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Old 07-17-2010, 03:51 PM   #1
newbiesforever
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How do you know it's safe to delete old backups?


I need to delete some old sets of backed-up files, because my backup HD is nearly full. I'm always neurotically afraid that one of the old backup sets contains some file that I have unknowingly lost (perhaps because I deleted it by mistake) and that by deleting that backup set, I will lose the file forever. The only way to be sure is to compare every file, one by one, to what's on my main HD. What do you do in this situation?
 
Old 07-17-2010, 03:59 PM   #2
XavierP
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You could run a diff on the files on the backup and main hard drives - that would certainly tell you where there are differences, even where you haven't backed up a particular file. If you are that worried, why not buy a new hard drive? They are fairly inexpensive now, even for 1TB drives.
 
Old 07-17-2010, 04:02 PM   #3
newbiesforever
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Diff? I hadn't thought of that. Thank you.
 
Old 07-17-2010, 04:03 PM   #4
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I buy another backup hard drive.

For reference, last fall I suffered a multi-step catastrophe involving an old hard drive that was failing and a new hard drive which failed right after I had scrolled off all the information from the old drive and wiped the old drive prior to disposal.

Turns out, after restoring from backups, that I was missing a couple of files. Now, these files were not important from a business standpoint, but meant a lot to me for some sentimental reasons. They were in a more or less archival location on the drive that failed - a location that I didn't routinely back up. I actually didn't realize they weren't being backed up.

I went searching through old backups hunting for them. Found them. On a 2003 backup CD.

The files, by the way, were of my daughters playing "radio station" when very young, using a mic and recording on the (then current) Windows 95 computer.

Those files are now in a different location and do get routinely backed up.

Last edited by jiml8; 07-17-2010 at 04:04 PM.
 
Old 07-17-2010, 04:05 PM   #5
newbiesforever
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Quote:
Originally Posted by XavierP View Post
If you are that worried, why not buy a new hard drive? They are fairly inexpensive now, even for 1TB drives.


Quote:
Originally Posted by jiml8 View Post
I buy another backup hard drive.

Thanks for the other information, but you fellows could both have supposed there might be a reason I don't run out and buy a new hard drive. I'm an unemployed (not by choice) graduate student, so I need to practice frugality. I suppose I could have said so.

Last edited by newbiesforever; 07-17-2010 at 04:08 PM.
 
Old 07-17-2010, 04:10 PM   #6
XavierP
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Fair enough, but if you are accessing the drive regularly it's worth having a disaster plan in case it fails. By the way, cost is (fairly) relative: http://www.ebuyer.com/product/173804 1TB hard drive for £48.49 or $74.22. It's down to how valuable the data is to you. What would be the cost if you lost it?
 
Old 07-18-2010, 06:39 AM   #7
onebuck
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Hi,

I would add to what others have said by saying you should learn to Grandfather the 'backup' if the data is important. If this happens to be your data for a working environment that will impede your progress then by all means learn to rotate the backup.

Off-site is a valuable and resourceful way to prevent things from being a catastrophe. Depending on the cycle your grandfather rotation can be used when necessary to revert. Father & son would be used on a daily, weekly or monthly basis then rotate out when the cycle or insurance would require the move. If your requirements support a weekly backup then of course more hardware would be required. For SOHO use, the rotation would not be as great but would be needed if you value your data. You could always Grandfather with someone else so that the backup is off site from you to insure valid and secure backup. It all boils down to how important you feel your data is. Safe Deposit boxes are not that expensive and are a great place to store.

Backups are a good habit to form if you value the data. Not everyone has access to a firesafe but there are means to insure the backup is safe. Friends can be a good responsible storage. You hold their grandfather while they hold yours. Better trust them though.

 
  


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