PC backups

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As the organization of my home life becomes ever more paperless I really need to sort out my strategy for backing up my PC on a thorough and regular basis... bit OT I know, but (a) I really value the opinions of like-minded people in this NG, and (b) the idea I want feedback on is sort-of diy related...
At the moment I back up onto CD-RW, using Windows XP's built-in backup software, which bizarrely doesn't let you save directly to CDs - an extraordinary PITA which means you have to create sequential files on the HD less than 650Mb, then copy them over manually. So I do this far less often than I should.
My idea was to set up my old unused PII machine in the back of my garage with a wireless network card, then do my regular back-ups to its hard disk. The principle being that if my house burns down or is burgled, the (detached) garage is unlikely to be similar affected (and vice versa if the garage is hit). Couldn't replace CDs altogether due to risk of losing all to a virus, I suppose. Does this sound like a reasonable/cost-effective solution (I currently have only a hard-wired network and router).
What do others use/do? Is there a better hardware/software combo that I should use instead?
To be honest, although I have several Gb of data I need to have backed up, there's only a few Mb per week which are changed or added, so really all I need to do is a regular cumulative [1] backup rather than backing up the whole damned lot at least every week - and for that purpose CD-RW is probably fine? Except that cumulative backups are not supported by Windows Backup AFAIK...
Your thoughts very much welcomed!
David
[1] if I understand the terms correctly, cumulative backups record all changes since the last full, archival backup, which is what I need; whereas incremental backups just save everything since the previous incremental backup (a bit tortuous and useless)
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David wrote:

Backing up onto another machine is really the only sensible option. Who needs to be faffing around with CD-Rs?
Write a short shell script to do the backup for you. You're on win, so you'll need to use xcopy. Use the task scheduler to run the script every night. For increased protection, put a raid array in your backup machine. That way you have redundancy for all the data backed up from all your other machines.
All of this is much simpler than it sounds. If you haven't done it before, google and ask questions, but anyone with basic skills can do it.
--
Grunff


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I use a second HDD which is permanently installed in the machine, but is only used for backups of important files. The operating system is on its own removable disks, so if the machine goes down, I can at least reload the main bits. But having the second back-up drive is ideal because the machine detects it and will use it like any other driver it has, so it makes back-ups directly without having to copy through software then on to removable media.
The regular back-up is scheduled for the early hours of the morning, and it works really well. The drive is only 20 Gb capacity, which, after nine years (yes it's been in three machines) is not even a third used and it also holds some of my needed software programs which you can't anymore. The other bits and pieces are all on floppy.
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Same with me. However, if the machine was stolen or devoured by fire...
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Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@argonet.co.uk London SW 12
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and another at a relative's house. As additional security I'd also consider a RAID array on the workstation.
Rgds
Andy R
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On 6 Oct 2003 06:14:02 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com (David) wrote:

A while ago I picked up a Sony AIT-1 tape drive - typically 150-200 quid on Ebay (often a lot cheaper in the US, even after postage) This will get about 50 or 70 gig on a single tape with the internal compression. New price of tapes is ludicrous but new and slighty-used ones crop up regularly on Ebay for well below a tenner each (either from the UK or US).
The ability to back up a whole disc on a single tape makes backing up a lot less hassle, and therefore much more likely to be donbe regularly. as you can just start it off and then leave it to it (e.g. overnight). No messing with tape changes or incremental backups.
I use Nova Backup from www.novastor.com, which is a nice simple 'just plain works' application without all the unneccessary rubish that's bundled with many other backup packages.
You also need to consider all the possible risks to your data - crashed discs are often the first thing that springs to mind, but other risks are often more likely - accidental deletion/overwriting, and theft/fire risk to equipment. A tape (or hard disk) regularly stored offsite protects against most eventualities.
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You'll get as many opinions as there are readers on this (probably), but the key thing about using tape and proper backup software are these:
1. The ability to take data off-site - if the house burns you have at least got your data.
3. The ability to restore everything (disaster recovery) simply and easily. Boot from the DR disks, restore off tape, reboot, done.
4. The ability to easily keep multiple versions of your data. This is crucial for recovering from viruses - roll back to the latest virus-free version as your recovery point.
5. Speed: tapes are up to 3x faster than typical disks.
6. Robustness: tape isn't perfect, but in the worst case, you've a better chance of getting data back off tape than from any other computer medium. Hard disks which fail mechanically are usually scrap metal (but head actuator magnets are cool!), and CD-R and CD-RW are notorious. Magneto-optical disk is probably the longest-lived format, but it's uncommon and very expensive.
7. Lowest cost/GB for the tapes over the alternatives (but the drives cost more).

