The How-To Geek Forums Have Migrated to Discourse

How-To Geek Forums / Geek Stuff

Backup data to internal or external location?

(12 posts)
  • Started 8 years ago by ScottW
  • Latest reply from nerdygeek6
  • Topic Viewed 4095 times

Posts: 6609

In another thread, the discussion of where to store backup data came up. Using an internal disk drive was mentioned as was the idea that using an external drive or location would be safer. To continue:

mikisu wrote: the chances of two disks destructing at the same time are very small indeed.

Agreed. Use of an internal hard drive for backing up the primary drive is quite safe. If the primary drive fails ("destructs") due to wear and tear, poor manufacture, design flaws, or any other situation that is independent of outside forces, chances are extremely good that the backup drive will still be working. There is an interesting twist to this idea, though. When creating a RAID 1 (mirror) array, using identical drives is recommended. However, using two drives from the same lot, for example with sequential serial numbers, dramatically increases the (admittedly small) chance of a two drive failure. Especially since in a mirror, both drives will have the same power-on hours (POH).

Whats blunt force trauma-a hippo falling on it?

Maybe if you work in a zoo! Any sudden hard impact that can crash the heads of both drives is what I was getting at. If there is a word or phrase for that, I don't know it. Some folks keep a minitower on a desk and if it were to fall, that kind of physical shock might damage the drive heads, especially if they are not parked. A system could be accidentally kicked or hit by a swinging door or what have you. A laptop (we're imagining a 2-drive laptop here) could be dropped, and so on. These accidents do happen.

Its like insurance-if you are a belt and braces type, you no doubt will insure against a giraffe falling from the sky and injuring you.!

Yes, that illustrates an important point. There are plenty of scenarios that are possible, but most of them are improbable. We only want to deal with the possible that is probable or, better yet, known to happen.

Can't see any logic whatsoever to your strange statement that "The farther away the backup data is, the safer it is".

The key word is "safer", meaning more safe not perfectly safe. Moving the backup drive farther away from the primary reduces the chance of the possible, probable from happening to both drives. The physical damage was discussed above -- a shock to the case can potentially kill all internal drives, primary and backup. A lightning strike, even on a surge protected system, can burn out all the internal hard drives. A system with poor or no surge protection can be killed by power spikes, voltage spikes, and other irregularities. A beverage spill that gets in the case can cause a short-circuit and burn out all the internal hardware.

Moving the backup drive to an external case makes it safe*er*. Physical damage, power surges, and beverage spills can happen to the case holding the primary drive but the backup drive might be spared. Of course, the chances of the backup drive being spared is better if it is disconnected from the primary and the AC power. In a sense, this can be seen as "further away" -- so far that the signal and power cables won't reach -- and saf*er* still than the external that is always connected.

Its actually worse because the connections aren't as efficient as the internal ones,certainly with USB and in my case- had problems downloading and restoring with it. Therefore the dangers of a corrupted restore are greater.

Efficiency, or speed, are not important when the goal is to prevent data loss. What matters most is the reliability of the data. I don't understand the concept of data corruption being more likely on an external drive. Data transfers, whether internal or external, are parity checked and check-summed. No matter where it is written, the integrity of a backup archive should *always* be verified. Every backup system I have used has a verify feature. What problem did you have that makes you say this?

It still is going to be stolen (unless you take it with you ),burn in case of fire and if connected to the computer,be damaged if the other disks are going to be damaged.

Correct! These are cases where the backup (external) is still too close to the primary. But, disconnect the backup drive and store it in a closet, as whs says, and it will be safe*er*. Now it is, perhaps, less likely to be stolen since the primary PC, monitor, DVD player, etc. are all sitting out in the open and are easy to steal quickly without the thieves needing to search in closets. (Col, I'm thinking of you!) It's also possible that a fire could burn up the room where the PC is, but be put out before the room with the backup drive is burned up.

You are saying that the long accepted practice of a spare internal disk for backups is wrong.

I said no such thing, but please quote the relevant text if I did. I only said "be careful" and an external backup or off-site backup is "safer". An off-site backup means the entire house containing the primary drive can burn to the ground -- including whs's closet -- and the data will still be safe. It is, of course, up to the individual what steps they wish to take and I just want people to have all the information so they can make informed decisions.

Despite all that I have said on this topic, though it may sound preachy or pedantic, I don't have an off-site backup and I often forget to disconnect my backup drive. I know that my data could be safer, but these are the decisions that I have made.

Posted 8 years ago
Posts: 337

Scott-Still dont agree with your conclusions.

I could go through them sentence by sentence and nit pick but whats the point.

Regrettably I feel a lot your conclusions are pedantic and in the real world unlikely to occur

Your previous conclusion that "An offsite backup, in a different building or stored online, is better yet. ", leads me to think you havent had much need to restore,luckily

Most catastrophic requirements for a restore indicate that the system wont even boot-so how do you then retrieve the backup if you cant even get onto the net ?

