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Backup Question

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July 10, 2009 1:42:24 AM

I have two identical hard drives and want to leave one as a mirror. I was thinking about raid 1 but then if some crazy virus decimates my system it'll be copied onto the backup drive too, and raid isn't a real backup solution anyway. Is there any software out there that will mirror my hard drive so that if the first one fails for some reason I can just boot off the backup drive like nothing ever happened (minus the time between the failure and the last backup of course), but not mirror right away (automatically backing up after a set period of time or waiting for me to tell it to back up or something)? Should I just stick with raid 1 because it's simpler? Any help would be appreciated!

More about : backup question

July 10, 2009 7:42:45 AM

Here's a slightly complicated solution: get one drive and put it in a hard disk enclosure. Connect that enclosure to your computer through USB, then use Partition Image on a regular basis to clone your internal hard disk to your external drive. If anything bad happens, just swap both drives. Tada!

Unfortunately, I don't know how to automate the process.
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a c 168 G Storage
July 10, 2009 5:02:34 PM

The value of raid-1 for protecting data is that you can recover from a hard drive failure quickly.
It is for servers that can't afford any down time.
Recovery from a hard drive failure is just moments.
Fortunately hard drives do not fail often.
Mean time to failure is claimed to be on the order of 1,000,000 hours.(100 years)
Raid-1 does not protect you from other types of losses such as viruses,
software errors,raid controller failure, operator error, or fire...etc.
For that, you need EXTERNAL backup.
If you have external backup, and can afford some recovery time, then you don't need raid-1.

I would suggest that you install that backup drive in an external enclosure like this:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6817173042

Use a backup program like acronis true image home. An extra benefit is that the backup data will be compressed, and empty space is not backed up, giving you the ability to store the backed up data in a fraction of the space. You can take an image copy, then additional incremental backups. Acronis supplies a boot cd that can be used to restore an image from just about anywhere.
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July 10, 2009 7:01:09 PM

Why does it have to be an external drive? Wouldn't an internal drive be essentially the same thing? Also I have a Cavalry external drive but it's not bootable, only for storing data. Would that work? It's larger in capacity though so would the extra space be lost?
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a c 168 G Storage
July 10, 2009 7:58:57 PM

turkeyfox said:
Why does it have to be an external drive? Wouldn't an internal drive be essentially the same thing? Also I have a Cavalry external drive but it's not bootable, only for storing data. Would that work? It's larger in capacity though so would the extra space be lost?

An internal drive can be lost for a number of reasons:
Virus
malware
operator error
fire
power surge
etc.

Backups to a larger drive let you archive multiple generations of backups. This can mitigate the problem of a backup that contains a virus. You might not know it until you restore the corrupt file. A larger drive also lets you use parts of it for other purposes.
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a c 349 G Storage
July 10, 2009 8:11:41 PM

Here's my backup system (I confess I don't use often, as I should). My main machine has a pair of 320 GB Seagates - separate, not in any RAID. I bought a 500 GB Seagate and mounted it in an external case. From time to time I use Seagate's Disk Wizard software (actually, a version of Acronis True Image), first deleting all previous Partitions on the external 500 GB unit. Then I make a complete bootable CLONE of my C: drive to the external unit, specifying that it should use only maybe 250 to 300 GB of space for that. Then I use that utility again to make a second partition and copy to it all the data from my D: drive.

I think I've got things set so, if my internal C: drive fails, I can boot from the external unit's first Partition as the C: drive. If that does not work, the alternative plan is simply to move the 500 GB unit from the external case to inside the main computer case and plug it in to replace the original 320 GB C:D rive. Should boot from there easily.

An external unit that can be turned off and disconnected is the best way to ensure that its contents are not seen and corrupted by any malware. If disconnected, it also is not going to be damaged by power surges etc.
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