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Last post Author Topic: How do you backup your files?  (Read 11970 times)

superboyac

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How do you backup your files?
« on: January 03, 2006, 02:15:06 AM »
I've wondered about this "poweruser" question for a while now, and I know this is the perfect place to get an answer.  I'm wondering how you guys backup your information stored on your computer.  I'm not talking about making an image of your system or anything like, I'm talking about backing up stand alone files, like mp3's, your documents, receipts, pictures, etc.

Up until now, what I always do is have two directories, "new" and "burned".  As you can tell, stuff that gets burned then gets moved from "new" to "burned" so I know that it's been taken care of.  I do this for each category, so for my pictures directory, I have a new and burned directory, and same for "my documents", etc.

But I was looking at software like Genie Backup, and I see that it can "span" or something, where it sounds like I can make incremental backups as necessary.  Like, as my directory grows by about 4 GB, I know it's time to burn another DVD...so can I just use Genie, and it will automatically detect which files are new/changed, and only burn those on the new DVD?  Is that how it works?

The other problem with that is that I won't be able to tell what is backed up and what isn't just by browsing my files.  If I use the incremental backup way, I feel like I have to ditch my previous "new/backup" method, because otherwise, the program would burn everything because technically they are changing locations.

Anyway, so I was wondering how you guys go about backing up your files.  I just have this feeling that I am going about rather inefficiently.

Carol Haynes

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Re: How do you backup your files?
« Reply #1 on: January 03, 2006, 03:29:56 AM »
Here is the Help File description of backup types from Genie:

Quote
Normal Backup Backup all selected files and folders every time.

Increment Includes all files that have changed since the last normal (full) or incremental backup using the files' last modified date and time stamp.

Mirror Includes all files that have changed since the last normal (full) or incremental backup using the files' last modified date and time stamp. This backup type does not support rollback, so old versions of files will be replacesd with newer ones and missing files will be deleted from the backup set.

Differential Includes all files since last normal (full) backup using the files' last modified date and time stamp.


In Genie you set up backup tasks (collections of files and folders to backup and specific task, like backup Outlook Express) and then incremental/differential will monitor for changes to files/folder contents etc. and next time you run the task only backup the changed items.

Differential backups are the more space efficient, as it only keeps the first FULL backup and then makes a single differential backup of changes which means previous differential 'lumps' can be deleted as required without affecting backup integrity -so effectively you have only two two parts to your backup. It can also automate the deletion of previous diffential 'lumps' by specifying how many backups to retain.

Incremental backups allow for easier rollback to a previous state because it always saves all changes since the last backup - so you have a FULL backup plus a number of incremental backups which can be restored independently ad files can be extracted from different dated backups. This can allow some control over version fo files to recover which can be very useful. Note that ALL increments must be retained for a successful restore.
« Last Edit: January 03, 2006, 03:35:02 AM by Carol Haynes »

brotherS

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Re: How do you backup your files?
« Reply #2 on: January 03, 2006, 04:46:10 AM »
Differential backups are the more space efficient, as it only keeps the first FULL backup and then makes a single differential backup of changes which means previous differential 'lumps' can be deleted as required without affecting backup integrity -so effectively you have only two two parts to your backup. It can also automate the deletion of previous diffential 'lumps' by specifying how many backups to retain.
Is this meant to backup to another HD or is this a good choice too if you backup to DVD-RW?

Quote
Incremental backups allow for easier rollback to a previous state because it always saves all changes since the last backup - so you have a FULL backup plus a number of incremental backups which can be restored independently ad files can be extracted from different dated backups. This can allow some control over version fo files to recover which can be very useful. Note that ALL increments must be retained for a successful restore.
But if one of the backup DVDs is destroyed I'm able to restore all of the files on the other backup DVDs, right?

Carol Haynes

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Re: How do you backup your files?
« Reply #3 on: January 03, 2006, 05:21:06 AM »
I use backup to hard disk - I haven't tried with DVD. I presume if you backup to DVD a record is kept somewhere of the date/time of backup so that the diefferetial/incremental backups can be performed - but since I haven't tried it I don't know if this works.

