Question Backup options

jtp86

Distinguished
Jul 4, 2011
21
2
18,515
0
Hey, sorry if this question is redundant but I've read a bunch of stuff and just want some clarifications.

I bought a new 2TB HDD and put it in an enclosure. I want to backup my internal 1TB HDD daily or weekly. My 1TB HDD is currently almost 7 years old, so this new HDD backup is primarily for the purpose of swapping it with my 1TB HDD whenever that one stops working. I want a full backup that I can get up and running within 30-60 minutes should my 1TB drive suddenly fail, no reinstalling anything. I also would obviously like to use the extra 1TB for other stuff possibly, but the main reason I have it is for a future main drive replacement (I have a further secondary backup as well).

I was originally going to use Windows Backup to just make a disk image and be done with it, but I'm also looking at cloning. From what I understand, a backup image of the disk can be incrementally updated pretty fast, while a clone would require a re-clone each time I want to back up. But I've also read a cloned drive can simply be swapped out in my computer and I am good to go, while an image requires a boot disc and a few other hassles (which may not be a big deal, just want to understand what I absolutely need).

Basically, my questions are:

  1. How much of a hassle is restoring a disk image compared to just plugging in a cloned drive?
  2. Is Windows Backup good enough for my backup? I've seen some freeware and paid programs out there but not sure if its worth it.
  3. How should I approach partitioning the drive in regards to either cloning or disk images? Does it matter with a disk image? Should I partition it in half (two 1TB partitions)?
Thanks.
 

ElectrO_90

Dignified
BANNED
Before we get on to backup, I would like to ask you something.

Download and install Hard Disk Sentinel - this will monitor your hard disk and let you know if it is going to FAIL any time soon

With the NEW drive, you could put that in your machine and CLONE your old drive, that way you would now have 2TB and a NEW hd in your machine which quite possibly could be more reliable than your old one.

So a CLONE drive takes quite a while, has to be done manually (don't know of an auto program that does it).

For me, I backup ALL important files (not software) onto a cloud based system as well, as they are always quite reliable.

I think USAFret knows more about backup systems than most people.
 
I use the cloning method So I don't have answers for questions 1 or 2.

Cloning will overwrite the partition table on your 2TB drive so it doesn't matter how you partition the 2TB drive. That also means, however, that you can't use that 2nd TB for anything else. So I would suggest getting 2 drives the same size.

The way mine is set up I have 2 drives of the same size. I use EASUS software to do the clone and it willl shut the machine down when complete so I set it up to run at night. I also use a disk drive tray for my 2nd drive and remove it after the clone. The thinking for that is that since it is not spinning as much as my 1st drive, when the 1st drive goes bad the backup drive will still be good. To recover from a bad drive I just pull the side cover, change the cables out, and boot again. Ten minutes max. That gets me back to my last backup.

BTW, you can hot swap SATA drives. If you look closely at the connections some PCB traces are longer than others. Those longer traces are grounds so they connect 1st and then the other connections are made. So you can use the Control Panel to mount the 2nd drive when it is inserted and start your backup from there.
 

4745454b

Titan
Moderator
I was in the Camp fire that happened Nov 8th. I knew the rule about keeping the spare drive off site, but didn't do that. Lost everything. Keeping the drive at work would have kept the data. Now I'm starting over. You listed the advantages of both, you just need to decide which works best. And please, keep any backup off site. Trust me on this.
 

jtp86

Distinguished
Jul 4, 2011
21
2
18,515
0
Before we get on to backup, I would like to ask you something.

Download and install Hard Disk Sentinel - this will monitor your hard disk and let you know if it is going to FAIL any time soon

With the NEW drive, you could put that in your machine and CLONE your old drive, that way you would now have 2TB and a NEW hd in your machine which quite possibly could be more reliable than your old one.

So a CLONE drive takes quite a while, has to be done manually (don't know of an auto program that does it).

For me, I backup ALL important files (not software) onto a cloud based system as well, as they are always quite reliable.

I think USAFret knows more about backup systems than most people.

I'd rather stick with my 1TB as my main drive. Something about a 7 year old drive as a back up makes me feel weird, plus it's technically a "faster" drive than the 2TB backup, though in practice I am not so sure. I also want to keep my back up external.


I use the cloning method So I don't have answers for questions 1 or 2.

Cloning will overwrite the partition table on your 2TB drive so it doesn't matter how you partition the 2TB drive. That also means, however, that you can't use that 2nd TB for anything else. So I would suggest getting 2 drives the same size.

