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What's the best backup drive?



Computers fail. You need a backup to protect your data.

Whether you are backing up terabytes of video, gigabytes of music, or megabytes of emails and text documents, there's a drive for you. But which one is the best?

This is where you come in.

What's the best backup drive? What would you recommend to everyone on Tom's Hardware?

Below:

Let us know which specific backup drive is the best. Not a brand of drive. One item.
What makes it the best backup drive? How has it made your setup better?
What does the backup drive look like? Post a picture! (We recommend hosting on imgur, but use whatever you like).
Finally, where can you buy the drive? Post a link!

Do you agree with someone? Don't post again (it makes it harder to navigate). Upvote them to show your support!

Here we go!
Reply to tomshardware
45 answers Last reply
More about backup drive
  1. I love my G-Drive.

    This thing can take a punch. I wouldn't recommend dropping it, but... well, I've dropped mine a few times and it still works.

    And that integrated power sink...

    Link: http://www.amazon.com/G-Technology-High-Speed-Portable-FireWire-0G02576/dp/B009VQ7KPM/
    Picture: http://www.g-technology.com/sites/default/files/fields/field_images_gallery/product/g-drive-mini-gallery-top.png
    Reply to twire83
  2. Not a single drive is the simple answer;).

    A RAID 5 Array is the best. If you are just using 1 drive use the WD Black drives which are considered very good fast and reliable. They have a 5 year warranty, I would always go for storage with at least this warranty. The G-Drive enclosure indeed good but for me I want to know what drive they have in them. Could not find this on there website and they only give a 3 year warranty.

    Note If you have a array of 4 drives for RAID5 this seems as fast as a 2 drive RAID0 array.

    And yes, I know warranty does not guarantee they will not fail but if a manufacture gives a 5 year warranty that does count for something (as it would not be commercially viable to offer it if the drives did not almost always last that long).

    Ben

    PS personally I have had several Lacie external drives fail (and others I know have had problems with them) so I tend to avoid them. Seagate Baracudas also seem unreliable.
    Reply to funkytwig
  3. Anything but a refurbished WD drive! And I don't recommend WD externals that have the integrated SATA bridge, if that part of the pcb fails, you're in deep trouble. Seagates probably are not much better, but at least you can pop them out of the cases and connect direct to SATA, or even use as a laptop drive. :)
    Reply to TC Fulton
  4. well SSHD might be better option and if you can shell out more go for SSD.
    then buy Hard Drive Enclosure Support.
    Lacie and G-Drive are good too.
    Latest RAID system HDD is also an option and if you want professional one go for Synology I guess.

    But i think the best one would be extra internal/external HDD plus cloud storage!
    Reply to bantom007
  5. 1)
    If you trust cloud storage, it does seem like the best option. If done right, it's protected against failures of the vendor's systems by having multiple copies of the data, and you can get it anywhere. But the network is a slow way to do the initial full backup, so be sure that the setup does incremental updates after that.

    2)
    If you are paranoid like me and don't want to give all your information to someone else on general principle, cloud is not so good. Microsoft's service doesn't even encrypt your data at rest. So my favorite backup drive is: Any 3.5" hdd. I've got two hot-pluggable bays in my machine. I just grab an HDD out of my antistatic, shock-resistant drive case (I told you that I'm paranoid), slip it into the bay, and do my backups. I do restorable image backups of my system drive and file backups of the others.

    3)
    Always have more than one backup drive. When you do a full backup, choose the one with the oldest backup. If the system fails catastrophically while doing the backup, you were not in the process of overwriting your last backup!

    4)
    Ideally, you should make two copies and keep one somewhere else. A bank vault, the home of a family member, Iron Mountain.... But if, God forbid, something happened to your home so that your computer and your backup drives were totaled, the backups might not be the most important thing on your mind.

    -----------------------

    External drives with USB 3.0 or Thunderbolt or LightningBlast are great devices, but I would only use them for a mobile PC. When I build a home system, I leave room for a hot-plug bay. So much cheaper to have multiple backup drives that way. If there's no room, build in an eSATA port and use an external docking bay.

