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Tom Henderson (KOXR/SoCal)
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Reged: 06/02/04
Posts: 588
Loc: Ventura, CA
Data backup strategy
      #133977 - 11/17/06 02:21 AM

Greetings everyone.

I recently upgraded the primary hard drive in my old Dell desktop. I used Acronis True Image software to clone the old drive onto the new one. It was quick, easy and painless.

And it got me thinking about backup strategies.

My current backup strategy uses external USB drives, and every night I copy over my data files. I don't backup windows, nor the program files. So if the hard drive fails, I'll need to reload windows, reload all the applications, then reload all the data files -- not a trivial task.

Is there a way to create a cloned drive, but leave it in the computer, only to be used as a replacement drive should the primary drive fail? The idea is I'd create a cloned image regularly (nightly/weekly, etc).

Seems like there would be a problem, since both drives would be bootable. Hopefully there is a way to avoid conflicts.

I wouldn't use the cloned drive for anything other than disaster recovery.

My descriptions probably aren't as clear as they could be, but I hope y'all see where I'm headed. If anybody has "been there, done that" I'd appreciate hearing about how you did it, and how it has worked for you.


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Sean Franklin
Top Gun


Reged: 08/15/04
Posts: 2566
Loc: Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Re: Data backup strategy [Re: Tom Henderson (KOXR/SoCal)]
      #133985 - 11/17/06 07:11 AM

If you are going to the expense of two identical drives, consider a "RAID 1" array (aka mirrored drives). Anything written to disk - file changes, new apps, etc. - will simultanously go to both disks. They will be 100% backups of one another. In the event of a disk failure, you won't even have to reboot - you'll just get a message that one of your drives has failed. When you replace it, it will automatically re-mirror itself.

Only problem is, non-server versions of Windows don't support RAID 1 natively. Some motherboards have RAID controllers built-in and come with drivers to support same; check your manuals but it's unlikely that a stock Dell would have this. Likely you'll need a RAID controller like this one from Adaptec, shouldn't cost much more than $50.

--------------------
Eureka Springs, Arkansas


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Joe Budge (W29)
Top Gun


Reged: 04/30/04
Posts: 7423
Re: Data backup strategy [Re: Tom Henderson (KOXR/SoCal)]
      #133992 - 11/17/06 07:45 AM

As Sean described, RAID will give you a completely automatic clone once you get the hardware configured.

Short of that you can use the Acronis True Image that you already have to make an image of your hard disk. The images are compressed a bit so they're somewhat smaller than the amount of space actually used on your hard disk. Using Acronis to restore from one of these saved images is as easy as cloning a drive.

Like yourself I copy my data files every night. I use Second Copy from http://www.centered.com/. It's automatic and smart enough to only copy files which have been changed. I believe our own Bob Dubner shared with us a version of XCopy which does approximately the same (contact him for details). Then I create an Acronis image periodically - about once a quarter or so. When the hard disk takes a dive I restore from the Acronis image, then update my data files.

Regards,
Joe


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Ron Rosenfeld (EPM)
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Reged: 04/29/04
Posts: 2772
Loc: Maine
Data backup strategy [Re: Tom Henderson (KOXR/SoCal)]
      #133994 - 11/17/06 07:48 AM

Tom,

<< Is there a way to create a cloned drive, but leave it in the computer,
<< only to be used as a replacement drive should the primary drive fail? The
<< idea is I'd create a cloned image regularly (nightly/weekly, etc).

Having a drive in the computer does not protect if the computer goes bad.
However, it can protect against a HD going bad (which is probably more
common).

I still do data backups, but my desktop has a RAID10 (0+1) drive
configuration.

A few weeks ago, one of the drives (it happened to be the boot drive)
failed. The failure almost went unnoticed <g>. When I did notice it, I
ordered a new drive and, when it arrived a few days later, I removed the bad
drive and plugged in the new one. Over the next few hours, the system
rebuilt the drive and returned to normal operation.

Even while this was going on, I had no problem accessing or using my computer.

