[SOLVED] External hard drive recommendations

smalltech

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I intend to get an external hard drive for storing backup. Prefer one that does not need power supply, just plug in the USB cable. Prefer 4TB and above and uses USB 3.0

What would you recommend?

Is 5TB higher rate of becoming faulty than other TB?

Thanks
 

Lafong

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Spinning is cheaper, yes.

SSDs are a LOT faster when used internally inside a PC, but I am not sure how much speed difference you would actually notice when operating off the end of a cable attached by a USB port. The performance would be limited by the fact that you are using a USB port.

You can fish around on Google for reviews of any prospective candidate.

Ultimately, you may have to make a compromise between budget and speed. Your budget is unknown.

I wouldn't say spending more dollars would necessarily get you more reliability.

Have you totally rejected the idea of an internal backup drive of any type?

How much the slower speed of a spinning drive will annoy you depends on exactly how you use it and what your expectations are.

The standard externals like the WD you refer to are pretty much commodities, flying off an assembly line by the thousands every day. Quality control of assembly and internal components questionable.

Maybe you have good luck. Maybe you don't. If you have bad luck (failure, major aggravation), you buy another and carry on.

I would urge you not to leave it powered on all the time if possible.

I would also urge you to NOT use whatever software may have come with the drive.

If you have been at least sorta satisfied with your current WD, just buy another WD of the same type and hope you don't tear out your hair.
 
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Lafong

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Do you want an SSD or a traditional spinning hard drive?

Will you probably leave it connected constantly? Powered on constantly?

Not sure, but I'd guess anything using a traditional spinning drive will require more power than you'd get from a USB port.

Budget?

Are you willing to spend perhaps 20 or 30 minutes to construct your own device using an external enclosure and an M.2 2280 drive?
 

smalltech

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Traditional spinning hard drive is cheaper correct?
How much faster does the backup complete on SSD than traditional drive?
Connected constantly and powered on constantly.
I used WD elements (no need external power, just a usb cable) 2TB bought about 4 years ago until now and it works well but I find the space too small. Looking for something 4TB and above. Just wondering if there are any better ones. Do not want to construct my own.
 

Lafong

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Spinning is cheaper, yes.

SSDs are a LOT faster when used internally inside a PC, but I am not sure how much speed difference you would actually notice when operating off the end of a cable attached by a USB port. The performance would be limited by the fact that you are using a USB port.

You can fish around on Google for reviews of any prospective candidate.

Ultimately, you may have to make a compromise between budget and speed. Your budget is unknown.

I wouldn't say spending more dollars would necessarily get you more reliability.

Have you totally rejected the idea of an internal backup drive of any type?

How much the slower speed of a spinning drive will annoy you depends on exactly how you use it and what your expectations are.

The standard externals like the WD you refer to are pretty much commodities, flying off an assembly line by the thousands every day. Quality control of assembly and internal components questionable.

Maybe you have good luck. Maybe you don't. If you have bad luck (failure, major aggravation), you buy another and carry on.

I would urge you not to leave it powered on all the time if possible.

I would also urge you to NOT use whatever software may have come with the drive.

If you have been at least sorta satisfied with your current WD, just buy another WD of the same type and hope you don't tear out your hair.
 
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smalltech

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I used to use internal hard drive to backup, but I think someone said external hard drive is better for backup (unable to remember exact reason) because malware/virus can affect internal drive and cause the internal backup to be infected, or a power surge might kill the internal backup drive. External backup drive are less likely to be affected by malware or power surge. I think another reason is it is easier to use an external drive backup in another PC because it can plug and play. If my PC is faulty and unable to power on, I guess I could plug my external drive backup into another PC to access the backup files just by connecting a USB cable.

I set auto scheduled backup at 4am, and if 4am the pc is switched off, the auto scheduled backup will begin once the PC start up. If you do not power up all the time, how to ensure the external hard drive has power all the time when my PC starts the scheduled backup?

Did not use any software that come with the drive.
 
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I used to use internal hard drive to backup, but I think someone said external hard drive is better for backup (unable to remember exact reason) because malware/virus can affect internal drive and cause the internal backup to be infected, or a power surge might kill the internal backup drive. External backup drive are less likely to be affected by malware or power surge. I think another reason is it is easier to use an external drive backup in another PC because it can plug and play.

I set auto scheduled backup at 4am, and if 4am the pc is switched off, the auto scheduled backup will begin once the PC start up. If you do not power up all the time, how to ensure the external hard drive has power all the time when my PC starts the scheduled backup?

Did not use any software that come with the drive.
If you use an ext that gets all the power it needs from the usb port then when the pc is on the ext is on.
 

Lafong

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Here's an alternative.

It's up to you to compare it to your proposed method. Each has advantages and disadvantages.

Use an internal to back up ALL, repeat ALL data. If expense is an issue, probably with a standard spinning drive. 8 TB for under 200 bucks? It's on and running whenever your PC is running.

I'd urge you to do backups by manually running them, rather than rely on an automated scheduler of some type. Just to avoid another possible point of failure and disappointment for highly valuable data. If your data is not so important, maybe use automated?

