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ozzuneoj
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Suggestions for finally doing backups the right way?

Fri Mar 24, 2017 4:10 pm

For years I've gotten by simply doing periodic manual backups. For a while I used CDs, then DVDs, then spare hard drives. I currently have a pair of 3TB Toshiba DT01ACA300 drives that I bought about a year and a half ago since they were super cheap ($80 each) and the internet majority was saying that these were high quality Hitachi drives under a different name and therefor a great buy. Sadly I'm starting to see that there are more reports of these having issues than most other drives (check newegg reviews) and just today I ran Hard Disk Sentinel and saw that it showed 95% health with 8 weak sectors! Just a few weeks ago I had no weak or bad sectors at all. My previous drive, a Samsung F1 1TB is still working flawlessly after 7+ years of use, so I'm pretty bummed about this Toshiba. I got the second drive so that I could periodically make a 1:1 copy of my current drive. I don't really do anything "mission critical" so to speak, but I do keep a lot of files that I'd be really upset to lose (pictures, music, backups for family members, tons of files for random projects and vintage computing archives). I do also have an old 1TB WD Green drive that I have been filling with a second copy of the most critical long-term stuff (family pictures, etc.) and I keep that in my fire safe.

Anyway, long story short, this has reminded me of the mortality of storage devices (again), but this time I really want to do something about it. I'd also like to be able to keep a good solid backup of my wife's laptop because she does use that for her online business. Most of the critical stuff is online, but all of her working files and product photos are stored on her system, and I periodically do a backup of that. Having the ability to also backup Android devices over our home network would be a huge bonus as well, as we take pictures and do things with our phones and tablets frequently, and I'd prefer to not have to pay a monthly fee for Google drive for each one.

My number one concern is cost, as I can't justify buying a $300 NAS when I've gotten by without one for nearly 20 years of having my own computer (and I still have all of the files from the very beginning). I have lots of parts and other fairly decent systems to use for a DIY NAS, so that would be highly preferred.

Second concern would be ease of use, as I'm not that well versed in this kind of thing. I have minimal exposure to Linux (beyond Android) and no experience with setting up servers (beyond Minecraft).

I'd like to just have everything NEW on each partition of each computer backed up somehow either automatically at the end of the day, or on command with a couple clicks. Deleted file recovery isn't a huge deal (I'm already very careful with this and never had a problem with it), and there will generally be not much changing each day... some new pictures, some new files, etc. But if a drive starts losing data or corrupting files, that needs to be covered.

I see basically two different ways to go with this, depending on how complicated or expensive they are:

(1)Ideally I'd like to know that I have a backup of the state my computer is in at the end of the day. If my hard drive starts to die, or my SSD suddenly bricks itself, I'd like to know that I have a fairly easy way to restore everything from that drive\partition to a new drive without losing anything. Basically, a mirror image of my partitions (on a few different computers), updated easily with only the things that have changed at the end of the day (why rewrite 2TB of the same data when only 400MB has changed?) My concern with this method is that the backups would be inaccessible, obscure files on some mystery box that I can't just open up and recover specific things from if needed. If this is too complex or network\system intensive, I'd gladly settle for the following.

(2)A simpler automated file\directory based backups that accomplishes the same thing, minus the ability to just mirror a partition back to its previous state. For example, backup whatever directories I want... my desktop, my document folders, Steam folders etc. with the files that have changed at the end of the day, but if my SSD bricks itself I still have to reinstall Windows, vs just using a full system image. This doesn't bother me that much, as this is an extreme case and I don't currently do anything that would make my life end if I had to spend an evening setting things back up. As long as my files that I can't replace are safe somewhere, that's my main concern.

I have a fairly decent router (Netgear Nighthawk X4 R7500v2) with Gigabit Ethernet run through my house and available in a few rooms, so connectivity should be okay (nothing fancy though). If the system is flexible enough to also be useful for other things at the same time to help justify running all day, that'd be a bonus. We don't really have much need for a file server (set up a basic one several times and we've never really used it much) but if the option was there for that or home automation applications, it wouldn't hurt.
Last edited by ozzuneoj on Fri Mar 24, 2017 4:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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DPete27
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Re: Suggestions for finally doing backups the right way?

Fri Mar 24, 2017 4:23 pm

I'm going to piggy back this since I follow the same general procedure as you do. Manual backups every couple months to 1 external drive I keep in a closet, and about twice a year, I update an offsite backup drive I keep at my parent's house (if my house burns to the ground, it doesn't help much to have my data backed up on a drive in my closet). But I'd like to do backups "better"

My data doesn't change frequently, so I don't need to back up every night or even every week. TBH, I wouldn't miss much if I lost the last 3ish months of "data" that I've amassed. All that would really amount to is 3 months of family pictures for the most part. Sucky, but not the end of the world.

