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Backup advice

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September 10, 2011 6:24:14 PM

Dear community, I am trying to determine the best backup solution for my system. In short, I have a Crucial M4 128Gb SSD running Windows 7, my games, Adobe and Office apps, etc. I have a 1Tb Seagate Barracuda mech HDD for data (my user folder with my docs, media, etc.) Now, this system is still in production so it hasn't shipped yet, thus I haven't even begun to use it. So, basically I can configure the software however I want... Anyway, I'm thinking of setting up my system restore points on the HDD. Beyond that, I'm wondering: what's the best way to backup EVERYTHING? By that I mean OS and saved games (in the event the SSD fails) and all contents of my HDD (in the event it fails)? I'm open to purchasing another 1Tb HDD to use for backups.

I'm looking for software and hardware suggestions.

My full system is as follows:
INTEL, Core™ i7-2600K Quad-Core 3.4GHz, HD Graphics 3000, LGA1155, 8MB L3 Cache, 32nm, 95W, EM64T EIST HT TB VT-x XD, Retail
 
COOLER MASTER, Hyper 212 Plus CPU Cooler, Socket 1155/1156/1366/775/AM3/AM2, Copper/Aluminum, Retail
 
SERVICE, Mild Overclocking, 10-20% Performance Increase
 
GIGABYTE, GA-Z68XP-UD3, LGA1155, Intel® Z68, DDR3-2133 32GB /4, PCIe x16 SLI CF /2, SATA 3Gb/s RAID 5 /4, 6Gb/s /4, USB 3.0 /4, HDMI, HDA, GbLAN, FW /2, ATX, Retail
 
KINGSTON, 16GB (4 x 4GB) XMP HyperX X2 Grey PC3-12800 DDR3 1600MHz CL9 1.65V SDRAM DIMM, Non-ECC
 
EVGA, GeForce® GTX 570 Superclocked (AR) 797MHz, 1280MB GDDR5 3900MHz, PCIe x16 SLI, 2x DVI+mini-HDMI, Retail
 
SEAGATE, 1TB Barracuda® 7200.12, SATA 6 Gb/s, 7200 RPM, 32MB cache
 
CRUCIAL, 128GB M4 SSD, MLC Marvell 88SS9174, 415/175 MB/s, 2.5-Inch, SATA 6 Gb/s, Retail
 
RAID, No RAID, Independent HDD Drives
 
SONY, AD-7260S Black 24x DVD±R/RW Dual-Layer Burner, SATA, OEM
 
COOLER MASTER, CM 690 II Advanced Black Mid-Tower Case, ATX, No PSU, Steel/Plastic
 
CORSAIR, TX850 V2 Power Supply 850W, 80 PLUS® Bronze, 24-pin ATX12V v2.31 EPS12V 2.92, 4x 8/6-pin PCIe
 
MICROSOFT, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit Edition w/ SP1, OEM

More about : backup advice

September 10, 2011 6:31:43 PM

I have a similar setup and I use Acronis to back up both drives (OS drive SSD and Programs drive HDD) to my NAS. You could also get another hardrive in the system to backup to.
September 10, 2011 6:38:36 PM

Arhea said:
I have a similar setup and I use Acronis to back up both drives (OS drive SSD and Programs drive HDD) to my NAS. You could also get another hardrive in the system to backup to.


Thats basically what I was thinking of doing. Thanks. A couple questions:
1)With Acronis, do you backup your SSD and HDD separately? Probably a stupid question - I assume the answer is yes and that you have to.
2) Do you have System Restore enabled in Windows? If so, are your restore points saved to your HDD? I could see why this would make sense as it minimizes writes to the SSD.

I will probably get a 1Tb or 1.5Tb HDD and back everything up to it.

Any more suggestions guys?
Related resources
September 10, 2011 7:09:23 PM

1 - Yes you set up a seperate backup job for each disk/partition. You can do the backup at either the disk or partition level. Its a very easy interface to navigate and suggest you try out the 30day free trial though its well worth the $50!!

2 - No I turned off System restore. Acronis can do something similar in 2 ways - you can burn a boot up CD with Acronis on it to restore, or there is an option to have Acronis Recovery appear when you are booting your computer. I believe it puts its recovery file in a hidden partition.

I would personally recommend turning off system restore and just doing schedule backups with Acronis. System restore is funny and with Acronis you will be restoring your system EXACTLY as it was.
a c 289 G Storage
September 10, 2011 7:12:02 PM

Here's my take:

My OS drive is backed up as a Disk Image. It's important that it be a Disk image, not a partition image, so that you get the boot sector / boot loader. If your drive fails, or you get taken out by malware, you restore the last image and go on your merry way.

My data is backed up on a rotating schedule. First you do a full backup, then a series of incrementals, and then the next time you are feeling not-lazy another full. Depending on how scrupulous a person is, the cycles can be as short as a week with daily incrementals or as long as six months with weekly (not to great an idea).

In addition, some people (like me) back up the entire data disk, and some select what to back up to save time.

============================================

Backups should not be stored on a drive that is inside your system; don't put the OS backup on the data drive. Total system failure, malware, or an open window and a rainstorm could take out both at the same time.

