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Thoughts on external hard drives
Old 01-29-2018, 11:43 AM   #1
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Thoughts on external hard drives

Last week my computer froze when Win 10 was doing updates.... took it in to get serviced and it worked just fine there... but the guys were saying that my hard drive was on borrowed time...

The computer is at least 8 years old as I have 8 tax programs on it (well, maybe 7 as I just put a new one on).... they suggested to have an external drive always attached that does backup...

So, any thoughts on which one is easier to use and would be better value?

I do not need something that is huge as I have a 1 TB drive that is only being used at 30%....


I do have Google drive, but do not know how I got it and it is not backing up to there anyhow.... maybe this is a better option...

Thoughts on the best way for me to go?
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Old 01-29-2018, 11:46 AM   #2
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The external drives work fine fine, I have a Segate SSD/ solid state drive similar to
a flash memory.

I no longer keep anything on the computer just the external drive.
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Old 01-29-2018, 11:47 AM   #3
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I have a Western Digital external hard drive. I have Windows backup set to back it up every night. Thankfully, I have not needed it, but in case of an evacuation, I can just grab it instead of my PC.
We live right near where the Thomas fire started, so we have been given a lot of thought about what to take.
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Old 01-29-2018, 11:55 AM   #4
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Just as an FYI on SSD HDDs. The way an SSD stores information is different than a spinning HDD. If you accidentally format an SSD you're out of luck! I unfortunately did this last year and lost an entire HDD of pictures. With a standard HDD at least most of the information can be salvaged. I did send it off but there was nothing recoverable. And nothing had been written over, when I realized what I did I pulled the drive out but it was too late.
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Old 01-29-2018, 12:01 PM   #5
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An external drive will save your data as long as you carefully copy your files to it, or use backup software. I use SmartSync Pro for some of that.

However, it won't stop your computer from crashing when the old HD gets worse.

A better solution is to replace the hard drive in your computer. You can (or someone like Best Buy should be able to) clone your existing HD to a new HD and replace the old with the new. That leaves everything intact, Windows, programs, and data, and your computer should last as long as you can stand it.

You might consider replacing your old computer with a new one. You can use PC Mover or something similar to move your programs and data from old to new. That's never worked perfectly for me, but again Best Buy or whoever could probably do it for you.
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Old 01-29-2018, 12:04 PM   #6
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An eight year old computer?

After my last hard drive crash I went to Chromebook 5 years ago and never looked back.

It IS different from how the others work in that you don't keep anything on the machine...it's like an old fashioned terminal and everything is in the cloud.

As such, your 'tax programs' won't work (which was the only thing I found as a negative) but now I do my taxes in the online versions of TurboTax, TaxAct etc.

As far as Google Drive, you save your stuff there like it was a hard drive but again, it is not on the machine but once you enter the Googlesphere everything is backed up automatically (Googles versions of Excel, Word, Photos etc etc). You can also upload and save all your old files there as well, which again are automatically backed up and accessible from any Chromebook anywhere you might be. When you log in as 'you', your personal browser is there with all your stuff.

As noted, Chromebook is not for everyone and there is a learning curve but for me, it's the best thing I've done in years, computer-wise. Auto backup, killer virus protection, accessible from any machine, Android phone/tablet and instinctive to use.
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Old 01-29-2018, 12:29 PM   #7
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If your hard drive is actually having issues then it should be replaced. Seagate seatools can be used to check the HD, https://www.seagate.com/support/downloads/seatools/

You can use an imaging tool to backup the system and also move it to a new HD. I like AOMEI backerupper, it is free and works well, https://www.backup-utility.com/

Yu can sync your personal files with a file sync tool like FreeFileSync , https://www.freefilesync.org/

Depends on how much data you have, I store images on a external HD, sync my personal data onto a flash drive. The online backup usually doesn't work well because most peoples upload speed is only a fraction of the download speed.
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Old 01-29-2018, 12:55 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Texas Proud View Post
I do have Google drive, but do not know how I got it and it is not backing up to there anyhow.... maybe this is a better option...
Careful - services like Google Drive, Apple's iCloud Drive, Dropbox, etc. are a nice "extra layer", but not a good substitute for proper backups.
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Old 01-29-2018, 01:05 PM   #9
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I'm a backup freak. Here's my setup, for what it's worth (for a Mac based setup, but the principles apply to PC users as well):
  1. Continuous automatic backups to a cloud backup service (I use Backblaze)
  2. Hourly automatic backups to a wireless external drive (I use Apple's Time Machine software and a Time Capsule wireless router/drive)
  3. Weekly "full clone" to an external hardrive (I use G-Drive drives and SuperDuper software)
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Old 01-29-2018, 01:12 PM   #10
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I have a separate hard drive in my desktop PC where all of my documents and pictures and data are, and that data actually gets backed up to the *main* hard drive twice a day. Then I have two external drives, one in the house (far away from my home office) and one that I keep at my Megacorp office, that I run backups to every so often.

