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RAID 1 vs. scheduled backup

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February 9, 2007 2:04:48 PM

I wanted some advice from folks that know much more than I do about backing stuff up.

Purpose: backup of photos, files, etc., most of which are minimally changed weekly, maybe a couple of files added or changed each week. My primary system is a laptop with external HD on my wireless router.

I have 2 external HD right now, one is a NAS 250GB and another is a USB 250GB HD.

I understand RAID 1 is a mirror, and right now I have them in RAID 1, but if i wanted to remove the USB drive to take with me to a friend's house, I wouldn't be able to do it because the drive is a mirror drive and will only work when it is attached to the NAS drive.

So, why not remove the mirror, and just schedule a weekly "duplicate" backup of the NAS drive to the USB drive, that way I have a backup at ALMOST all times and I can also use the USB drive as a portable HD if I need to take it somewhere.

Are there other benefits to the RAID1 setup?

Also, I do use my hard drive on my laptop thru the week and then regularly send the folders to the NAS hard drive.

More about : raid scheduled backup

February 9, 2007 3:13:33 PM

Raid 1 in at the busniess level offers a fault tolerance for when one drive goes down, it can either seemlessly rebuild or be Hot Swaped in the event of a dead drive. .....which I'm sure I'm waisting my breath on telling. Adding backups via any media offers data security in which you can perform a restore if a file is deleted or if there is a burp on the main system and the primary drive goes down in the process of writing corrupt data to the mirror. In that case you have what looks a like a healthy system till that data is accesses, then your canned with a uesed Raid 1.

In my opinion, the Raid 1 + a backup is the way to go.
February 9, 2007 3:55:27 PM

Depends on how comfortable you are with your schedule.

Programmers for the company get RAID1 plus nightly full's.

My daughter has an image disk and if anything gets flaky I just wipe and reload.

Your needs should be somewhere between the two. :wink:

If you can live with having to fall back to something up to a week old then go for it.
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February 9, 2007 4:03:30 PM

I'd say non-raid, enterprise class hard drive + backup. As mentioned, corruption of a disk is most likely to come from actual misuse and backup covers that, plus a drive failure.

MTBF numbers on these drives show a failure is unlikely. With Raid 1, what is the MTBF of the raid controller? Are there bugs in the recovery software? Have you tested a failure/recovery to see whether it is prone to user error? What if the controller fails and it is impossible or inconvenient to replace it with a duplicate?

Biggest key is to separate the OS/user account partition from other partitions containing replaceable data (like game installations, mp3, video capture). Take one full disk structure backup and only do partition backups after that. Put the partitions on different backup schedules. An incremental backup of an OS partition with something like Acronis takes just a 2-3 minutes (and can be done online, although I've never tried that).
February 9, 2007 4:17:07 PM

Quote:

I understand RAID 1 is a mirror, and right now I have them in RAID 1, but if i wanted to remove the USB drive to take with me to a friend's house, I wouldn't be able to do it because the drive is a mirror drive and will only work when it is attached to the NAS drive.

So, why not remove the mirror, and just schedule a weekly "duplicate" backup of the NAS drive to the USB drive, that way I have a backup at ALMOST all times and I can also use the USB drive as a portable HD if I need to take it somewhere.


You kinda answered your own question. If you'd like portability and only have the 2 drives, manual backup is your only choice.

I take it your OS and progs are on an internal drive. My issue with RAID 1 is if your OS and programs are in RAID 1 and you get a virus, you get it TIMES 2! Kinda defeats the whole purpose of RAID 1. I run my OS and progs on RAID 0 for the performance and have a 320 and a 500 gig internal drive for data. I also have USB externals, actually "retired" IDE drives in cases I bought, as backup drives. I too, like the ability to just grab the external and go where I want.

If you've got no prob with manually backing up, or scheduling it, instead of getting instantaneous backup, I say go for it.
February 9, 2007 4:39:33 PM

Yes, my OS and programs are on my notebook computer, so all of it is simply my data--photos, video files, music. These drives I'm talking about are attached to my router so they are network-attached storage. That way my laptop and my wife's can both access the files.

However, I just called Simpletech as I have a simpleshare 250gb NAS drive and they said I cannot schedule a backup of my NAS drive to an external drive, and the only way to backup my NAS drive is with the mirror (RAID 1). But he said I can basically drag and drop manually if I want, it just can't be automated. Obviously I was going to use my backup program to automate this as I doubt i'll remember weekly. Does this make sense?