The way mine is set up I have 2 drives of the same size. I use EASUS software to do the clone and it willl shut the machine down when complete so I set it up to run at night. I also use a disk drive tray for my 2nd drive and remove it after the clone. The thinking for that is that since it is not spinning as much as my 1st drive, when the 1st drive goes bad the backup drive will still be good. To recover from a bad drive I just pull the side cover, change the cables out, and boot again. Ten minutes max. That gets me back to my last backup.

BTW, you can hot swap SATA drives. If you look closely at the connections some PCB traces are longer than others. Those longer traces are grounds so they connect 1st and then the other connections are made. So you can use the Control Panel to mount the 2nd drive when it is inserted and start your backup from there.
I was debating whether to get a 1TB or 2TB and now I'm thinking I should have just gone with 1TB and saved some money. I tried asking around and reading about all this beforehand to avoid this.

On the other hand, I don't like that cloning takes so long. I am likely to avoid frequent backups if that is the case. I might just use the disk image method for now if someone can give me a better perspective on it.

I was in the Camp fire that happened Nov 8th. I knew the rule about keeping the spare drive off site, but didn't do that. Lost everything. Keeping the drive at work would have kept the data. Now I'm starting over. You listed the advantages of both, you just need to decide which works best. And please, keep any backup off site. Trust me on this.
I'm sorry to hear that you had to go through that. I don't have an offsite option I could trust at the moment.
 

4745454b

Titan
Moderator
Desk drawer at work? Parents, kids, inlaws in another city? My locker at work is where I should have kept mine. I even thought of doing it a few times. But what's the odds that an entire town would burn down right?
 

jtp86

Distinguished
Jul 4, 2011
21
2
18,515
0
Desk drawer at work? Parents, kids, inlaws in another city? My locker at work is where I should have kept mine. I even thought of doing it a few times. But what's the odds that an entire town would burn down right?
Nothing I would feel comfortable with. At the very least, I can grab my external but I have a feeling I'd be preoccupied with other things if that was happening.

What did Hard Disk Sentinel say about your aging drive, is it reliable?
It is the only software that will tell you if its failing and constantly monitors it. Once it's failed, its too late
I have dealt with a failing drive before this. Years ago a drive I had started making the click of death, and I thankfully was able to buy a new HDD and transfer everything over right before it finally failed. I am not taking any chances nowadays, I have my data backed up but I bought this new HDD to specfically make a full copy should anything suddenly happen. I don't care if my current drive is still healthy (I have run S.M.A.R.T. checks recently and everything was fine), I know drives can suddenly fail and I want to simply be prepared.
 

ktriebol

Honorable
Feb 22, 2013
216
7
10,715
17
The system I use may work in your case too. I use the free version of Macrium Reflect. With that program I have an option to set up automatic saving of an image file. You can set it up to automatically save on whatever timetable you want. Mine is set up to save once a week at 2:00am. That's it. It all happens automatically once it is set up. I save a full image each time, and only two images are kept on file. Macrium Reflect automatically deletes more than two image files in my case, but you can designate the number of images you want to keep.

To restore an image isn't a difficult process, but it is not the same as swapping out a disk. Here are the two main methods to restore a computer from a Macrium Reflect image file once you have replaced your defective drive:

1. Get windows working 10 on your new drive. This can be done by installing Windows 10 from the Microsoft web site, or using a Windows installation disk that you may have lying around. It doesn't need to be the latest version of Windows 10 because it will be replaced when you restore from your image anyway. Once windows 10 is working, download and install the free version of Macrium Reflect, and use that to Restore a Disk from Image, where you will use your saved image file in the restoration.

2. Instead of getting Windows 10 working on your computer first, you can use a Macrium Reflect Rescue Disk during boot up. You can select to Restore From Image during boot up with that disk. This process is quick and easy, but it requires the foresight to create a Macrium Reflect Rescue Disk ahead of time.

If you store image files on your new 2TB HDD like I described, you can use the rest of the free space on that HDD for whatever you want.
 
Last edited:

popatim

Titan
Moderator
Since you want to swap in the 2tb when the 1tb dies, you don't have a way to restore an image to it since the images are on it. You're only choice here is to clone the 1tb to the 2 anytime you add or delete things on the 1tb.

