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I need help planning a robust on-site backup system
Old 03-06-2013, 08:06 PM   #1
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I need help planning a robust on-site backup system

I do backups, but I am not really confident in what I am getting. I would prefer to get secure backup of everything- my files, my desktop, my favorites and settings.

But the must have part is one subfolder with less than 6 gigabytes. I would be more than inconvenienced if I were to lose that.

I have one main desktop computer that this is on, so at present I am not concerned about my Surface, etc.

What are my choices, and the pros and cons of them? I can hook up wires and connectors, but I know very little about this stuff. I don't mind spending some money.

This will really help me, and your suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

Ha
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Old 03-06-2013, 08:17 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by haha View Post
I do backups, but I am not really confident in what I am getting. I would prefer to get secure backup of everything- my files, my desktop, my favorites and settings.

But the must have part is one subfolder with less than 6 gigabytes. I would be more than inconvenienced if I were to lose that.

I have one main desktop computer that this is on, so at present I am not concerned about my Surface, etc.

What are my choices, and the pros and cons of them? I can hook up wires and connectors, but I know very little about this stuff. I don't mind spending some money.

This will really help me, and your suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

Ha
I tried a few things before settling on Carbonite.

I tried using the regular backup tool provided with Windows but found it unreliable. If my computer was asleep it would fail to back up.

I tried those plug in backup drives you can buy, but mine failed after a year and stopped working.

I tried manually backing up to DVDs but that was a pain.

Now I pay Carbonite something like 70 bucks a year and it keeps everything backed up perfectly. It even backs up my iPad data. There is a slow one-time backup of everything, then it simply updates the files that change. It does it seamlessly in the background, so it works best if you have a consistent internet connection.

There were two surprising perks. Firstly, you can log into the website and access your files from any browser. Pretty handy if you are on the road and need to snag a file when you travel. Secondly, it can do a full restore to a new machine. When I bought a new PC, I just set it up and told Carbonite to restore all my data to the new machine. It then backs up that new machine instead old the old one.

I'm very happy with the service.

SIS
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Old 03-06-2013, 08:35 PM   #3
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I use Smart Sync Pro to backup locally on a desktop, a laptop, and a backup disk in the desktop. I use Google Drive/Insync to create an online backup of the backup disk. All very reliable so far.
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Old 03-06-2013, 08:55 PM   #4
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Thanks for posting this haha, as I've been avoiding this and it is a matter of time before I have a problem.

SIS and Animorph, how do you feel about the security of your backup data? the data that i would be backing up is my life, so security is hugely important to me.
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Old 03-06-2013, 09:00 PM   #5
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Thanks for posting this haha, as I've been avoiding this and it is a matter of time before I have a problem.

SIS and Animorph, how do you feel about the security of your backup data? the data that i would be backing up is my life, so security is hugely important to me.
Anything in "the cloud" comes with some level of risk I think. In my case, I decided the risk of my computer dying without a proper backup was greater than the risk of using a system. I had an engineer friend review their system and he said it seemed as safe as anything else in the market. http://www.carbonite.com/en/v2/onlin...afe-and-secure
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Old 03-06-2013, 09:04 PM   #6
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I sort of believe in having multiple systems of back up. I back up my data to a Western Digital passport drive. I like that as it is small and I can carry it around and use to transfer data to my notebook or to other computers.

I don't rely entirely on this as the passport drive can go bad. A few years ago I had a computer go out while the passport drive was attached to it. I lost the data on the passport drive and the data on the hard drive on the computer. This was only somewhat annoying as I had another external drive with almost all the data on it and almost all was also on my notebook.

Right now I have 2 external drives (the passport and another older passport) that have data on them. One is a bit more up to date than the other.

I also have an old spare computer that I keep a back up of data on it. This is not as up to date but periodically I do update it. Same with the data on my notebook.

Finally I have various data that is stored in the cloud on Google drive or Dropbox. I actually want to increase use of this.

I also think I will do Carbonite at some point.

I have some photographs on DVD back up as well.

Right now my main vulnerability would be if I had a fire and lost everything in my home. I don't have things stored offsite except for the few things in the cloud. All of that argues in favor of something like Carbonite. I wouldn't rely solely on Carbonite because what if something happened to the data there? But I could see it being an additional back up.

I also have in mind for certain key things putting them on a DVD and putting in a safe deposit box. Of course on all that it is important to periodically check it and perhaps redo it.
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Old 03-06-2013, 09:10 PM   #7
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...I wouldn't rely solely on Carbonite because what if something happened to the data there? ...
Wouldn't that be no problem to you since you would still have the data on your laptop? Also, I'm sure that Carbonite does backups of customer data in case their servers crashed/corrupted.
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Old 03-06-2013, 09:22 PM   #8
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I use Clonezilla about once a month (sometimes two) to image my entire laptop to a USB hard drive; then, I just manually backup things like my Moneydance file to a USB thumb drive any time I have done a lot of work that I would not want to lose.

This is not perfect by any means; but, I find it usable for now. I always take an image before major software or operating system upgrades and have occasionally restored after things went badly.
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Old 03-06-2013, 09:45 PM   #9
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One idea is to have 2 USB external drives. Do a full backup to both and take one to a safe deposit box. Backup incrementally on the one that''s left at home, and rotate them once a month or so. Worst case you lose a few weeks of items. Make sure to run diagnostics on them every 6 months or so.

Another is to use an online service such as Carbonite - no rotation needed, but annual fees.

There's also a service called CrashPlan that lets you backup to a friend/relative's computer you might want to look into.