I suppose I can have the best of both worlds and buy another HD to be used as a mobile one, I was just trying to find a good solution without doing so.
February 9, 2007 4:40:28 PM

Yes, my OS and programs are on my notebook computer, so all of it is simply my data--photos, video files, music. These drives I'm talking about are attached to my router so they are network-attached storage. That way my laptop and my wife's can both access the files.

However, I just called Simpletech as I have a simpleshare 250gb NAS drive and they said I cannot schedule a backup of my NAS drive to an external drive, and the only way to backup my NAS drive is with the mirror (RAID 1). But he said I can basically drag and drop manually if I want, it just can't be automated. Obviously I was going to use my backup program to automate this as I doubt i'll remember weekly. Does this make sense?

I suppose I can have the best of both worlds and buy another HD to be used as a mobile one, I was just trying to find a good solution without doing so.
February 9, 2007 4:50:49 PM

Quote:
Yes, my OS and programs are on my notebook computer, so all of it is simply my data--photos, video files, music. These drives I'm talking about are attached to my router so they are network-attached storage. That way my laptop and my wife's can both access the files.

However, I just called Simpletech as I have a simpleshare 250gb NAS drive and they said I cannot schedule a backup of my NAS drive to an external drive, and the only way to backup my NAS drive is with the mirror (RAID 1). But he said I can basically drag and drop manually if I want, it just can't be automated. Obviously I was going to use my backup program to automate this as I doubt i'll remember weekly. Does this make sense?

I suppose I can have the best of both worlds and buy another HD to be used as a mobile one, I was just trying to find a good solution without doing so.

Can't you progam a backup of one drive to another by zipping it, from your laptop? I believe Win XP pro is capable of this. You'd have to have your laptop connected and running obviously to referee this process.
a c 371 G Storage
February 9, 2007 5:05:51 PM

Quote:
My issue with RAID 1 is if your OS and programs are in RAID 1 and you get a virus, you get it TIMES 2! Kinda defeats the whole purpose of RAID 1.


The purpose of raid 1 is not for backups. It is for redundancy & fault tolerence. If one drive fails the OS lives. It is not to protect you from viruses, spyware, or accidental file deletion. RAID (any level) is not a substitute for backups.
February 9, 2007 5:15:46 PM

Quote:
Yes, my OS and programs are on my notebook computer, so all of it is simply my data--photos, video files, music. These drives I'm talking about are attached to my router so they are network-attached storage. That way my laptop and my wife's can both access the files.

However, I just called Simpletech as I have a simpleshare 250gb NAS drive and they said I cannot schedule a backup of my NAS drive to an external drive, and the only way to backup my NAS drive is with the mirror (RAID 1). But he said I can basically drag and drop manually if I want, it just can't be automated. Obviously I was going to use my backup program to automate this as I doubt i'll remember weekly. Does this make sense?

I suppose I can have the best of both worlds and buy another HD to be used as a mobile one, I was just trying to find a good solution without doing so.

Can't you progam a backup of one drive to another by zipping it, from your laptop? I believe Win XP pro is capable of this. You'd have to have your laptop connected and running obviously to referee this process.

Honestly, I say purchase Arconis TrueImage. I just got it and love (it's only $30 from newegg and you can download it). You can create all sorts of backup schedules and back it up to any devices you want. Heck you can back up to a flash drive, network drive, another hard drive, CD-R, DVD-R. It really is a nice program and cheap. You can even create a hardened partition that no other program can write to.

Just my 2 cents.
February 9, 2007 5:20:24 PM

Quote:
My issue with RAID 1 is if your OS and programs are in RAID 1 and you get a virus, you get it TIMES 2! Kinda defeats the whole purpose of RAID 1.


The purpose of raid 1 is not for backups. It is for redundancy & fault tolerence. If one drive fails the OS lives. It is not to protect you from viruses, spyware, or accidental file deletion. RAID (any level) is not a substitute for backups.

It may not be a substitute for backing up but if you combine RAID (any level except 0) and back ups you won't have to back up nearly as often. RAID 1 during the week and then dump it to a backup weekly instead of nightly. It is kinda of nit picking but you are definitely right, they are different animals in purpose but largely the same idea.
a c 371 G Storage
February 9, 2007 5:23:13 PM

I use True Image also and have it scheduled for weekly backups. It works nicely with my raid 1 on a NV4 controller. It even backs up/restores to a network drive.
February 9, 2007 5:47:54 PM

Quote:
I use True Image also and have it scheduled for weekly backups. It works nicely with my raid 1 on a NV4 controller. It even backs up/restores to a network drive.