    @funkytwig - if you are running continuous backup, I would agree with you 100%. It's something I'd like to try some day.
    Reply to WyomingKnott
  6. WyomingKnott said:
    1)
    If you trust cloud storage, it does seem like the best option. If done right, it's protected against failures of the vendor's systems by having multiple copies of the data, and you can get it anywhere. But the network is a slow way to do the initial full backup, so be sure that the setup does incremental updates after that.

    2)
    If you are paranoid like me and don't want to give all your information to someone else on general principle, cloud is not so good. Microsoft's service doesn't even encrypt your data at rest. So my favorite backup drive is: Any 3.5" hdd. I've got two hot-pluggable bays in my machine. I just grab an HDD out of my antistatic, shock-resistant drive case (I told you that I'm paranoid), slip it into the bay, and do my backups. I do restorable image backups of my system drive and file backups of the others.

    3)
    Always have more than one backup drive. When you do a full backup, choose the one with the oldest backup. If the system fails catastrophically while doing the backup, you were not in the process of overwriting your last backup!

    4)
    Ideally, you should make two copies and keep one somewhere else. A bank vault, the home of a family member, Iron Mountain.... But if, God forbid, something happened to your home so that your computer and your backup drives were totaled, the backups might not be the most important thing on your mind.

    -----------------------

    External drives with USB 3.0 or Thunderbolt or LightningBlast are great devices, but I would only use them for a mobile PC. When I build a home system, I leave room for a hot-plug bay. So much cheaper to have multiple backup drives that way. If there's no room, build in an eSATA port and use an external docking bay.

    @funkytwig - if you are running continuous backup, I would agree with you 100%. It's something I'd like to try some day.

    Please explain what a Hot Plug Bay is and how to set one up.
    Reply to lorensr
  7. I personally use toys from Kingwin like those on this page: http://www.kingwin.com/satastorage/ . Lots of firms make things like these. Fit in a 5.25 inch drive bay, hold 3.5 inch drives. Has a latch to hold the 3.5 inch drive in place.

    The power and sata cables attach to the bay device. When you put a drive in it, the drive is connected to the power and sata.

    EDIT, @BG-52 below

    Please also post your hardware, controller settings, an operating system version. The ability to recognize a hot-plugged drive depends on all three of these things as well as the electrical connection of the drive bay itself. I have found that, even with my best setup, if I remove a drive and put another in the same bay, it's not recognized until I force a disk rescan.

    The bay is only one of the many ingredients.
    Reply to WyomingKnott
  8. Hi WyomingKnott,

    I have a similar system to the one you described only problem is when I pull out a drive to put in another, my system doesn't recognize the new drive. There have been times (all the time) when I change the drive I have to reboot my system in order for it to recognize the new drive. It did say on the packaging that this would make your drives hot swappable but it hasn't worked for me. I followed the installation direction exactly, was there a step I might have missed?
    My current system is an AMD Phenom II X4 840,a Gigabyte M68M-S2P (Socket M2) motherboard (both of which I'm planning on replacing and upgrading) and 4GB DDr2 memory (planning on going to 16GB DDR3).
    Reply to BG-52
  9. I keep my digital photos stored on 2 external drives and one inside the PC. I no longer care what the brand is as lomg as it is something well known. Now I have a collection of photos going back 11 years. The problem is that I have thousands of photos amounting to some 2 or 3 terabytes. When I first started I used to keep DVD backups but now file sizes are so big that I have just bought a 5 TB drive. I would like a system that is out of my house just in case of theft or fire. What do you think of cloud storage for a long time (years) in the region of 5 terabytes?
    Reply to Zeppi_
  10. Many people are opting for an external hard drive to upgrade their computer's storage capacity.
    Find Here the ideal extra storage for your PC,
    Seagate expansion
    Samsung M3
    Toshiba canvio basics
    Transcend 1TB military-grade shock resistance
    Reply to Ultracab
  11. Before choosing a back-up drive, remember three things, capacity, performance, and protection of drives. One another thing, when you purchase an external or internal back-up drive follow the rating of it.
    Reply to AndrewBell
  12. It'll not be long until we are carrying TBs of backup data on USB C memory sticks. with Hybrid Memory Cube (HMC) or 3D XPoint RAM.
    Reply to Neur0nauT
  13. For everyday backups I use the Seagate USB external hard drive drives. But I take lots of photos, and I recently found a great backup drive especially made to back up photos. It can collect your photos, store them with optional encryption and also allows you to share them. It has lots of ports and many features. It is called the Bevy Smart Photo System - Broken short link removed by moderator.
    Reply to Ned007
  14. Ned

