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Author Topic: Realtime backups  (Read 6327 times)
oblivion
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« on: August 04, 2011, 10:39:31 AM »

I don't backup enough.

I upgraded my desktop machine's internal HD to a terabyte beast a while back and I now use the old drive in an external case, connected via USB, to make the occasional image (I use Paragon. It's okay, but the current version seems to have abandoned incremental backups, so I'm stuck making the occasional image and I don't use it for file-based backups.)

The old drive isn't big enough for more than one image, and when I picked up a deal on eBay for an Iomega 500Gb Prestige USB drive with their backup software thrown into the deal, I thought it was a Good Plan.

The drive works fine.

Their realtime backup software -- QuikProtect -- works if I install it on my netbook (Win7 Starter) but the install to my desktop (Vista, 32-bit, 4Gb RAM) didn't just not work, it caused the first bluescreen I've had on the system.

I used to like Iomega.

I had to use System Restore, via Safe Mode, to get the system to boot normally again.

I posted a query on their forum and the only response so far is a suggestion that I might like to try the most recent version of the software, here's the download link. (Since I downloaded it on Tuesday, I can't imagine that I was that far behind the times. Easy response, for sure, but it assumes that I'm stupid and I'd FAR rather they assumed intelligence first.)

So I have two questions:

1. Does anyone with any experience with Iomega's QuikProtect have any suggestions as to whether I should put my system back in the firing line again or just give up with it?

2. If I wanted something that did a similar job -- effectively backing up a configurable number of generations of a configurable set of files and folders, in realtime on a "set and forget" basis -- to a USB-connected HD, would I have to hand over serious quantities of money? (Hint: I felt guilty enough about the new HD. Please don't make me hand over more extra cash than I have to!)

I guess if I forget the "realtime" bit, I could probably do the job for free with something like Toucan... it's just that I'll forget. smiley
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Stoic Joker
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« Reply #1 on: August 04, 2011, 11:34:30 AM »

I've always felt that a real-time backup, really isn't a backup at all. It's a second copy of what just happened.

Here at the office I have too much data on my workstation to run through the rest of the offices nightly backup. So I use the built-in Win 7 backup to do nightly backups to one on the servers temporary storage RAID volumes. I don't remember if Vista has the newer Win7 style backup options...But it's worth exploring if it does.
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40hz
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« Reply #2 on: August 04, 2011, 12:24:39 PM »




As Stoic noted, with the size of today's hard drives, the big problem with "overnight backups" is we're now running out of "night." Grin

The most important thing to protect is your files. Everything else can be reinstalled from DVD media or download if you have to. So put your primary emphasis on data first.

For user files your best bet would be to use a file synchronization utility that has a "synchronize on shutdown" option.

There's dozens of paid and free apps to choose from. Do a Google or visit a reputable software aggregation site like FileHippo, Snapfiles or Tucows and nose around. (Tip: Also make it a point to read the user reviews. Not all utilities are created equal.  mrgreen)

Configure your sync utility for which directories you want to 'backup' and point it to the external drive. Then tell it to sync whenever you shut down.

Now, every time you issue a shutdown command, you can walk away, empty coffee cup in hand, fairly secure in the knowledge that the most recent versions of your files will be copied over to your external drive.

Note: first time you do this will take some time since all the files will need to be put on the external drive and have a sync database created for them. But after that it should go pretty quickly unless you've added and/or updated thousands of files between your last synchronization. Then it might take something like 15-20 minutes.

I'm a big fan of synchronization. Most of my daily "backing up" gets done that way.

Note: there's also free and inexpensive remote online "backup" services (like SpiderOak, iDrive, etc) that will basically do the same thing. All such services have provisions for automatic (i.e. scheduled) as well as ad hoc backups. This wouldn't be workable for massive collections of...uh... 'archived' movies or...um... porn photo galleries. But it might be a very good place to store that computer code or draft of the report your boss is waiting for. It's also good for any other collection of files you'd hate to loose if your house or office burned down. tellme

For bigger or periodic or 'versioned' backups I'll either use Microsoft's included backup utility (if I'm in Windows7) - or a copy of Cobain Backup.

System images and restoration snapshots can be handled by Microsoft's backup in Windows7 - or using a copy of Macrium Reflect or Clonezilla (if you're feeling adventurous!).

Note: I never use an "automatic" or "scheduled" feature to create disk or partition images. For some odd reason, they've always been unreliable for me. If I need to create one, I do it explicitly. Don't know what to suggest to you if you're forgetful about things like that. Maybe a calendar/reminder might help?

Fortunately, you don't really need to image drives all that often if your data is already backed up. I'll usually create an image immediately after I've setup and tricked out a new machine. But after that I'll only reimage following major software updates (like Windows or MS Office service packs) or after an important new software installation.

