Personal computing discussed

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Gerbil First Class
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making a backup of my data

Thu Jun 07, 2012 5:26 pm

Ladies and Gentlemen of TR,
I have been in need for a while for a proper data back-up plan for my desktop system (as well as future systems I get). I am deciding between a few options, mainly external harddrive, NAS, or an internal RAID array.

I do like to play games on this system, and it seems like a RAID 5 array could be a good way to go, with added speed and redundancy. And as this is my personal computer, it won't be on and running data 24/7, so drive wear would be significantly less than an enterprise system.

Any suggestions on a direction to take?
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Re: making a backup of my data

Thu Jun 07, 2012 6:09 pm

Just get an external drive (or 2) and backup to that. It depends how important your data is but as a general rule you should always try to have at least one backup offline and preferably at a different location to cover you from disastrous power surges and fire/flood.

Raid has it's place but it isn't a backup solution. I'd also forget about raid5 and look at something like 0+1 though you will need a minimum of 4 drives where you only need 3 for raid5. You'll also loose half the raw storage space with 0+1 Vs 1/n (where n is the number of drives in the array) with raid5. However there are good reasons to accept those drawbacks:
Plenty of arguments from both sides in that thread but JBI sums it up nicely.
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Re: making a backup of my data

Thu Jun 07, 2012 8:49 pm

Another vote for external hard drives. NAS is a nice idea, but all in all won't get you much more than a couple USB hard drives will, and will probably cost a bit more.

And, as mentioned, RAID is not for backup, it's for up-time.
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Re: making a backup of my data

Thu Jun 07, 2012 10:18 pm

Again, RAID is not for backup.

It really depends on what you are backing up, and how big the storage you need is. If you want "nearline" backup a NAS box is great, and many boxes can fit 1-4 drives, and with 1-4 TB drives, that's a lot of capacity. If you don't need that much capacity and have lots of bandwidth (and trust in online companies) you can try backing up to the cloud, aka carbonite or dropbox. Keep in mind this is very slow initially, depending on your upload speed.

A good external drive (USB 3 works nicely here) that you just plug in also works well for backups.
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Re: making a backup of my data

Thu Jun 07, 2012 11:07 pm

If you don't have over 8TB worth of data, the HP micro servers are nice as a backup solution for your average home office.

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Re: making a backup of my data

Fri Jun 08, 2012 12:30 pm

Well, Raid can be used in a backup system though. But you really want a separate system from what you are backing up. If you only have a single comp, a NAS is a good thing, or if on the cheap, external drive. But it must be easy to use, or it usually wont get done.

I have a NAS that automatically backs up my file server. Both the NAS and the fileserver is based on 4x2TB Raid 5 so they match in size, etc. But yeah, the raid by itself would not be good. I've actually had to rebuild my file server array when a drive died, and that was when I got the NAS. Why, because external USB 2 drivers was slow, and required manual backup, which is why they never got used.
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Re: making a backup of my data

Fri Jun 08, 2012 12:44 pm

If you don't have multiple TB of data, go to an online, off-site backup provider.

As others have said, RAID is not backup -- at all. And if you have a storm or fire or theft at home, your backups don't do you any good, so you need an offsite copy. And an automated system is really the only way to get a reliable, off-site copy.

I recommend Crashplan. I've been using them for a while on a few different systems, and they're great. They retain multiple revisions of files, keep deleted files, etc. Prices are very reasonable, and the servers are speedy. For business use I recommend others, but for personal use I think they're the best out there. I've used DataDepositBox (now KineticD), iBackup, iDrive, Mozy, SpiderOak, and evaluated Carbonite, and I personally prefer Crashplan by a big margin.

If you don't want to pay for a subscription, you can still use their software for free and securely backup your data to friends/relatives computers, and vice versa. You can even seed the data using a portable drive so that the initial copy doesn't take forever.

Edit: They're also reasonably secure, and there's no hardware to maintain. So if you sign up for an unlimited family plan for 4 years, that's a few hundred dollars to backup 10 systems. That's about what you'd spend on the hard drives alone for a local backup solution, but with lots of other benefits.

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