I'll second Marcium Reflect. The Free version is phenomenal at Imaging. It will even create a bootable flash drive you can use to do restores.
 

jtp86

Distinguished
Jul 4, 2011
21
2
18,515
0
The system I use may work in your case too. I use the free version of Macrium Reflect. With that program I have an option to set up automatic saving of an image file. You can set it up to automatically save on whatever timetable you want. Mine is set up to save once a week at 2:00am. That's it. It all happens automatically once it is set up. I save a full image each time, and only two images are kept on file. Macrium Reflect automatically deletes more than two image files in my case, but you can designate the number of images you want to keep.

To restore an image isn't a difficult process, but it is not the same as swapping out a disk. Here are the two main methods to restore a computer from a Macrium Reflect image file once you have replaced your defective drive:

1. Get windows working 10 on your new drive. This can be done by installing Windows 10 from the Microsoft web site, or using a Windows installation disk that you may have lying around. It doesn't need to be the latest version of Windows 10 because it will be replaced when you restore from your image anyway. Once windows 10 is working, download and install the free version of Macrium Reflect, and use that to Restore a Disk from Image, where you will use your saved image file in the restoration.

2. Instead of getting Windows 10 working on your computer first, you can use a Macrium Reflect Rescue Disk during boot up. You can select to Restore From Image during boot up with that disk. This process is quick and easy, but it requires the foresight to create a Macrium Reflect Rescue Disk ahead of time.

If you store image files on your new 2TB HDD like I described, you can use the rest of the free space on that HDD for whatever you want.
I think I might just make a boot disc ahead of time.

Since you want to swap in the 2tb when the 1tb dies, you don't have a way to restore an image to it since the images are on it. You're only choice here is to clone the 1tb to the 2 anytime you add or delete things on the 1tb.

I'll second Marcium Reflect. The Free version is phenomenal at Imaging. It will even create a bootable flash drive you can use to do restores.
Is there no way to use a boot disc to restore the image? I was under the impression this was possible. In the case of an image, is it possible for me to partition 1TB solely for restoration from the partition that has the image, or does that not work?
 

4745454b

Titan
Moderator
I have a feeling I'd be preoccupied with other things if that was happening.
That's just it. If done properly you wouldn't even think about it. You can grab your loved ones and get out. Your image/data is safe in a completely different city. I mention this because I think most everyone keeps their backups in the closet, under the bed, sitting next to the case, etc. In the event of fire, flood, theft, etc there is a good chance your backup is gone. Take it from someone who lost their stuff. Find a way to store any backups off site. I think I've mentioned this enough however and I'm sorry for taking this off subject.

Is there no way to use a boot disc to restore the image?
He said it will make a bootable flash drive. Is that a bad idea? You really want a disk? I know many people use Reflect. Personally I just copied my important folders to the backup drive. Copy over pics and any data I need copied. I don't worry about my windows folder or steam folders. Windows can be reinstalled. Same as the games. Most of the programs I use are just free software i can grab off the web. (open office, 7zip, VLC, steam, Firefox, etc.) Just the folders worked for me.
 

popatim

Titan
Moderator
You cannot restore an image to the drive that the image is stored on. The restore would overwrite the image at some point and crash uncompleted leaving you without a good image or restored drive.

For the same reason, you cannot create an image on the drive you are imaging, You'd end up in a loop until it crashed from the drive being full.

And now you want to keep the image on the drive you're waiting for to die?

You really need a 3rd location for this to work if you really want to install the 2TB drive when the 1TB dies. Otherwise plan on getting a new HDD when the 1tb dies.
 

jtp86

Distinguished
Jul 4, 2011
21
2
18,515
0
That's just it. If done properly you wouldn't even think about it. You can grab your loved ones and get out. Your image/data is safe in a completely different city. I mention this because I think most everyone keeps their backups in the closet, under the bed, sitting next to the case, etc. In the event of fire, flood, theft, etc there is a good chance your backup is gone. Take it from someone who lost their stuff. Find a way to store any backups off site. I think I've mentioned this enough however and I'm sorry for taking this off subject.



He said it will make a bootable flash drive. Is that a bad idea? You really want a disk? I know many people use Reflect. Personally I just copied my important folders to the backup drive. Copy over pics and any data I need copied. I don't worry about my windows folder or steam folders. Windows can be reinstalled. Same as the games. Most of the programs I use are just free software i can grab off the web. (open office, 7zip, VLC, steam, Firefox, etc.) Just the folders worked for me.
I already have a secondary backup drive with important files, but I got this drive to save the hassle of having to reinstall windows and a ton of programs.