    1) The link is broken, at least for me.
    2) We generally don't allow shortened links; they can hide all sorts of nefarious activity or just the fact that it's a paid affiliate link

    I've deleted the link. Please feel free to edit your post and add the full link to the actual page.
    Reply to WyomingKnott
  15. For home use

    Large: My Passport Ultra Metal Edition. Cooler running than most of the plastic only encased drives I use while easily maintaining 100MB/s+ W/R

    Small: Sandisk ultra Takes full advantage of intel RST for very quick burst speeds up to about 500MB~1GB or so.

    On the go

    Anything that is self encrypting/auto erase/shock/water/splash resistant/proof SSD. I personally don't use or need any but it makes sense that no moving parts + no water + data security should not be questioned. If ever do get one it's going to be for example "unappreciative spoiled kid proof" lol.
    http://i57.photobucket.com/albums/g238/866025/STORAGE.jpg
    Reply to The_Tester
  16. I used the Silicon Power 500 Gb harddrive since last 9 months and really happy.
    Reply to drues1986
  17. I doubt any one is the best; depends on what you want it to do. Just got a WD Passport that has a backup system with good documentation on how to use it (most important). This is a SCHEDULED backup system wherein you set the times for backing up and frequency. Best of all, you can choose the target files without backing up a whole computer, if you so desire, and I surely do.

    There is no point in backing up corrupt system files, so why bother to do that? Leave that out and just back up programs, data and the like. Suits my needs.

    Oh, yeah, and I dropped it twice on hard floor and it still works. What I don't like about it is its small size, where do you put it. The wire won't let it stay where you put it, gotta slap Velcro on it to keep anywhere you want to place it. Or get a long cable and throw it in a drawer? hahaha.
    Reply to Harvey Rabbett
  18. This has been a great thread. So I'd like to also ask how you do multiple copies, i.e. one local copy of the backup and one "remote" that you put somewhere outside of the house in case of fire/theft? I'm guessing that you can't backup the backup backup as often as you backup the local backup?
    Reply to vizwhiz
  19. vizwhiz said:
    This has been a great thread. So I'd like to also ask how you do multiple copies, i.e. one local copy of the backup and one "remote" that you put somewhere outside of the house in case of fire/theft? I'm guessing that you can't backup the backup backup as often as you backup the local backup?



    Not sure I understand your message? I would use 2 remote backups with USB3, Seagate, Western Digital, etc. Use one at a time.

    Or you could use a Tripp Lite U339-002 Drive Dock, or some other brand, which has space for two drives. You can clone one drive, into another...Marv
    Reply to Marvin_10
  20. For me i use only cheap WD external drives. But still working fine it's been 2 since i bought it.
    Reply to RoyTaylor
  21. Marvin_10 said:
    vizwhiz said:
    This has been a great thread. So I'd like to also ask how you do multiple copies, i.e. one local copy of the backup and one "remote" that you put somewhere outside of the house in case of fire/theft? I'm guessing that you can't backup the backup backup as often as you backup the local backup?



    Not sure I understand your message? I would use 2 remote backups with USB3, Seagate, Western Digital, etc. Use one at a time.

    Or you could use a Tripp Lite U339-002 Drive Dock, or some other brand, which has space for two drives. You can clone one drive, into another...Marv

    For me i use only cheap WD external drives. But still working fine it's been 2 since i bought it.



