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newbiesforever 03-23-2010 07:10 PM

which backup medium do you prefer?
What do you prefer using for your backup medium and/or method? I'm thinking about the issue because I've simply used a spare hard drive but am considering getting a flash drive for an extra backup. Specifically, if anyone breaks into my home and steals my computer, I will lose both hard drives. I would keep the flash drive somewhere else that the burglar hopefully won't go through, saving the most important data. Losing the data would be far, far more upsetting than losing the hardware. Anyway, do you use hard drives for backup, or do you prefer something else? Flash drives? I wouldn't guess that CDs are very popular for backups, because they hold only 700 MB. DVDs, perhaps?

blacky_5251 03-23-2010 07:32 PM

I use tar to create backup archives on an external USB disk drive. The device is portable, so you can isolate it from the hardware and reduce the theft risk as you require, and you get much more capacity for your money than with flash drives.

tommyttt 03-25-2010 12:38 AM

I use a custom bash script from a bootable CD as I do both backups and disk images for linux and windows. The media are an external (USB) hard disk ans several 16GB flash drives.

jiml8 03-25-2010 12:50 AM

My workstation has 5 internal and two external hard drives. I backup / using rsync every night. I also backup /home the same way. These backups are across hard drives in the same system and happen automatically.

I backup my various projects in various ways, which varies with the project. Most of them wind up on my iPod, which has a 120 Gig HD and goes with me most places.

Windows projects get backed up daily by copying from the Windows partition to my home directory, then they get swept up in the rsync backup. They also find their way onto my iPod at frequent intervals. Since I make extensive use of virtual machines, I backup the entire VM to external hard drives and to DVD drives at intervals that reflect how quickly the VM changes. Usually a mature VM doesn't change much except for specific projects and work, so these backup happen at rare intervals, though the project work is backed up frequently. I just deployed Windows 7 in a VM, and I presently am changing it rapidly so I have an archived "original" backup of the fully clean system (which I will re-deploy later as a non-persistent test platform), and I am backing up the working VM daily to make sure I keep all the changes. So far, I have not carried a backup of this VM offsite; I'll do that when it is mature and I'm satisfied with it.

One major project gets backed up to a server in Tempe. Another project of mine gets backed up to a server of mine in Ohio. I do archival backups to the external hard drives periodically. I have another USB drive that I keep in the car; it comes inside when I do an archival backup and gets plugged in, then the archive is stored on that drive, which then goes back in the car.

Basically, I follow the rule that "any data that you don't have at least 3 copies of is data you are willing to lose." I have typically 4-6 current (or almost current) copies of everything important, and the most important stuff has current copies that are offsite. Much of the backing up is automatic, and much is manual. I'm paranoid about data loss, so I back up all over the place.

H_TeXMeX_H 03-25-2010 07:32 AM

Flash drive is worst idea possible, there's no way to recover from it.

I use DVD + dvdisaster.

catkin 03-25-2010 07:45 AM

I'm using writeable DVDs (tapes are not on option in my environment) using a custom script which uses dar, par2 and growisofs but am cutting over to USB HDDs using Bacula and rsync. Both solutions create backups on internal HDD which are then copied to the external media.

cantab 03-25-2010 08:45 AM

I don't have any backups...

Most of my data is downloaded stuff, or music ripped from CDs I have, so it wouldn't really matter so much if it was lost.

When I was working on an important project, my backup system was a script to be run from one of my computers. It would do a bzr (versioning) commit, pull any new files from about 5 remote servers (locations ranging from the same room to a different city), do another brz commit if anything had changed, then push out all new files to all the remote servers. It was really synchronisation as well as backing up, since I would frequently work on the files from different servers. (Using my own computer I'd work on its copy, using the department's I'd use its server, using the college computer cluster I'd use its server.)

i92guboj 03-25-2010 08:49 AM

If money is absolutely not a problem, then the choice is clear as it's always been: tapes.

Otherwise, hard disks are the best option nowadays. You can easily find hard drives in the 1TB range for less than 100$/75€. When correctly stored and protected they can last ages, and you don't need any special hardware to read them.

