Author Topic: Back-up hard drive recommendations  (Read 6251 times)

brandino29

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Back-up hard drive recommendations
« on: June 20, 2014, 10:23:58 AM »
For you mustachian techies out there, I'm looking for some recommendations on a back up external hard drive, basically just to store all of our photos and important documents from old computers before they go completely kaput.

Any specific recommendations on what to get or what to look for regarding storage capacity and cost?

oldtoyota

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Re: Back-up hard drive recommendations
« Reply #1 on: June 20, 2014, 10:30:00 AM »
I use Drop Box for that sort of thing. Then, I don't have to worry about home fires either.

Dodge

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Re: Back-up hard drive recommendations
« Reply #2 on: June 20, 2014, 10:33:26 AM »
How much data do you need to backup?  For example, if a 500GB hard drive only has 30GB of irreplaceable photos/videos, and the rest can all be re-downloaded.

dragoncar

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Re: Back-up hard drive recommendations
« Reply #3 on: June 20, 2014, 10:34:00 AM »
I don't think it matters... what's more important to me is that you don't have just one place where you store everything.  Ideally, have a few drives in different physical locations so you don't lose everything if the building catches fire.

edit: dropbox can be ONE place, but I wouldn't trust some random ISP with all my valuable documents/photos.  Data centers can burn too.

brandino29

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Re: Back-up hard drive recommendations
« Reply #4 on: June 20, 2014, 10:42:17 AM »
I use Drop Box for that sort of thing. Then, I don't have to worry about home fires either.

Isn't dropbox rather pricey if you're using it to store large volumes of data indefinitely?

How much data do you need to backup?  For example, if a 500GB hard drive only has 30GB of irreplaceable photos/videos, and the rest can all be re-downloaded.

Good question that I have no answer to.  How about, something large enough to store 5,000 photos and videos?

I don't think it matters... what's more important to me is that you don't have just one place where you store everything.  Ideally, have a few drives in different physical locations so you don't lose everything if the building catches fire.

edit: dropbox can be ONE place, but I wouldn't trust some random ISP with all my valuable documents/photos.  Data centers can burn too.

Good point.  My primary concern at this moment is that I have one old Macbook that is ancient by computer standards and I want to get the photos (wedding, first kid) off of it before it decides to die completely. 

Brian Fellows

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Re: Back-up hard drive recommendations
« Reply #5 on: June 20, 2014, 10:43:49 AM »
Not to hijack or anything, but are there any good studies on typical lifetimes of external hard drives?  I have three total (two I keep at my place, one I keep at my mom's place), and recently when I went to load pictures on one of them I found that all of the files were irreplacibly corrupted.

Luckily the one I had at my mom's was fine, but now I'm not sure if I should just replace that one with a totally new one in case it's in the danger-zone as far as lifetime goes.  After a certain point I know having a backup of a backup of a backup's backup is just plain paranoid, but so far in the last ~6 years I've had two laptops and one external hard drive die completely without being able to repair/extract ANYTHING, so I'm getting a little sick of it.

nordlead

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Re: Back-up hard drive recommendations
« Reply #6 on: June 20, 2014, 10:44:49 AM »
The ideal backup solution is...

1) automated - humans tend to be the failure point
2) in multiple locations - to avoid natural disasters or theft (or even power surges)
3) easy to maintain/restore - 1TB of data over the Internet will take forever to restore

My personal setup is a server in my parents basement ~4 miles away (we don't get floods or hurricanes, or anything that would likely destroy both locations, just blizzards). My files automatically backup via the Internet to their house. If I have to restore my 700GB of data, I just drive over, pop a new HDD in the server, restore to it, and then put it in my server.

If you are going for the external HDD route, I recommend anything really, but I'm a fan of Western Digital. Remove the external drive from your house, and make sure the backup happens on your desired backup interval. If you do keep it in your house, don't keep it plugged in (a power surge or PC failure could take out the external drive). External HDD isn't really a good option though for backup, as you fail points 1 & 2.

Something like dropbox, google drive, etc... will work if you don't have too much data.

taekvideo

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Re: Back-up hard drive recommendations
« Reply #7 on: June 20, 2014, 10:48:19 AM »
Amazon and google have free services similar to dropbox as well.
If it's just pictures/documents you should be able to back them all up online easily.
Videos and such may use up that space quickly though.

k-vette

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Re: Back-up hard drive recommendations
« Reply #8 on: June 20, 2014, 10:48:30 AM »
If youre at all worried about natural disasters, consider iosafe.  Fireproof, water proof, etc.  I used to work for them and have several.

nordlead

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Re: Back-up hard drive recommendations
« Reply #9 on: June 20, 2014, 10:48:41 AM »
Not to hijack or anything, but are there any good studies on typical lifetimes of external hard drives?  I have three total (two I keep at my place, one I keep at my mom's place), and recently when I went to load pictures on one of them I found that all of the files were irreplacibly corrupted.

