Hard drive backup suggestions?
January 8, 2004 11:29 AM   Subscribe

I have a WinXp machine with three hard drives, each one holding 100GB. I'm researching backup alternatives, and there are tons these days (tape drives, external firewire drives, jazz drives, etc.). I'd like to find a solution that strikes a nice balance between ease of use, cost and durability. Any suggestions?
posted by grumblebee to Computers & Internet (8 answers total)
For that much data, the cheapest and easiest way would be the external Firewire hard drive option. Hook it up, back up the data, unhook it, and put the drive in a closet or something.

Even with DLT, you're looking at one tape per drive per backup, and tapes run at least $40/each. That's not counting the high up-front cost of the tape drive itself. You can get more on a tape with recent SDLT or LTO tape technology, but again, that's a high up-front cost plus the cost of media.

Does the data on these drives *change* a lot? If not, just back it up (if possible) to DVD-R/+R, then just backup the delta (incremental) changes.
posted by mrbill at 11:48 AM on January 8, 2004

Wow, that's a lot of stuff to back up. I assume this is a personal machine, and that therefore you're on a personal budget? I'm also guessing that what you really need is archiving (backing up old files, which you can then move off your system) rather than more sophisticated, incremental backups (regularly backing up "snapshots" of your system or files you regularly need immediate access to).

If that's the case, have you considered DVD-R?
posted by mkultra at 11:50 AM on January 8, 2004

If you've got several computers try a remote backup. A 160GB HDD only costs $285(NZ) and there's easy open source software like Unison to keep things in sync.
posted by holloway at 11:53 AM on January 8, 2004

There's also always Mirra, but they only go to 120G.
posted by mrbill at 12:04 PM on January 8, 2004

(pressed submit too soon)

A good thing about remote backups is that you've got a full filesystem available and your data isn't seperated across removable media like tape/cd/dvd. Also, if you've got the bandwidth, you can move to backing up the data across the internet. There are some networks (like CityLink, the one here in Wellington) that don't charge for regional traffic so you can cheaply backup 100s of gigs to a place across town. I guess it depends also about what scenarios you're trying to protect against. If it's just user error that this might be overkill but if you need backup against something fire/flood/burglary/earthquake then having the data across town can help.

A local ISP might rent you a space on their network if you provide the HDD.
posted by holloway at 12:07 PM on January 8, 2004

What about a simple RAID system? Otherwise, external hard drives are excellent, with some CD/DVD redundancy of critical data.
posted by rushmc at 12:19 PM on January 8, 2004

Response by poster: Thanks for all of the advice. It is a person system. I know I have a lot of crap. It's due to the work I do. I freelance & teach design -- but not just web design. I do print, video, multimedia, etc. So I have tons of word documents, images, video files, sounds, etc. And I can't really ever throw anything away, because I sometimes need to access files from 5 years ago. I just mounts up and up.

I also have a HUGE number of applications that I've downloaded over the years -- stuff made by small companies that only sell over the web. Screen capture utilities and the like. These also need to be backed up.

What I don't want is any solution that involves backing up on tons of DVDs or CDs. I want a small amount of hassle.

I would probably only backup about once a month. Important current work files I back up on CDs or DVDs.
posted by grumblebee at 2:53 PM on January 8, 2004

The cheapest and most scalable solution is just mirror it all on hard drives. Have a dedicated PC with tons of disk space (like 2 of those 160GB drives) and FTP scripts to copy stuff over every week or so. That is what I do (although much smaller scale.. you'll need at least a 100Mb LAN). It is very simple, very safe. It is easier and safer than RAID which can fail when file system corruption propagates (seen it happen). DVD/Tape is unthinkable with that much data.
posted by stbalbach at 12:13 AM on January 9, 2004

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