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Irenicus 2013-05-03 01:12

Getting Started with Data Backup
 
So as of now I am spending a wonderful evening trying to recover from the spontaneous destruction of my system drive and a bunch of work documents and game installations with it [viva google for saving the relevant stuff].

After wrestling for hours with trying to partition the storage drive [mai animu iz saif! ha!], install Windows 7, fix around with bootmgr, get around clean install vs upgrade key, downloading firefox from IE (never gets old), and all the joys of reinstalling a whole load of programs, I've learned my lesson.

Fine, I'll spend the money. I'll back up things. I want to practice good data habits. It's not nearly as fun setting up new things when you don't get fast new hardware to go with the experience.

But where do I start?

I have a vague idea of picking up an external drive from a local hardware store and find programs and do all that. Usually I'd google for myself usually. But I want to hear someone's opinion of what I should do before I jump in and impulse buy three hard drives from Amazon for kicks. For example,
  • Which is better and/or cheaper, an external HD or an internal HD + external closure?
  • My current system and formerly just storage drive is 1.5 TB, but it's like 1/3 if not 1/4 full. Do I need an equivalent sized drive to backup? Can 1TB do? 2TB?
  • I haven't yet jumped into checking out if my Steam games are okay -- I had the foresight to install them on the storage drive -- but in future cases of disasters, if/when I restore from backups, what do I do?
  • Same idea goes for Windows itself. Will it complain, rant, rave, authenticate, and force me to rough through the registry if I restore a partition or even an entire drive from an image?
  • Which programs are popular/do you like in backing up Windows stuff and lots of...media...files?
  • What are your data habits?
  • Why must Windows 8 exist to prevent me from finding an excuse to buy a new computer?

Thank you in advance.

larethian 2013-05-03 04:14

I'm sure a lot of people can provide better advice than me so I shall keep my peace, but just out of curiosity, what's wrong with Windows 8?

The UI change may be offsetting at first, but it runs faster, boots faster, and have lower requirements than windows 7.

Dhomochevsky 2013-05-03 13:57

First you need to realize, that you need at least double your current storage space to back up all your stuff.
So you go and get more storage. Now you have a load of free storage, it would be a waste to just use it for backup. You go and download half an internet.
Now you have a lot of new, awesome stuff, but no place to backup. The circle repeats.
-> Backup is impossible

Irenicus 2013-05-03 23:55

^Oh, but I haven't even filled my current storage yet (thank the gods I didn't...). I'm sure it'll be fine.

But how do you two actually go about with your backup habits? I can google "best solutions" on my own later, but I'd like to hear what people actually do in real usage and what kind of hiccups you encounter.

Quote:

Originally Posted by larethian (Post 4663613)
I'm sure a lot of people can provide better advice than me so I shall keep my peace, but just out of curiosity, what's wrong with Windows 8?

Dynamic tag cannot be rendered. (PrintableThread)

0utf0xZer0 2013-05-04 03:44

I have a desktop at my apartment near campus, a desktop at my parent's house, and a small laptop that I use on the go. Here's my scheme.

Documents:
I run Microsoft Synctoy on my laptop and synchronize documents to and from the desktops as needed.
Caveats:
this also means that if the working copy is corrupt, it gets synced to all three copies. I should find a way to add versioning to my files here - I know that Windows 7 does retain previous versions of some files and I've actually used this once to restore a file I accidentally overwrote, but I don't understand the system well enough to feel comfortable relying on it. Also, I need to be careful not to switch which PC I'm working on without syncing, because that result in me having two new versions of a file and Synctoy will just pick the newer of the two - it can't tell they contain different changes.

Operating system:
I keep my OS, apps and documents on their own partition, away from sizeable games* and media. Hence I can create reasonably sized, compressed "images" of my operating system using a program like Acronis True Image , and then restore my system from them using a boot disc - no working OS required! (so long as the boot disc works with your hardware, I've had occassional problems so make sure you test)
I think there's some freeware competitiors for Acronis. I know Windows 7 has some level of imagining capabilities, at least in some SKUs, though I'm not familiar with them.

Caveat:
I know that one time when I restored a True Image backup to a different drive than it was created from, it didn't load the bootloader properly and screwed up the Windows activation. My dad thinks I used the wrong settings but I'd need to ask him what the "critical setting" to make this work is.
(*Bioware is a dick and puts all their giant ass DLC content in the my documents folder. Though I think in Windows 7 you move a folder to another drive and simply set up a directory in the original folder pointing to it - maybe I should look into that to keep the size of the OS partition down!)

Media:
Due to using multiple PCs I carry most of my media on a 1.5TB "passport" size drive. This is occasionally backed up to a 1.5TB in one of the desktops using Synctoy.
Eventually, to free up space I'll copy the media to other drives - ie. Completed series. Both of my desktops have multiple drives attached for this purpose, and I make one copy to each desktop before deleting from the Passport.
When I copy from the "passport" to the "archive" drives, I usually use RapidCRC unicode just to make sure the files copied properly - many fansub groups include a CRC code in the file name. Though a CRC check error doesn't necessarily indicate a bad drive, since the file could have been corrupted when you downloaded it - it just tells you if the file is corrupt.

Might be a bit complicated for what you're looking for, but perhaps you can adapt the tools I use to your use.

P.S. Regarding Windows 8 - at one point I thought having two UIs was brilliant, because it meant you could have a tablet, and then drop it in a dock and have a desktop. This scenario seemed particularly well suited to something like Acer's upcoming Iconia W3 8 inch Windows 8 tablet. Then I found out that the metro versions of One Note and Evernote don't automatically sync with the desktop versions because metro apps are sandboxed. Unless you sync them via the cloud, which is ridiculous. I love Skydrive for certain purposes, but I shouldn't need it to sync two apps on the same computer. So yeah, the integration of the two UIs leaves something to be desired.