I personally use hot-swap SATA drive bays and keep my backup drives in an antistatic case. http://kingwin.com/products/cate/mobile/racks/kf_1000_b...

Finally, you should have at least two alternating backup sets, preferably on two drives. Worst case: Imagine that you are doing your full backup, overwriting your previous full, and your system fails. Now you have zero intact full backups. Yuk.

===================================================

How far you go in backups is a matter of how much energy you are willing to invest and how important the data is to you. There are people who make copies of their backups and keep them at a friend's house. Genuine off-site backup.
September 10, 2011 7:28:21 PM

Excellent advice from you both. Arhea, thanks for confirming my own thoughts on System Restore - I had read on Toms that with an SSD, System Restore can be problematic. I will definitely follow this advice.

WyomingKnott, great thorough reply! Forgive me, though - I don't know what hot swap SATA drives are. If my best option is to backup to an external drive, can you guys walk me through the pros/cons of my various options. Is NAS different than hot swap SATA? I need to be cost effective here. However, I am willing to spend if necessary.

A final thought: if power failure can be deadly for SSD, would a battery backup power supply be a smart investment?
a c 289 G Storage
September 10, 2011 7:55:16 PM

Hot swap just means that I can plug one in while the system is running, do my backup, use the "Safely Remove Hardware" feature to flush the buffers, and remove it. I use bare drives instead of the more usual "external drive" with a USB connection.

A power failure won't faze an SSD (well, mostly). I meant any kind of system failure - what if your southbridge chip explodes (yes, happened to me. Small explosion, but dead chip).

I have a small UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) just so that I can save my work before shutting down if the power goes out.
September 10, 2011 8:11:55 PM

WyomingKnott said:
Hot swap just means that I can plug one in while the system is running, do my backup, use the "Safely Remove Hardware" feature to flush the buffers, and remove it. I use bare drives instead of the more usual "external drive" with a USB connection.

A power failure won't faze an SSD (well, mostly). I meant any kind of system failure - what if your southbridge chip explodes (yes, happened to me. Small explosion, but dead chip).

I have a small UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) just so that I can save my work before shutting down if the power goes out.


Hot swap SATA bays are really expensive on Newegg... I'm not trying to spend more than a couple hundred ($200-$300 max) on backup solutions. NAS could be an option but might be overkill for me - I'm only looking to backup a single desktop.

What about a simple 1Tb external USB drive? Would that be an acceptable option? Could I backup disk images to it? Is there anything wrong with selecting an external USB that's powered only by the USB connection (no separate power cord)?

Thanks for all the help.
September 10, 2011 8:23:53 PM

Acronis will definitely back up to an external USB hardrive. I don't see why it would be a problem to use a USB drive without a power cord. I think its probably the best options if its only for 1 machine. And external drives are pretty cheap you can get more than 1 for extra redundancy (I had my Seagate goFLex crap out on me recently). So just for personal experience I feel safer have at least 2 backups of my data - My NAS is in RAID and also backs up to an external USB drive.
a c 289 G Storage
September 10, 2011 8:28:27 PM

Expensive? The one I linked to is twenty bucks.

As to the external drive, you can, but USB 2.0, which is most common, is much slower than SATA. That's why I use bare drives in that bay. You can do anything that you want.
September 10, 2011 11:49:29 PM

WyomingKnott said:
Expensive? The one I linked to is twenty bucks.

As to the external drive, you can, but USB 2.0, which is most common, is much slower than SATA. That's why I use bare drives in that bay. You can do anything that you want.


You're absolutely right - I searched for the wrong thing, and hot swap bays are actually cheap. I think this makes the most sense as an option.

Would you recommend Acronis also?

Assuming you experience a boot drive failure, would your backup software (I assume booted off CD) recognize the SATA drive in the hot swap bay? I'm assuming it would, and that you would then restore off of a disk image stored on the swappable SATA drive.
a c 289 G Storage
September 11, 2011 12:40:19 AM

Acronis is excellent. You can use it to build a boot CD, or even make the backup drive bootable!

And yes to the scenario you described. You would have the new system drive installed, the backup drive in the bay _before_ you boot (I don't think the Acronis boot supports hotswap), and restore from the backup image to the bare drive. Presto, booto!
September 11, 2011 1:11:21 AM

WyomingKnott said:
Acronis is excellent. You can use it to build a boot CD, or even make the backup drive bootable!

And yes to the scenario you described. You would have the new system drive installed, the backup drive in the bay _before_ you boot (I don't think the Acronis boot supports hotswap), and restore from the backup image to the bare drive. Presto, booto!


Excellent! Makes perfect sense.

One final question: would you suggest backing up data (from HDD) and boot disk (SSD) onto two separate SATA drives or is it ok to back them both up onto the same SATA drive?

Thanks for all your help.
a c 289 G Storage
September 11, 2011 1:46:18 PM

Backing them up to the same drive is fine. Ideally, you should have two drives and use them alternately, but this is protection from both the backup and the system failing, which is pretty unlikely.
September 11, 2011 3:37:37 PM

Thank you so much for all your help. I really appreciate it.
!