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  1. #1
    iNET Interactive
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    Sorting out the revolution in PC backups: Part 2




    TOP STORY

    Sorting out the revolution in PC backups: Part 2


    By Fred Langa

    In Part 1 of this two-part series, I gave an overview of the five major types of backup technologies available today for Windows PCs. This week, Part 2 shows the enormous speed differences in backup methods; it also includes some real-life scenarios to help you pick the best method for your needs.

    The full text of this column is posted at windowssecrets.com/top-story/sorting-out-the-revolution-in-pc-backups-part-2 (paid content, opens in a new window/tab).

    Columnists typically cannot reply to comments here, but do incorporate the best tips into future columns.

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  3. #2
    Star Lounger
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    In the first article, Fred suggested OneDrive as a backup option for a PC. Unfortunately I cannot see any way to make this work from the desktop. My data (apart from pictures and music) are in my 20GB Data (D:\) partition. I created a new OneDrive partition (S:\) which I synced to my OneDrive folder in the cloud. Twice per week, I sync D:\ to S:\ (mirror) using FreeFileSync.

    What I need is for OneDrive to mirror changes in S:\, but not to redownload files to my PC that are no longer in S:\ (ie, that I have deleted or moved in D:\). I have had some discussion of this on another tech site (http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/w...3-b3fd5f1fa459) but consensus there is that OneDrive from the desktop is not capable of a one-way sync and thus cannot be used as a backup option. One respondent indicated that the OneDrive app from Metro is capable of one way syncs, but because I only work in the desktop, this is not much use.

  4. #3
    New Lounger
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    In the 2nd part you compared the speed of backup. I want to mention something I did not notice in your article.

    I have used different backup sytems and program over the years and I have used different destinations. As the disk size has increased and so the backups are bigger, I have started to use NAS drive, and in a multidrive unit I have used RAID 5. The problem there is that it is not so fast if you store there thousands of small files. It is a problem as some backup programs compress each file and store them individually. I use Genie Timeline for day to day backup as it is nice to add automatic versioning, but it is really slow with NAS with RAID 5. So I am using external single drive connected with eSATA for that.

    The NAS drive is very good to store "normal" backups, which are usually one or more big files. Also there I have noticed big differences in speed betweeen programs. I usually schedule the backup to run once a week and it runs when I am not working with my computer.

  5. #4
    New Lounger
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    Differential / incremental backups can greatly increase speed.

    Noted that the assessment of cloud storage backup speed must consider the upload data rate available on the particular internet connection/contract/technology/server load applicable, - the usual issues. For me on ADSL, it would not be something I would consider as a main backup option.

  6. #5
    2 Star Lounger
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    I fundamentally disagree with Fred's assessments. Here's why

    First, is speed really the most important factor? I think not. Convenience and reliability are most important. The world's fastest backup is no use if you don't actually do it, or if you can't retrieve the file you just lost.

    Second, there are many reasons to back up your system, one is to recover from a disaster such as fire, flood (in the UK!) or theft. Another is to recover from a less serious issue such as hard drive failure. Another is to recover the file you modify constantly that you know had the data you need last Wednesday but somehow no longer has it. Those are the ones I use most. Backup speed isn't the time to backup a full drive, it is the time to perform a routine backup or restore.

    In Windows 7 and 8 the "previous versions" feature helps with the last of those, but uses space on your primary drive or requires you to use Windows' backup tool.

    Until the advent of cloud backup I used to back up commercial servers (up to1Tb data) to removeable tape cartridges on a cycle of incremental every night and full every weekend, with a complicated tape re-use sequence (Towers of Hanoi) that maximised the time a file version was available on a backup. Tapes were stored both off-site and on site in a fire safe. Not something a home user could maintain. Smaller servers and individual PCs were backup up to USB hard drives which were swapped out periodically. At home, my laptop was lucky to get a proper backup once a week and my wife's laptop once a month if I remembered. Those backups took hours, and tended to make the system pretty unusable while running. Not good.

    For the past year I've been backing up data on my own and my wife's laptop using Livedrive cloud backup. Once in a while I also run a Windows image backup to USB to preserve the system and software. Based on the success of that strategy I've moved one of my clients' servers to Livedrive as well (there is also a simple local USB backup). Between the two laptops there is around 150Gb backed up and the server has around 300Gb.