You cannot restore an image to the drive that the image is stored on. The restore would overwrite the image at some point and crash uncompleted leaving you without a good image or restored drive.

For the same reason, you cannot create an image on the drive you are imaging, You'd end up in a loop until it crashed from the drive being full.
I wish I would have known this before making my purchase. None of this was made clear by the ton of guides I read about this, and this is why I came here to ask. It's very frustrating, there is always some goofy snag that messes me up no matter how much research I do.

I guess I would be fine with wasting the extra 1TB of space and just do the cloning process, except from what I read, cloning can't be done incrementally, so I would have to reclone the entire drive each time I back up, which means it will take a couple of hours each time. This would make me less likely to back up on a weekly basis.

And now you want to keep the image on the drive you're waiting for to die?

You really need a 3rd location for this to work if you really want to install the 2TB drive when the 1TB dies. Otherwise plan on getting a new HDD when the 1tb dies.

...no? I never said anything about backing up the image on the old drive. My idea was to partition my 2TB drive into two 1TB partitions, hoping I could save the image on one partition and then restore the image to the other partition, but apparently I can't even do that.

The entire reason I got a 2TB drive was to use as both a backup and a replacement drive for when my current one dies. Cloning achieves that but then I can't use the extra TB and each cloning process would take a long time compared to updating the image. But the image requires another HDD. If I would have known I needed 2 seperate drives I would have done things differently, so it's all a bit annoying. I don't know. I'm glad I'm ready to make a backup now but I still can't decide if I should go with cloning or a disk image.
 

jtp86

Distinguished
Jul 4, 2011
21
2
18,515
0
How much space is used on your 1tb so far?
Currently, a bit over 900GB, leaving about 14GB free. Over 300GB of that is temporary media files that I don't really need long term, I'd like to make copies of them if possible but I can actually do without them if push came to shove. So currently, really around 500-600GB of my drive is stuff I need permanently backed up, including my Windows installation.

I think I am just going to settle on an image backup, for one thing so I can utilize the full 2TB (in case I need to store more big media files on the rest) but mostly because once I create the initial image, further backups will only take a couple of minutes. With a clone, I'd need to reclone each time apparently. If I had to do that, I would be a lot less likely to backup frequently. Besides, recloning each time makes me a bit skittish that something would happen, say my 1TB crashed during a cloning process, I might end up with a dead HDD and a corrupted clone that was mid-copy or something.

I have just been assuming this whole time that my 1TB is about to die. It's almost 7 years old, I know it's up there in years, but I'd rather just have a 2TB solid backup drive with the flexibility and when the time comes, I will have to just buy a new drive or maybe buy one ahead of time. I was thinking of using my 2TB as both a backup drive and replacement and I don't think I can get the best of both worlds due to how the cloning process works.
 
Reactions: ktriebol
I guess I would be fine with wasting the extra 1TB of space and just do the cloning process, except from what I read, cloning can't be done incrementally, so I would have to reclone the entire drive each time I back up, which means it will take a couple of hours each time. This would make me less likely to back up on a weekly basis.
One possible option I can think of that might work would be be make a clone of your drive, in its current state, on the 2TB drive. Afterwards, don't bother updating that cloned image. Instead, add a second 1TB partition to the drive, and store your incremental backups there. Then, in the event that your 1TB drive fails, you could plug in the 2TB drive, and have that outdated image up and running right away. The incremental backups could then be restored from the second partition. You could also probably use that second partition for storing other data alongside the incremental backups, whether its backups of data from another drive, or disposable data that you don't necessarily feel the need to back up.

You would of course likely want to test the cloned image, as well as the procedure for restoring the incremental backups to make sure everything is operating correctly prior to relying on it though.
 

jtp86

Distinguished
Jul 4, 2011
21
2
18,515
0
One possible option I can think of that might work would be be make a clone of your drive, in its current state, on the 2TB drive. Afterwards, don't bother updating that cloned image. Instead, add a second 1TB partition to the drive, and store your incremental backups there. Then, in the event that your 1TB drive fails, you could plug in the 2TB drive, and have that outdated image up and running right away. The incremental backups could then be restored from the second partition. You could also probably use that second partition for storing other data alongside the incremental backups, whether its backups of data from another drive, or disposable data that you don't necessarily feel the need to back up.

