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backup solution that can rotate usb removable drives

Posted on 2014-02-11
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2014-08-15
i have a number of clients that have around 2 computers in each office
usually win 2003 win 7 or xp
usually only around 100 - 200 gig data max
i need a relaibale way of backing up the data
i always use usb drives as the backup location
but so many product have issues when rotating usb drives
i need a solution that means the end user only has to swap a usb drive and thats it
then they get an email in morning to say it worked
i would like to backup data pop email and a sql database
also the option to do a system recovery if needed
the solution needs to be free / cheap but effective
basically set it and forget it
Question by:dougdog
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LVL 26

Expert Comment

by:Fred Marshall
ID: 39850375


I would probably go for the second one but the first one may have things you're interested in.

Also, you should be able to assign drive letters to individual USB sticks which will work when they reappear on a computer.  That's what I do and then use folder pairs in SyncToy with the particular drive letter I've assigned.

Author Comment

ID: 39850400
surely there is a simple backup product out there that can rotate usb drives with no manual intervention
LVL 26

Expert Comment

by:Fred Marshall
ID: 39851967
"USB drives" says "manual" to me.  I was thinking USB sticks and not USB drives that spin.

In that regard, we used to rotate USB drives from site to site so there would be offsite backups.  At the same time, the backups were 100% copies that took forever.

I decided that instead of physically moving the drives, it was easier to leave the drives in one place (3 drives / 3 sites) and back up everything on each drive.  This way there are backups physically removed but now we don't have to move them around.  Might this make sense for your situation?  And now we're using Second Copy 8 at each site to run the backups.
Of course, this is also made feasible because all the sites are linked.
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Author Comment

ID: 39852676
my sites are not linked all individuals
LVL 26

Expert Comment

by:Fred Marshall
ID: 39854883
Well then that one idea won't work for you it appears.  
I think it might be a good idea to understand better what you mean by "rotate" then.
- Do you have multiple USB hard drives that are brought in and taken out of EACH site in a site-by-site rotational scheme each with their own drives?
- Do you have multiple USB hard drives that are brought in and taken out in order to rotate to a different site?
I'm not sure it makes a lot of difference in the end as file folders can be structured accordingly / either way.

Another thing I might suggest is to do all the backup *on site* first into a "file server" for that purpose.  Then the USB drive need only be plugged into the one computer.  And then the USB drives can be seen with the same drive letter each time with a bit of care and attention to setting that up.  Either each drive can have it's own letter or all drives can have the same letter.  If the latter then only one backup job (or set of them) to run.  If the former then an identical backup job for each letter.

I rather like Second Copy 8 for this purpose or, really, both these purposes.
One reason is that it is able to be set to create file versions going back - which can be very useful depending on the type of enterprise and the type of data.
One set of backup jobs can gather the data onto the "server".
Another set of backup jobs can back up onto the USB drives from the "server".

Things can also be set to generate reports: such as emails reporting the results or only if a job fails.

Author Comment

ID: 39858470
these are all small individual clients
they are not connected in any way
i was just looking for advice on what others use to backup client computers
info on what they do for image recovery and file recovery
usb drive rotate is simply changing the drive so one is off site
LVL 26

Expert Comment

by:Fred Marshall
ID: 39859670
OK.  So using a single computer for the USB drive would work and that can be made to solve issues like varying drive letters, etc.
What backup software are you using?

Author Comment

ID: 39866951
looking avice on what to use that is cheap and affordable for small bussiness and individuals
LVL 26

Expert Comment

by:Fred Marshall
ID: 39868469
One thing you could tell us to clarify your objective:
Will the backups for the individuals be somehow "constructed" or "tailored" or do you expect them to be omniscient and automatic?

Here is an example of a method we use where the backups are "constructed" or "tailored":
- each user has a single folder on their computer where all the files to be backed up are stored.
(a variant of this is to have a list of folders to be backed up - this works as well)
- one of the computers is set up as the collection point for backups.  Any number of backup programs can be set up to grab the files from all the computers and put them in one folder/directory structure such as:
Then a separate backup job will copy c:\...\...\Backups to e.g. M:\Backups where M: is the USB drive letter.

Depending on what works best for you, you could assign M: to all of the USB drives
you could assign M: to one of them, N: to another, etc.
Then you would have two (or more) backup jobs:
copy c:\...\...\Backups to e.g. M:\Backups
copy c:\...\...\Backups to e.g. N:\Backups

In the one case, using just one drive letter, the file structure on the external drives should all be the same so the target folders will be there.

In the other case, using unique drive letters, the file structures and the backup jobs could be different but I can't imagine anyone wanting to do that as it only adds complexity.

Second Copy is cheap and could reside on the "backup computer" to do all these jobs.
SyncToy could be a candidate.  It's free.

Is there something about any of these ideas that don't fit your needs?  It would be helpful to know.
LVL 27

Accepted Solution

Steve earned 2000 total points
ID: 39923104
surely there is a simple backup product out there that can rotate usb drives with no manual intervention

the solution needs to be free / cheap but effective
Those two requirements are difficult to meet......

The various features you ask for in your Q are not a 'simple backup'. these are proper business level backups. you are not asking for a 'simple backup product'

There are many backup options available, as experts above have mentioned, but I do not think you'll find one that meets all your requirements. The features you are asking for normally require servers and cannot be run from a client directly.

I advise you to stop looking for a 'one stop shop' and just accept you will have to create something yourself.
For example, You could write batchfiles which utilise various free backup solutions and manipulate the USB disks manually. They could even stop the SQL services to ensure you get a good backup of SQL. Outlook PSTs will backup fine as long as you close/kill Outlook before running the backup.

SyncToy, fastfreebackup, Windows 7 backup (free with 7), ntbackup (free with xp) and various other solutions will work, but you will need to manipulate them yourself to do the various things you want.

Expert Comment

ID: 40264081
Actually there is a solution that I have been using for this for years and it still works.  You need to purchase Symantec System Recovery for Desktop ~$60.  Then follow the solution below.  Works great even with the latest symantec system recovery 2013.  Works on servers or workstations, just a different SSR license cost.


They even have a 60 day trial of the license for Symantec system recovery you can try out first.

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