    Fred's estimates for upload times are wildly optimistic for a UK cable or ADSL user. Livedrive offer a 2 week free trial. I barely uploaded my laptop in those 2 weeks - that is around 240 hours for 100Gb. However, the software allows prioritisation of certain file type groups so I had a usable backup of most of my work in a day or so. My theoretical upload speed was a little shy of 1Mb (on a 20Mb connection) or 100Kbytes/sec but clearly I wasn't achieving that constantly. For the commercial server I started over a holiday period, but as the ADSL line also had to carry their VOIP phone traffic, email, and 15 people using the internet I later throttled the upload to 40% of the theoretical capacity (50Kbytes/sec). The initial upload took almost 3 weeks, the last week pushed up some 0.5Gb video files.

    But Fred suggests that restoring a backup would be as slow. It isn't. the A in ADSL means Asymmetric. When I bought my wife a new laptop recently her full backup downloaded overnight. Initially I aimed to use the Windows transfer tool but that was predicting over 20 hours and I thought it time to test the backup!

    While using USB backup I was constantly bedevilled by full disk errors. Running incremental backups to a USB drive using Windows backup seems to multiply the space requirement out of all proportion. Filling a 1Tb drive backing up a laptop with 300Gb of data + programs doesn't take long, and once it is full it is useless - I'm not even sure you could do a restore. So another disk, another full backup...

    Livedrive on the other hand is a breeze. Once the initial upload is over it scans for changed files every hour and uploads the changes in minutes. No user intervention is required, it backs up in the library, in Starbucks, on the train. Some of my regularly updated files have 30 or more versions stored and I have on several occasions retrieved old copies to check on past changes or recover accidental deletions (you can restore to the original location or to a new file and deleted files are kept for 30 days) With a 2Tb storage limit I don't need to worry about running out of space.

    So in summary, online backup wins massively because it is fast (enough), completely unattended, very regular, very reliable, has no storage limits and has saved my sanity. It also works as cloud storage - I can access my files from any PC, anywhere.

    And no, I don't work for Livedrive, other online backup services are available and may well be better. And OneDrive, GoogleDrive, Dropbox etc are NOT online backup.

    Ian.

  7. #6
    New Lounger
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    Hi Fred,
    I see from your Table you did not include eSata External Storage. As a point of interest, on my Windows XP System, my 300MB of imaged data using Macrium Reflect is completed in 2 hours 7 minutes. Considerably less than 100Mbs Ethernet timing.
    Stuart.

  8. #7
    Lounger
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    Fred needs to get a different internal drive, configure the system properly or do better extrapolation.

    I can backup 300GB of data in considerably less time than 9 hours copying from one internal drive to another internal drive. The files I backed up where ISO images of software, not easily compressible which really doesn't matter as a straight copy to another disk drive does not compress. Even a USB 3.0 drive is considerably less than 9 hours. Since his disk to disk copy times are not much less than 100Mbs ethernet something is seriously wrong with his calculations.

    I would also submit that 100Mbs ethernet is the exception rather than the rule as all current devices support 1Gbs.

  9. #8
    New Lounger
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    Here's an approach that gives me two instant copies outside of my main computer and a cloud-based off-site backup. All for $40/year with unlimited backup space. It's a combination of two solutions:

    1. The first solution is simple - I use an external eSATA drive along with Memeo Backup Premium, which lets me choose source and destination folders. Memeo Backup automatically detects changes to files in the source folder and copies it to the destination folder. So I get a real-time external backup to a separate physical drive.

    2. I also use PogoPlug. This is a cool little external device that you plug into your network, then plug a USB drive into it. Install their little software client and the USB drive shows up as a drive on your main computer. Any or all of your local computers can use this drive. You then sign up for PogoPlug's UNLIMITED backup service, which is currently $40/year. Configure the PogoPlug backup service to backup your USB drive to the PogoPlug cloud. It first does a full backup of your USB drive, then constantly watches it and copies any changes to the cloud. Finally, create a new plan in Memeo to automatically backup your pictures, music, and video to the PogoPlug USB drive. The PogoPlug software then copies the files to the cloud automatically.

    A few notes...