What I'm most curious about is how to do backups with checksums. Update similar files with the updated version. Don't replace a good file with a corrupted one, but replace corrupted files with good ones. I know I've seen this process described on TR forums before, but I think I need a complete step-by-step procedure written up for the command prompts required.
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frumper15
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Re: Suggestions for finally doing backups the right way?

Fri Mar 24, 2017 4:39 pm

Personally I've been using Crashplan for a number of years. I pay for the family subscription and backup 10 computers between my own, my work, my parents and my inlaws and I have my own files backed up between at least one other computer in my "network" and the crashplan central cloud backup.

What I like about crashplan is the ability to combine local backups to a drive/folder, another computer locally, a remote computer, a friend's remote computer, and the (paid) cloud option. For example, my sisters' backup to my personal server for free which I feel better about as I am their defacto tech support and knowing they're backed up is good for me. They are also setup to backup locally to their own second computers as well so every backup has a local "fast" backup and a "slow" remote one.

I also have a couple of external drives that I cycle between work and home every month or so, but inevitably I forget or get busy and suddenly, it's been a few months. That's why I need something automated and crashplan has filled that need for me nicely. I also like the ability to seed the initial backup to save time and/or bandwidth, especially if you have a large set of files that don't change a lot (like family pictures).
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ozzuneoj
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Re: Suggestions for finally doing backups the right way?

Fri Mar 24, 2017 4:51 pm

frumper15 wrote:
Personally I've been using Crashplan for a number of years. I pay for the family subscription and backup 10 computers between my own, my work, my parents and my inlaws and I have my own files backed up between at least one other computer in my "network" and the crashplan central cloud backup.

What I like about crashplan is the ability to combine local backups to a drive/folder, another computer locally, a remote computer, a friend's remote computer, and the (paid) cloud option. For example, my sisters' backup to my personal server for free which I feel better about as I am their defacto tech support and knowing they're backed up is good for me. They are also setup to backup locally to their own second computers as well so every backup has a local "fast" backup and a "slow" remote one.

I also have a couple of external drives that I cycle between work and home every month or so, but inevitably I forget or get busy and suddenly, it's been a few months. That's why I need something automated and crashplan has filled that need for me nicely. I also like the ability to seed the initial backup to save time and/or bandwidth, especially if you have a large set of files that don't change a lot (like family pictures).


That looks like a nice option. It also looks very familiar. I can't remember if I've tried it before... :oops:

In your opinion, what is the biggest down side to using the free version vs the $149-yearly subscription, aside from the cloud backup? Can I backup multiple computers locally or to network storage with the free version?
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Captain Ned
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Re: Suggestions for finally doing backups the right way?

Fri Mar 24, 2017 5:46 pm

Backups the right way? Dead simple.

HD big enough to store everything on the box. SATA3 HD sled. Macrium. Image computer to disk. Use Win eject command to terminate disk session. Put disk in padded holder and place on shelf. Done.
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ozzuneoj
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Re: Suggestions for finally doing backups the right way?

Fri Mar 24, 2017 8:34 pm

Captain Ned wrote:
Backups the right way? Dead simple.

HD big enough to store everything on the box. SATA3 HD sled. Macrium. Image computer to disk. Use Win eject command to terminate disk session. Put disk in padded holder and place on shelf. Done.


Similar to what I do already but I'm not going to do it every night with a 3TB drive half full of data plus my boot SSD, as well as my wife's laptop with an SSD and a hard drive. I'd be spending hours every week copying multiple TB of redundant data.

My Coolermaster 690II Advance has a SATA dock on the top of the case and works beautifully for attaching a bare drive to the PC for fast transfers, but its just too time consuming to do it all the time and ties up my system for a while. For how little data my PC accumulates in a given week, its hard to justify doing full images even weekly. If I had something that would automatically backup specific directories to network storage every night, I would probably still do system images once every few months or so, just because... but right now that's ALL I'm doing, and I could potentially lose several months of family pictures or work I've put into projects.
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ozzuneoj
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Re: Suggestions for finally doing backups the right way?