Word.

Mine is set for nightly incremental back up when I am sleeping. I do it nightly only because I can lol. True Image is really just a damned nice program, especially for the money. $30.... or lose everything yet again.... not a hard choice :wink:
February 9, 2007 6:52:12 PM

Quote:
Here's a story against RAID.http://www.pugetsystems.com/articles.php?id=29

I however agree with others with the RAID1 + backups.


I agree with him. he makes valid points, however that isn't the end all be all of RAID. The RAID 0 points i completely agree with.... and I have been trying to get people to understand that for the longest time and I mainly run into stubborn ignorant people (there are a few who are open minded).

Quote:

1. Accidental deletion or user error
2. Viruses or malware
3. Theft or catastrophic damage
4. Data corruption due to other failed hardware or power loss


1)RAID 1 is a more complicated issue. Yes, it does nothing to protect you from viruses.... but thats obvious, that's why Symantec exists... to protect you.

2)Accidental deletion.... yup they make software for that too because a file isn't ever deleted until its sector is rewritten and its alot easier to use undelete than it is to restore a backup image.

3)Theft? Are you freaking kidding me? What kind of nonsense is that? Of course it doesn't protect from theft. It was never meant to. Backups won't help you either (depending on where you back up to). OOO let's back up to my external hard drive that will protect me... oh wait if someone steals my internal hard they aren't going to let my external one just sit there. Come on dude, think.

4) Alright.... is he on weed? Yes power failure can cause problems, even on single disks. My mom had her HDD fried by a lightning storm (don't ask lol). Having drives in RAID 1 doesn't affect the likelihood of a drive being screwed up during a power loss it only increases the amount of hardware at risk. Now you have a RAID controller at risk and 2 hard drives instead of.... oh wait 2 hard drives and a raid controller (assuming you are using a built in one on you mobo. The controller is still there it just isn't in raid mode.

So while he makes valid points about RAID 0, his points on RAID 1 need alot of work.

This is not a shot at you, just to be clear. :wink:
February 10, 2007 2:39:41 PM

I make a regular backup of all my stuff to a network drive featuring RAID 1. I also burn all the important things (text documents, emails, photographs) on dvd's and take the copies to my office. This way if I have a device failure I'm sorted, and also if somebody breaks into my house and steals everything I only lose my music, movies ect "not so important" things.

I might be paranoid, but then again I'm in charge of backups for a fairly large company and it starts to affect you.

There are still chances of corruption, new viruses ect, but there is a limit to how far you can take things at home.
February 10, 2007 7:13:17 PM

Quote:

1. Accidental deletion or user error
2. Viruses or malware
3. Theft or catastrophic damage
4. Data corruption due to other failed hardware or power loss


1)RAID 1 is a more complicated issue. Yes, it does nothing to protect you from viruses.... but thats obvious, that's why Symantec exists... to protect you.

2)Accidental deletion.... yup they make software for that too because a file isn't ever deleted until its sector is rewritten and its alot easier to use undelete than it is to restore a backup image.

3)Theft? Are you freaking kidding me? What kind of nonsense is that? Of course it doesn't protect from theft. It was never meant to. Backups won't help you either (depending on where you back up to). OOO let's back up to my external hard drive that will protect me... oh wait if someone steals my internal hard they aren't going to let my external one just sit there. Come on dude, think.

4) Alright.... is he on weed? Yes power failure can cause problems, even on single disks. My mom had her HDD fried by a lightning storm (don't ask lol). Having drives in RAID 1 doesn't affect the likelihood of a drive being screwed up during a power loss it only increases the amount of hardware at risk. Now you have a RAID controller at risk and 2 hard drives instead of.... oh wait 2 hard drives and a raid controller (assuming you are using a built in one on you mobo. The controller is still there it just isn't in raid mode.


Hello Superfly,

I am the author of the article cited above, and I wanted to address your criticisms:

1/2) I am not making the point is not that RAID does anything to make you worse off from accidental deletion or viruses...I am just saying that it does nothing to help. I know you're point is that is common sense, but you'd be suprised. Not a lot of people stop to think about HOW RAID1 might protect them, they just like the overall feeling of protection. The point I am making is that there are some everyday sources of data loss (or at least annoyances) that RAID1 does not help with.

3) Absolutely, theft! That's why offsite backup exists :)  You can very easily take your external hard drive with you, or at least put it in your closet.