For incremental backups you need all of the DVD prior to the backup date you wish to restore. For example, if you have the following sets of backups:

BASE

Inc1

Inc2

Inc3

The BASE backup provides a backup at the time the first backup is performed. Each increment provides later updates to that backup. If you want to retore the latest version of the backup then all 4 backups must be available. If Inc2 becomes corrupted you can only restore Inc1+BASE, if BASE becomes corrupted you won't be able to restore anything.

Having never been in this position I don't know if Genie is intelligent enough to retrieve what it can or if, like most software, it will simply say the backup is corrupt.

brotherS

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Re: How do you backup your files?
« Reply #4 on: January 03, 2006, 05:27:10 AM »
Ok, thanks! Would be great if we had someone here using "Differential backups" with DVD. Lets see :)

Carol Haynes

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Re: How do you backup your files?
« Reply #5 on: January 03, 2006, 07:43:29 AM »
I have just tried this with a CD-RW backup and differential backups seem to work fine. You just need to insert the last disk in the backup set before running the application, otherwise it does a full backup. I presume it would work in a similar way with DVD-RW formats.

I looked in the help file and you can also use DVD-R and CD-R formats, the only difference being that Rollback is turned off.

nosh

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Re: How do you backup your files?
« Reply #6 on: April 24, 2007, 08:56:55 AM »
I was planning to start a new thread discussing various backup configs in light of mouser's PSU blowout but I'll just bump this one along.

I use various tools depending on the nature of data to be backed up.

Most of my data (movies, mp3s, downloaded apps, digicam photos & other graphics) gets mirrored from one physical HDD to another using the excellent "Second Copy" - these mirror jobs are set to run once a day. Every once in a while I back most of this stuff up on DVDs

For data that needs to be backed up just once in a while like my Firefox profiles or Alarm data I use Genie backup manager - it also lets me backup specific registry keys along with files so I can make very precise backups for individual programs.

Mission critical files:
For stuff that I just can't afford to lose like source code, word/excel files or financial data I use DriveHQ.com's excellent wwwbackup client.
The drawbacks are
a) It lets me backup 1GB max with a free account (which is more than sufficient for my purposes)
b) It gives a nag on startup urging me to upgrade.
Some of the plus points:
 - It allows versioning and is capable of realtime monitoring & backup
 - It has web-based access too (with optional encryption besides the normal logon security) so I can securely access my files from another PC.
 - It allows file sharing
 - Most importantly, it has good connectivity and uploads don't get stuck halfway like they do with AOL's sucky online backup service. This service works and works well - highly recommended.

If you're using a really good backup app/service for local or online backups please share.

superboyac

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Re: How do you backup your files?
« Reply #7 on: April 24, 2007, 10:22:25 AM »
Hi nosh, nice input.  I had never heard of Second Copy.  I haven't tried too many of these applications, but zridling's favorite program for this is DirSync.  I tried it and it is very customizable, and zridling claims that it is very "accurate" (I think he's referring to the copied files not being corrupted or anything).

I'm actually in the process of completing a blog that will be posted here about my backup methods.  It seems to be similar to yours, minus the online stuff.

Armando

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Re: How do you backup your files?
« Reply #8 on: April 24, 2007, 11:12:52 AM »
On my internal HD, I have 2 main partitions (I have more, but they're not important in this demonstration :) ): one for Window, one for my documents.

I have 3 external hardrives. One (320gb) HD stays home, another one (80gb) stays with me -- they both contain the same files, but I do keep some more crap on the 320 gb : movies, audio files I don't care losing). Once every 2 weeks, I exchange the smaller 80gb portable drive with another identical one kept at my friends' place for extra security. So... TOtal : 3 external HDs, but only two that I have with me every day.


Here's approximately (I'm leaving some details) what I do :

Everyday :
1- I use SyncbackSE (might replace it with the faster Super Flexible File synchronizer in a few months) for full synchronization of my personnal files (not the OS) on two external hard drives.