Luckily the one I had at my mom's was fine, but now I'm not sure if I should just replace that one with a totally new one in case it's in the danger-zone as far as lifetime goes.  After a certain point I know having a backup of a backup of a backup's backup is just plain paranoid, but so far in the last ~6 years I've had two laptops and one external hard drive die completely without being able to repair/extract ANYTHING, so I'm getting a little sick of it.

Google did a study on S.M.A.R.T. and came to the conclusion they can't reliably predict when a drive will fail. A drive can last anywhere from 1 month to 20 years (I do have a few over 10 years old right now). I typically tell people 4-5 years. My server has a main drive, a backup drive, I had an external drive, and I backup to my parents server. So, 4 drives contain the data. So long as they don't all die simultaneously I should be able to upgrade drives even if they all die close together.

CarDude

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Re: Back-up hard drive recommendations
« Reply #10 on: June 20, 2014, 10:57:13 AM »
I use Drop Box for that sort of thing. Then, I don't have to worry about home fires either.

+1, although I use it because the backups are automated, so I don't have to fuss with them. I can't remember the last time I did a non cloud backup.

dragoncar

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Re: Back-up hard drive recommendations
« Reply #11 on: June 20, 2014, 11:06:36 AM »
Not to hijack or anything, but are there any good studies on typical lifetimes of external hard drives?  I have three total (two I keep at my place, one I keep at my mom's place), and recently when I went to load pictures on one of them I found that all of the files were irreplacibly corrupted.

Luckily the one I had at my mom's was fine, but now I'm not sure if I should just replace that one with a totally new one in case it's in the danger-zone as far as lifetime goes.  After a certain point I know having a backup of a backup of a backup's backup is just plain paranoid, but so far in the last ~6 years I've had two laptops and one external hard drive die completely without being able to repair/extract ANYTHING, so I'm getting a little sick of it.

Google did a study on S.M.A.R.T. and came to the conclusion they can't reliably predict when a drive will fail. A drive can last anywhere from 1 month to 20 years (I do have a few over 10 years old right now). I typically tell people 4-5 years. My server has a main drive, a backup drive, I had an external drive, and I backup to my parents server. So, 4 drives contain the data. So long as they don't all die simultaneously I should be able to upgrade drives even if they all die close together.

If you want to get really paranoid (like me), use ZFS so you can "scrub" the data once in a while and verify all the checksums for file integrity.  Also makes checkpointing really easy.

Dodge

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Re: Back-up hard drive recommendations
« Reply #12 on: June 20, 2014, 11:13:18 AM »
I use Drop Box for that sort of thing. Then, I don't have to worry about home fires either.

Isn't dropbox rather pricey if you're using it to store large volumes of data indefinitely?

How much data do you need to backup?  For example, if a 500GB hard drive only has 30GB of irreplaceable photos/videos, and the rest can all be re-downloaded.

Good question that I have no answer to.  How about, something large enough to store 5,000 photos and videos?

I don't think it matters... what's more important to me is that you don't have just one place where you store everything.  Ideally, have a few drives in different physical locations so you don't lose everything if the building catches fire.

edit: dropbox can be ONE place, but I wouldn't trust some random ISP with all my valuable documents/photos.  Data centers can burn too.

Good point.  My primary concern at this moment is that I have one old Macbook that is ancient by computer standards and I want to get the photos (wedding, first kid) off of it before it decides to die completely.

Ok, are you looking for something just to store the photos/videos from that old machine, and that's it?  A backup of this static content only?  Or are you looking for a total backup solution, that will encompass the old Macbook + all other laptops/desktops + phones/tablets, and will be automatically updated whenever new photo/video content is created?

historienne

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Re: Back-up hard drive recommendations
« Reply #13 on: June 20, 2014, 11:19:20 AM »
For online backup (as opposed to syncing across multiple machines) a service like Crashplan, Mozy, or Carbonite will probably be cheaper than Dropbox.  Crashplan will also run backups to local servers, so my husband and I each have an external hard drive attached to our office computers (which are in different locations).  I back up my computer to his external drive and vice versa.  Finally, we have macs, so we bought a used time capsule that we keep at home and back up our laptops to via Time Machine. It might seem like overkill, but we both have jobs (academic, computer programmer) where we'd be f*cked if we lost our data.  Like, if I lost my data, I would not be able to finish my book manuscript in time to get tenure, and would have to change careers.