4) Yes, power failure can cause problems to any hard drive, but your statistical chance of problem increases as you add hard drives. Yes, you can just rebuild the array, granted.

Thanks for the comments!

Jon Bach - President
Puget Custom Computers
http://www.pugetsystems.com
February 10, 2007 7:45:05 PM

Quote:
Hello Superfly,

I am the author of the article cited above, and I wanted to address your criticisms:

1/2) I am not making the point is not that RAID does anything to make you worse off from accidental deletion or viruses...I am just saying that it does nothing to help. I know you're point is that is common sense, but you'd be suprised. Not a lot of people stop to think about HOW RAID1 might protect them, they just like the overall feeling of protection. The point I am making is that there are some everyday sources of data loss (or at least annoyances) that RAID1 does not help with.


Fair enough. I constantly forget how ignorant the general population about technology.

Quote:
3) Absolutely, theft! That's why offsite backup exists :)  You can very easily take your external hard drive with you, or at least put it in your closet.


Yeah, it just seems as though this point is a stretch. I realize that average person is not entirely informed, it's just hard to imagine people believe this. Offsite backup is a great idea, I agree, just hard for the average user to get. External hard drive somewhere else is always a good idea, as you suggest.

Quote:
4) Yes, power failure can cause problems to any hard drive, but your statistical chance of problem increases as you add hard drives. Yes, you can just rebuild the array, granted.


True. I was just saying that because they are in RAID doesn't change the probability of failure, but the quantity of hard drives does.

Quote:
Thanks for the comments!

Jon Bach - President
Puget Custom Computers
http://www.pugetsystems.com


Sorry I came down so hard, I typed it responding to the informed crowd not the general public for which it was written. You have your ducks in a row. Have a good day.
February 12, 2007 11:11:40 AM

I can't but agree with some folks here. RAID 1 is not such a good protection as it seems to be. It can't protect from malware and if one of hdds is down the burden on the second one increases hence the probability of its failure increases too, so one should have HotSpare disk ready in order to replace the broken one immediately. Of course RAID 1 provides with an increase of read off speed but in my opinion this fact doesn't cancel all its disadvantages. Therefore I'd recommend you to backup your system using some reliable product like for example True Image by Acronis
February 12, 2007 2:15:52 PM

Quote:
It can't protect from malware and if one of hdds is down the burden on the second one increases hence the probability of its failure increases too, so one should have HotSpare disk ready in order to replace the broken one immediately.


?

That doesn't make a whole lot of sense. If you are in RAID 1, then everything is duplicated. You have to write everything to each disk. Reads are a bit different (as you noted, see below). So, if one disk fails then the array continues to function as a single disk for both read and write, where as previously it was acting like a single disk for writes and multiple disks for reads. So the "burden" is exactly what it would be on a single disk, nothing more, nothing less. The only performance hit you would see would be on read requests. Thus, I don't really see its chance of failure increasing just because it handles the same volume of work a single disk does.

Quote:
Of course RAID 1 provides with an increase of read off speed but in my opinion this fact doesn't cancel all its disadvantages.


That read performance is based on your controller. I am not sure that onboard RAID controllers are that well programmed, just a thought.
February 12, 2007 2:58:54 PM

Extra load comes into play when running RAID5 not RAID 1 and you have a drive loss. In a RAID 5 setup when a drive is lost then the sytem needs to calculate the parity bit. This really kills RAID 5 performance, but its nice to know you are still working :>
February 12, 2007 3:53:32 PM

Quote:
Extra load comes into play when running RAID5 not RAID 1 and you have a drive loss. In a RAID 5 setup when a drive is lost then the sytem needs to calculate the parity bit. This really kills RAID 5 performance, but its nice to know you are still working :>


Yeah, I don't see load bearing to be a problem in RAID 1. RAID 5/6 is another animal.
Anonymous
February 12, 2007 4:36:40 PM

LMAO..

I bet you didn't think the author would come here and see your comments eh SuperFly03

hehehe that was funny.
February 12, 2007 5:41:32 PM

raid is not a subsitute for a backup, if you have file courruption it can spread to both drives and you lose your data.
February 12, 2007 5:47:20 PM

Quote:
LMAO..

I bet you didn't think the author would come here and see your comments eh SuperFly03

hehehe that was funny.


