Should I get RAID 1 or stick to my own system?


I store photographic images and video from a Macbook Pro running Lion 10.7.3 on 3 separate external drives and on two offsite drives. The 2TB drives are formatted ExFAT 2TB and data is transferred using 3 Thermaltake BlacX External Hard Drive SATA Enclosures.

They are then stored in WiebeTech anti-static hard drive containers in a closet. I usually update the 2 offsite hard drives every month.

I was thinking of getting RAID 1 so I can skip some of the manual mirroring to three drives but I am trying to weigh the cost vs. benefits.

- Under my current system I can backup data from my Mac and a PC because of ExFAT. I don't think you can format RAID 1 as exFAT.

- Price. I can add 4TB for about $240 with 2 2TB Western Digital Green drives. A 2x2TB G-Safe is $479 right now.

- To come back from RAID 1 drive failure will I need to preemptively buy an extra drive (same type, capacity, and firmware)? OWC states this, guy at computer store says you just need same capacity.

- GTECH is robust for keeping on desk. I have to be careful handing the hard drives in my current system.

- Not sure about drive formatting under RAID 1 and if G-TECH drives are formatted in a special way for RAID 1. I like having a copy of my data on a drive that is just formatted in ExFAT or HFS+.

4 answers Last reply
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  1. The proper way to think of RAID is as an uptime solution, not a backup solution. Redundant RAID organizations eliminate the downtime needed to replace and restore data when a drive fails - so if that time is important to you then RAID 1 might be a good solution.

    But RAID 1 won't save you anything if, for example, your system gets stolen and the last backup you made to your external drive was a month ago.
  2. Thanks for the reply. What would you suggest I use for automated backup to multiple external hard disks. I like RAID 1 because I can just copy data once to two drives.

    I guess I can live with the current solution of copying to separate hard drives. It's just tedious.
  3. I agree entirely with sminlal. I'm even against the idea of internal backup drives or external drives that are always attached; they are vulnerable to malware and lightning strikes.

    There are many backup applications that will back up your changes every day, every hour, or even in almost-realtime. In order to keep your backup drives separate from the system they are backing up, I would suggest either getting several NAS boxes (or adapters; you can buy one that attaches a USB drive to the network) and using the NAS storage as the target for your backups.

    It sounds like your images are very important to you, and you are willing to invest time and money in making sure that they stick around.


    Finally, there is an option that I don't like, but some people do, which is cloud backup services. You install their software, and all your changes (and a specified number of previous versions, if you like) are uploaded to their servers over the Internet. Excellent protection in case of a datacenter catastrophe that makes all the backup drives inaccessible.

    I personally won't use that because A) I don't trust them to still be there tomorrow, and B) I don't trust them to protect my data. Anonymous is more likely to attack my data if it's out there in the Google cloud than sitting on my home machine.
  4. pcknt said:
    Thanks for the reply. What would you suggest I use for automated backup to multiple external hard disks. I like RAID 1 because I can just copy data once to two drives.
    I personally use some scripts I wrote for myself, but there are a lot of cloning and backup utilities around that should allow you connect a drive and basically just click a button to get things started. After that the system can plug away at it on its own without you having to babysit it.
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