What's the best backup drive?

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Computers fail. You need a backup to protect your data.

Whether you are backing up terabytes of video, gigabytes of music, or megabytes of emails and text documents, there's a drive for you. But which one is the best?

This is where you come in.

What's the best backup drive? What would you recommend to everyone on Tom's Hardware?

Below:

Let us know which specific backup drive is the best. Not a brand of drive. One item.
What makes it the best backup drive? How has it made your setup better?
What does the backup drive look like? Post a picture! (We recommend hosting on imgur, but use whatever you like).
Finally, where can you buy the drive? Post a link!

Do you agree with someone? Don't post again (it makes it harder to navigate). Upvote them to show your support!

Here we go!
 

funkytwig

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Not a single drive is the simple answer;).

A RAID 5 Array is the best. If you are just using 1 drive use the WD Black drives which are considered very good fast and reliable. They have a 5 year warranty, I would always go for storage with at least this warranty. The G-Drive enclosure indeed good but for me I want to know what drive they have in them. Could not find this on there website and they only give a 3 year warranty.

Note If you have a array of 4 drives for RAID5 this seems as fast as a 2 drive RAID0 array.

And yes, I know warranty does not guarantee they will not fail but if a manufacture gives a 5 year warranty that does count for something (as it would not be commercially viable to offer it if the drives did not almost always last that long).

Ben

PS personally I have had several Lacie external drives fail (and others I know have had problems with them) so I tend to avoid them. Seagate Baracudas also seem unreliable.
 
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TC Fulton

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Anything but a refurbished WD drive! And I don't recommend WD externals that have the integrated SATA bridge, if that part of the pcb fails, you're in deep trouble. Seagates probably are not much better, but at least you can pop them out of the cases and connect direct to SATA, or even use as a laptop drive. :)
 

bantom007

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well SSHD might be better option and if you can shell out more go for SSD.
then buy Hard Drive Enclosure Support.
Lacie and G-Drive are good too.
Latest RAID system HDD is also an option and if you want professional one go for Synology I guess.

But i think the best one would be extra internal/external HDD plus cloud storage!
 
1)
If you trust cloud storage, it does seem like the best option. If done right, it's protected against failures of the vendor's systems by having multiple copies of the data, and you can get it anywhere. But the network is a slow way to do the initial full backup, so be sure that the setup does incremental updates after that.

2)
If you are paranoid like me and don't want to give all your information to someone else on general principle, cloud is not so good. Microsoft's service doesn't even encrypt your data at rest. So my favorite backup drive is: Any 3.5" hdd. I've got two hot-pluggable bays in my machine. I just grab an HDD out of my antistatic, shock-resistant drive case (I told you that I'm paranoid), slip it into the bay, and do my backups. I do restorable image backups of my system drive and file backups of the others.

3)
Always have more than one backup drive. When you do a full backup, choose the one with the oldest backup. If the system fails catastrophically while doing the backup, you were not in the process of overwriting your last backup!

4)
Ideally, you should make two copies and keep one somewhere else. A bank vault, the home of a family member, Iron Mountain.... But if, God forbid, something happened to your home so that your computer and your backup drives were totaled, the backups might not be the most important thing on your mind.

-----------------------

External drives with USB 3.0 or Thunderbolt or LightningBlast are great devices, but I would only use them for a mobile PC. When I build a home system, I leave room for a hot-plug bay. So much cheaper to have multiple backup drives that way. If there's no room, build in an eSATA port and use an external docking bay.

@funkytwig - if you are running continuous backup, I would agree with you 100%. It's something I'd like to try some day.
 

lorensr

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Please explain what a Hot Plug Bay is and how to set one up.
 
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I personally use toys from Kingwin like those on this page: http://www.kingwin.com/satastorage/ . Lots of firms make things like these. Fit in a 5.25 inch drive bay, hold 3.5 inch drives. Has a latch to hold the 3.5 inch drive in place.

The power and sata cables attach to the bay device. When you put a drive in it, the drive is connected to the power and sata.

EDIT, @BG-52 below

Please also post your hardware, controller settings, an operating system version. The ability to recognize a hot-plugged drive depends on all three of these things as well as the electrical connection of the drive bay itself. I have found that, even with my best setup, if I remove a drive and put another in the same bay, it's not recognized until I force a disk rescan.

The bay is only one of the many ingredients.
 

BG-52

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Hi WyomingKnott,

I have a similar system to the one you described only problem is when I pull out a drive to put in another, my system doesn't recognize the new drive. There have been times (all the time) when I change the drive I have to reboot my system in order for it to recognize the new drive. It did say on the packaging that this would make your drives hot swappable but it hasn't worked for me. I followed the installation direction exactly, was there a step I might have missed?
My current system is an AMD Phenom II X4 840,a Gigabyte M68M-S2P (Socket M2) motherboard (both of which I'm planning on replacing and upgrading) and 4GB DDr2 memory (planning on going to 16GB DDR3).
 