    I bought a Black WD 2TB hard drive last week, (comes with a 5yr warranty), and I have a WD 500 GB drive. I have a single Thermaltake BlacX external BU.One week I put in the 2TB hard drive, and another week, I put in the 500GB drive. I tried to put in a Rosewill RC-210 Esata controller in my win 7 Dell XPS8900 computer, but the driver only works with XP. So using USB 2 it's very slow. I see external BU that work with USB 3, just like my Thermaltake BlacX, but they all have problems! So I guess I'll use USB 2 with my Thermaltake, until I find one with no problems.
    Reply to Marvin_10
  22. thanks for the answers - what I was trying to accomplish is keeping one backup local, for frequent backups of important family pictures, videos, etc. The other is remote, just meaning i want to keep it somewhere else, like in my office desk, in case something happens in the house.
    I suppose i just need to buy two of the same thing, and each time I back up, i take it to work, and bring home the other to use for the next backup. that way i'm always only one backup off on any given day. Just seems like a pain. :(
    Reply to vizwhiz
  23. This is question which does not have one "Right" answer. In my case, I've lots of photos and documents.
    1. For Photos: 1 keep 4 copies, 1 in Computer Harddisk and the other 3 separate identical sized external Harddisk (1TB/2TB). External HDD are not connected to the computer. They are connected and mirrored whenever all the photos that I take are processed (till then 1 copy will be in the HDD and the other in the card of the camera). Note, I'm not a photographer so the backup is usually taken once in a month or after some vacation or event.

    2. For Documents: 2 in computer (separate HDD), 1 in external drive and 1 each in onedrive and google drive (total does not exceed 1GB). Harddisk/onedrive/gdrive are always synchronized, upload to external HDD is depending on the necessity.
    Reply to unniks
  24. I always recommend Cloud Storage. Otherwise, I have a Transcend 500GB disk with Military Grade Shock Protection and something they said about 'very less chances of losing data'
    Reply to Eclipse457
  25. It all Depends on you on how you want to backup you can go for Cloud storage and or physical Hard Drive , external hard drive . if could storage use dropbox and if physical hard drive gwt western digital Blue 1tb 7200rpm thats what i got
    Reply to isaac956
  26. Did anyone try the Seagate Backup Plus Slim? How is it?
    Reply to Anonymous
  27. RAID 5 Array is the best for use. You can increase capacity, speed, or data protection by buying an external RAID array
    Reply to facultyrowreview
  28. The Western Digital My Passport Ultra (2TB) is a reliable external hard drive with some premium features that make it more attractive than just buying a basic model. The color choices and optional Grip Packs allow you to customize the device to your personal aesthetic, and the 256-bit hardware encryption helps keep your files secure. The included three-year warranty is triple that offered with other basic models, and matches that of the Seagate Backup Plus Fast. The Seagate model remains our Editors' Choice for portable hard drives, because it's simply a better drive for getting projects done, since it's a faster performer and has double the capacity for only $0.06 per gigabyte.


    https://www.tape4backup.com/hard-drives.php
    Reply to jordandevin
  29. I have a 4 SSD raid 0 as my boot/OS/installed software (940GB total).
    I have a 1TB mech drive for my libraries/archives.
    But then, I have a 2TB drive just for backups, and my comp. does an incremental backup every other week.
    But I also have a USB3/SATA converter, and another 2TB drive. Every other month, I backup everything via USB and store the drive in a closet.
    For recovery, I have a USB stick with W10 installation, and my backup/restore software. I can restore everything from it using either my internal backup drive, or my USB.
    I have a spare SSD in my closet just waiting for an SSD failure.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817153112
    Reply to jdlech
  30. I currently have a WD my passport drive. I only make full system backups to it, and I do this weekly. I have had the drive for at least a year now and so far no problems. I am looking at getting one of Samsung's new external solid state drives, can anyone tell me if those are worth the price?
    Reply to Cole_9
  31. Top 10 best external desktop and portable hard disk drives

    1- Maxtor D3 Station

    If you want to buy an external hard disk drive but don't want to break the bank, check out the D3 from Maxtor, which is now owned by Seagate.

    Compatible with Mac and Windows devices, it is powered by a mains adaptor and offers a number of applications like AutoBackup, Secure Drive and SecretZone, all preloaded on the device.

    2- Seagate 5TB Expansion

    Like its sibling, the Seagate 5TB Expansion has 64MB of cache and demands an external power supply unit to get it going.

    3- Seagate STEB4000200 4TB Expansion

    It has a 4TB capacity, a 5900RPM rotational speed, 64MB of cache and, because it is a 3.5-inch model, will also need to be connected to the mains to work.

    4- WD My Book 8TB

    Note that the drive is cheaper than an equivalent 8TB internal hard drive which means that if you need a bunch of high capacity drives for your NAS, you might save yourself hundreds of pounds by buying those and taking the hard disk drive out.

