usb external hard drives

now2010 used Ask the Experts™

I regularly reinstall windows XP,VISTA,7 for clients.  I backup their files to my external usb hard drive and then put the files back on the newly reinstalled system.

I am concerened about the following.  What if one day the drive goes bad on me before I have the chance to put client's files back on their fixed PC.

Want to know what you guys do to avoid something like this happening as I try to make the process of backing up as short as possible, so client doesn't get irritated?

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I normall backup user files like that right to the server and then download them after the OS reinstall and joining it back to the domain.


I only work with home clients, I don't work with servers at all.thanks.:)
You can use a cloud solution like Skydrive ($50 for 100 GB's) to temporarily store the data. The upload time will depend on your connection, so this may not be a feasible solution. You could also make a image back up of the computer.

You could also upload the data to local RAID configured storage.

The usb failing is a risk I probably wouldn't risk for a client, if I didn't have another back up of their data.
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In those cases, I also backup my client's files to an external USB or flash drive. I've been doing it for years and have never had a external drive die that close to completing that type of job. I also baby my equipment and replace all external drives when they reach three years old.

That's my standard life span for ext usb drived. i'd rather be safe than sorry.

Hope this helps!
I also use the cloud in rare occasions, but if a system needs an OS reinstall, normally it's been hit with spyware and is already slower than malasses, so backing up to an external drive is the most practical for me.


thanks tg, replacing every 3 years is a good idea.
That's a good point TG-TIS. If it's hit with spyware and/or virus' I'm backing up the image to local shared storage. From there I would pull the data out to external storage, and would scan it for virus' before I put it on the fresh install.

I understand that replacing the external drive decreases your chances of having a faulty drive, and I guess it depends on what data is on the drive. I can think of different scenarios where mistakes can still happen. For example, what happens if an external drive gets dropped by you or someone else or gets knocked off a desk? What happens if someone else drops the drive without telling you and after you put data on it, you notice that it is beginning to fail?

Sure those are rare incidents, but I've seen once in a blue moon scenarios happen in IT before, and they are NEVER fun to explain. If the data is important, I'd have it on some type of redundant storage when I backed it up.

If this is a business and you're charging people money for your services, then you should set up a RAID array with mirroring or some level of parity to give you something to fall back on.


I picked the two answers
1) make an image
2) swap usb external hard drive every 3 years with a new one

as these are most pertinent to me.

Thank you all for your input.

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