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Can one create an image from RAID 5 HDD configuration in a 5 bay NAS

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April 27, 2011 8:28:55 PM

can one create an image from RAID 5 HDD configuration in a 5 bay NAS of 5 x 2TBs Hitachi Ultrastars. What software does this? Lastly, how can one estimate the size of the image based on amount of data. (For example I used snapshot to create an image of a single 1TB Drive and the image size was 200GB) Desperately need help as all my videos and pictures are on a NAS server with no backup and I feel the data is vulnerable. Thanks
a c 302 G Storage
April 28, 2011 1:39:34 PM

You can create the image. Since the RAID software works so hard to present the array as a single disk, you back it up the way you would a single disk. Just about any software that would let you back up a single drive in your PC will do this.

As for how big the backup will be, the size of the storage does not matter. The size of the data does. Try this: In Windows, right-click on the drive icon for the NAS and select Properties. See how much space is used.

Also, does the NAS support a direct connection to an external drive? The simplest way to ensure the backup is to attach one or more external drives to your PC and just copy from the drive that represents the NAS. However, some NAS enclosures will have a USB / FireWire / eSata connection and a Clone function, for instant backup. Read your manual.

Finally, the biggest issue is going to be that you may have more data on that device than will fit on a single backup drive. You will need software that will split the image across drives (almost any modern backup SW will do this) and multiple external drives. Were it me, I would buy a few bare drives and put them in one of these to do the backup: http://kingwin.com/products/cate/mobile/racks/kf_1000_b...

I have two of these in my tower and do all my backups to bare drives that I insert into them.

Let us know how much data is on the NAS and what software you have been using to do backups. And what model NAS. We may be able to find a specific solution for you.

Edit: There were two "finallys"
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April 29, 2011 6:53:56 AM

First thank you for the quick response. Very much appreciated. I was in a rush and not as specific as I should have been so I apologize. Let me give some details.

My NAS Set up is as follows:
Synology: DS 1511+ - (a 5 bay diskstation) connected via Ethernet
OS: DSM 3.1 1613
HDD: 5 x 3.5" 2TB 7200 RPM (HITACHI Ultrastar 7K3000(0F12455) SATA 6.0Gb/s
HDD: Configuration: RAID 5 = 7.24 TB over 1 volume from 10TBs of raw space.
Router: D-Link DIR-855 Gigabit / Hardware Ver: A2 / Firmware Ver: 1.23NA
Links: Cat7 throughout/ Link Aggregation Inactive

Issue: With Snapshot at least when it looks for internal drives/external drives to choose for imaging, my NAS does not show up even though it shows in network tree within windows file explorer (I have Win7x64 Ultimate). Even if I map network drives to share folders it does not show up in snapshot. (which is useless bc I want to image whole volume NOT multiple share folders one at a time obviously) :pt1cable: 

My NAS does have USB2 connections and I have purchased a 3tb Hitachi External Drive (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...) to attached to the back of it.

Prob just used the NAS's backup software which allows Local Backups (like to the 3tb drive just purchased). Right Now I have about little over 2.5TBs of data of available 7.24TB of space over 1 volume of RAID5. Most of which I need to go through and standardize my folder and naming conventions as well as eliminate many duplicate files.... My question also is whats the difference between image and a clone and what is the benefit of one over the other??? I know what they are I just dont know why one uses one method over another to backup.

or

Network Backup (which is my ultimate goal such as back up to another 5bay NAS with RAID 0 (I am guessing) to get most space available for backup. So my RAID 5 NAS with be Backed up to my RAID 0 NAS of Equal or greater size. Does this sound like a good direction??? And assume I can set some schedule to allow a full back up followed by daily differential backups... Synology NAS uses R-Sync which i know little about. Hopefully just use that when I get funds for another NAS setup. I assume my backup drive does not need high performing enterprise HDDs bc the drives will only be for backup... (Is this what is typically done???)

Now that I think about it, would a RAID 1 Config be best with 2 - 5Bay NAS Systems (2 volumes total) of same capacity.

Just confusing and trying to look for ideal setup. And finally pick a place to store redundantly in a cloud once all my files have been vetted and organized. Can you suggest any good cloud sites. My NAS supports Amazon S3 but the pricing is so damn confusing and for 3TB of data I would pay 328 per MONTH!! to store. Is that even correct....

As you can see lots of question but I am internally grateful for people like you that guide me to making sound and informed decisions.

Looking forward to you response
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a c 302 G Storage
April 29, 2011 1:23:57 PM

I'm reminded of an old joke. You've connected with a backup fanatic here; I could tell you stories (by PM if you want to hear them).