2- I use SyncbackSE to make incremental backups on the two external hard drives. (So, if something weird happens with a specific file, and it's corrupted on the full "sync backup", I can always go back in time and pick the good one.)


Once every two weeks or month (depending on how many modifications, configuration changes, I make) :

3- I use Acronis True Image to backup my Windows partition. (It's been VERY usefull)

I usually try to keep as many versions as possible on the 320gb HD, but only 1 or 2 on the smaller ones. I keep track of what these images contain, etc.


Voilà. All this takes a bit of time to configure, etc., but it has now become a 2nd nature, and doesn't take much more that a few minutes/day (the backup itself takes about 15min : this will vary, depending on file size, etc.). At first, I had trouble to "safely remove hardware" before unplugging my HDs, and I "lost" quite a bit of time when I was still experimenting with different backup style, naming protocol, etc.... But now, everything goes quite fast.

PS: I also have a thumb drive on which I make quick incremental backups (SyncBackSE) when I'm on the move with my laptop (so, if I drop the beast...).
« Last Edit: April 24, 2007, 11:25:10 AM by Armando »

superboyac

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Re: How do you backup your files?
« Reply #9 on: April 24, 2007, 11:19:43 AM »
On my internal HD, I have 2 main partitions (I have more, but they're not important in this demonstration :) ): one for Window, one for my documents.

I have 3 external hardrives. One (320gb) HD stays home, another one (80gb) stays with me -- they both contain the same files, but I do keep some more crap on the 320 gb : movies, audio files I don't care losing). Once every 2 weeks, I exchange the smaller 80gb portable drive with another identical one kept at my friends' place for extra security. So... TOtal : 3 external HDs, but only two that I have with me every day.

Oh crap!  You're doing the same thing I'm doing, pretty much.  I'm writing this huge blog on this thing right now, but it's almost exactly what you just described above!  You're stealing my thunder!

Just kidding, I'm glad for your input.  I think backing up like this with a lot of redundancy and different physical locations is very important for computer users.

PS  I tried Syncback SE and DirSync, and I liked DIrSync better, and so does zridling.

Armando

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Re: How do you backup your files?
« Reply #10 on: April 24, 2007, 11:23:40 AM »
Quote
I think backing up like this with a lot of redundancy and different physical locations is very important for computer users.

Yes. very important indeed.


Quote
You're doing the same thing I'm doing, pretty much.

Good to hear that!  8) So I'm not the only parnoid soul around...

 

nite_monkey

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Re: How do you backup your files?
« Reply #11 on: April 24, 2007, 01:37:28 PM »
I chunk all of my backup files on a sepreate 80 gig hard drive
[Insert really cool signature here]

Armando

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Re: How do you backup your files?
« Reply #12 on: April 24, 2007, 04:33:52 PM »
PS  I tried Syncback SE and DirSync, and I liked DIrSync better, and so does zridling.

Interesting... Why do you prefer in DirSync ?

Edit : I briefly looked at the website and I don't see an option for incremental backups. Is it possible ?

I like the fact that SyncBackSE is crammed with options... even if it's not perfect or the fastest. More options also means more mistake possibilities, of course.  :)
« Last Edit: April 24, 2007, 07:45:27 PM by Armando »

f0dder

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Re: How do you backup your files?
« Reply #13 on: April 24, 2007, 04:57:11 PM »
:-[

I don't currently do any decent backing up. I haven't found any backup program I like (genie seems okay, but it's a bit too happy-fluffy and has too many popups and whatnot that I had to disable). My strategy when I still lived with my mum was a couple of batch files that did full or incremental RAR'ing of my source/documents partition to \\server\backup - obviously the server was left at my mum's place, so that doesn't work anymore.

I used to have a RAID mirror to avoid losing stuff because of a harddrive failure, but that's of course no replacement for doing backups!. And currently it's a stripe, since I wanted to play around a bit after I got my raptor drive. Unfortunately, I've managed to stuff a lot of data on the stripe, which I'll have to sort, burn out to DVDs and delete, before I can get back to mirror again. Yeah, I'm currently living my life on the edge 8)

I plan to build a fileserver again sometime in the future, but I need to save up some cash first, and decide what to get - obviously power efficiency is a big concern here!. Until then, I do have some external USB disks though, that I should get into the habit of backing up to.