LibrarIan

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Re: Back-up hard drive recommendations
« Reply #14 on: June 20, 2014, 11:21:23 AM »
I guess this depends on how much and how sensitive or important your data is. I've had luck with Western Digital external HDs. I have a 1.5 TB one right now that I'm backing things up onto. It's more space than I'll probably use, but I got it on clearance at Best Buy a while back, so whatever.

You should save your stuff in multiple places. On your computer, on an external HD and probably in a cloud storage service. Despite the fact that your personal devices can fail, cloud services can fail too. I used to store a lot of stuff in Drive, but then Google randomly lost all my work documents and could not recover them and could provide no explanation as to why the issue happened. Even though it's "in the cloud' the data is still stored on physical hardware somewhere which can fail just like anything else.

brandino29

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Re: Back-up hard drive recommendations
« Reply #15 on: June 20, 2014, 11:22:12 AM »
Ok, are you looking for something just to store the photos/videos from that old machine, and that's it?  A backup of this static content only?  Or are you looking for a total backup solution, that will encompass the old Macbook + all other laptops/desktops + phones/tablets, and will be automatically updated whenever new photo/video content is created?

What I had in mind was something basic in the event that any of our computers died or we lost our phones we wouldn't risk losing all of our photos.  Seeing what others are doing is way beyond what I had in mind or really would care to worry about.

Dodge

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Re: Back-up hard drive recommendations
« Reply #16 on: June 20, 2014, 11:53:51 AM »
Ok, are you looking for something just to store the photos/videos from that old machine, and that's it?  A backup of this static content only?  Or are you looking for a total backup solution, that will encompass the old Macbook + all other laptops/desktops + phones/tablets, and will be automatically updated whenever new photo/video content is created?

What I had in mind was something basic in the event that any of our computers died or we lost our phones we wouldn't risk losing all of our photos.  Seeing what others are doing is way beyond what I had in mind or really would care to worry about.

The problem with the basic solution, is that there's a certain amount of risk involved.  The solutions you've read thus far stem not from their desire to have advanced solutions, but from their low risk-tolerance when it comes to losing their important data.  My setup goes beyond the solutions mentioned thus far, not because I'm super-technical, it's simply a reflection of my risk-tolerance.

That being said, photos/videos of your wedding/first kid are things you probably don't want to lose, which is why you're receiving these type of recommendations.

Long story short, figure out how many gigs we're talking about here, and we'll be able to provide the information you're looking for.  5000 photos/videos could be over a Terabyte of data (1000gigs), or it could be 20gigs.  It's hard to give a good recommendation with such a wide range.

Jamesqf

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Re: Back-up hard drive recommendations
« Reply #17 on: June 20, 2014, 12:29:51 PM »
My backup solution is basically SD cards.  Now most of what I back up is source code and similar, so it's closer to 20 Gbytes than a terabyte.  One lives in my phone, another is kept at a friend's place.  This is more of a house-burns-down plan.

I also do 'backup' by mirroring data across several machines, so that if the drive on one fails, I've lost only whatever has changed since I last synchronized them.

Guses

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Re: Back-up hard drive recommendations
« Reply #18 on: June 20, 2014, 12:34:42 PM »
I use software called Unraid on an old computer in my basement. I keep all my data there so that it can be available from any point in my local network or wifi and could be setup to be accessible from the net (I don't for security reasons).

Unraid allows you to rebuild your data if any one of your drive fails. In the case that two or more die simultaneously, you would only lose data on those drives.

UNraid is free for the basic edition (2 data drives + 1 parity IIRC) and you can set it up on pretty much any old hardware. You can run it without a monitor or peripherals as well.

If you are tech savvy, you can build scripts and add ons to run other software on the server. For example, I use mine as a PVR for my OTA TV as well.

GGNoob

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Re: Back-up hard drive recommendations
« Reply #19 on: June 20, 2014, 04:08:06 PM »
For you mustachian techies out there, I'm looking for some recommendations on a back up external hard drive, basically just to store all of our photos and important documents from old computers before they go completely kaput.

Any specific recommendations on what to get or what to look for regarding storage capacity and cost?

I do a couple of things...

For all of my documents and iPhone pictures/videos, I back them up using Copy. If you sign up with a referral link, you'll get 20GB of free storage. Copy is pretty much like Dropbox and I've been using it for a while now. Also great because I can get those files anywhere I am on my phone. Due to referrals, I have 85GB of free storage. Not bad! Here's my referral link to get your free 20GB.