You would of course likely want to test the cloned image, as well as the procedure for restoring the incremental backups to make sure everything is operating correctly prior to relying on it though.
This is the exact idea I had, but according to others here, when you clone a drive it overwrites all partions on that drive, meaning a clone can only exist by itself on a disk.
 

USAFRet

Titan
Moderator
True clones don't really work well a s a backup mechanism.
  1. It is a single snapshot in time. The older it is, the more changes have been made to the source drive.
  2. A clone of the OS drive will indeed suck up a whole target drive. For secondary drives, you could probably 'clone' to a partition on a target drive,.
  3. Inefficient use of space. My OS drive is a 500BG Samsung. Using a clone for a backup mechanism, I'd need another 500GB drive.
Using the Image concept, I can have 14 days worth of Incremental images in that same space. Go back in time to just before the BadThing happened, but not too far.

Automated Images (Full/Incremental/Differential) are your friend here.

Yes, recovery time is longer than if you had a 100% clone on a second drive, ready to go.
I recently had a SSD die, a 960GB Sandisk. Secondary drive, 605GB on it.
Put in a new drive, click click...recover the entire data as it was at 4AM that morning when the Incremental image ran.
Took 2 hours 18 mins to recover from the NAS box where the backups are stored, across the LAN.

But I'd rather have a 2 hour wait for todays data, than instant access to last weeks data.
 
Reactions: ktriebol

jtp86

Distinguished
Jul 4, 2011
21
2
18,515
0
True clones don't really work well a s a backup mechanism.
  1. It is a single snapshot in time. The older it is, the more changes have been made to the source drive.
  2. A clone of the OS drive will indeed suck up a whole target drive. For secondary drives, you could probably 'clone' to a partition on a target drive,.
  3. Inefficient use of space. My OS drive is a 500BG Samsung. Using a clone for a backup mechanism, I'd need another 500GB drive.
Using the Image concept, I can have 14 days worth of Incremental images in that same space. Go back in time to just before the BadThing happened, but not too far.

Automated Images (Full/Incremental/Differential) are your friend here.

Yes, recovery time is longer than if you had a 100% clone on a second drive, ready to go.
I recently had a SSD die, a 960GB Sandisk. Secondary drive, 605GB on it.
Put in a new drive, click click...recover the entire data as it was at 4AM that morning when the Incremental image ran.
Took 2 hours 18 mins to recover from the NAS box where the backups are stored, across the LAN.

But I'd rather have a 2 hour wait for todays data, than instant access to last weeks data.
Yes, after mulling it over for a few days I have decided to just go with an image backup. I am going to monitor my current drive and if I see any signs or hear any clicks I will get a replacement drive. I might do that sooner rather than later, though I don't like the idea of buying one now, not needing it for years maybe, and then dealing with warranty issues. Still, image back up seems a lot better.

Thanks to everyone for the help.
 
Reactions: ktriebol

USAFRet

Titan
Moderator
Drives can die at any time, and sometimes with no warning.

I've had 2 drives die in the last few years, one HDD and one SSD.
The HDD went from seemingly perfect to dead in about 36 hours. 5 weeks out of the box.
The SSD went from perfect to dead in the space of a single reboot. 3 years, 33 days out of the box.
 
Reactions: Mandark

AllanGH

Commendable
Mar 10, 2019
2,108
417
1,740
62
Just a thought.....

At this point in time, 2TB drives that you could use for back-up clones are only about $49.00 and, if I had a drive as percentage full as your drive, I'd move over to a 2TB drive for my primary boot device.

The problem is that drives are a pain in the butt, to pull out to do cloning with an offline drive cloner; but, trayless hot swap mobile racks make removing a drive simple and quick.

I'm wondering if the combination of a couple spare 2TB drives, and offline drive cloner, and a trayless hot swap mobile rack might be the framework for a good rotating back-up strategy for you?

I don't want to muddy the waters with an alternate methodology, but I thought that chiming-in and sharing what has worked for me might be of assistance, since nobody has, as yet, recommended a purely hardware-based solution.
 

popatim

Titan
Moderator
The drive doesn't have to be off-line for cloning or imaging. Most software can snapshot the file in it's current state.
If you have usb3 then I would go with the large sized external drives as those are often sata drives inside. A quick google of the drive will say for sure.

Another option is a Nas type external drive. but this is probably out of the budget unless the router has usb3 ports and supports an external drive.
 

ASK THE COMMUNITY

TRENDING THREADS