Question flash drive or disk drive for backups?

DLes

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I routinely do backups with disk drives. But the price of flash drives has dropped dramatically. Which is best to use for routine backups? There have been several articles addressing this, but they aren't very useful. They say that, hey, big flash drives are expensive! They're not. They say that, hey, flash drives are slow! USB3 drives may not be. They say that, hey, you can lose a tiny flash drive! Um, I'm not taking them anywhere. It is true that flash drives take up a lot less space, and do not depend on mechanical bearings.

Preferences? We're talking about system clone backups - 100 GB or more.
 

kanewolf

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I routinely do backups with disk drives. But the price of flash drives has dropped dramatically. Which is best to use for routine backups? There have been several articles addressing this, but they aren't very useful. They say that, hey, big flash drives are expensive! They're not. They say that, hey, flash drives are slow! USB3 drives may not be. They say that, hey, you can lose a tiny flash drive! Um, I'm not taking them anywhere. It is true that flash drives take up a lot less space, and do not depend on mechanical bearings.

Preferences? We're talking about system clone backups - 100 GB or more.
It doesn't really matter. What matters is that you have an automated process. I personally recommend a NAS unit rather than USB. That way any device on your home network benefits.
 

DLes

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I do have my backups automated. But what you're saying, I gather, is that there is no reason to switch out my disk drives for flash drives. As to NAS, I don't see any reason, as we're talking about backups from a single machine and, besides, they are substantiallymore pricey than either flash drives or disk drives. I could outfit a slew of machines with the latter for the price of a NAS drive.
 

ClapTrapper

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Flash drives can go bad-I have a couple that are. I use them for quickie backups of important small files and I use an external 12 TB for major all backups. The external hard drives are using a technology (spinning hard drive) that are at the apex of their life- large and reliable.

BTW-DVD is the ultimate backup IMO,but I am getting downvoted apparently...It is getting hard to find even mid-range cases designed for DVD burners.
 

kanewolf

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I do have my backups automated. But what you're saying, I gather, is that there is no reason to switch out my disk drives for flash drives. As to NAS, I don't see any reason, as we're talking about backups from a single machine and, besides, they are substantiallymore pricey than either flash drives or disk drives. I could outfit a slew of machines with the latter for the price of a NAS drive.
A commercial NAS has many features besides basic file access. Want to make your video collection available to your smart TV? A NAS can do that also. Want to try docker? Midrange and better NAS can do that also. Yes a NAS chassis is an additional expense but once you have one, you will wonder why you waited so long.
 

DLes

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Yes, unexpected failures in flash drives are not unheard of. While I'd rather not rely on something using bearings and lubrication for reliability, disk drives may still be the best choice. Also yes, optical backup is attractive, but the capacity just isn't where I need it to be.
 
First of all, take a belts and suspenders approach.
Use multiple different backups.

Be certain that you have External backup.

Flash drives will wear out, they have limits on the number of writes they can tolerate.
Hard drives are better in that respect.

As to reliability, no moving parts on a flash drive is a plus.
That said, I have no solid data on the difference in reliability of flash vs. hdd and for dvd or tame either.

Cloud backup is another option.
 

DLes

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For 100GB backups, cloud backup isn't an option with my data dates. Flash drives wear out with tens or hundreds of thousands of write/erase cycles. We're talking about a few hundred write/erase cycles per year. Not an issue. I do multiple backups. Daily backups on one disk drive, and monthly ones on another. Several belts and suspenders. My pants aren't gonna fall down.
 

DLes

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Fair point. Not much. So there really isn't that much to update. Though setting the cloud update up to begin with will take a long time.
 

ClapTrapper

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Yes, unexpected failures in flash drives are not unheard of. While I'd rather not rely on something using bearings and lubrication for reliability, disk drives may still be the best choice. Also yes, optical backup is attractive, but the capacity just isn't where I need it to be.
Agreed. And so begins my new adventures into the world of BluRay Rewrittables....while they still make them! (Everything is always contingent on the sorry state of computer building right now)
 

DSzymborski

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Fair point. Not much. So there really isn't that much to update. Though setting the cloud update up to begin with will take a long time.
With a 10 Mbps upload speed, you can upload 100 gigabytes in a day. As cloud backups go, this is a pretty small bunch!

If only a gigabyte or two or five is being changed daily, you should strongly consider having the cloud as one of your backups. I have a 4 TB Crashplan backup that my file server updates every morning at 6 AM. If not a lot of files are actually changed, it's pretty quick.

The more backups, the better. As some of my job is reliant on proprietary algorithms I've developed, I'm quite backup-paranoid as losing those files could cost me a few hundred thousand dollars while I start from scratch. Having an off-site backup is a really good idea.

As for flash backups vs. HDD backups go:

 

DLes

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On a related BluRay
Agreed. And so begins my new adventures into the world of BluRay Rewrittables....while they still make them! (Everything is always contingent on the sorry state of computer building right now)
On a related BluRaytopic, speaking of what they still make and don't, I am quite pissed that the original 4.7GB M-disks are no longer being made. Not really for system backups, but for long-term document storage. So the M-disk capable DVD writers I got just for that purpose are not useful anymore. They seem to have decided that gee, NO ONE wants long-term document storage of 4.7GB anymore! So we're going to force everyone to get BluRay M-disk writers. Yeah, M-disks will last for a thousand years, but they'll blow off some writing capability after just a few.
 