So, what's a decent no-nonsense backup program that's solid? Acronis file backup mode isn't exactly robust when it comes to aborting incremental backups etc., and it tends to include way too much in the incremental backups.
- carpe noctem

Armando

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Re: How do you backup your files?
« Reply #14 on: April 24, 2007, 07:40:49 PM »

So, what's a decent no-nonsense backup program that's solid? Acronis file backup mode isn't exactly robust when it comes to aborting incremental backups etc., and it tends to include way too much in the incremental backups.


I find that the combination of 2 programs is essential.

Personally, I like my combination.  8) (See previous posts)

To loose everything, I'd have to lose 4 HDs at the same, 3 of which are usually in different locations (my laptop is in my bag, my 320gb HD is at home, one 80gb HD is at a trustable friend's place). To loose some of my documents, I'd have to loose, 3HDs at the same time : the 2 I've usually got with me and the one at home. Chances are slim.

I feel pretty secure, but, of course, it's still possible for something completely unpredictable to happen. Like when I got a BSOD the other day, and lost what was encrypted with AXCrypt. That's the worst that happened to me in two years I lost almost a day of work -- too much, I know... I found a solution and that won't happen again.

The trick, I guess, is to constantly adapt your backup solution to perceived threats...  :) For now, SyncBackSE allows me to do that.  It's not perfect, but it's very flexible.

nosh

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Re: How do you backup your files?
« Reply #15 on: April 25, 2007, 07:06:12 AM »
I quit on incremental backups long back. Disk space is cheaper than it has ever been and there are too many ifs and buts involved in incremental backups for me to feel secure about them. I have been using Powerquest's Drive Image (yes, it's ancient but it hasn't let me down once in all the years of frequent use) for my image backup needs. I tend to create images every month more or less and have at least 2 previous images on my HDD at all times.

BTW, is Acronis True Image worth it? I have two main doubts regarding True Image:
1. Are the 'Live Backups' the ones I create with my programs running and accessing the drives being backed up absolutely reliable?
2. Will I be able to restore from DOS without any special boot disks? With Drive Image I can boot using a Win98 boot disk and restore the drives (the images and Drive Image program files can be on removable media or a non-target partition on my HDD).

Last question - how do True Image and Symantec Ghost (which is the descendant of Drive Image) compare? Reliability is obviously my first priority, followed by functionality.

f0dder

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Re: How do you backup your files?
« Reply #16 on: April 25, 2007, 07:15:22 AM »
I like the idea of incremental backups rather than "syncing" since you'll have a per-day (or whatever) copy of any file that's been modified... instead of having "important.doc" synced to the version where your cat jumped around on the keyboard. And doing full backups every day with a backlog isn't a possibility if you have massive datasets.

Acronis does it's disk imaging very well, and it's pre-windows-boot environment is really nice (and it works, despite of being linux based ;) ) - supported NForce4 RAID, windows network shares, et cetera. Haven't tried doing a full image creation while windows is running, but it "might just work" :)

I'd choose Acronis over Ghost any day, especially considering the 'symantec' part.
- carpe noctem

nosh

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Re: How do you backup your files?
« Reply #17 on: April 25, 2007, 08:32:59 AM »
Thanks. I share your affection for Symantec too. Not many companies have to make separate clean up tools to take care of the mess their utilities leave behind. They are indeed unique!  :-*

Armando

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Re: How do you backup your files?
« Reply #18 on: April 25, 2007, 01:32:14 PM »
I tend to create images every month more or less and have at least 2 previous images on my HDD at all times.

just to think that I could loose more than a few days of work makes me shiver... I backup Windows once or twice a month with Acronis, but I Sync my docs and make incremental backups once or twice a day... Like f0dder  said, doing a full backup everyday if you have lots of data is not even possible. Unless you'd have several terabytes available somewhere.  Even then : it would take too long. Not convenient at all.


