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Old 08-03-2008, 10:55 AM   #21
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BTW, high capacity external redundant disk arrays are becoming reasonably cheap.
I am not a fan of RAID -- believe it is only a scam created by disk drive manufactuters to sell more product. Fred Langa back in 2004 wrote an article that said it best... in part:

****************
Why I Don't Use RAID


(continued from previous item)
RAID was once ideal for cobbling together huge storage capacities from small, cheap hard drives. But truly enormous drives are now commonplace and inexpensive. For example, If you shop around a little, you can get a 200GB hard drive for around $100. Not big enough for you? Hitachi makes a 400GB hard drive using standard 3.5" desktop technology. Most desktop systems can easily accommodate two hard drives, so you could equip a standard PC with two of those Hitachi drives for a combined total of 800GB of capacity with no RAID or other exotica whatsoever. May I see a show of hands of readers who need more than 800 GB of live storage on their desktop systems? <g>

And, of course, drive capacities are going up all the time. So the "make a bigger drive" argument for desktop RAID no longer carries much weight.
RAID does protect your data against mechanical failures of the hard drives themselves--- a head crash, wear and tear, etc. But so do ordinary backups. And RAID does little or nothing to protect against systemic problems or problems that affect the array as a whole (worms, viruses, user error or malicious misuse, electrical problems, fire, theft, water damage, physical accident, etc. etc. etc.). In any instance where a single problem can affect the system or array as a whole, RAID can cause you to lose your data *and* your backup in one disastrous stroke.
Plus, RAID arrays are often noisy, heat-producing, and power-hungry, too. And, as Stuart said in #1, above, there can be other issues, too.
As for data security, a good backup regimen that stores the backed-up data away from the PC beats RAID hands down. With the data on, say, CDs or DVDs and stored away from the PC, then even if the PC itself or the hard drive is *totally destroyed* by some calamity, the data is still safe.
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Old 08-03-2008, 11:04 AM   #22
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I have a RAID 0+1 array and that sucker is FAST.

RAID may be a gimmick, but it's a gimmick I don't mind paying an extra $160 for.
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Old 08-03-2008, 11:21 AM   #23
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Besides having most everything backed up on CDs, as well as on several hard-drives, I've got several SanDisk USB Flash Drives that I keep copies of everything on that's important to me. I carry 2 of them with me all the time. One has all of my digital pictures that I've taken of vacations, family, gardens, etc., over the years. The other one has most all of my important documents on it, as well as stuff that I might want/need to look at or reference when I'm not at home. They take up so little room in my pocket that I hardly notice that they're there.

Having the one with the pix on it with me all the time has worked out nicely for other reasons too. There have been several times that people have asked me about different trips that I've taken, and wanted to know if I had any pix of them........"Well, as a matter of fact I do right here." Others have asked to see our garden/landscape pix, so I can just stick the flash drive in the nearest computer, and they can view to their hearts content. I also did an impromptu 'slide show' at a tour group's open-house at the request of the group's presenter because she knew I had a lot of pix of several of the previous destinations. BTW, I'll only show people the pix if they truly want to see them, and aren't just asking to be seem polite......I would NEVER subject anyone to my "home movies".

My 'document' flash drive also has some MP3's on it (but not a lot) for my listening pleasure while I surf away from home......both music and audiobooks.
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Old 08-03-2008, 11:40 AM   #24
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Besides having most everything backed up on CDs, as well as on several hard-drives, I've got several SanDisk USB Flash Drives that I keep copies of everything on that's important to me. I carry 2 of them with me all the time. One has all of my digital pictures that I've taken of vacations, family, gardens, etc., over the years. The other one has most all of my important documents on it, as well as stuff that I might want/need to look at or reference when I'm not at home. They take up so little room in my pocket that I hardly notice that they're there.
I was reading that and thinking that it wouldn't work for me - I've got 15 Gb of photos. Innovation has slipped past me without me paying attention, because I thought the biggest USB thumb drive you could get was 8Gb, but lo and behold they are making them as big as 32Gig now for around $100.

Now, if I they would make a 300Gb one I could store the videos as well.

And I remember shopping for a computer with an actual hard drive in the 80's and trying to decide did I want the 10Mb or 20mb, and being told "save your money, you'll never fill up 10 megabytes!"
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Old 08-03-2008, 11:43 AM   #25
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Besides having most everything backed up on CDs, as well as on several hard-drives, I've got several SanDisk USB Flash Drives that I keep copies of everything on that's important to me. I carry 2 of them with me all the time. One has all of my digital pictures that I've taken of vacations, family, gardens, etc., over the years. The other one has most all of my important documents on it, as well as stuff that I might want/need to look at or reference when I'm not at home. They take up so little room in my pocket that I hardly notice that they're there.
What a great idea!!!