DLes

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Re cloud backups, guess it's a matter of trust. My backup strategy is multiple, and solid. Barring natural disasters (and, even then, I can rescue my backups) I think I'm safe. I guess as long as you stay away from Gitlab and Amazon AWS, you can have some trust in your cloud backup.
 

USAFRet

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Flash drives, as in USB sticks?
Nooooo.

Those would be last on my list of backup target devices.
HDD, SSD, cloud, replicate back and forth to a friends NAS box, HDD in a desk drawer at work...

And flash drives are almost in a tie for last with any optical device. DVD, bluray. Yes, even the -M.
 

DLes

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Flash drives, as in USB sticks?
Nooooo.

Those would be last on my list of backup target devices.
HDD, SSD, cloud, replicate back and forth to a friends NAS box, HDD in a desk drawer at work...

And flash drives are almost in a tie for last with any optical device. DVD, bluray. Yes, even the -M.
Want to give any reasons? For data backup, in particular, M-disks are practically indestructable.
 

USAFRet

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Want to give any reasons? For data backup, in particular, M-disks are practically indestructable.
For the M-disks, cost and, as you mention, updatability.

If the write function goes away, you're left with a read only device.
I'd rather a continuing update to HDD (and eventually SSD), that can be rewritten and read, rather than a folder of read only optical disks.

Further, the device needed to read them. As time goes on, data from HDD can easily be moved to the next interface thing.
M.2 NVMe, for instance. Instead of having to keep that same bluray drive around.
 

USAFRet

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But, that's just me.
Other methods work for other people.

The primary consideration that it be done at all...')
Probably 1/3 of the questions we get here could be trivially solved with a good backup.
 

DLes

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OK, but we're not talking about M-disks as total system backups. They aren't rewriteable, and are nowhere near big enough. If the write function goes away, you're still left with an indestructable record of your data. But that's true. Optical disks require hardware to read them. HDDs and flash drives have their own USB interface built in.

A flash drive IS just an SSD, so I'm not sure why you hate the former but would be happy to upgrade to the latter. SSDs do come in a more solid package, so I'd have to believe that they are somewhat more resilient against physical destruction. But electronically, they're the same thing.

You said that flash drives would be last on your list of backup target devices. Why?
 

USAFRet

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You said that flash drives would be last on your list of backup target devices. Why?
Small, easily lost, and the endurance rate is NOT the same as an SSD.
I use them for temporary things. Installing an OS, in the dashcams and quadrotor, moving data between non-connected systems. If one goes south, no great loss.
 

DLes

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I don't care about small, easily lost. They take up a lot less room on my desktop where they would live permanently, plugged into my USB hub. Endurance not the same as SSD? As I said, I'm pretty sure that electronically, these are the same as SSDs. Physically, sure, a flash drive can be stepped on and crushed, while an SSD cannot, but electronically? I think the endurance is the same. I welcome a citation to a source that says otherwise.
 

DSzymborski

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I don't care about small, easily lost. They take up a lot less room on my desktop where they would live permanently, plugged into my USB hub. Endurance not the same as SSD? As I said, I'm pretty sure that electronically, these are the same as SSDs. Physically, sure, a flash drive can be stepped on and crushed, while an SSD cannot, but electronically? I think the endurance is the same. I welcome a citation to a source that says otherwise.
They're not. USB drives typically use very cheap MLC. That's not the kind of thing you want as a data backup; you want enterprise-grade SSDs for that. And SSD drives use flash, but they're not just flash, they have features like wear leveling and controllers that do things like error correction.

USB sticks are just cheap, dumb flash storage. That's fine for uses such as the ones USAFRet notes above. Data protection? Not so much.
 
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USAFRet

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Permanently connected is susceptible to any virus or ransomware that hits the actual PC.
You need something the PC can't touch.

An SSD will have more endurance, simply and primarily because it has more available cells for wear leveling. This increases the larger you go.
The controller comes into play as well. Error correction, etc.
Also, in the race to the bottom of the price barrel, the rest of the USB flash drive is more likely to die.

I'd MUCH rather keep data on a 250GB SSD than a 250GB usb stick.

They are similar, but not exactly the same.

https://www.minitool.com/backup-tips/flash-storage-vs-ssd.html
https://www.ramelectronics.net/SSD-Hard-Drives.aspx
 

DLes

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That's interesting. Now, it is clear that archiving and backups are two different things. I understand that non-volatile flash memory (flash drives) are excellent for archiving. Data will last a decade or so on those. SSDs are not so excellent for archiving, especially unpowered ones. They leak. So for archiving, flash and HDD are the way to go.

But the controllers in SSDs are supposed to be better than for flash drives. Not completely clear what advantage that provides. So I'm still a little confused about why SSDs are better than flash for backups. It is true that SSDs can withstand more write/erase cycles than flash drives, but for either archiving or backups, we're not talking about a lot of those cycles, so this can't be a big issue.
 

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