Ledgem 2013-05-04 10:00

Quote:

Originally Posted by Irenicus (Post 4663417)
[*]Which is better and/or cheaper, an external HD or an internal HD + external closure?

I have tons of externals, and my preference is always to go for an external enclosure with an internal hard drive loaded in. The up-front cost is almost always more expensive than buying an "external hard drive" but there's more versatility. I've also experienced a scenario with a failing enclosure twice, once with an enclosure + internal HDD and once with an "external hard drive." I still had my drive when I sent the enclosure back for a new one, but with the "external hard drive" I had to send the entire thing back and received a "new" (refurbished) enclosure+drive.

That said, I'm leaning more toward "external hard drives" these days. As of now I have six enclosures hooked up to my computer. In theory one of the benefits of the enclosure is that you can just swap out the hard drive inside of it with a newer one, but in practice I haven't had any HDD failures yet (super lucky, including one PATA drive from 2001/2002) and instead of discarding a lower-capacity drive with a larger one I just keep buying new drives and enclosures to put them in. Basically, I'm probably spending more and yet I'm not utilizing the strengths of such a setup in practice. (Sure, my hard drives and enclosures are probably higher-quality than what you would find with an "external hard drive" but I don't imagine this makes a huge difference.)

Long story short, "external hard drives" still make me nervous, but in practice they're probably fine and make more sense financially.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Irenicus (Post 4663417)
[*]My current system and formerly just storage drive is 1.5 TB, but it's like 1/3 if not 1/4 full. Do I need an equivalent sized drive to backup? Can 1TB do? 2TB?

This partly depends on your backup solution and backup expectations. If you just want a 1:1 "mirror" of sorts then your backup drive only needs to be as large as the amount of data that you have. A 1.5 TB drive that never has more than 500 GB on it could be perfectly served by a 500 GB drive, for example, although going with a drive of the same capacity would be the safest.

One benefit of certain backup solutions is incremental backups. It's not just a 1:1 mirror, but contains copies of the history of the file. The usefulness of this is being able to go back to recover a version of the file before you edited it in a certain way, or if the file became corrupt some time ago but you didn't realize it until recently. In that case, the larger the drive, the more "history" it can save.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Irenicus (Post 4663417)
[*]What are your data habits?

OS X's "Time Machine" with certain important files (photo library, family videos) mirrored across multiple drives manually. I thought that Microsoft had implemented a Time Machine-like service in Windows; if not, there's probably a third-party solution that you could utilize. (Actually, according to the first answer to this question, Microsoft has a pretty neat backup solution in Windows versions Vista and 7.)

blaze0041 2013-05-05 16:50

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ledgem (Post 4665297)
OS X's "Time Machine" with certain important files (photo library, family videos) mirrored across multiple drives manually. I thought that Microsoft had implemented a Time Machine-like service in Windows; if not, there's probably a third-party solution that you could utilize. (Actually, according to the first answer to this question, Microsoft has a pretty neat backup solution in Windows versions Vista and 7.)

In Windows 8, the equivalent to OS X's Time Machine is File History, which covers everything in your libraries, contacts, favorites, SkyDrive, and desktop only.
There's also the older (officially deprecated?) Windows Vista and 7 Backup & Restore included (as Windows 7 File Recovery), which is far more powerful, allowing one to create a full system image to restore from.

Irenicus 2013-05-05 17:27

Quote:

Originally Posted by 0utf0xZer0
Operating system:
I keep my OS, apps and documents on their own partition, away from sizeable games* and media. Hence I can create reasonably sized, compressed "images" of my operating system using a program like Acronis True Image , and then restore my system from them using a boot disc - no working OS required! (so long as the boot disc works with your hardware, I've had occassional problems so make sure you test)

That's a useful way to go about the space issues.

I'm actually more concerned for my documents and media than my system, though. Setting up the system isn't hard. Documents are not replaceable. Fortunately my work documents are on the cloud or in gmail attachments, so I haven't lost the most important stuff.

Quote:

Might be a bit complicated for what you're looking for, but perhaps you can adapt the tools I use to your use.
It's rather complex, but there *are* a few computers sitting around the house with their HDDs barely exploited. I might be able to image system files and put them there as an interim measure, hmm...

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ledgem
I have tons of externals, and my preference is always to go for an external enclosure with an internal hard drive loaded in. The up-front cost is almost always more expensive than buying an "external hard drive" but there's more versatility. I've also experienced a scenario with a failing enclosure twice, once with an enclosure + internal HDD and once with an "external hard drive." I still had my drive when I sent the enclosure back for a new one, but with the "external hard drive" I had to send the entire thing back and received a "new" (refurbished) enclosure+drive.

I see.

Quote:

One benefit of certain backup solutions is incremental backups. It's not just a 1:1 mirror, but contains copies of the history of the file. The usefulness of this is being able to go back to recover a version of the file before you edited it in a certain way, or if the file became corrupt some time ago but you didn't realize it until recently. In that case, the larger the drive, the more "history" it can save.
Generally speaking, that isn't a problem for me except for data-light work documents. It's good to know nonetheless.

Thank you to you both.

sa547 2013-05-05 23:15

Every computer that I work on or currently own always has its primary hard drive divided into two partitions: one for the OS, and another for documents. This scheme I use for easier OS reinstallation and data recovery.

iceyfw 2013-05-09 15:21

i've used Acronis for three years now and it's very simple to use. i make daily backups once per week for my OS and three other internal HDD to a dedicated internal HDD for them. i also do a network backup of it because i am very paranoid if my dedicated backup drive goes out as well. so a backup of a backup! i just love it. it's worth taking a look into.


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