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SuperboyAC's DC blog #3 (My Unique Data Backup Solution)

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Darwin:
I'm going to be doing this myself. I have an 80 GB HD that I am upgrading to 120 GB. I made the foolish mistake of first trying to upgrade to a 100GB 7200 rpm drive at a fantastic, open box price. Unfortunately, it's a SATA drive and my notebook is IDE :-[. Being open box, I can't return it! So, I now have a SATA enclosure and the 120GB drive on their way... I intend to turn my stupidity into a... what? Silver lining? Anyway, I'm going to place the 80 GB and the 120 GB drives in USB enclosures and use Acronis True Image to keep backups on a schedule like Superboyac's (ie regular backups to the 120 GB drive and less frequent ones to the 80 GB). I'm *tempted* to cover myself further by keeping the 80 GB drive *as is* and just update the My Documents folder occasionally. I've got two 40's, a 32 and a 20 in enclosures already that I can use to backup my Windows partition and use the bigger drives for uncompressed backup of My Documents... Decisions, decisions, decisions. Ain't life grand?!

superboyac:
This is a really important point and it's why i stress so much the need for a versioning update system as i dicussed in my old power-user backup article: http://www.donationcoder.com/Reviews/Archive/BackUpGuide/index.html

The thing to remember is that if all you are ever doing is making a full backup of your system, and you only keep one copy, then you can become your own worst enemy, because the more frequently you re-backup, the more frequently you are permanently making unrecoverable any older file you accidentally deleted or corrupted without realizing it.

You need to have some backup regime that allows you to say "oops! i just realized i overwrote my novel with a shopping list last week", and then be able to get the week (or month) old copy back.  That's why i favor both a full-image backup procedure, AND an independent backup system which makes versioned preserved backups of my key working documents.
-mouser (May 10, 2007, 08:40 PM)
--- End quote ---

Whoa!  I didn't realize you had already written an article on backing up.  Very nice!  Actually, now you have me worried because I never thought of doing incremental backups.  I don't think it would be practical for me to do it on the bulk of my files which are audio files, some of them are quite large depending on how I recorded and stored them (uncut tracks, etc.).  Besides, once I save these files, they won't change.

But with my documents and stuff, I can see doing this.  Actually, I think I will because it's important.    Hmm...so many more things to think about.

johnfdeluca:
Excellent Blog....thanks.  I'm an external drive back-up person so I thought I'd make a couple points regarding that:

I also did not want a thing hanging off my computer (especially since I have a laptop) so I opted instead of a firewire or USB drive, I chose a network attached external drive.  This works great as it sits in the room where my router is and connects to my network via ethernet.  It also allows all my computers to back up to it since it's on the network.  The drive enclosure I chose was Synology Diskstation DS-106e http://www.synology.com/enu/products/DS106serise/index.php which I chose after a lot of thought and research.....it seemed to be the best rated and most versatile system, and has never disappointed me yet....but that's another post.  So I think an external solution is an option even with your pet peeves about them.

As far as backup software goes.....the Diskstation comes with some excellent backup software which I don't use only because I already am experienced with, IBM's Tivoli Continuous Data Protection http://www-306.ibm.com/software/tivoli/products/continuous-data-protection/.  Note:  I DO work for IBM, so I get this software for free vs the $36 USD normal price.  If I had to pay for the Tivoli software, I'd likely just use the free software that came with my Diskstation....not because Tivoli software is lacking.....my impression is it is top notch but I am just cheap and typically lean towards freeware if available.  Be it Tivoli or Diskstation software....they both use the same approach....a real time data copy based on a set of rules.  So I tell it what files to copy (be it filename matches, filetype matches or folder matches) and as soon as I save a file which meets the criteria, it copies it to a backup.  It also can save multiple versions and target files require no special software to open.....meaning the files are not imaged but real file copies.  I prefer this real-time backup as opposed to a scheduled backup simply due to the fact that I know should drive failure or corruption occur in the orig, my backup version is not limited to the last time I ran a backup....it's always backing up.  Again, I could write a whole review/post on just this software but again, I do work for the company that makes it, and it is not free.

So my backup solution has been around for roughly a year and although I haven't had a hard drive failure, I have often needed to go to the back up.  The fact that I don't need any restore process is a blessing....I just goto the backup (which is a network drive in "My Computer") and copy the backed up file to my laptop.  The most common reason I've needed to go to the backup is to get an "old" version of a file....because I've screwed up my current one with bad edits.

If you are interested in Diskstation, check out reviews....I'm not sure if it's still the "top pick" in reviews as when I purchased it.  Here's one review at:

http://www.pcauthority.com.au/review.aspx?CIaRID=4858

Darwin:
Thanks for posting that, John. Definitely food for thought. Being of Yorkshire/Scottish descent I want to make use of all of my old 2.5" harddrives, so opt for the USB enclosure route. However, buying a 500+GB 3.5" drive and networking it would be a good investment for me (once I've recovered from the shock of buying not one but two 100+ GB notebook harddrives  :o) because I can set my wife's notebook to back up to the network drive automatically. It would also provide a third level of safety...

Defenestration:
Thanks John! Very interesting piece of software, IBM's Tivoli, and one that I had heard nothing about until now.  :Thmbsup:

I am about to buy a second internal drive so I can run in RAID 1 but this software may change all that (if it works as good as it sounds), with the added benefit of the new drive still being available for other/extra storage :)

On the surface, it appears to be the ideal solution to the data backup problem:

1) It only backs up the files you specify (and not all data).
2) Multiple targets can be chosen for the backup.
3) Uniquely (I think), it backs up immediately after a copy operation is completed (instead of only on a scheduled basis).

Are there any other products like Tivoli on the market ?

PS. Just about to give this Tivoli a trial run.

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