I keep a USB flash drive with me, too. It fits nicely in the coin purse of my wallet. The only thing I have on it is my retirement/investment Excel spreadsheets, to go back and forth between home and work. But now that you mention it, I should put my best digital photos on it, too.

It just occurred to me that if my wallet were lost or stolen (which hasn't happened for 40 years), the thief might really get heartburn looking at those sheets. There aren't any passwords to my TSP or Vanguard accounts in the sheets, but still... maybe I should password protect that file.
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Old 08-03-2008, 12:18 PM   #26
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What a great idea!!!

I keep a USB flash drive with me, too. It fits nicely in the coin purse of my wallet. The only thing I have on it is my retirement/investment Excel spreadsheets, to go back and forth between home and work. But now that you mention it, I should put my best digital photos on it, too.

It just occurred to me that if my wallet were lost or stolen (which hasn't happened for 40 years), the thief might really get heartburn looking at those sheets. There aren't any passwords to my TSP or Vanguard accounts in the sheets, but still... maybe I should password protect that file.
If you get Corsair Thumb drives they come with Encryption Software on them or, for other thumb drives, you can download the Encryption Software from the Internet. Google or otherwise search for "TrueCrypt" I believe it is up to version 6.0 now. Probably not CIA approved but should be good enough for the rest of us. Link: http://www.corsair.com/products/flash.aspx
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Old 08-03-2008, 02:56 PM   #27
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When I said that my photographic images were a "special situation," I should have been a little more specific.

I have about 1.3 TB of images on various Hard Drives times two -- with whatever number of CD/DVDs it takes to duplicate the originals. I have eight 2 GB CF cards that I carry with me always -- I have decided on 2 GB because that is my "loss-tolerance" point. The images stay on those cards until the images are transferred to the above system. (This is in addition to -- or in spite of -- the transfer from the CF cards to the two portable hard drives I spoke of earlier.)

I do have a handful of Flash drives in my camera bag and any number in various other locations -- coat pockets, for instance. They certainly are handy to have around but I don't usually think of them for long-term storage.

BTW, I don't really have a dog in the RAID fight. To each his own. Anyway, "Blessed are the pessimists for they..."
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Old 08-03-2008, 04:27 PM   #28
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RAID may be a gimmick, but it's a gimmick I don't mind paying an extra $160 for.
Ding ding ding!

Increasing storage isnt the benefit, really. Its the redundancy and ability to dodge a single disk failure.

Google did a huge storage study and came to some interesting conclusions. Off the top of my head they found that a drive that was going to fail was generally going to give some indication (more than a certain number of a certain type of SMART errors) and would fail in less than a year. Otherwise the disk would probably last 3-5 years or more in a data center. Heat, duty cycle and almost nothing else made any difference. The problems that caused the failure were generally in the manufacturing/materials process. So if you're using a 2 disk mirrored set, unless you had the unlikely bad luck of getting two disks with a short-failure problem, your raid pair will likely run for 5 years even if one of the disks craps out and you never notice it.

While taking a backup of your backup is nice, its pretty dang hard to get people to take a backup, let alone grandfathering.

As far as noise and heat, many of these cheapie raid units employ the western digital greenpower drive, a 5400rpm sata drive that runs almost completely cool to the touch and can be put in passive enclosures, although these cheap raid boxes generally have a small fan thats less noisy than most desktop computers.

A bunch of people I know are using the mirrored esata array on their DVR's. That way a blow drive doesnt wipe out a whole season of some crappy show. Not really any way to back up that sort of data unless you've got a dvd recorder, a stack of dvd's and a lot of patience.
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Old 08-03-2008, 05:00 PM   #29
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I personally use the HP media center NAS (network attached storage) with a utility that mirrors all my data files on the external drive. This has saved me and it is very simple to deploy.

Also, there is a great low level disk utility that has been around for years and it is still one of the best. It's called Spinrite from Gibson Research - **Home of Gibson Research Corporation**. The works at a very low level to try and recover data from any spinning drive. I used to use it when I worked at megacorp and I know it's still around and pretty cheap.