I've used umpteen backup products from all the major vendors - Novastor is one of my personal favourites for just those reasons. It's a much tougher choice in a commercial environment though.
HTH...
Regards,
Simonm.
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[21 lines snipped]

Only if you mean CD/DVD. Tapes are orders of magnitude slower than hard disk drives.
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The uk.transport FAQ; http://www.huge.org.uk/transport/FAQ.html
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writes

Sorry, but they're not. *Old* tape drives may be slower than modern disks, but current tape drives are considerably faster than current disks, comparing sustained transfer rates for both.
Disk manufacturers use RAM buffering (cacheing) to boost perceived performance, but sustained transfers, such as backups and restores, really test disk data channels fully. In sustained transfers, caches have almost no effect on overall performance.
Regards,
Simonm.
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On Mon, 06 Oct 2003 18:36:13 GMT, SpamTrapSeeSig

That depends entirely upon the tape drive. Some drives could be 10x slower than disk.
SCSI tapes are likely to be faster than other methods, but just getting any old tape drive does not equate to "faster".
PoP
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I don't remember saying that it did. See my other post regarding disk v. tape performance.
Regards,
Simonm.
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SIMON MUIR, UK INDEPENDENCE PARTY, BRISTOL www.ukip.org
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On Mon, 6 Oct 2003 18:36:13 UTC, SpamTrapSeeSig

Even if they were (and they're not)....how do you get this extra speed. After all, you're copying from...er....a disk!
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Bob Eager
rde at tavi.co.uk
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Which you are only reading - not writing. It can be considerably faster to read than write a disk as there is no read-after-write type of checking to be done. There is also no need to go off and update the FAT/MFT or whatever.
I suggest that it is possible for a disk to be faster than a tape at reading but slower when writing.
Rod
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wrote:

Possible, perhaps...but not when doing a real backup. Tapes stream, disks don't - unless there is one large contiguous file on the disk. A real mix of files will have seek and rotational latency delays as differnt files are accessed.
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Bob Eager
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Streaming drives do. Not all tape drives are streamers.
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"The road to Paradise is through Intercourse."
The uk.transport FAQ; http://www.huge.org.uk/transport/FAQ.html
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There are plenty of nominally-faster disks around, but burst speed means nothing in the context of backup systems. Disks don't generally do RaW checking (there isn't time). In tape drives there's an adjacent head stack. Don't forget too that the fastest, linear, tape drives have multiple channels in use simultaneously. Disks have only one.
Regards,
Simonm.
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Please check data for current products.

Disk arrays usually. The bottleneck is almost invariably storage subsystem throughput. In big systems you have to limit libraries to a max of two tape drives per SCSI bus, otherwise the bus can't handle the throughput either.
Regards,
Simonm.
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SIMON MUIR, UK INDEPENDENCE PARTY, BRISTOL www.ukip.org
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SpamTrapSeeSig wrote:

One point to remember when talking about high performance tape drives is they are not priced for the home user!
For example an HP Ultrium 230e that can stream over at 30Mbps costs the best part of three and a half grand for the drive alone!
--
Cheers,

John.

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I use a 2-stage process. Step 1 is an automatic backup over the network to a dedicated hard disk in one of the other PCs. The second step is a once-per-week backup from the hard disk to DVD. With the falling price of DVD writers and the capacity of the media, I can't see the point in messing around with either multiple CDs or unreliable tape drives.
If you're backing up over the network, you might want to consider a wired connection rather than wireless. The realistic bandwidth with 802.11b is less than stunning and the new 802.11g, although having a quoted max bandwidth of 54mb, hasn't in my experience lived up to the hype. And while you may think that you don't need the bandwidth, just wait until the first time you're sat there grinding you teeth while a multi-megabyte file restores. Wired network would work out cheaper as well.
hth Clive
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I agree with the final post about the lack of speed on wireless, 100Mhz Ethernet is usefull. I upgraded mt stuff as I found myself regularly moving a few hundred Megabytes between a laptop and desktop and 10Mhz was slow.
Also watch out for damp and other environmental issues in a garage.
On Mon, 06 Oct 2003 14:03:56 GMT, "Clive Summerfield"

Lawrence
usenet at lklyne dt co dt uk
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