebox somewhere but not something you want to use to backup to every month or day.

4. Solid State
Not even close to being cost effective for backing up data. For the size of the SSD your better off using the flash drive as an alternative way of backing up data.

Another option to explore is online backup. Why purchase numerous hardware options when you can pay someone else to do that. These companies charge a flat rate ($50-55 a year) and offer unlimited space for your data, plus it is more secure then your own backups would be. The cost of one of your previous options would be enough to cover a couple years or computers through one of these companies:

Two key things to keep in mind when thinking about backups:
-The more backups you have the more options of getting a full recover of lost data
-Make sure to place backups in multiple locations
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Assisted Solution

pjasnos earned 668 total points
ID: 35089040
Also, if you decide to use any flash-based technology (flash drives/SSDs) do remember that they are extremely difficult to wipe should you need to dispose of them
(see: http://www.usenix.org/events/fast11/tech/full_papers/Wei.pdf )

Author Comment

ID: 35099051
That's interesting about the flash drives. Other than being harder to wipe is there a reason not to use a flash drive, like unreliability or easy to lose data?

I may just just lean towards a small 3.5" external SATA drive. I am also thinking about using something like carbonite, is it pretty secure backing data up like that. Anything online like that makes me more cautious.
LVL 12

Expert Comment

ID: 35099183
as per:

Carbonite uses 128-bit encryption (Blowfish) to protect your files, then uses another 128-bit encryption layer (SSL) to transfer the data to their servers. So even if someone was to get your backup files from Carbonite, it would take hundreds to thousands of years of computing power to brute force attack your files. Thats assuming you use a random generate pass/key code for the file encryption

I would still recommend getting an external hard drive over the flash drive simply on the pricing factors alone. For $150 you can get 1TB of external HD storage and only 32GB worth of a flash drive
LVL 10

Assisted Solution

pjasnos earned 668 total points
ID: 35112998
Flash drives do wear more when writing to them than hard drives (though they do wear less when you read them). I still wouldn't use flash-based technology for archiving though, as it simply wasn't along for long enough to test it realiably.
I'd opt for hard-drives, perhaps a few for the same money as single SSD.

Author Closing Comment

ID: 35280162
Thanks for the info everyone. I will probably go with a external hard drive or two and keep one off site.

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