Zeppi_

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I keep my digital photos stored on 2 external drives and one inside the PC. I no longer care what the brand is as lomg as it is something well known. Now I have a collection of photos going back 11 years. The problem is that I have thousands of photos amounting to some 2 or 3 terabytes. When I first started I used to keep DVD backups but now file sizes are so big that I have just bought a 5 TB drive. I would like a system that is out of my house just in case of theft or fire. What do you think of cloud storage for a long time (years) in the region of 5 terabytes?
 

Ultracab

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Many people are opting for an external hard drive to upgrade their computer's storage capacity.
Find Here the ideal extra storage for your PC,
Seagate expansion
Samsung M3
Toshiba canvio basics
Transcend 1TB military-grade shock resistance
 

AndrewBell

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Before choosing a back-up drive, remember three things, capacity, performance, and protection of drives. One another thing, when you purchase an external or internal back-up drive follow the rating of it.
 

Ned007

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For everyday backups I use the Seagate USB external hard drive drives. But I take lots of photos, and I recently found a great backup drive especially made to back up photos. It can collect your photos, store them with optional encryption and also allows you to share them. It has lots of ports and many features. It is called the Bevy Smart Photo System - Broken short link removed by moderator.
 
Ned

1) The link is broken, at least for me.
2) We generally don't allow shortened links; they can hide all sorts of nefarious activity or just the fact that it's a paid affiliate link

I've deleted the link. Please feel free to edit your post and add the full link to the actual page.
 

The_Tester

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For home use

Large: My Passport Ultra Metal Edition. Cooler running than most of the plastic only encased drives I use while easily maintaining 100MB/s+ W/R

Small: Sandisk ultra Takes full advantage of intel RST for very quick burst speeds up to about 500MB~1GB or so.

On the go

Anything that is self encrypting/auto erase/shock/water/splash resistant/proof SSD. I personally don't use or need any but it makes sense that no moving parts + no water + data security should not be questioned. If ever do get one it's going to be for example "unappreciative spoiled kid proof" lol.


 

Harvey Rabbett

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I doubt any one is the best; depends on what you want it to do. Just got a WD Passport that has a backup system with good documentation on how to use it (most important). This is a SCHEDULED backup system wherein you set the times for backing up and frequency. Best of all, you can choose the target files without backing up a whole computer, if you so desire, and I surely do.

There is no point in backing up corrupt system files, so why bother to do that? Leave that out and just back up programs, data and the like. Suits my needs.

Oh, yeah, and I dropped it twice on hard floor and it still works. What I don't like about it is its small size, where do you put it. The wire won't let it stay where you put it, gotta slap Velcro on it to keep anywhere you want to place it. Or get a long cable and throw it in a drawer? hahaha.
 

vizwhiz

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This has been a great thread. So I'd like to also ask how you do multiple copies, i.e. one local copy of the backup and one "remote" that you put somewhere outside of the house in case of fire/theft? I'm guessing that you can't backup the backup backup as often as you backup the local backup?
 

Marvin_10

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Not sure I understand your message? I would use 2 remote backups with USB3, Seagate, Western Digital, etc. Use one at a time.

Or you could use a Tripp Lite U339-002 Drive Dock, or some other brand, which has space for two drives. You can clone one drive, into another...Marv

 

Marvin_10

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I bought a Black WD 2TB hard drive last week, (comes with a 5yr warranty), and I have a WD 500 GB drive. I have a single Thermaltake BlacX external BU.One week I put in the 2TB hard drive, and another week, I put in the 500GB drive. I tried to put in a Rosewill RC-210 Esata controller in my win 7 Dell XPS8900 computer, but the driver only works with XP. So using USB 2 it's very slow. I see external BU that work with USB 3, just like my Thermaltake BlacX, but they all have problems! So I guess I'll use USB 2 with my Thermaltake, until I find one with no problems.

 

vizwhiz

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thanks for the answers - what I was trying to accomplish is keeping one backup local, for frequent backups of important family pictures, videos, etc. The other is remote, just meaning i want to keep it somewhere else, like in my office desk, in case something happens in the house.
I suppose i just need to buy two of the same thing, and each time I back up, i take it to work, and bring home the other to use for the next backup. that way i'm always only one backup off on any given day. Just seems like a pain. :(
 

unniks

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This is question which does not have one "Right" answer. In my case, I've lots of photos and documents.
1. For Photos: 1 keep 4 copies, 1 in Computer Harddisk and the other 3 separate identical sized external Harddisk (1TB/2TB). External HDD are not connected to the computer. They are connected and mirrored whenever all the photos that I take are processed (till then 1 copy will be in the HDD and the other in the card of the camera). Note, I'm not a photographer so the backup is usually taken once in a month or after some vacation or event.

2. For Documents: 2 in computer (separate HDD), 1 in external drive and 1 each in onedrive and google drive (total does not exceed 1GB). Harddisk/onedrive/gdrive are always synchronized, upload to external HDD is depending on the necessity.
 
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I always recommend Cloud Storage. Otherwise, I have a Transcend 500GB disk with Military Grade Shock Protection and something they said about 'very less chances of losing data'
 
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