Hope this was helpful! Thmbsup



« Last Edit: August 04, 2011, 10:14:27 PM by 40hz; Reason: corrected spelling » Logged

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oblivion
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« Reply #3 on: August 04, 2011, 01:28:47 PM »

(see attachment in previous post)
For user files your best bet would be to use a file synchronization utility that has a "synchronize on shutdown" option.

That really hadn't occurred to me. Brilliant -- exactly what I want, with a side benefit of not slowing the system down in use.

I shall research. Thanks!  smiley
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« Reply #4 on: August 04, 2011, 01:55:47 PM »

AJC Active Backup.  I set it up for my wife, and it's saved her several times with her schoolwork!  I purchased the standard edition on Bits du Jour for less, but it's only $29 normally.  Apparently Super Flexible File Synchronizer does something similar, and I've seen folks on DC rave over it, but I've never used it.
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oblivion
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« Reply #5 on: August 04, 2011, 02:26:49 PM »

I'm going to start with the top two recommendations over on TechSupportAlert and, if they don't do what I want/need, I'll try AJC: looks good, and not too expensive. (SFFS IS too expensive, on the other hand, and will be kept in reserve for the point that I decide that nothing else will do. smiley Thanks to everyone!
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kyrathaba
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« Reply #6 on: August 04, 2011, 05:12:04 PM »

I use FBackup 4 (freeware) instead of the crappy WDSmart software that came with my WD 1 Tb MyBook Essential.  FBackup 4 works fine.  I've used it to mirror my notebook's drive to the MyBook.

Would you believe that WDSmart would not let me backup MyDocuments and its subfolders!?
« Last Edit: August 04, 2011, 05:15:25 PM by kyrathaba » Logged

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oblivion
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« Reply #7 on: August 05, 2011, 01:05:48 AM »

FBackup 4 works fine.  I've used it to mirror my notebook's drive to the MyBook.
That was on my list of things to try -- but my first experiment is underway. PureSync. Free, has the sync on shutdown option that 40Hz recommended, installed with no glitches, seems easy to configure... looks good so far.

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oblivion
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« Reply #8 on: August 06, 2011, 08:06:37 AM »

Okay, Puresync is gone. I didn't like the way it managed the file lists (very nonstandard) and even after the initial backup was done, the comparison process to work out if anything needed doing subsequently took a very long time.

I'm now trying Create Synchronicity and I'll let you know...
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oblivion
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« Reply #9 on: August 18, 2011, 07:20:46 PM »

Well, Create Synchronicity is okay, but it is far more of a synch tool than a backup tool -- despite what it says at its home. I'm still using it but it throws errors when trying to backup certain things (automatic logfiles belonging to SYSTEM, I think) and trying to exclude those things is far more hassle than it should be. I'm not going to uninstall it just yet but I'm going to give AJC a try...
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« Reply #10 on: August 21, 2011, 07:54:14 PM »

By chance, I just now had to start a synchronization routine when some new offsite disk space (internet accessible) opened up for me. Somehow I learned about FreeFileSync on sourceforge and so far it's doing everything it says it will do, efficiently and without breaking a sweat.

The interface is a little geeky sometimes, but hey! That shouldn't be a problem for members of this forum.

Best, Tiesenhausen
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oblivion
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« Reply #11 on: September 01, 2011, 06:14:01 PM »

AJC ... I didn't get on with.

I like the concept. But when you're not just using it to back up *.doc in your Documents tree, life gets a little complicated.

I found that I didn't like the fact that although if it reports an error backing up a file and lets you remove it from the list to be processed, it doesn't allow you to "learn" not to bother with that file unless you explicitly go and specify it.

When you DO go and specify it, you have to take the program offline. When you do THAT, it doesn't revert to online after you click the OK button, and when you put it back online, it has to run a full sync again because it hasn't been watching things for a couple of minutes.

I gave up.

I've -- temporarily, at least -- given up with the realtime thing. I found a notification that the EaseUS backup program had some decent features and was now available in a free version, and it's the first program I've used that does what it's asked without bothering me. I've told it to run an incremental backup every day at 3am, to make the first backup of the week a full one, and I haven't seen so much of a squeak of an error message.

Of course, the test restore may still break it, and it's a way from where I started (with wanting realtime and trouble-free file synch to a backup space). But it's still a way better than where I was before -- if it works. I'll leave it be for a few days and try a restore.

If not, there's still several untried options!
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« Reply #12 on: September 02, 2011, 01:22:22 AM »

Just adding a couple of real-time choices, even though you say you've given up on them; Bvckup and AutoVer.
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oblivion
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« Reply #13 on: September 02, 2011, 03:34:42 AM »

Just adding a couple of real-time choices, even though you say you've given up on them; Bvckup and AutoVer.
Thanks!