    5- Seagate Innov8 8TB

    The Seagate 8TB Innov8 range is worth a mention. It is a normal-size 3.5-inch desktop hard disk drive but doesn't need an external power supply to run.

    6- WD My Book Duo 16TB

    This item can only be ordered on request but is worth the wait. It has two 3.5-inch 8TB WD Red HDD at its heart and although this is a NAS (network attached storage), it can still be used as a DAS.

    7- Maxtor M3 4TB hard disk drive

    Maxtor, a hard drive brand purchased by Seagate a few years ago, has quietly been revived and is our overall best buy when it comes to portable hard disk drive, models that can be powered using the USB port only.

    8- WD My Passport 2TB

    It can actually stream content to more than one device, acting like a small network attached storage. WD says that up to four HD videos can be streamed simultaneously thanks to the Wireless-N MIMO-enabled connectivity.

    There's a SD card slot to backup all your content (albeit slowly) and its battery is big enough to power it for up to six hours (after that, you can always use a portable battery to charge it).

    9- Seagate Wireless Plus 2TB

    A special mention for this drive. If you're partial to Seagate for whatever reason, their Wireless Plus drive matches the WD drive above when it comes to capacity and connectivity.

    It doesn't have a card reader and can connect only to three devices, but the Seagate Wireless Plus 2TB drive makes up for it by being much thinner and lighter. It also has a much longer battery life (up to 10 hours).

    As for the WD model, there's a 5400RPM hard disk drive at its heart. It has a two-year warranty and you can use it as a Wi-Fi hub to share a single internet connection with up to seven devices.

    10- iStorage diskAshur 2TB

    iStorage hard disks are the choice of governments and multinational organisations around the world, with good reason – they're designed to make life very difficult for anybody who tries to access unauthorised data.

    The PIN-protected drive can be set to self-destruct if tampered with, the data is encrypted (256-bit AES) and there are multiple forms of protection to ensure the bad guys don't get in no matter how persistent. When you consider all that extra security, the prices aren't too frightening, either.

    Sure, it is expensive (costing around four times the price of an equivalent 2TB drive) and unlikely to be the fastest around but you do get something that's essentially uncrackable. Bear in mind, though, that you won't get any help if you happen to lose the password.
    Reply to jacobwilliam1985
  32. For storage on my system I have 2 x Samsung SM950 Pro NVME M.2 in RAID 0 and for backup I decided to stick with Samsung and have the Samsung M3 Slimline 2 TB USB 3.0; I've never had a problem with the brand nor do I expect any with this HDD. However, I am toying with the idea of an external SSD and the Samsung T3 USB 3.1 1 TB looks a good bet.
    Reply to Mowgli2909
  33. WyomingKnott said:
    I personally use toys from Kingwin like those on this page: http://www.kingwin.com/satastorage/ . Lots of firms make things like these. Fit in a 5.25 inch drive bay, hold 3.5 inch drives. Has a latch to hold the 3.5 inch drive in place.

    The power and sata cables attach to the bay device. When you put a drive in it, the drive is connected to the power and sata.

    EDIT, @BG-52 below

    Please also post your hardware, controller settings, an operating system version. The ability to recognize a hot-plugged drive depends on all three of these things as well as the electrical connection of the drive bay itself. I have found that, even with my best setup, if I remove a drive and put another in the same bay, it's not recognized until I force a disk rescan.

    The bay is only one of the many ingredients.


    This "hot-plugged" system with drive enclosures sounds like a great idea, and I'm seriously considering building one myself instead of buying another WD My Book. I like the fact that I could then use my own choice of reliable drives, too.
    Reply to Sailor R Thomas
  34. jacobwilliam1985 said:
    Top 10 best external desktop and portable hard disk drives

    6- WD My Book Duo 16TB


    Any variant of My Book *Duo* has serious potential flaws involving WD's poor drive encryption scheme that could result in complete data loss.

    Read about it here: https://community.wd.com/t/prevent-data-loss-data-is-lost-forever-if-wd-drive-enclosure-fails-even-if-hard-drives-work-fine/67337
    Reply to Sailor R Thomas
  35. LaCie makes a very nice backup drive. They use either WD or Seagate drives. They do use a somewhat proprietary power supply, which is a bad thing.