This would be considerably faster and more convenient than an external. You'd probably run this backup daily or maybe twice a day, whatever. You'd probably use a dedicated free "file by file" backup program, rather than a "drag and drop".

Then, make a separate backup to an external. This might be ALL data, or it might be only your MOST IMPORTANT data, which might be a lot smaller.

You might run this external backup less often. Maybe weekly. This would probably be a device that is NOT always powered on. You connect it when you are actually going to use it. And you would run it on demand, not on an automated schedule. Probably a device that connects directly to your fastest USB port, with or without a cable.

Everything on the external backup is also on the internal backup, but the external backup does NOT contain everything on the internal backup.

With any luck at all, you never or very rarely have to recover anything from the external. You would instead recover from the much faster and always powered on internal.

If your internal backup drive fails, you know you still have your MOST IMPORTANT stuff on the external backup.

I'm assuming you have normal anti-virus and anti-malware protection. I have NEVER lost anything to viruses or malware in over 25 years.

It's a tradeoff....you have to compare cost, speed, convenience, reliability, aggravation, etc when evaluating internal versus external. Your choice.

If you are quite anxious about virus and malware affecting your backup strategy, then obviously you submit to your anxiety and make your choice based on that. Rather than lay in bed wondering "what if............".
 

smalltech

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Currently I use macrium reflect. Did a first full backup manually and then scheduled incremental backups for daily auto backup, so all backup data are in my external hard drive.

I heard of some ransomware or something, does those newer types of malware affect internal hard drive more than external hard drive?
 
Currently I use macrium reflect. Did a first full backup manually and then scheduled incremental backups for daily auto backup, so all backup data are in my external hard drive.

I heard of some ransomware or something, does those newer types of malware affect internal hard drive more than external hard drive?
If it's connected it's vulnerable.
 

Lafong

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Currently I use macrium reflect. Did a first full backup manually and then scheduled incremental backups for daily auto backup, so all backup data are in my external hard drive.

I heard of some ransomware or something, does those newer types of malware affect internal hard drive more than external hard drive?
I am not highly informed on what ransomware can and can't do.

Macrium:

It's a fine program, but..............

It would NOT be my choice for personal data backup. It WOULD be my choice for Windows and application backup.

Unless you have an over-riding and strong reason, I would use Macrium full backups rather than incrementals. Why ask for complications? Your over-riding reason might be drive space?

Do you have an over-riding reason to make Macrium backups daily?

Try to differentiate in your mind between data backup and Windows/applications backup.

Your backup life would be simplified if you had Windows and applications on drive 1 and all personal data on drive 2. Maybe that is an impossibility in your case due to expense or whatever, but it has significant advantages.

Ideal situation:

Data backed up multiple times a day at will, without Macrium. Data is not on the C partition, preferably on a totally different drive. Using a free third party data backup program that does NOT use imaging. There are several.

Windows and applications backed up less often (monthly?) using Macrium. Possibly weekly or more often if your system is constantly changing a lot. Most systems aren't.

Ideally using "full backups" not incremental and ideally all partitions on the boot drive, none of which contain your personal data. Macrium mrimg files regarded as "data" and are themselves backed up like any other important file.
 

smalltech

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I am not highly informed on what ransomware can and can't do.

Macrium:

It's a fine program, but..............

It would NOT be my choice for personal data backup. It WOULD be my choice for Windows and application backup.

Unless you have an over-riding and strong reason, I would use Macrium full backups rather than incrementals. Why ask for complications? Your over-riding reason might be drive space?

Do you have an over-riding reason to make Macrium backups daily?

Try to differentiate in your mind between data backup and Windows/applications backup.

Your backup life would be simplified if you had Windows and applications on drive 1 and all personal data on drive 2. Maybe that is an impossibility in your case due to expense or whatever, but it has significant advantages.

Ideal situation:

Data backed up multiple times a day at will, without Macrium. Data is not on the C partition, preferably on a totally different drive. Using a free third party data backup program that does NOT use imaging. There are several.

Windows and applications backed up less often (monthly?) using Macrium. Possibly weekly or more often if your system is constantly changing a lot. Most systems aren't.

Ideally using "full backups" not incremental and ideally all partitions on the boot drive, none of which contain your personal data. Macrium mrimg files regarded as "data" and are themselves backed up like any other important file.
I have done a Macrium full back for the whole Windows and all data files, and set up incremental backup daily because incremental backups take up less space and are faster to complete. I can recover Windows and data files if my PC is faulty. If I do a Macrium full backup everyday, that would take up a lot of space and time everyday. I want to keep at least past 30 days of daily backups so I can select whatever date in the past 30 days to restore to. In Macrium I can select the disk I want to backup and I backup all disks.

Windows is C drive in an SSD
Data is D drive in mechanical hard disk. Data not in partition C.

"Data backed up multiple times a day at will, without Macrium.">How do you do this ?

"Using a free third party data backup program that does NOT use imaging. ">Can you recommend some?
 

USAFRet

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If I do a Macrium full backup everyday, that would take up a lot of space and time everyday. I want to keep at least past 30 days of daily backups so I can select whatever date in the past 30 days to restore to. In Macrium I can select the disk I want to backup and I backup all disks.
That is exactly what my backup routine is.