I would stay away from both optical disks and flash based devices.

DavidMcCann 03-25-2010 06:37 PM

I use flash drives; this is a home-office-style computer, without a lot of bulky media files. I used to use DVD-RAM, but eventually found the UDF format was prone to corruption under Linux and fsck can't repair it.

I can't be bothered with "generational" backups, but I do keep two and use different media in rotation. There's nothing worse than discovering you accidentally deleted the wrong file and the daily rsync session has removed the backup!

newbiesforever 03-25-2010 07:33 PM


Originally Posted by H_TeXMeX_H (Post 3911651)
Flash drive is worst idea possible, there's no way to recover from it.

I use DVD + dvdisaster.

Please elaborate on this. I assume you mean a flash drive that fails can never be fixed or accessed again.

Since I am interested in keeping another backup medium in case of the computer (and possibly other electronics nearby) being stolen, a flash drive would be better than a CD or some kind of portable hard drive, because it's smaller, easier to hide, and less recognizable.

This is a tangential issue, but almost as bad as losing all access to my data is having someone else possess a copy of it, with no way to even erase it. I wish there were some gadget that could remotely instruct a stolen hard drive to erase itself.

hockeyman_102 03-25-2010 07:50 PM

im a big fan of the important stuff being in multiple locations. I have a raid5 fileserver at home that I copy things to daily - it's also my svn. Then I back that guy up to an external usb HD weekly... This is OCD i know, but I have 4 external drives that I swap out of that so I always have a "good" copy that's about a month old (or less) at any given time.

Hard drives are CHEAP!

Flash drives... are good portable media - I don't trust them either. Once they die.. they're done.

newbiesforever 03-25-2010 07:52 PM


Originally Posted by hockeyman_102 (Post 3912508)
Flash drives... are good portable media - I don't trust them either. Once they die.. they're done.

Yeah, but don't you expect a device to be done once it dies? If you can fix it or at least retrieve the data, it probably isn't finished "dying."

catkin 03-26-2010 12:00 AM


Originally Posted by i92guboj (Post 3911748)
If money is absolutely not a problem, then the choice is clear as it's always been: tapes.

Unless you have a high humidity and high temperature computing environment.

hockeyman_102 03-26-2010 01:18 AM


Originally Posted by newbiesforever (Post 3912513)
Yeah, but don't you expect a device to be done once it dies? If you can fix it or at least retrieve the data, it probably isn't finished "dying."

touche, but back in the days before thumb drives and I had every thing on HDs - I could always kinda tell when the drive was going to die - let it be noise, or the OS telling me I had bad sectors. Then I could copy to a new drive. I've also had to replace the PCB on a hard drive just to get it to spin back up so I could pull the data... that was a fun week.

And I always seem to lose my thumb drives... ;)

i92guboj 03-26-2010 03:26 AM

Flash drives, in my experience, are just too unreliable, and there's no better teacher than experience.

They die or start failing way too soon. I absolutely don't care about wear leveling and all the things they say they have improved. The fact is that I use pendrives every day, and they start failing after some months of intensive use. I've have particularly very bad experienced with many kingston data traveler devices

Second, they are the kind of device that promote bad practices. The users tend to unplug them without even making sure the info has been dumped on the device, which will render the backup useless. For some reason, people tend to be more careful when manipulating big devices that lie over the desk than a thumb toy that can be unplugged with a single gesture and put into pocket.

Another problem with this toys is that they are often hard to find and prone to get lost in oblivion, and, if we talk about stealing them, it's much easier to hide a pendrive than it is to hide a hard drive, this doesn't only work for you, this works also for the thief: they can be stolen in front of your face, and you won't notice.

If you are really that paranoid, to start with, the backup shouldn't even live in the same physical place than your computer. You should be backing up the info using some kind of network solution, or "the cloud", a remote svn or git server or whatever else.

Your mileage may vary. I am sure that costly and high-end flash drives are very reliable, the question then is why would you invest in such kind of device when a bigger hard disk will be much cheaper.

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