Fri Mar 24, 2017 8:56 pm

Anyone ever used this?

https://sourceforge.net/projects/synchr ... p_redirect

I used to use programs like SyncToy and FolderMatch to do local backups, but this one supports LAN transfers and scheduled backups and people seem to like it. I'll probably give it a try this evening to see if it works okay. In the past I had a terrible time doing network transfers because the speeds were so low, but I think I'll just use my HTPC for a NAS, as it should be much faster than anything I've used in the past. Before you laugh, it's actually got a lot going for it. For one, it has a separate boot SSD and no programs on the hard drive so it is almost always offline when its running, it's hard wired to the network already (on the same switch as my main desktop) and when we aren't using the TV we actually have the power strip for the whole thing (TV, blu ray, receiver, old consoles and HTPC) switched off, so it would be less susceptible to power surges than a 24/7 always on system. I could just make sure to have the system on and running, ready to accept backups a few times a week.

Best of all, its basically free. I can put my other 3TB Toshiba drive in this system. I'll probably buy another (maybe an HGST?) 3TB drive before long since the one I have now is developing weak sectors, then I can use the one with weak sectors in a USB 3.0 enclosure to do periodic backups of the backup system's drive. It will probably last far longer this way and may as well be used for one extra layer of backups rather than being tossed in the trash.

EDIT: I just tested this and my preliminary testing indicates that its actually usable! I have a drive shared on my HTPC already and all I have to do is map it to network drive Z, which allows it to be selected as a destination in Synchronicity. Copying 1.62GB of data (240 mixed files in 28 folders) took 29 seconds including the comparison scan. Tons of small files will tell the whole story, but it looks promising and it can be used on any computer to send files to our network storage without having to worry about paying for multiple licenses or anything like that. I can probably just use ShareIT for backups of my Android devices to the same system, so that won't be a problem. This might actually work! :D
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Chuckaluphagus
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Re: Suggestions for finally doing backups the right way?

Fri Mar 24, 2017 10:08 pm

I'm sure there are better ways to do it, but I have incremental backups of my home directory run daily (barring things like the Downloads folder), with a full backup done once every three months. It's saved locally, then stashed in Dropbox and mirrored to at least one other computer in the house. Includes all photos, videos, documents, digital books, the works.

Somewhat timely, I just had a drive die on me yesterday. It's a WD Green 2 TB drive, not even five years old. Was writing a multi-gigabyte file to the disk and it crapped out, hard, with a ton of error messages popping up on my screen out of the blue. I can still mount the drive (and, according to the SMART data, it's OK!), but lots of data seemingly vanished and I get error messages trying to read much, or go into some directories. Disk analysis described it as "unrecoverable".

But I have current backups of everything, and replacement drives (it has a mate of the same age, and I'm not taking chances) show up tomorrow. Without backups, I'd be more than annoyed, I'd be furious with myself.
 
ozzuneoj
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Re: Suggestions for finally doing backups the right way?

Sat Mar 25, 2017 10:39 pm

Wow, I have to say, I am incredibly impressed with Synchronicity. It works extremely well and yet it's simple. I only need to do 3 separate backups. One for each partition (each going to a folder on the backup drive's single partition). D (games) and e (data) are complete backups with no exclusions. For C I've just gone through the directory tree and chosen all the directories that my various applications hide their data in. I just click "synchronize" on each of these three backup profiles and the system compares changes (presumably by file\folder dates) and copies the files.

It is incredibly fast for how much work it does. I am just now finishing "seeding" the backup drive with my initial backups via a SATA connection on my desktop. I'll likely do this with my wife's computer too. It won't be quite as painless since her HDX18 only has USB 2.0, but thankfully she has far far far less data than I do (after deleting a ton of stuff that I don't need I still have just over 1TB of data and absolutely none of that is movies or TV shows). Come to think of it, it might be just as easy to do it over the gigabit network for her laptop, as opposed to fiddling with USB adapters and maxing out at less than 30MB\sec.

The only two possible ways that this could end up not working would be if somehow the network adds some astronomical amount of overhead when comparing drives (it shouldn't, as the program seems to be incredibly efficient at knowing which files and folders to even spend time analyzing for changes) or if there turn out to be actual real BUGS that make it not work right. It's so simple that I don't see that as being likely either. It just does copy commands and gives detailed reports of any errors at the end. So far any errors have been 100% logical and are ones that occur even when doing a basic copy in Windows.

I'll report back here once I've installed the drive in my HTPC. If this all works, I will forever call this machine the "NASHTPC" ... oh yes, I went there. :D :P :oops:
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frumper15
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Re: Suggestions for finally doing backups the right way?

Sun Mar 26, 2017 3:31 pm

ozzuneoj wrote:
frumper15 wrote:
Personally I've been using Crashplan for a number of years... .


That looks like a nice option. It also looks very familiar. I can't remember if I've tried it before... :oops:

In your opinion, what is the biggest down side to using the free version vs the $149-yearly subscription, aside from the cloud backup? Can I backup multiple computers locally or to network storage with the free version?