Now for my DSLR photos, I have nearly 400GB of files due to the RAW files that are around 25MB a piece. For that, I use Crashplan. Crashplan backs up pretty much any file I find worth of backing up on my computer, including everything that I back up with Copy. With Crashplan, I back up locally to a spare hard drive in my computer that I use just for backups. I also back up over the internet to a friends computer. We each have a 2TB hard drive dedicated to backups, so we each back up to each other and to our local hard drive. I also have a laptop (a work laptop that is also used for personal use) that backs up my home computer and to my friends computer. I think my friend and I each have a backup size of around 600GB. Because it would take forever to back up all 600GB, we each backed up to those 2TB hard drives we each have and then swapped hard drives. That way I could load his backup and it would only back up the changes from now on. Then he did the same for me. Crashplan posted a guide to it here: http://support.code42.com/CrashPlan/Latest/Backup/Backing_Up_To_A_Friends_Computer

To me, Crashplan is the ideal way to backup all of my files for free. All it takes is a spare hard drive and a friend who also wants files backed up. Also, make sure that friend isn't in the same neighborhood as you in case of a natural disaster. My friend and I work together, but we live nearly 30 minutes apart. Someday I wouldn't mind getting one of my friends who lives 15 hours away in on this as well. Then I'd feel very safe!
« Last Edit: June 20, 2014, 04:15:36 PM by logant1337 »

Nords

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Re: Back-up hard drive recommendations
« Reply #20 on: June 20, 2014, 08:21:54 PM »
Carbonite and, once or twice a year, an offsite external hard drive.

Another option is to buy a hard drive that doesn't have moving parts:  a Samsung solid-state drive.  I've been using them for 18 months now and I'm very happy.

deborah

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Re: Back-up hard drive recommendations
« Reply #21 on: June 20, 2014, 09:29:04 PM »
My personal setup is a server in my parents basement ~4 miles away (we don't get floods or hurricanes, or anything that would likely destroy both locations, just blizzards). My files automatically backup via the Internet to their house. If I have to restore my 700GB of data, I just drive over, pop a new HDD in the server, restore to it, and then put it in my server.
Four miles is a bit too close for comfort. The industry recommendation is usually 20km (13 miles) - this may have changed since I last was working on this sort of thing. When the Canberra bushfires (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2003_Canberra_bushfires) occurred (over 500 houses destroyed), one of the Commonwealth Departments had the fire come to the back door (which was burnt) of its computer centre, and to the fence (also burnt) of its backup facility over 30km away. With climate change, the frequency and severity of extreme climatic events (including blizzards) is changing these sorts of figures. Places that had no fire problems 40 years ago are now having those problems. 40 years ago, no-one would have considered Canberra vulnerable.

I also shook my head at the number of people who have backups in their basements. The two most common places for computer centres used to be basements (which got flooded) and immediately above the corporate cafeteria (the most likely place for fire - which travels up). The gear takes up so little space in the home these days that surely a more appropriate place can be found. Even basements at the top of a hill can be flooded.

As others have said, how much space do your pictures take? My favourite way to backup this stuff would be to use a USB stick, periodically, and send the USB stick to a relative who lives more than 20km away. This way, you know that that everything you want is on the stick, and if you accidentally delete some of your pictures they are safe. USB sticks are cheap enough that you can use a new one each time, and they seem to be growing in size in line with our disk usage.

There are a lot of backup disks on the market - we currently have a 3TB WIFI backup that is not located in the same room as the computer (again, if you have a house fire, you don't want your backup going with your computer). Remember that even if a fire doesn't damage electronics, smoke damage may. I tend to believe that a hidden WiFi setup is best, as this is more likely to remain in case of burglary (another main risk). I also like my backup to be on a different circuit, and preferably a different power phase. And all my equipment is on some sort of surge protector. Solid state disks should be more robust than other types of disk.

I don't like memory cards, as there are a lot of formats, and they tend to become obsolete more quickly than USB sticks. This is also a reason I don't put my precious memories on only one media - digital media tend to become obsolescent very quickly, and unpopular media such as backup disks and old memory card formats tend to become obsolescent more quickly than popular media. I'm sure you remember some that have become obsolete.

I don't like the cloud for personal reasons but it is probably a good option. One problem with it is that you could forget the password, and not be able to access it.

Oh, by the way, I spent too many years working in this area of computing before I retired four years ago. I have seen too many damaged computers (including by earthquake in Australia - which never gets earthquakes) and too many computer problems that happened just because people didn't think.

Please don't have just one backup - and don't delete it to write another one over the top of the previous one. One of my early experiences was of a computer centre where they valued backup tapes so much they only had one set, and backed up over the top of the previous backup. When you are backing up a whole disk, you are probably exercising it more than you are at other times, and the most likely time for a disk to fail (in my experience) is when it is being backed up. Unfortunately that happened to the computer centre I am remembering. Recovery was not pleasant - the company's computers were out for 3 weeks.