The guy that wrote that program (Steve Gibson) also has a very good podcast called security now if anyone is geeky enough to care about that sort of thing.
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Old 08-03-2008, 10:02 PM   #30
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There aren't any passwords to my TSP or Vanguard accounts in the sheets, but still... maybe I should password protect that file.
I have my flash drive with the documents on it password protected....the one with the pix and MP3's isn't. And there are encryption apps available for the drives......but I don't use one (at this point in time anyway).
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Old 08-04-2008, 05:28 AM   #31
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I have my flash drive with the documents on it password protected....the one with the pix and MP3's isn't. And there are encryption apps available for the drives......but I don't use one (at this point in time anyway).
See response # 27. TrueCrypt is free and should work on any flash drive or hard drive for that matter.
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Old 08-04-2008, 09:24 AM   #32
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Newegg.com - Western Digital My Book Essential WDH1U10000N 1TB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache USB 2.0 External Hard Drive - External Hard Drives

Western Digital external 1TB disk drive for $139, free shipping. Not bad considering the disk drive inside of it sells for $20-30 more.

Unit comes with a one year warranty, but if the drive fails after that you can remove it and have it replaced under warranty by WD for another 2 years, since they cant tell the difference between it and any other drive.
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Old 08-04-2008, 09:51 AM   #33
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Thanks, Goonie and OAG, for the tips on password protection and encryption.
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Old 08-04-2008, 10:04 AM   #34
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Newegg.com - Western Digital My Book Essential WDH1U10000N 1TB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache USB 2.0 External Hard Drive - External Hard Drives

Western Digital external 1TB disk drive for $139, free shipping. Not bad considering the disk drive inside of it sells for $20-30 more.
But don't think that "External" and "Portable" are the same thing. Incredible price though.

(As an aside, does anyone else have a problem with a 1TB storage area? That just seems like too many eggs in one basket to me. What is your "loss tolerance"? I don't believe it is worth setting up a Poll.)
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Old 08-04-2008, 10:20 AM   #35
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1TB is two full image backups of each of our 3 machines, plus a separate folder just with documents, pictures and movies.

Its not a bad idea to have two drives. But with the price dropoff from a 1tb to a 500 being about $30-40 and figuring these will have a lifespan of 3-5 years as a backup device...
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Old 08-04-2008, 11:00 AM   #36
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and figuring these will have a lifespan of 3-5 years as a backup device...
Yeah, and we will ALL live to around 80 years old.

I am, this morning, throwing away a Maxtor 160 GB drive that is about 2 years old -- but turned off most of that time. In all test it checks out fine but crashes when large files are copied to it.

What's the sense in being a pessimist if you can't be paranoid?
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Old 08-04-2008, 11:05 AM   #37
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Also, there is a great low level disk utility that has been around for years and it is still one of the best. It's called Spinrite from Gibson Research - **Home of Gibson Research Corporation**. The works at a very low level to try and recover data from any spinning drive. I used to use it when I worked at megacorp and I know it's still around and pretty cheap.
SpinRite rocks. I can't believe Steve Gibson is making a life career out of assembly-language programming...
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Old 08-04-2008, 11:19 AM   #38
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Dont know what to tell you Ron. I've still got every single external disk drive I've ever owned. Including an old USB 1.1/firewire model with a squealing fan I bought around 1998, complete with the then-enormous 20GB hard drive. I must have ten of the things with 20, 80, 160, 400 and 1tb disks in them.

As I mentioned above, its been my experience (backed up by googles study) that disks fail in their first year of service or not for a long time.

About all I can tell you is that maxtor pretty much stank in their last few years prior to being bought by seagate. They were dead last right behind fujitsu and samsung for drive reliability. I generally go with seagate, hitatchi and as a distant 3rd preference, WD.

When you say it "crashes", what happens exactly? Does windows just stop sending the file, you get an error, smoke, Whats the interface, usb, firewire or esata?

Reason I'm asking is that there were some problems with some firewire chip sets and windows that are often solved by a firmware upgrade to the drive enclosure. There was also a problem in XP around long transfers over USB to some external drive chipsets that exceeded a timeout limit in XP. That too was solvable with a patch to windows.
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Old 08-04-2008, 11:27 AM   #39
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We have also discussed here the fact that external USB drives tend to be very particular about the port they are plugged in to. Many of them don't like hubs, and some don't like front panel ports.
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Old 08-04-2008, 12:20 PM   #40
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When you say it "crashes", what happens exactly? Does windows just stop sending the file, you get an error, smoke, Whats the interface, usb, firewire or esata?
Yes, again I was a little less descriptive than I needed to be. Near as I can remember the error message was: "Execution Stopped! Read/Write Failure." A check of the log showed that there were about ten write failures before timing out.

In addition, I used the Pro Edition of Bart's Stuff and got the same message after about 2-3 hours.

Over the past 15 years or so, I have had enough External Hard Drives fail that I now lack the faith comparable to that which I have in Death and Taxes. (Not to mention the internal drives that have let me down.)

I just counted and I currently have 15 external hard drives (all USB, BTW)connected to my five-machine LAN. You are correct. The failure rate is miniscule but the question still remains: What is your "loss Tolerance"?
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