Free version is limited to one backup per day, only a single set, no cloud storage. I used the free version for a few years before I subscribed. The paid version does allow for an access-anywhere ability using smartphone or any computer as well. If you're just looking for backup and can get at least 2 destinations the free version will do great.
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ChicagoDave
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Re: Suggestions for finally doing backups the right way?

Sun Mar 26, 2017 6:02 pm

ozzuneoj wrote:
Wow, I have to say, I am incredibly impressed with Synchronicity. It works extremely well and yet it's simple. I only need to do 3 separate backups. One for each partition (each going to a folder on the backup drive's single partition). D (games) and e (data) are complete backups with no exclusions. For C I've just gone through the directory tree and chosen all the directories that my various applications hide their data in. I just click "synchronize" on each of these three backup profiles and the system compares changes (presumably by file\folder dates) and copies the files.

It is incredibly fast for how much work it does. I am just now finishing "seeding" the backup drive with my initial backups via a SATA connection on my desktop. I'll likely do this with my wife's computer too. It won't be quite as painless since her HDX18 only has USB 2.0, but thankfully she has far far far less data than I do (after deleting a ton of stuff that I don't need I still have just over 1TB of data and absolutely none of that is movies or TV shows). Come to think of it, it might be just as easy to do it over the gigabit network for her laptop, as opposed to fiddling with USB adapters and maxing out at less than 30MB\sec.


Hey can you check to see if Synchronicity will delete files/folders as well as add new ones? Most of my backed up data is music and I'm constantly replacing mp3s with FLACs. Whenever this happens, I obviously need the new FLAC files and folder copied to the backup drive, but I also need to delete the now obsolete lower quality folder. Most of the backup software I tried a few years ago had no issues copying over any missing data, but they never compared the backup disk to the source and delete the folders that weren't on the source. If this can do the comparison properly and delete and well as copy, I'd be very interested to give this a try. I would appreciate if you could test this next time you run it and let us know the result. :)
 
ozzuneoj
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Re: Suggestions for finally doing backups the right way?

Sat Apr 01, 2017 6:25 pm

ChicagoDave wrote:
ozzuneoj wrote:
Wow, I have to say, I am incredibly impressed with Synchronicity. It works extremely well and yet it's simple. I only need to do 3 separate backups. One for each partition (each going to a folder on the backup drive's single partition). D (games) and e (data) are complete backups with no exclusions. For C I've just gone through the directory tree and chosen all the directories that my various applications hide their data in. I just click "synchronize" on each of these three backup profiles and the system compares changes (presumably by file\folder dates) and copies the files.

It is incredibly fast for how much work it does. I am just now finishing "seeding" the backup drive with my initial backups via a SATA connection on my desktop. I'll likely do this with my wife's computer too. It won't be quite as painless since her HDX18 only has USB 2.0, but thankfully she has far far far less data than I do (after deleting a ton of stuff that I don't need I still have just over 1TB of data and absolutely none of that is movies or TV shows). Come to think of it, it might be just as easy to do it over the gigabit network for her laptop, as opposed to fiddling with USB adapters and maxing out at less than 30MB\sec.


Hey can you check to see if Synchronicity will delete files/folders as well as add new ones? Most of my backed up data is music and I'm constantly replacing mp3s with FLACs. Whenever this happens, I obviously need the new FLAC files and folder copied to the backup drive, but I also need to delete the now obsolete lower quality folder. Most of the backup software I tried a few years ago had no issues copying over any missing data, but they never compared the backup disk to the source and delete the folders that weren't on the source. If this can do the comparison properly and delete and well as copy, I'd be very interested to give this a try. I would appreciate if you could test this next time you run it and let us know the result. :)


Yes, it does this by default, and it works very well! You can also use a different mode and have it simply add on, without deleting anything. This can be changed at any time.

One thing I recommend with this program is that if you massively rearrange things, as in just moving folders from one place to another, its probably easiest to just move them on your source computer and then move them on your backup computer (should be very simple if you map it as a network drive). I say this because Synchronicity will see the original location as "deleted" and the new location as a "new folder", so it will have to delete and re-copy the files rather than just moving them. This obviously makes it easier and makes more sense than comparing a million things and having it take forever, but it does mean that a little manual work would speed up the process if you decided to rearrange your files. I actually like this though. I like having complete control and access to my backups.
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ChicagoDave
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Re: Suggestions for finally doing backups the right way?

Sun Apr 02, 2017 8:05 pm

Awesome, thanks for the reply. I will have to give this a try soon.

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