Bvckup looks good (I'm always impressed by small yet functional  Cool ) from the website, and because I don't have anything in realtime I can probably try it without backtracking, which is good news. Delta backups is interesting but has the potential for forcing detailed and careful testing of the restore process (as opposed to "normal" backup/synch restores which can be tested more easily and potentially without the program that ran the backup having to be available...) The website is SO minimal, though, that it's hard to be sure how much configuration will be required before I can unleash it. AutoVer also looks very capable so I'll try that if Bvckup doesn't cut it  smiley
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tomos
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« Reply #14 on: September 02, 2011, 04:30:14 AM »

^ note he has plans for a second version Bvckup 2 (dc thread)
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Tom
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« Reply #15 on: September 02, 2011, 01:21:15 PM »

^ that I do smiley

@oblivion - it's not "delta backups", it's "delta copying" -- it does not create an additional file that contains the delta change, it rather updates the actual backup copy of a file, but takes care to write in only changed parts. Here is a longer explanation just in case.
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oblivion
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« Reply #16 on: September 03, 2011, 05:43:32 AM »

@oblivion - it's not "delta backups", it's "delta copying"

 graduate I am enlightened -- thanks!

Implemented on the relevant system last night. Seems to have done its thing as it should: looks good. My only gripe so far is that it produced three all-but-incomprehensible errors, each of which seem to relate to a failure to find a file in a folder that's actually a junction (on my Vista machine, user\documents\my pictures points to user\pictures, and there are two others, created automatically at user install time I think, for videos and music.)

It's early days, but this just MIGHT be the one.

Now, if Bvckup2 supports versioning, so I can keep the last three versions, say... smiley
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« Reply #17 on: September 04, 2011, 05:19:10 AM »

I remember being quite impressed with 12ghosts backup - it makes a version every time the file changes, configurable, but keeps some for the long term "one version every hour during one day's time, one version every day for the last month, and finally one version per month for the last year"

I really like that approach, not seen it implemented elsewhere

For normal files, keeping the full version history (as in version control systems) is too much, but a certain safety net in case you discover a problem or corruption late (which, in real life, we might. I certainly lost a chapter of something I was writing once, and only noticed it the next time I wanted to review/rework that part, which was 2 weeks later...)
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« Reply #18 on: September 04, 2011, 06:02:12 AM »

"one version every hour during one day's time, one version every day for the last month, and finally one version per month for the last year"

I really like that approach, not seen it implemented elsewhere

Apple's Time Machine uses that regime and yes, it seems very neat.
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tomos
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« Reply #19 on: September 04, 2011, 06:13:29 AM »

I remember being quite impressed with 12ghosts backup - it makes a version every time the file changes, configurable, but keeps some for the long term "one version every hour during one day's time, one version every day for the last month, and finally one version per month for the last year"

I really like that approach, not seen it implemented elsewhere

Filehamster (FH) introduced something like this a while back. They call it DynamicRevisionHistory.
(I dont actually use the feature as I normally wouldnt work on a file that long. With FH I have complete control over when the file gets backed up - so I want all those backups kept.)

Quote
DynamicRevisionHistory operates on the assumption that the further back one goes, the less important intermittent revisions become.  Thus, the revision history can be dynamic based on how old a revision is.  All revisions are kept for the time period described in the DynamicRevisionHistoryDelay property.  If this property is set to 72 hours then all revisions within the past 72 hours will be kept.  From there, only the most recent revision for each previous day will be maintained.  Then only one revision for each past week, month and finally year...Eventually, the user will end up with only one revision if that revision is over a year old.

Here are a few of the other options available for manipulating revision histories:
DynamicRevisionHistoryDelay = Indicates when to start thinning revisions based on DynamicRevisionHistory.
MaxRevisions = Specified a maximum number of revisions to keep.
PreserveTimeSpan = Specifies a duration to preserve revisions.
http://support.mogware.ne...topic=976.msg4069#msg4069
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oblivion
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« Reply #20 on: September 04, 2011, 06:15:25 AM »

The 12ghosts stuff looks very good but I'm struggling to find anything relating to things like OS support, updates and so forth. There are links to reviews that no longer exist, support fora don't seem to exist either... it looks like the program hasn't been updated since 2008. But I could be wrong...

Bvckup hasn't done anything else to annoy me, I'm pleased to say, but I was sort of hoping that apankrat might explain the issue with junctions...   huh
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nudone
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« Reply #21 on: September 04, 2011, 07:05:28 AM »

As I always say on this forum, maybe MirrorFolder will suit your needs, though, it's not free.

I've been using for years. Too many options to list here.
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cranioscopical
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« Reply #22 on: September 04, 2011, 07:08:09 AM »

I remember being quite impressed with 12ghosts backup

+! for 12Gosts, it's the best thing I've found for individual files, or for folders.
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« Reply #23 on: September 04, 2011, 11:02:44 AM »

oblivion : about the junctions, I found this thread on the Bvckup forum, I don't know if it will be of any help to you.

BTW, if you're still trying Bvckup, how are you getting on with the filters ? I'm having problems including some files from a folder and excluding all others ...
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« Reply #24 on: September 04, 2011, 11:31:37 AM »

I use one called Yadis Backup. Simple backup program, not too many configuration options, but works for me.
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