--------------------
--ron


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Dan Barclay [ORG]
Top Gun


Reged: 05/07/04
Posts: 4492
Data backup strategy [Re: Tom Henderson (KOXR/SoCal)]
      #134016 - 11/17/06 12:30 PM

Tom,

RAID is great for keeping the drive up but it is NOT a backup strategy. You
need to think of a RAID drive as a single drive, it's just much more reliable.

Backup means you take your data offline, away from the machine, and put it in
a safe place.

RAID does not protect you from accidental erasure, or from problems with the
operating system or drive controllers that cause corruption.

If you're going to do something and are limited in what you can do, use
regular drives with a good backup system.

Once you have established a backup program, and then want more reliability in
your drives, go for RAID.

Dan


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Tom Henderson (KOXR/SoCal)
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Reged: 06/02/04
Posts: 588
Loc: Ventura, CA
Re: Data backup strategy [Re: Dan Barclay [ORG]]
      #134023 - 11/17/06 01:00 PM

Hi Dan.

Perhaps "backup" was a poor choice of words.

I have three of the external USB drives. One is here at home, and I back up my data files to it every night. Every couple of months I swap it with a similar drive that gets kept at a friends house.

At income tax time I burn DVD's of my data, those go into the safe-deposit box.

So I think/hope I'm protected against data loss. Now I'm looking for a way to make the recovery process painless.

I guess I'm really looking for a poor-man's pseudo-RAID, that will minimize the inconvenience of having a drive fail.

-Tom H.


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Tom Henderson (KOXR/SoCal)
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Reged: 06/02/04
Posts: 588
Loc: Ventura, CA
Re: Data backup strategy [Re: Ron Rosenfeld (EPM)]
      #134026 - 11/17/06 01:14 PM

Ron-

Thanks for taking the time to comment.

What kind of hardware/software is required for your RAID setup?

It is probably overkill for me; I don't generate a lot of data, and most of it is not really critical.

But the hassle factor associated with reloading all the applications, etc is pretty huge, so I'd like to do whatever I can to minimize it.

-TH


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Tom Henderson (KOXR/SoCal)
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Reged: 06/02/04
Posts: 588
Loc: Ventura, CA
Re: Data backup strategy [Re: Sean Franklin]
      #134028 - 11/17/06 01:24 PM

Thanks for the link Sean.

Sounds like I need to look into the RAID issue in more detail; I had thought that the hardware was extremely expensive, but that may not be the case.

Lots to learn! Thanks again for the comments.

-TH


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Jerry Kurata [KLVK]
Top Gun


Reged: 05/02/04
Posts: 6395
Loc: Northern California
Re: Data backup strategy [Re: Dan Barclay [ORG]]
      #134049 - 11/17/06 03:34 PM

Quote:

Tom,

RAID is great for keeping the drive up but it is NOT a backup strategy.
Dan




Boy, this is true. We had a client who's ISP lost their Raid Array and all the attached drives when the controller freaked out. Dell claims this never happens, but about 500 GB of data disappeared. Unfortunately the ISP only did a tape backup once a week. So the client (their an online business) lost all transactions for a week.

Edited by Jerry Kurata [KLVK] (11/17/06 03:35 PM)


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Ron Rosenfeld (EPM)
Public Guest


Reged: 04/29/04
Posts: 2772
Loc: Maine
Data backup strategy [Re: Tom Henderson (KOXR/SoCal)]
      #134083 - 11/17/06 09:56 PM

Tom,

On the last two computers I built, I used an Intel 975XBX.. mother board
which has a built-in RAID controller (actually two). They use relatively
inexpensive SATA drives and can be configured as RAID 0, 1, 5 or 10.

I use four drives (WD Caviar RE 320GB) configured as RAID 10.

With HD well under $100 these days, it's not all that expensive. Just
glancing at newegg, I see WD Caviar RE 160GB drives at $65. Four of them in
a RAID10 configuration would be $260 and give you 320GB of storage.

Even less expensive would be the SE 80GB drives at $44 each.

If your MB doesn't have a controller, I see a bunch available at a wide range
of prices, all handling SATA drives -- I haven't investigated the difference
between the inexpensive and expensive varieties.