You're right, I didn't see that coming. I also backed down a little bit to be more courteous. I am glad my blindsidedness amused you. :) 

This has happened to me more than once.... oh well. 8O
February 12, 2007 6:33:24 PM

Quote:
Quote:


Hello Superfly,

I am the author of the article cited above, and I wanted to address your criticisms:

1/2) I am not making the point is not that RAID does anything to make you worse off from accidental deletion or viruses...I am just saying that it does nothing to help. I know you're point is that is common sense, but you'd be suprised. Not a lot of people stop to think about HOW RAID1 might protect them, they just like the overall feeling of protection. The point I am making is that there are some everyday sources of data loss (or at least annoyances) that RAID1 does not help with.

3) Absolutely, theft! That's why offsite backup exists :)  You can very easily take your external hard drive with you, or at least put it in your closet.

4) Yes, power failure can cause problems to any hard drive, but your statistical chance of problem increases as you add hard drives. Yes, you can just rebuild the array, granted.

Thanks for the comments!

Jon Bach - President
Puget Custom Computers
http://www.pugetsystems.com


I have to ask Jon, how exactly did you wire up one of the hard drives incorrectly?

Centurion
February 13, 2007 11:05:25 PM

I suppose that wasn't the best way to put it. What happened is we sleeved a power supply, and when we put the molex connectos back on, we swapped the 5V and 12V wires on the SATA connector we plugged it into.

Lots of smoke :) 
Anonymous
February 13, 2007 11:08:47 PM

Raid 1 at home is sorta of a waste in my opinion unless your running a server or the like.

Regular backups on an external source are the way to go. Like an external NAS. Then maybe to another external USB drive or a few DVD-RW's

Do you keep all your data on your NAS or is it just a backup of your PCs data?

That will make a difference if the NAS backup is enough. If the NAS houses ALL your data then for sure make a backup to another USB drive or DVD's
February 18, 2007 12:14:29 PM

Thanks to all who have replied

So after reading all of this, I think I'm going to take my drives off of RAID 1 and simply have my NAS w/ a 250gb HD attached to it and back up the NAS to this weekly. Sure, I could just buy another HD to do this, but then I would have my data on the NAS, the RAID1 drive, the new HD, and I already have most of it on an old HD that I keep at a different location, seems overkill.

So, my question though is how to best schedule a backup from my NAS to my USB hard drive. I don't want a typical backup file though, I just want all the actual files so that I can grab the hard drive and go to a friend's house with it if i need to. So basically, I want a program to duplicate the NAS drive to the USB drive once a week, ie. add new files and replace all old files IF they have been updated on the NAS. Make sense?

I downloaded the trial version of arconis trueimage as some have suggested but it doesn't seem to be able to do this.
February 19, 2007 5:09:33 AM

A simple method is to use "ROBOCOPY".
This is available from Microsoft.Com

This can be used to exactly Mirror a source and destination location.
Simply Schedule RoboCopy to run via Windows Scheduler every night or whenever you chose.
Anonymous
February 21, 2007 5:30:51 PM

http://www.2brightsparks.com/

SyncBack is the best backup software I have used. It is great. Backs up to almost anything you can think of.
February 21, 2007 6:26:08 PM

Nice article, and good points made.

But one point that seems to have been missed, and an important point, is that if you haven't done a bare-metal restore you don't really know if you have a valid backup strategy.
February 24, 2009 3:03:52 AM

Take advice from someone whose truly has been there. Imagine two great hard drives in an upper end system with "high quality power supply" on a reliable battery backup. I come home one day to the acrid smell of burning plastic. Either massive voltage spike or horrid short in the PC power supply literally fries BOTH drives and motherboard. Catastrophe!

Panic ensues, where are the pictures, wife is going to kill me, contemplating moving out of the house........ but WAIT........

I pull out one of our two trusty USB/SATA EXTERNAL HARD DRIVES that we (try) to religiously back up to at least once monthly. They are kept in a safe (yes a media approved safe) so that in the event of minor catastrophe or perhaps even mild fire damage to home, data and disk is off the power grid, virus/malware safe and yet so accessible.

Oh, we also burn photo and video to CD/DVD which we store in the safe as well, which is a comfort. Wife also backs up photos online through a reputable online photo storage/printing company (you take your pick, there are multiple choices) as it costs nothing to store them on their servers, if you buy some photos once in a while from them (which you would do anyway)

Even if I had a separate home server backing up all our home PC's nightly, you can still get burned by whole house voltage spikes.

All you must do to sleep soundly is actually DO THE BACKUP routinely. When you are done, disconnect it and put it away somewhere safely. DO IT. It will save your behind one day or your head from a frying pan attack.

Remember, when the computer dies, even if God made it happen, you will still bear the blame from your significant other :-)
!