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Looking for a backup solution

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June 20, 2010 9:30:31 PM

I have a Sony AIT 35 GB tape drive I used for backups but I just switched to Windows 7 which no longer supports tape drives so I'm looking for a new backup solution.

I considered using rugged 32 GB usb memory sticks but heard that they can be unreliable and should not be used for backups, plus the cost per GB is very high.

So it seems removable hard drives are the best solution, I prefer compact media so I looked at removable drives that accept 2.5" laptop hard drives. I also want a front bay internal drive that mounts like a floppy or DVD drive. I ideally wanted one that uses enclosures but the only ones I found for 2.5" hard drives that work with an internal bay are about $30 per enclosure which increases the cost per GB considerably.

So I found this 3.5" bay drive that fits like a floppy drive but accepts two bare 2.5" laptop hard drives (or SSDs):

http://www.tigerdirect.ca/applications/SearchTools/item...

The only negative point with this one is that my drives would be bare and unprotected, but I did find protective cases to store 2.5" drives so they would only be unprotected while moving them from the case to the drive.

Do you think this is safe enough to use for backups considering I'd be careful to have clean and static free hands before handling the drives?

If not, what other affordable backup solutions would you recommend? I need a minimum of 35 GB for my system files and important documents. I had considered rewritable 50GB blu-ray discs but reviews say they get unusable after as little as 10 rewrites.

Thanks

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a c 415 G Storage
June 20, 2010 11:03:18 PM

I recently picked up an external USB bare drive dock and and using full-sized 1- and 2TB bare drives for backups. I wrap the drives in bubble wrap when they're not in the computer to prevent any harsh knocks to them.

The drives are fairly robust when powered off. Look for drives that use "ramp load" heads - those drives actually remove the heads from the media when powered down and so they can take more abuse then older drives which park the heads right on the media. Most 2.5" drives should have these since they're designed for laptops which tend to be handled more than a desktop.

Static can be a concern if you live in a location that's fairly dry, but it's a lot less of a problem if you're using a drive in an enclosure because there's little risk of touching one of the electrical contacts. A static discharge to the drive case shouldn't cause a problem.
June 21, 2010 3:56:34 PM

If your data is this valuable, I would recommend you just use an off-site on-line back system. Rather than buying drives, you can just upload all your data.
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a c 415 G Storage
June 21, 2010 5:02:19 PM

I wouldn't rely solely on an Internet-based backup solution for data that's important. None of the online backup agreements I've heard about provide a solid guarantee of data availability. The most dependable backup is the one you create and control yourself (assuming you do a decent job of it).
June 21, 2010 7:49:15 PM

ahthurungnone: 35 GBs would take incredibly long to upload even with high speed and would exceed my upload limits.

zipzoomflyhigh: I would not consider a hard drive that's permanently connected a backup at all because firstly a virus could wipe it clean in a second, secondly if it's running 24/7 like your main drive they are likely to fail near the same time (when you would need the backup), and thirdly if the computer is stolen or in a fire then the backup is also lost.

So I don't see how a backup that's in the same PC you're trying to backup could even be considered a backup at all.

My data is very important and loosing it would cause me to loose my income permanently, so I need copies at multiple places which is why I need a removable media solution.
a c 415 G Storage
June 21, 2010 11:27:31 PM

For individual users I think external drives have pretty much taken over as far as backup media is concerned. Optical media have relatively limited capacity with the possible exception of Bluray - but blank Bluray media is about as expensive as redundant hard drives on a cost per GB basis. And optical media is slower and (especially for CDs/DVDs) labour-intensive because of the need to swap disks.

Tape backup is, IMHO, pretty much dead for everything except datacentres (and even there I have my doubts). Particularly for personal use, a huge disadvantage of tape is finding another machine with a compatible drive to restore your data to in the event of a problem.

People worry hard drives being too fragile for use as backup, but in reality ANY media can loose data. The secret to good backup is to have MULTIPLE backups and to check them regularly so that you can recover from another copy if any issues crop up.
June 22, 2010 12:49:42 AM

About your comment on tapes and being able to read them on another computer it isn't a problem because you restore to the same PC that the tape drive was on anyway. I've been backing up to 35/70GB Sony AIT tapes for years and the several times I did have to restore it went flawlessly. They also now have tapes of well over 1 TB that at smaller than a deck of cards, the only reason I'm abandoning tapes is due to Windows 7 lack of built in support for tape drives.

In any case I'm quite decided on the drive bay that takes bare laptop drives, should I go with it?
a c 415 G Storage
June 22, 2010 4:50:15 PM

aab1 said:
About your comment on tapes and being able to read them on another computer it isn't a problem because you restore to the same PC that the tape drive was on anyway.
That's great if you just loose the data due to some sort of media problem with the drives in your system, but what if someone breaks into your house and steals your computer? Or the tape drive dies? Or a power spike wipes out the disks and the tape drive at the same time?

I don't have any experience with the drive bay you mentioned, but the idea in principle seems good to me.
July 16, 2010 10:18:06 AM

IMHO Blu-rays are not reliable‚Ķ As well as DVDs and CDs. When I was young, I've encountered a lot of troubles with copying CDs with games :) 
I think external drives are Ok. And if you afraid of data loss due to stealing of PC, find a friend who lives not far from you, create LAN and connect your external HDD to his computer. I know two guys who keep their data encrypted on PCs of each other.
But you also need to choose the software for backing up. You won't copy your files manually, right? Several minutes ago I found this free software for backing up disk image, and I'm going to use it monthly. And sometimes you need to backup some important files. And here I advice you to use this cheap backup software for encrypted backups. With this type of encryption you can be sure that your friend will not steal your Top Secret Data.
March 18, 2013 10:32:30 AM

www.xplodebackup.com is pretty nifty, paying $7 p/m for their 512GB package. The thing I like most is that you can simply click right click on the folder to backup and click on backup with Xplode Backup and it takes care of the rest.
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