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Thread: Backup Strategy

  1. #1
    Star Lounger
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    My wife and I have three computers -- 2 portables we take when we travel and a desktop. Our "Travel" can last a year.

    I have extensive graphics files on my portable (P1) and a large music file. I also have a backup of our family photos on my P1. Total used space is about 150 GB but it is growing. Its disk is 225 GB total with just 73 GB free. P1 is a Vista system.

    My wife's portable (P2) has a sub-set of favorite family photos, a subset of my current working files (replaced when we travel together to bring it current), a subset of her favorite music files, and her unique personal files (under 1 GB). The total on P2 is about 50 GB. It is essentially a back-up of 'must-have' files. P2 has a small disk, just 111 GB with 36GB free. P2 is an XP system.

    The desktop (DT) is a bit creaky. Its disk size is just 180 GB with just 35 GB free, so it isn't practical to use it as a total back-up. DT is an XP system.

    The back-up storage available for monthly back-ups and a total back-up of the systems before we travel:
    1 TB USB
    300 GB USB Travels well
    75 GB Ext HD
    Various sticks of various sizes
    DVD and CD disks
    A functioning external ZIP drive


    What kind of back-up plan would you advise?

  2. #2
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    A backup strategy depends on several things such as:

    1.) How sensitive is the data you want to backup?
    2.) What is the initial volume to backup?
    3.) What will be the new size of the files/folders that will be created while you are mobile?
    4.) How quickly should the new data be backed up?
    5.) What is your budget?
    6.) Are you OK with online backup (i.e. a third party holding your data)?

    In general you should do an image backup of all systems that will travel with you. Then, you can use either USB drives to backup new data or backup to an online service. Remember that USB drives can be easily lost or stolen. Online backups may be safer but are dependent on a fairly good internet connection.

    You can check out SkyDrive - Windows Live which is 25GB of free storage. All you need is a Windows Live account. You can establish more accounts as needed. Just remember to access the accounts regularly while you are gone so they don't get deactiviated.

    Also, check out Online Backup, Data Backup & Remote Backup Solutions | Mozy and Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) for other online backup services that are not free but have very reasonable pricing schemes.

    A third option is Windows Home Server media server, backup and data recovery solution. Simple to setup. Not terribly expensive to get started. Can automatically backup up to 10 PCs. You can access it remotely to upload new data as needed.

    Joe
    Joe

  3. #3
    4 Star Lounger
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    My strategy is that a single HDD is not a good long-term media to keep your important data safe (I mean all those family photos, etc.).

    So for regular backups, I have an external 1TB drive that I use to create a complete image of my desktop and netbook computers. In addition, I have a 1.5TB drive (recently increased in size) that I use as an archive to keep all my photos, documents, videos, music, etc.

    So the probability of losing my desktop HDD, image HDD and archive HDD simultaneously is pretty remote. I also keep my Archive HDD in a safe location too.

    Travelling with laptops needs another strategy as it is often necessary to travel really light, so carrying around external drives is not a proposition. I normally partition my laptop HDD keeping a small partition for the OS and a larger partition for my data. After a fresh install of my OS, AV and important utilities that I must have (Updates, FoxIt PDF, IrfanView graphics, etc.), I delete all the installtion temporary files and make sure the partition is as clean and minimalist as possible, then I create bootable backup image onto DVD. This is usually only 2 DVDs. These go with me when I travel so that if the worse happens and I corrupt my HDD, I have an ultimate fallback solution. It's not perfect though.

    For my photography while I travel, I take plenty of 4GB SDHC cards with me (they are cheap these days). When the camera is full or I move location, I copy the contents of the card to my netbook (it has a slot for SD cards) and then lock the SDHC card which I do not reuse. I then have two copies of the photos just in case a disaster happens.

    Terry

  4. #4
    Star Lounger
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    Thanks to you both. The issue of the insecurity of a portable medium looms large. I think the idea of an on-line storage is something to investigate and I'll try the suggested sites.

  5. #5
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    Terry,

    ..where do i find the installation temporary files? \windows? \windows\system32?

    donc

  6. #6
    New Lounger
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    I also use the online docs for travel. I HAVE had 5 drives go in a week and being paraniod about critical data IS something you must have. This stuff is oftern overrated. Online backups are ok until the vendor folds their tend and you can't get your stuff back.

  7. #7
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    I too use a multi platform approach, image drives, external hard drive storage, flash drives, etc but I do also have the online storage which also takes care of having an off site storage. I use ADRIVE which gives a very generous 50Gig of free space(not a trial actually free) and is easy to use. You have the option to purchase extra space of course.
    http://www.adrive.com/Adrive
    registered Linux user:476595

  8. #8
    New Lounger
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    Terry Farrell's comment about photography backup is well taken, though it's not clear from JE Mason's original post how much photography is going on. There's an excellent product you might consider if you do a lot, the Sanho Hyperdrive Colorspace, a photography-specific portable hard drive with built-in card reader that has capacities of up to 250 GB (in newer models, 500 GB). It's about 1x3x5", and weighs about half a pound. I've used the Colorspace for about two years with very good results. It supports a variety of card types and has easy file transfer routines, as well as a 3.2" color LCD for reviewing files. It's a lot smaller than a laptop, so you can carry it in the field easily, and at that size it can also function as an easy-to-hide safety drive when you're at home, depending on how many pix of what size you want to store.

    It's also worth mentioning the LaCie "rugged" drives, which are small (about the same size as the Hyperdrive), armored (both rubber-padded and with internal anti-drop tech that supposedly can withstand a 35" drop when in non-operating mode), and bus-powered. I've had one for 18 months or so with good results. At Amazon the 500 GB one is selling for $138. If I were living out of a suitcase for extended periods I'd certainly have one along.

    ~Frank

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