A Full image, followed by a series of Incremental or Differential (depending on which system).

Keep for 30 days, deleting the eldest as it goes.


My main system has 7x drives, each on its own schedule.
Midnight, 0030, 0100, 0130, 0200, etc....
Incremental Images take but a minute or two each.

Multiple systems and individual drives, all saved to a single folder tree in my NAS box.

And yes, I have had to use that to recover from a dead drive.
 

smalltech

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That is exactly what my backup routine is.

A Full image, followed by a series of Incremental or Differential (depending on which system).

Keep for 30 days, deleting the eldest as it goes.


My main system has 7x drives, each on its own schedule.
Midnight, 0030, 0100, 0130, 0200, etc....
Incremental Images take but a minute or two each.

Multiple systems and individual drives, all saved to a single folder tree in my NAS box.

And yes, I have had to use that to recover from a dead drive.
On Day 1, I do the first Full Backup manually in macrium reflect, then I setup scheduled incremental backup on the first full backup so from Day 2 onwards it will automatic do daily incremental backup, when the backup disk is full I will delete all backups and repeat the process. There is a risk that I might lose all backup and unable to recover anything if the PC is faulty on the day I just deleted all backups and just before I create the first full backup.

I think the best process is automatic schedule everything from first full backup (day 1) then incremental backup for 30 days on the first full backup, then second full backup (day 31) then incremental backup for 30 days on the second full backup, on day 62 just after the second 30 incremental backup was done, delete first full backup and the first 30 incremental backup to create space. In this way there will always be at least 30 days of backup. Any idea how to setup everything scheduled in Macrium reflect?

What backup software do you use?

"Keep for 30 days, deleting the eldest as it goes."> How do you do this?

How does NAS work for backups? I heard about NAS but I am not a technical person and I have never figured out what is it about, seems like a complicated thing and I do not know if I need it or is it better than a single hard disk.
 
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USAFRet

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What backup software do you use?

"Keep for 30 days, deleting the eldest as it goes."> How do you do this?
Macrium Reflect.

As part of the schedule, you can designate how long to keep.

After a suddenly dead SSD, 960GB SanDisk...
Slot in a new drive
Click click in Macrium (this Image, to that drive)
About an hour later, all 605GB recovered exactly as it was at 4AM that morning when that drive ran its nightly Incremental.

That was a secondary drive, holding, among other things, years worth of family photos.
In testing, I've done the same with the OS drive.

It works.
 

Lafong

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"Data backed up multiple times a day at will, without Macrium.">How do you do this ?

"Using a free third party data backup program that does NOT use imaging. ">Can you recommend some?
I've used several apps over the last 15 or 20 years. They all work the about the same way, but have various interfaces and help files.

Second Copy (30 bucks the last time I looked); been around a long time; highly refined; probably the best interface of all of them

FreeFileSync; free; works fine, but I eventually gave up on it due to an unnecessarily complex interface.

SyncBackFree; free; currently using this for the last 5 years with no issues; there is a paid version you aren't likely to need.

Others I've heard good things about: Syncfolders; Karen's Replicator; Synchredible

The first time you run one of these, it will likely take hours to finish, depending on how much data you have.

Thereafter, it will be a LOT quicker. On a typical run, mine finishes in 90 to 120 seconds for over 900 gb of data.

Generally...to set them up, you walk through the interface and select which individual folders and files you want to include, to what destination, and then you save those choices in a "profile". You run the profile at will. You can have multiple profiles....I have 3; one for ALL data; one for most critical data; and one for email only. I run the first one 2 or 3 times a day; the others maybe weekly.

You'll have to decide if you want to use what is often called "mirroring". I do. Some people don't.

Mirroring: suppose you have a file named cat.jpg. You run the backup and therefore have 2 copies of cat.jpg. You then delete your original cat.jpg and then run the backup program again. Do you want cat.jpg to REMAIN on the backup or to be DELETED from the backup? If you want to delete it from the backup, say yes to mirroring. If you want it to remain on the backup, say no to mirroring.

Macrium's paid version does have a file backup capability in addition to the standard capability. I tried it and gave up on it because it is not a simple "file by file" backup like these other apps above. It is clunky and slow. It uses shadow copy, compression, temporary mounting and all the same stuff that imaging uses. It creates an mrbak file when I had hoped it would just do effectively the same as a drag and drop.
 
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Lafong

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Windows is C drive in an SSD
Data is D drive in mechanical hard disk. Data not in partition C.
In that situation, I'd probably use Macrium to back up C and all other partitions on the SSD and some other application to back up the data on the D mechanical without imaging.

How much space is occupied on C? Your image file of all partitions on C should be about half of that. If you have 200 GB occupied on C, the images will be circa 100 using the default medium compression. My C is only 45, so images are about 25. I keep the last 2 images (currently early November and early December).

I make a new image early every month and I always make a new image before accepting anything from Windows Update. I deliberately use Windows Update only once a month, delaying it for the maximum time allowed, which I think is 35 days.
 
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