    I always got mine second hand so I don't know where to buy them. I also like my iOmegas (which use Seagate drives). I also got them second hand. It just gives me peace of mind.
    Reply to Bluex
  36. A word about multiple drives: You can increase capacity, speed, or data protection by buying an external RAID array, but multiple drives add expense and (some) complexity. Once you connect a single-volume external RAID array to your PC or Mac, it will show up and act as any other external drive. After that, it can become more complex. You should consider a drive with support for RAID levels 1, 5, or 10 if you're storing really important data that you can't afford to lose. There are other RAID levels for speed and capacity, and both software and hardware RAID implementations.
    Reply to waltercarroll
  37. bantom007 said:
    well SSHD might be better option and if you can shell out more go for SSD.
    then buy Hard Drive Enclosure Support.
    Lacie and G-Drive are good too.
    Latest RAID system HDD is also an option and if you want professional one go for Synology I guess.

    But i think the best one would be extra internal/external HDD plus cloud storage!


    SSHD is useless in a backup drive. The SSD portion of the drive only accelerates Frequently Read Data and since you will mostly write to the drive and hopefully never have to read from it the extra monies are better spend elsewhere or on a larger or better rated drive.
    Reply to popatim
  38. I personally don't care what you use as long as you have a backup.
    Important data, IMO, needs multiple copies on more then one device and irreplaceable data (family pics & videos for example) hopefully will even have another copy stored offsite, like in a bank vault or you siblings basement, in case something terrible happens to your place (think bad fire).

    I personally backup my irreplaceables 5 times. My pc (dedicated drive), Server (that makes another backup), external hdd, and two copies to DVD (still a cheap way to go) which 1 copy goes into my basement and the other into my sisters. The DVD's are a full backup yearly followed by incremental updates as needed. (~$50/yr)
    Reply to popatim
  39. For those of you who think five times is excessive, what popatim does may be unusual, but it is not unreasonable. How many copies of backed up media you have depends on how much you want to keep that material around, and how much work you are willing to put into it. There were businesses in the World Trade Center that kept backups in a closet near their computer room. There were businesses with main and backup datacenters on the East Coast, that lost both during the most recent great power outage. I've pulled back tapes from offsite storage and found that they were not readable; another copy might have saved our bacon. "Me hat's off to the Duke;" you are doing a serious job of data preservation there.

    Myself, I am lazy, and my backups are in my basement. If, G*d forbid, my house were to burn down, backups would be way down on my list. Still, I'd want my photos, and not to have to pay for all my software over again, so if I were not lazy I'd drop off a copy at my father's house when I visit.

    I'll pick on popatim a little, though, since we're on the same team. You dropped an apostrophe. Put the other DVD copy into your sister's basement, not into your "sisters." That was once suggested for the nuclear "football" - that it be implanted in an aide, and the President would have to use an axe to access (hah!) it. To give him a visceral image that he was about to kill a lot of people.
    Reply to WyomingKnott
  40. Seagate or Wd passport are good back up drives cheers
    Reply to Gopi_9
  41. My favorite back up drive is the Seagate 4TB Backup Plus Portable (2.5" USB3.0). Granted, it's slow as molasses but does not require a external power supply, has tons of space and you can buy one for ~$100 when it's on sale. You could put dozens of them in a small box and easily carry it out of your house if you need to leave in a hurry and cheap to mail to a backup destination.
    Reply to Bookmarkmywords
  42. I don't trust image backups. I make them to recover my system.
    I just copy my c drive folders so I can see them without having to Rely on backup recovery working. That way I know I can get to what I really wanted to protect.
    Reply to travistee
  43. travistee said:
    I don't trust image backups. I make them to recover my system.
    I just copy my c drive folders so I can see them without having to Rely on backup recovery working. That way I know I can get to what I really wanted to protect.

    I would have thought your boot sector and partition information would be worth protecting.
    Reply to jdlech
  44. Like I said I make image backups to recover my system. I copy my folders so I can get them even if I have image restore problems
    Reply to travistee
  45. So if your system goes down, does your backup become your 'only copy' or do you have a backup of the backup (stored on another device of course)?
    Reply to popatim
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