In any case whats to prevent the off site building from burning down-we could carry on to a silly extent!!

Posted 8 years ago
Posts: 20002

Offsite backup sites, also keep backups, usually in another state, (or maybe even country). It is in their interests to do so.

Posted 8 years ago
Posts: 6581

LOL - so I'm rather safe;) (Apart from the fact that I don't really trust the external HDD :( )

I have an internal second HDD with data, a copy on my external HDD which is connected to my PC ánd backups on dvd that I store at my mom's home (other side of the country). Wanted to replace the latter with another copy to a second external drive I have, but that didn't work out.

Told you, I'm a safety freak ;)

Edit: Mikisu - in case all of Holland got flooded or the likes not even the data stored in another house would be safe, but hey, it's increasing the percentage of chance things will be safe somewhere.
An online datastorage might run into trouble. But the chánce that that happens at the same time as the data on the HDD get's compromised is slimmer then when you have data and backup in the same house.
So if online data get's lost, you can replace the copy online from the original on the HDD and be rather safe again.

Posted 8 years ago
Posts: 29

Since catastrophic failures in computers DO happen, the only really safe data backup is the one that's NOT on your system.
And, the only bad backup is the one that you decided NOT to make. (shuddering violently)

For the quickie backup, it's hard to beat the backup to a second hard drive in the same system.
For more security, a backup to an external HD, that's only connected to your system during the backup process is very good.

But think about this...........your hard drive squalls, balls and smokes and you're forced to remove it and replace it with a new drive.
You have backup data on some other media, but how do you restore Windows and all your programs, setups, etc.

The very best system backup is either a Cloned HD or a bootable DVD with a complete IMAGE of your C: drive.
Some how, you must have your backup/restore program on a bootable Media, so you can boot up a system with NO OS on it and do your restore.

Now, with all these parameters in mind, I make a quickie Ghost backup from C: to D: at least once a week
and then about every ten days to two weeks I burn backup DVD's of my C: drive, to DVD's which I carry about
twenty miles away and store in a friends fireproof vault (in his office).

I have Ghost (the version I use for all my backups) on CD's, DVD's and Flash Drives, so I can always run it
independent of the OS on the HD.

Norton's Ghost 2003 still backs up Windows XP and all previous versions, while Norton's Ghost 11.5 is the minimum
required to back up Vista and Win-7.

Acronis True Image also works for Vista and comes free with Seagate's "Sea Tools" or Maxtor's "Maxblast".
I have used both and they work just fine for Vista or Win-7.

Cheers Mates!
Shadow :)

Posted 8 years ago
Posts: 17584

This is a good discussion and it is encouraging to see that more and more people understand the importance of data and system backups. However, in my daily encounters with non-geeky users (and some of them have PCs since many years) I still find that the majority have never given backups a thought. I always have a hard time convincing them to invest $60 to buy an external disk for the purpose and practically always have to set the procedures up for them. That gets me to the conclusion that we still have to do a lot of convincing regarding the basics and that the fine points of this geeky discussion are far above the head of the majority of users. Thus, there is probably value in "keeping it simple".

Posted 8 years ago
Posts: 6609

@mikisu, you are free to disagree, but if you don't provide any reasons why you won't convince other people. Statistically speaking, even a single drive failure is unlikely to occur to any one person. But when that person is you, your data is just as gone. I had an IBM Deskstar 75GXP fail catastrophically and had no data backed up. I paid an exorbitant sum for professional data recovery services. So after being burned myself, I understand the value of being slightly paranoid about backups.

If your system won't boot, how do you access the secondary internal drive with your data on it? You take that drive out and put it in another system! It's the same with an off-site or online backup -- you use another system to access your precious data which has been spared from the catastrophe. It's the *data* that is important, not the original system. The system can be replaced, the data cannot.

@Sarah, I just replied in your blu-ray thread about the convenience of optical media for off-site backups. Mom's house is "off-site"(!) and your data is safer being stored there. I thought about mentioning a flood, but wasn't sure if it was a sensitive subject for Nederlanders. I guess it's not.

@TheShadow, "the only bad backup is the one that you decided NOT to make." Well put! I always say you should only backup the data that you can't afford to lose.

@whs, this is the "Geek Stuff" forum, so I can wax poetic here. However, I completely agree that the casual or novice user needs a simple and convenient backup system. The Volume Shadow Service in Windows is a good example of that, since it runs by default and silently backs up files. Unfortunately, it doesn't save all of a user's data, but the idea of it being installed in the OS and on by default (just like the firewall) is the only way I see that the great masses of casual users will have backups.