A few points. What is this "snapshot" of which you speak? The word refers to a kind of backup and may also be the name of a package that you are using. I have just tried Acronis True Image, and it will back up data from a network drive. It's not that expensive, and lots of people that I know use it.

Plus, rather than take the time to make this into a coherent whole, here are some disconnected sections separated by the following dot:


  • Second, a "clone" is an exact copy of one drive to another. You could disconnect the first drive and plug in the second and the system would run fine, even if this was the system drive. No special software is needed to read the copy.

    An "image" is a large file (or set of files) created by the backup software that needs the backup software to read it. Without the backup software, it looks like one huge useless file. The backup software can unpack the image onto a new disk, creating a clone on demand.

    For example, Acronis True Image and Norton Ghost 8.0, which I use (that's an old, old version) can take an input disk and produce either an exact clone or an image file. I personally use image files because they are compressed, they can be made faster (less data to write), and I never want to have more than one bootable disk drive on my machine.


  • There is no "ideal setup," so don't worry about getting it wrong. Various approaches have various strengths and weaknesses, and even having off-site backup copies in another state is vulnerable to unlikely events such as a blackout of the entire East Coast, to use a real example.

    A decent setup will protect you against one or a combination of a few unlikely events.

    As for backing up your NAS to another RAID0 NAS, I would like to discourage you for two reasons. First, RAID0 is not a reliable way to store data, and I would never use it for a backup. A single drive, or even a large backup with 3 GB on one drive and 3GB on another, is more dependable. Second, having your backup on the same network as your data opens you to a vulnerability that you can protect against: Malware destroying your data. Backups, or at least copies thereof, should be offline.

    It makes sense to do realtime incremental backups (continuous backups) to another storage device on the NAS, but not image backups. There's a point below on the difference if you're not familiar with it.


  • The usual backup process is to make a full image backup of all files, followed by multiple "incremental" backups that only copy files created or changed since the last full or incremental backup. That way, you can backup daily but not need to copy the huge contents of your storage system over and over again.

    You should have media for at least two full backup cycles. If you only have media for one full backup, imagine the following: You start a backup, putting your only copy in the drive to write on. The system fails in the middle of the process. You now have no backup at all. So, have at least two complete sets of media to back up to.

    Many people have made do with a single set for decades and never lost data, but I am being very careful here.


  • I can't help you with the main question: how to perform the backup. I'm not familiar with this "snapshot" that you are using, nor with the NAS backup software.

    If I were you, I would read the NAS manual and find out how to do a backup to a drive on the USB connection. Especially, find out if the backup can be "spanned" across more than one disk when your data grows to more than the size of a disk, and find out if the backup disks can be read easily or require a version of the software to read. In the latter case, burn a bootable CD with that software, so that you will be able to read the backups even if the NAS and your PC are toasted.

    If you want to back up your data via network, there is one very very simple way that will work. Mount both drives to one PC and do a copy. Boom, it's all backed up. Not elegant, but it will work.


  • Network Backup need not be your goal unless you are going to run continuous backup. After all, unless the backup software is native to both of your NAS units, the backup will have to run from a PC and two copies of the data (pc read, pc write) will travel over the network. This is slow.

    For continuous backup, what you should do is still do a full backup that is taken off-line. Then you can run your continuous backup software to copy files that are change on the storage NAS to the backup NAS. If the storage NAS fails, the backup one will be there with all of the files.

    But backup to network storage is like RAID1. It increases the reliability of your system, allowing it to survive certain failures. It is not, in my opinion, an actual backup. It's closer to being an actual backup than RAID1 is, since the copy is further from the original, but I'm not satisfied with my backups until the drive is removed from my PC and safe in my antistatic storage box. And if I were serious about it, I'd keep the completed backups at a friend's house.


  • I've given you a disorganized lot to chew on, because it's a big question and the answer depends. I'll try a short answer, giving just my personal preferences.

    If the NAS local backup software permits, back up the NAS to directly-attached drives, spanning two drives as your data grows. Do full backups periodically (monthly?), and incrementals as often as the most data you are willing to lose (a day's worth, a week's worth, ...). Have two sets of backup media and alternate them.

    Do the same thing for data in your computer. Oddly, I never do incrementals of my OS drive, only image backups. If I lose the OS drive, or it gets corrupted, I restore the last backup and I'm up and running. I have to re-do Microsoft Update and any software I installed since the last image, but that's cheaper than rebuilding the OS.

    Let me know if you have specific questions about one of the paths I've laid out here, or something else.
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