--ron

--------------------
--ron


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Tom Henderson (KOXR/SoCal)
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Reged: 06/02/04
Posts: 588
Loc: Ventura, CA
Re: Data backup strategy [Re: Ron Rosenfeld (EPM)]
      #134095 - 11/17/06 11:27 PM

Thanks again Ron.

I'll have to noodle this out a bit.

A true RAID setup is probably overkill for me; we'll see.

-Tom H.


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Ron Rosenfeld (EPM)
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Reged: 04/29/04
Posts: 2772
Loc: Maine
Data backup strategy [Re: Tom Henderson (KOXR/SoCal)]
      #134261 - 11/19/06 09:39 PM

Tom,

I thought so too, until a drive crumped, and the system continued to function
with no problem, and no effort on my part other than obtaining a replacement
drive. I didn't even have to format it!

You could do RAID1 or RAID5 with fewer drives, although you'd still need the
same controller.

--------------------
--ron


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Reams Goodloe
Top Gun


Reged: 05/07/04
Posts: 2582
Loc: Kent, Washington
Re: Data backup strategy [Re: Tom Henderson (KOXR/SoCal)]
      #134286 - 11/20/06 03:36 AM

Tom -

What is your process of backing up to the USB drive ?
We use Norton Ghost, for stand alone units and laptops, so we've got everyting ready to restore to a new hard drive. Automatic, nightly, but we've got to physically swap three external drive units around to update the offsite backup and get a new one in line for today's backup.

We use a similar strategy for the server, which has a RAID drive array, but we still want to get data off the machine and offsite.- to avoid the catastrophe scenario of the type Jerry K noted.

Unlike larger outfits, we're toast if the meteor or an Iranian or N. Korean missle or some of the crescent warriors take out everything with 5 miles of the office or so. Don't know what the EMP might do.... Haven't quite come to grips about planning for that larger disaster scenario. I figure if Rainier erupts I'l be able to grab something and put it in a protective enclosure before all roofs cave in locally. Various outfits will download encrypted data on an incremental basis to some "secure" location -but I haven't latched on to an outfit where that was simple enough and cost effective, at least not yet.

- Reams -


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Russell Holton
AVSIG Member


Reged: 07/07/05
Posts: 14136
Re: Data backup strategy [Re: Reams Goodloe]
      #134332 - 11/20/06 01:55 PM

>>> Various outfits will download encrypted data on an incremental basis to some "secure" location -but I haven't latched on to an outfit where that was simple enough and cost effective, at least not yet. <<<

How much are you looking for? I've seen a review of one that had 5GB free. More if you wanted to pay. Turned out good when the author's laptop was stolen.

>>> Don't know what the EMP might do.... <<<

From a few things I've read, electronics that lack a wire acting as an antenna should be safe. So a hard drive enclosure with no cables attached should be fine.

Edited by Russell Holton (11/20/06 01:58 PM)


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Joe Budge (W29)
Top Gun


Reged: 04/30/04
Posts: 7423
Re: Data backup strategy [Re: Reams Goodloe]
      #134813 - 11/25/06 10:14 PM

<< Various outfits will download encrypted data on an incremental basis to some "secure" location -but I haven't latched on to an outfit where that was simple enough and cost effective, at least not yet. >>

Reams,

I use these guys http://www.firstbackup.com/ for offsite backup. The backups are slow, but their pricing is reasonable and flexible so I can back up several machines without paying corporate IT rates. And the backups happen in the background so I don't really have to worry about speed. I still do on-site backups, as I've described elsewhere in the thread - this is my disaster recovery backup. I haven't battle-tested it (the house hasn't burned down yet <g>) but it seems to work with small trial restores.

Regards,
Joe


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Scott Dyer [HPN/NY]
Top Gun


Reged: 01/11/03
Posts: 20065
Data backup strategy [Re: Joe Budge (W29)]
      #134886 - 11/26/06 04:47 PM

Joe -- I use FirstBackup, too, based on Bob D's recommendation a couple of
years ago. They are quite attentive, sending an email on occasion when it
looks like a machine isn't backing up as it should be. I appreciate that.

--------------------
www.scottdyercfi.com


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