But the bottom line is you can't have too many backups!
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Old 03-06-2013, 09:46 PM   #10
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I use Carbonite. IMHO an onsite backup is not worth much. What about fire, flood, hurricanes, tornadoes, theft, backup failure, etc?

Back in '04 my PC crashed and my onsite backup would not work. At the time I was using numerous floppy disks as backup. In every case in every backup file the first disk would work and the succeeding disks would not work. I took the PC and backups to a computer guru at My Megacorp. This guy was sharp and he had a well-equipped, Megacorp furnished lab. He could not recover anything. I sent the hard drive to a highly recommended recovery company. They charged over $1,000 and returned a couple of CD's with unintelligible gibberish.
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Old 03-06-2013, 10:13 PM   #11
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I use CrashPlan and really like it. If you have less than 10GB of data to back up, you can buy a four-year plan for $95.99 ($2/month).
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Old 03-06-2013, 10:52 PM   #12
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Actually for the volume of data you have get several usb flash drives, and cycle them thru as backup devices, a 16 gb drive is no more than $20. You can also cycle them thru the safe deposit box as well. They may fail, but its less likley as they approach Arthur C Clark's definition of an ideal machine, one that has no moving parts. (Only electrons move in them). A real disk has a spinning platter and moving head.
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Old 03-07-2013, 12:20 AM   #13
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I've spent a lot of time thinking about this problem since I have about 1.5TB of image files from my photography that I backup. Given that you only want to back up 6GB you have many more options available to you.

The general rule of thumb I tell folks is that you should have at least two backups with 1 offsite at all times (3 copies when you include your working files). It's also preferable to use different media (but not absolutely necessary). With only 6GB you could use a combination of backup methods such as:

- cloud or online storage via crashplan, dropbox, google drive, icloud, and others
- external hard disks
- dvd drives
- USB keys / memory cards

The advantage of the cloud providers is generally ease of use (they are usually setup to automatically backup your stuff to cloud) and it gives you offsite protection so you won't lose your files in the case of theft/fire etc. The drawback is that your files are no longer under your control and if the company goes belly-up you might need to get any copies of your files off in a big hurry. Cloud storage is generally not viable if you need to store terabytes of data but should be ok for 6GB.

With hard disks, dvd drives, usb keys, you have to manage the backup yourself and remember to plug them in every few days/weeks/month. But it's under your complete control. You can get programs to automate the backup but you still need to manage the physical media.

External drives are physically fragile and you have to make sure not to drop them, etc. DVD disks are often quoted with lifespan's in the decades but in practice can deteroiate much faster (in years or less if not stored properly). USB keys are flash memory so have no moving parts to break but the longevity is unknown (I haven't seen any data on this but maybe it exists) and they can fail if say a solder joint breaks.

Another issue to consider is that you may want to encrypt your files if they contain sensitive personal information. There are multiple ways of doing this but probably the easiest way would be to get an encrypted USB key.
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Old 03-07-2013, 12:29 AM   #14
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I do backups, but I am not really confident in what I am getting. I would prefer to get secure backup of everything- my files, my desktop, my favorites and settings.
For a secure backup of everything I use a disk level cloning program (carbon copy cloner for mac but probably similar program exists on windows) and duplicate my system drive/home directory to an external drive. This drive is an exact copy of my computer's internal hard drive (with all data, programs, settings) and is bootable. So if my internal drive were to fail, i could be up and running in about 1 minute.
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Old 03-07-2013, 12:47 AM   #15
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I have a mac and use the automated "time machine" to constantly back up my whole system to an external drive. Recently, I had to change my hard drive. Once the new hard drive was installed, I just plugged in the external drive and my system was back up and running in no time as if nothing happened. Similar systems exist for PCs, I just helped MIL install one on her computer. Installation was easy - I guided her through it by phone.
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Old 03-07-2013, 12:55 AM   #16
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For 6GB of data, I would keep it simple:
- Backup to a hard drive/USB drive as stage 1
- Burn to DVD as stage 2, and store in bank safe deposit box.
- Back up to the "cloud" (i.e. the internet) via one of the services as stage 3

The frequency of backing up with depend on how often that 6GB of data changes. The more frequent the changes, along with the difficultly of recreating those changes to a previous backup, the more frequently you need to backup.
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Old 03-07-2013, 05:19 AM   #17
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I had the unthinkable happen 8 years ago - my hard drive and separate back up system failed the same day. No system is perfect.

I use clickfree. Plug it in, set it up, and it backs up all user files automatically and regularly from that point on. In addition, I have a set of critical files that I absolutely cannot afford to lose, so I back them up on cd 4 times per year.
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Old 03-07-2013, 06:02 AM   #18
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My problem with Carbonite, and really any of the cloud backup systems, is the initial backup. Including my music files, I have over 300gb of data backed up. That initial backup over home internet lines takes way too long and is prone to failing. I have not found a good way around this hurdle.
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Old 03-07-2013, 07:23 AM   #19
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I use a 1t WD I-Book that I scan with AVS once a week and mirror the drive. Use rotating USB flash drives for Quicken back up daily. I Have 1 flash drive I have tax returns and important files away in a safe deposit box.
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Old 03-07-2013, 07:34 AM   #20
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I have a spare drive that I use for a backup drive and a ghost image. I also keep critical documents on Google Drive and in Dropbox as well as all of my photos on a Flickr Pro account. If I have problems with the spare drive I will probably switch to Carbonite since I like the idea of outsourcing the effort. I helped a couple of old folks on Carbonite move to new PCs (in my voluntary gig) and was impressed with the ease and effectiveness of the data/settings transfer.

PS: I used one of those 1T backup drives with built in backup routines for a while and couldn't stand the interface and never really knew what it was doing. I gave it to my daughter.
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