    1. since the eSATA drive is local and a very fast connection, files get copied to it very quickly.

    2. the USB drive is network-connected, so files get copied to it slower, but the software does not slow down your computer at all, and no user intervention is required.

    3. the PogoPlug copy-to-cloud is extremely slow. It took a couple weeks to copy my 1T of pictures, music, and videos. But does it matter? My main computer was shut on and off during this time, only the tiny PogoPlug box was on. And in the mean time, I have TWO external copies of my data.

    4. the PogoPlug web site lets you view and share your pictures and music with anyone. It even has a decent but not too fancy viewer/player built in.

    Overall, minimal cost, three complete data copies, one off-site, together with easy sharing and remote access.

    If anyone has a better system, I'd sure like to see it...

  10. #9
    New Lounger
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    What apps would you recommend for backing up to Google Drive?

  11. #10
    New Lounger
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    Hi Fred,
    One other communication option not mentioned is eSATA. Many notebooks support this option vai a combined USB/eSATA port, and it only costs about $10 to add it to most desktop systems - it is just a connection to a spare SATA port on the motherboard to a back plate. eSATA (external SATA) requires no additional electronics, just a different cable. As such, transfer speeds should be equivalent to your second internal drive option.

    Odds are good that an eSATA backup option will cost a lot less than a USB 3.0 option for backup.
    Jim Johnson
    Michigan's Lake Superior region
    How much snow do we have now?
    Visit Agate Reef

  12. #11
    New Lounger
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    Good info so far, but a backup is no good unless you can restore from it. Do you have any data on restore capabilities? Or is that coming next week? Thanks.

  13. #12
    New Lounger
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    Hello, I have been using a slightly different method for backups, but it seems to work well.

    When I get a new system, I purchase a second hard drive of the same size and type, which I then initialize as a bootable drive.

    I use and external drive adapter and a CD startup disk. I then simply do a disk copy from the active drive to my backup drive. This way I always have a usable drive in case of a problem. I usually do this about every week or two, depending on how much new work I have done.

    No special software to purchase, and the adapter and spare drive costs about $100 on my last system.

    Alex

  14. #13
    New Lounger
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    Isn't there a danger when using cloud backup or a permanently connected external hard drive, that if your computer is affected by ransomware, the backups too will be encrypted? I think an external hard drive that is disconnected after a backup is the safest option.

  15. #14
    New Lounger
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    I happened to have the opportunity to "backup" a drive this weekend. I run a karaoke show, and had all my music on an external WD 2Tb Passport. I maintain a spare backup drive which had recently failed. The last time I cloned the drive with less than 700G of mp3 and zipped files each consisting of a pair of .cdg and .mp3 files (total about half and half of mp3 and zip) it took a day and a half from one passport to the other using USB 2.0. This time, with about 1.04 T of files, it completed over USB 3.0 in only 5 and a half hours - a major improvement! so I'm not sure why your test of 300G over USB 3.0 took as long as 10.3 hours. My two drives were connected to the same USB 3.0 card, since my motherboard doesn't have native USB 3.0; don't know if that made a difference.

  16. #15
    New Lounger
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    I have to support the NAS solution mentioned early in the thread. For years I used on-line backup, first Dell's version which disappeared, AVG Live Kive which created a huge MGb file in my AppData folder, which they could never explain, then CrashPlan, which claimed that you could backup both locally and online with the backups synced. The only problems were, when I used my NAS drive for local I had to create a special connection to it using a command batch file with mklink. Of course, when my hard drive crashed I couldn't get the connection back again. To add insult to injury, the onlinerestore process skipped files that their algorithm judged as inactive and I had to go to my online file structure and reactivate all the files.

    My current backup consists of data backup and imaging using Acronis True Image 2014 on the NAS drive with incremental backups. I do a twice a month image using Windows disc imaging on an external USB drive. Since we live in an apartment building, fire and flooding are less a risk, files on the NAS are encrypted and I have enough security software and settings to make me feel OK.

    What hasn't been mentioned in these articles is how your backup choice affects your restore choice and when you make an image drive in Windows you are asked if you want to create a system disk and you have to say yes, otherwise you are out luck. You only have to do this once. Similarly if you use a third party backup software you need to know how to restore the disc/data and keep a hard copy of the users manual.

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