1. Are the 'Live Backups' the ones I create with my programs running and accessing the drives being backed up absolutely reliable?

They were completely reliable for me. I had to restore my system several times — and different Oss — and never had a problem.

2. Will I be able to restore from DOS without any special boot disks? With Drive Image I can boot using a Win98 boot disk and restore the drives (the images and Drive Image program files can be on removable media or a non-target partition on my HDD).

Restoring is very easy. Much easier than with other similar software. You might have to create a boot CD with True Image, though. Check it out.


Last question - how do True Image and Symantec Ghost (which is the descendant of Drive Image) compare? Reliability is obviously my first priority, followed by functionality.


There are many reviews. One is available here on DC. There's another good one by Gizmo. People usually agree to say that True image is top notch. Zaine Ridling disagrees though. He now uses one of Terabyte ( http://www.terabyteunlimited.com/ ) imaging software -- very reliable too.  But Acronis always worked perfectly well for me…

gjehle

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Re: How do you backup your files?
« Reply #19 on: April 25, 2007, 02:33:10 PM »
raid1 or none :D

(i'm serious)

nosh

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Re: How do you backup your files?
« Reply #20 on: April 25, 2007, 03:00:20 PM »
Quote
just to think that I could loose more than a few days of work makes me shiver... I backup Windows once or twice a month with Acronis, but I Sync my docs and make incremental backups once or twice a day

I try out a lot of new software so it really doesn't make sense for me to back up the whole drive very often. After a few weeks I have a pretty good idea of which new utilities & updates/replacements for my existing utilities are needed (most aren't) so I restore a fresh image, install just those utilities & back up immediately, keeping the image 'clean' and free of clutter left behind by discarded programs.

The mp3s, pix, etc are backed up once a day and most docs are backed up online in real time (besides being mirrored daily on a separate HDD). I install all apps on D:\ rather than the default "c:\Program files" - all programs save their data directly to partition E: or onwards. So c: and d: only contain the actual programs and their settings. After compression, the C: and D: images total less than 8GB and I can afford to keep a few old copies (which again get mirrored across drives :) )
 

I'm testing out Acronis: the "live backup" thingie was just toooo slow, though if it actually works flawlessly it's pretty cool coz I don't really notice it slowing my system down when it runs.
The boot CD works brilliantly. But I'm wondering if this program is superior in any way to PQ Drive Image, other than the live/hot backup feature. DI lets me compress and lets me browse the images and restore individual files from them in Windows. Also with max compression Acronis seemed to be quite a bit slower than DI (I'm not talking about a live backup here, but a regular boot from disk and create image method.)

Armando

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Re: How do you backup your files?
« Reply #21 on: April 25, 2007, 03:46:45 PM »
DI lets me compress and lets me browse the images and restore individual files from them in Windows.

With Acronis you can do all that, and more.

I don't know about speed.  I used drive image, but didn't seem faster in any way.

Armando

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Re: How do you backup your files?
« Reply #22 on: April 25, 2007, 03:52:52 PM »

The mp3s, pix, etc are backed up once a day and most docs are backed up online in real time (besides being mirrored daily on a separate HDD).


Aaaaaahhhhh.  :)

f0dder

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Re: How do you backup your files?
« Reply #23 on: April 25, 2007, 04:52:25 PM »
raid1 or none :D

(i'm serious)

I'll have to agree with you... there's a lot of snobs that'll laugh and brag about their RAID5 setups, then go on about how onboard RAID solutions are bad (even for RAID1, although there's no compatibility problems there), and how expensive hardware is superior.

raidshit.jpgHow do you backup your files?
Well, the owner of that RAID5 wasn't very happy when it broke down. The pic is from oct 2003, those drives were expensive then. It broke badly enough that he couldn't just swap a drive, but would've had to buy enough new capacity to do a reconstruct-to-image.

- carpe noctem

Armando

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Re: How do you backup your files?
« Reply #24 on: April 25, 2007, 08:10:26 PM »
What if... You house burns ?  :(