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Backups / mirrors, not really sure what's best for this...

by Sarries_Fan / June 15, 2013 12:38 AM PDT


I'm not sure whether I need to run backups or mirrors for this - perhaps someone can enlighten me and maybe suggest some software options please?

I have a desktop computer (Windows 7) which is where we store our family photos and movies. I use Crashplan+ to keep an off-site backup of these files, and am slowly working my way through them, putting our favourites on Flickr and SkyDrive. I also want to be able to access the photos and movies (not just the edited ones and the ones on SkyDrive/Flickr) both on our home network but also via the internet through our NAS - a WD MyBookLive which includes cloud access.

I think what I need is to have a system where all the image and movie files from the desktop are replicated on the NAS, so that if I edit or delete an image on the desktop then those changes are reflected on the NAS fairly soon after that. Is there anything I can get to do this job?

I'm not concerned about keeping a backup on the NAS of the "original" of any edited/deleted files, as we already have a backup of that from the desktop via Crashplan+

Thanks for your help,


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All Answers

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Why not both?
by daddywalter / June 21, 2013 2:25 PM PDT

I prefer to use both mirroring and multiple backups. I mirror my hard drive onto an external drive after the operating system and most important applications are installed, and again periodically as I make changes to the software; this external drive is then removed and put into storage, along with the installation discs for everything I have installed. I use a separate drive or partition for storing data, and back it up separately. (Actually I back up three different ways -- an online backup service, another external drive and occasionally backup DVDs.)

But not every piece of data gets backed up this way. I use Web-mail services, so I let them store the mail I receive on them; if I (or the NSA) need anything from those accounts after a crash, I just let Thunderbird retrieve everything. Pictures that are on Facebook aren't on my "critical backup" list either. And I don't really care about saving my all-time high score in Mahjong Titans or Freecell. Registration coders for software are printed out and filed away, even though I can (usually) find the registration e-mails or get them from the publisher's Websites.

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OK thanks
by Sarries_Fan / June 22, 2013 11:51 PM PDT
In reply to: Why not both?

Thanks fella, I'm trying to get my head round some of that but I'll look into giving it a go.

Thanks again for your help.

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Don't forget to test
by porsche10x / June 25, 2013 5:28 AM PDT
In reply to: Why not both?

I would like to add a suggestion that I rarely see mentioned. Test your backups and mirrors!

Just recently, I replaced a hard drive and used Acronis to migrate the entire contents of the old drive to the new one. The backup and restore seemed to go perfectly, but the new drive would not boot up. The data was there but the disk wasn't bootable. I tried every possible option, cloning, backing up to and restoring from an archive file, copy MBR, don't copy MBR, sector-by-sector, etc. Nothing worked (I ended up using Easeus disk copy which worked just fine).

My point is, the process completed 100% "successfully" in every case. I had no way of knowing that my disk copies didn't actually work until I tested them. Now, I was replacing a drive, so I knew right away, but what if I were doing this as a backup for disaster recovery? I could have had multiple backups, perhaps over years, with none of them actually working and I would never have known until too late. So test your backups. Don't just check to see if the files are there. If you're expecting to make bootable images, test them to make sure they really work. If you're just archiving files, spot-check the archive to make sure you can read and recover the files.

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Yes, test!
by daddywalter / June 25, 2013 12:52 PM PDT
In reply to: Don't forget to test

Very good advice, porsche 10x.

And be sure to safeguard your copy of whatever backup software you use. When I crashed my desktop machine recently, I wanted to restore it using first my mirror, and then the latest backup made with Acronis. Naturally I couldn't find my installation disc, and for some reason (which I later figured out was my own fault) the copy I downloaded wouldn't install properly. I ended up reinstalling Windows and my applications from their original discs, and then restoring data from my Mozy Home online backup. I now have all my software discs (including Acronis, which I found) filed by type in a single location ... and I'm upgrading my online backup to include more than just my data files. I'm also copying my photos and mp3s onto CDs or DVDs, both to reduce the total amount to be backed up and so I easily have them available on both desktop and laptop machine, under either Windows or Linux.

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Testing backups
by Sarries_Fan / June 26, 2013 12:06 AM PDT
In reply to: Yes, test!

Thank you both for adding to this, I'll make sure I test once it's set up. I have been backing up our photos etc onto DVDs as well as using CrashPlan, so I'm halfway there as far as redundancy goes - now I just have to get things set up to run automatically so my failing memory doesn't cause me problems!

I'll look round at some reviews but are there any particular mirror programs you would suggest are worth looking at?

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Long ago I learned that mirroring is too dangerous.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / June 26, 2013 3:07 AM PDT
In reply to: Testing backups

The problem with a mirror is that it does what it says. So if you delete, corrupt a file, the mirror copy does that too.

Since most loss is by delete or corruption, mirroring seems best for the more rare total drive failure.

After many years I've settled on a sync with the (mother ships) network drives.

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Good point
by daddywalter / June 26, 2013 7:50 AM PDT

Bob, I use mirroring primarily with a freshly-installed operating system and core applications, then store the mirror as insurance against a hard drive crash. From that point on I use a combination of full and incremental backups for data and software updates. If I lose a file, I can restore from the backup; if the operating system goes and I can't fix it, I go back to the mirror first, then to the next-most-recent backup. (There's a chance that whatever caused my misery is on the latest backup.)

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I didn't call that a mirror but a clone copy.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / June 26, 2013 11:28 AM PDT
In reply to: Good point

And with CLONEZILLA I can put more than one of these images on another drive. Remember I'm pretty old school and mirror has a very specific definition and if I did yank the drive from the mirror position the controller would be asking me to confirm if I want to boot so are you sure this is really a mirror AKA RAID 1?

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My bad, Bob
by daddywalter / June 26, 2013 3:39 PM PDT

Sorry, I wasn't thinking of RAID, I was thinking of cloning rather than mirroring. The closest I have ever gotten to any form of RAID is running an external hard drive for continuous backup --very different in practice, but roughly the same degree of data protection (and the same drawback you mentioned) as RAID 1.

Btw, I do my cloning onto inexpensive USB hard drives designed for bacing up laptops. They're small enough to toss into a desk drawer, but even the sloest and lowest-capacity ones are more than adequate for cloning the OS and applications on my C: drive.

I always learn from your posts, Bob. Maybe others can learn something useful from me once in awhile.

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No problem.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / June 28, 2013 2:02 AM PDT
In reply to: My bad, Bob

And is bacing a good thing?

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