And I back up all of my photos to Google Photos, which is less about the photos (since they are not backed up at full resolution) but because the search interface is so great.
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Old 01-29-2018, 01:19 PM   #11
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I've had bad luck with external HDDs. The first died after 2 years; the second only lasted one year. And they seem to be slower than internal drives even with USB 3.0.

My desktop is also about 8 years old. I just recently changed all 3 internal HDDs. One was failing and the other two had issues according to HD Tune, which is a great free tool to check the health of your drives.

My MO is to keep the Win7 OS and programs on one drive, data and files on the second, and the third is used strictly for backup. I also do automated backups to Google and Amazon cloud drives, but not for anything with personal information like tax files. Those are stored on flashdrives and kept in our fire-safe box with other important documents.
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Old 01-29-2018, 01:41 PM   #12
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I back up important stuff to a flash drive on a regular basis. I also have about 50 gig of music that I keep on a separate flash drive. In addition, I replace my computer every 5 or 6 years and keep some files and a copy of all the music on the old computer for further insurance.
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Old 01-29-2018, 01:45 PM   #13
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I use Macrium Reflect to back up my C drive and standard files copy via a replicator program to copy my data if it is on a different partition, and it is. I do not believe in storing my Data on the same drive (C) as my Operating system, as that is the one that most often gets corrupted or attacked by Virus'.

Background, I spent 40 years in engineering that relied heavily on IT. So I had to know it very well. I have never lost any data that I could not recover in my life. So I must be doing something right.

I use a Samsung 2Tb T3 USB 3 SSD.

I do not use the cloud as the data can easily be compromised.
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Old 01-29-2018, 01:57 PM   #14
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I have a Seagate 4T for this.
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Old 01-29-2018, 02:01 PM   #15
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I keep all my important stuff encrypted and stored locally as well as synced with Microsoft OneDrive.
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Old 01-29-2018, 02:10 PM   #16
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I have two Windows servers to hold backups. One of the servers has RAID. In addition to these, I have a Buffalo RAID.

But the above are not on 24/7. For a quick daily backup, I have a 1TB iOmega NAS, and it is on 24/7.

I have several TB's in individual USB external drives that I need to go through and purge duplicated files. Too many backup copies of photos, videos, and music files. Lots of clutter squirreled in all these drives that are unseen, although bits and bytes do not take up a lot of space.
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Old 01-29-2018, 02:13 PM   #17
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I the computer a desktop or laptop?

If desktop, I'd prefer having a second internal drive than an external drive. Each time starting up and seeing the USB drive is not ready to use indication can get old pretty fast. Though, on the negative of two internals, I suppose if I hacker got into your system, the internal may be more easily accessed. But I prefer the internal.

My set up is with two internal drives and a backup program that runs everyday. In fact, saved my bacon today as I was trying some software today which gave my computer the BSOD. Luckily, I had a current backup to restore from.
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Old 01-29-2018, 02:49 PM   #18
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Thanks for the info so far...

It is a desktop... I have not had any problems with the HDD.... they just said that HDDs do not normally last 8 years.... they wanted over $100 for the HDD and $70 to clone it... for that I might as well buy a new computer in the $400 range...

It works just fine for me.... I do not do any major work on it and it is plenty fast enough for me for web browsing and the little I do on spreadsheets...
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Old 01-29-2018, 04:06 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rbmrtn View Post
If your hard drive is actually having issues then it should be replaced. Seagate seatools can be used to check the HD, https://www.seagate.com/support/downloads/seatools/

You can use an imaging tool to backup the system and also move it to a new HD. I like AOMEI backerupper, it is free and works well, https://www.backup-utility.com/

Yu can sync your personal files with a file sync tool like FreeFileSync , https://www.freefilesync.org/

Depends on how much data you have, I store images on a external HD, sync my personal data onto a flash drive. The online backup usually doesn't work well because most peoples upload speed is only a fraction of the download speed.
My backup strategy is pretty much what you described.

1) Macrium Reflect - paid version, as that runs daily scheduled scripts to backup my important data folder to separate internal drive, plus system backup on internal drive

2) free file sync to sync my important data folder to one on internal drive. I run this manually when I get in the mood for syncing.

I keep 2 months worth of daily system backups as sometimes i'm not aware of issues that crop up until several days in.

The free file sync allows me to up to when I did the last sync. This may be after I've done a system restore as what I'm syncing from might have more current data.
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Old 01-29-2018, 04:20 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Texas Proud View Post
Thanks for the info so far...

It is a desktop... I have not had any problems with the HDD.... they just said that HDDs do not normally last 8 years.... they wanted over $100 for the HDD and $70 to clone it... for that I might as well buy a new computer in the $400 range...

It works just fine for me.... I do not do any major work on it and it is plenty fast enough for me for web browsing and the little I do on spreadsheets...
So they were just fishing for some extra work.

Get a flash drive or two, and back up your documents and photos (or an external drive).

Then if your machine ever dies, you can get a new faster one and add back in your backed up docs and photos. Also handy to have saved if someone breaks into your house and steals your 8 yr old computer.
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