Posted 8 years ago
Posts: 6581

LOL ScottW - a flood is at least not sensitive to me ;)

Posted 8 years ago
Posts: 337


Not only do I disagree with you, in this thread and in the original,but I think you are plain wrong in many of your unreal conclusions.

As I have already discussed the points with you in the original and in this thread,to once again go over all of them is just plain silly and a waste of time.

I will never convince you and you will never convince me!!

You still haven"t given a sensible answer to the simple question of how you restore an image backup when your computer is down and the backup is offsite .

In the original thread you said " An external drive is better than an internal, but could still burn up in the same fire. An offsite backup, in a different building or stored online, is better yet. "

Your preferred strategy!

In defense you now say:

'If your system won't boot, how do you access the secondary internal drive with your data on it? You take that drive out and put it in another system"

Wow, you are getting desperate to change the subject.

We are not discussing data backups,which can simply be made onto a DVD, in the original or in this thread,which is an offshoot of the original.

If you want to discuss data backups,please start a new thread.

The discussion is about image backups,which contain every item from the original,including the data, software ,OS,drivers etc etc .

Your answer how to access offsite backups when your computer is down:

"It's the same with an off-site or online backup -- you use another system to access your precious data which has been spared from the catastrophe. It's the *data* that is important, not the original system. The system can be replaced, the data cannot"

You are assuming or saying that people would or should have access to another system to access the offsite backup-how utterly ridiculous.
In all cases-wouldnt it be a lot more efficient to save the backup on site?

For anyone who has a lot of software,settings,updates,freebies which wont work as reinstalls-a reinstall can take a lot if time and be almost traumatic and its ridiculous to say the system isnt important.

Thats another topic also,but you seem to be saying therefore ,image backups are of secondary importance-try telling that to millions of people ,for whom instant access to backup images is of paramount importance in case of failures,corruption,virus,data retrieval etcetc .

There are even people who set their system to carry our incremental image backups every minute silently in the background,that's how important it can be.

You keep stating your opinion as if it were fact-please dont be so dogmatic,as you could easily give some people, the type that WHS is talking about,the wrong information.

Posted 8 years ago
Posts: 6609

mikisu, I'm not trying to convince you. I think that it's quite clear to anyone reading along that what I have said is my opinion. I also like to hear dissenting opinions, because I keep an open mind and am happy to learn new ideas. This kind of vigorous, but civil, debate allows the folks reading along to hear both sides of an issue, weigh the merits of the reasoning, and decide for themselves what to believe. It can also be the jumping off point for more research.

you wrote: You still haven"t given a sensible answer to the simple question of how you restore an image backup when your computer is down and the backup is offsite .

TheShadow gave an excellent description of this above, by saying "you must have your backup/restore program on a bootable Media". So if the system won't boot from the hard drive, but will still boot from an optical drive for example, you can run the restore program from a stand-alone recovery environment. Most, if not all, of the imaging programs discussed in the previous thread provide such recovery media or instructions on how to create it. Some programs can create media that is both bootable and contain the backup image.

I gave the example of using another system to retrieve data in the case where the primary system won't boot at all, even from an optical drive. You asked about recovery in situations where the system is "down" or "wont even boot", which could mean that it won't boot from the hard drive or could mean that it won't power on to the point of trying to boot an OS, such as with a failure that stops in the BIOS.

We are not discussing data backups,which can simply be made onto a DVD...

This seems like splitting hairs, but I will try out your definitions. If I understand correctly, you are saying a "data backup" is only user data, no OS or drivers and such. An "image backup" contains all of the user's data *and* the OS, drivers and such. So, an image backup is a superset, and can be used to restore the user's data in case of a catastrophic failure or loss of the original system. This is why I think that it's not off-topic to discuss recovery of just the data from an image backup.

In all cases-wouldnt it be a lot more efficient to save the backup on site?

Yes! This brings up an interesting point. Storing data externally or off-site is less convenient (and less efficient) than an on-site, internal drive backup. There is a trade-off between the safety of the data and the convenience of accessing it. If the only backup is at Mom's house, you have to drive there, bring it back, and maybe install the device. If it's in a safety deposit box, you can only access it when the bank is open! Not very convenient. If the data is kept online, you need access to the Internet which can be provided through a recovery disc, by the way.

Let me ask you a simple question. Do you believe that a backup image that is stored externally or farther away from the primary storage disk is not the least bit safer?

Posted 8 years ago
Posts: 337


As I keep on saying unfortunately,we will obviously never agree on this issue and seem to be going around in ever diminishing circles.

I will never learn anything from your viewpoints and vice versa.

Its getting to the semantic,annoying,boring, hair splitting stage.

You keep on changing the goal posts.

Therefore it would seem rather pointless to continue .

Posted 8 years ago
Posts: 26

i totally agree with mikisu :D

Posted 8 years ago

Topic Closed

This topic has been closed to new replies.