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Advice Please - Backup Medium

Hi all,

I'm looking for some advice regarding backup medium. I use a laptop, and want to regularly back up "My Documents" (MS Office documents, pdf files, text files, Outlook .pst files, etc.) and I don't know which of the following is the best medium for me to use to this end:

Zip Disks
CD-RW Disks
USB Flash Drive
(any other ideas?)

As expected, my two main priorities are device quality/reliablility and data integrity. In other words, I don't want the device/medium to suddenly stop working and lose all of my files or to find some files corrupt or mysteriously missing. Therefore, my risk tolerance is rather low. Given that I plan to back up my files about once per week and will be reusing the medium, long-term reliability is key. I have ruled out CD-R's (even though they are inexpensive) due to the waste. I estimate that my backup will be in the neighborhood of 100MB, with a wide range of individual file sizes.

Any advice for me? Thanks in advance!

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Re:Advice Please - Backup Medium

In reply to: Advice Please - Backup Medium

Zip disks are frankly expensive and not usable on most machines (no drive.)

Both CDRW and USB drives have some finite lifespan, but in spite of that I use a trio of CDRW (soon to be DVD RW) which I rotate the backup set. I've lost one CDRW for unknown reasons, but it was evident on the backup so I fetched a new CDRW and tossed the 50 cent disk in the trash.

Since my USB thumb drive is all of 256MB, I cut what I put there down to about 50MB and that's what I carry with me when I travel.

The only piece of advice I can share that you may want to know is that I found DirectCD, InCD, DLA and such CDRW as disk drive to make the CDRW unreliable. So I just click the erase button and then the record button.

With 3 rotating backups, I've yet to lose anything.

I can prove it too. I moved to a new machine about 5 months ago and I didn't use anything but my backups.

Bob

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Re:Re:Advice Please - Backup Medium

In reply to: Re:Advice Please - Backup Medium

Thanks for the information and ideas Bob. It's really helpful.

With respect to the USB Flash Drives, I read the cnet.com article but have a few questions that perhaps you can answer.

1) What is the overall reliability of these types of storage media?

2) Which manufacturers are the leaders or "kings" of this type of medium? (Again, my focus is on quality/reliability and data integrity)

3) Does the size of the drive affect its reliability? (i.e., are the larger capacity drives more prone to failure?)

4) Is there anything that is known to cause these drives to lose data or fail?

5) Is there one in particular that you'd highly recommend?

Thanks for your assistance!

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Just me and > a decade of use writing....

In reply to: Re:Re:Advice Please - Backup Medium

1) What is the overall reliability of these types of storage media?

Less than 1000 erase cycles? Almost perfect. I noted one CDRW that went away. Since you rotate among backup "sets", that issue of a failed CD vanishes since you have the old set, but you may find a fading media during backup. At which time you slide in a new CDRW media. If you want better than this, I don't think it's econonmical.

At about 1000 erase cycles, then you are approaching the rated duty of a CDRW and at the price, you just get new CDRW media carry on for another couple years. (If daily.)

2) Which manufacturers are the leaders or "kings" of this type of medium? (Again, my focus is on quality/reliability and data integrity)

A recent article dashed that idea. CD rot will happen. It more up to your handling and storage than the media maker. Again, my method of rotating backup sets and how I don't use the DirectCD/InCD method is the suspenders to the belt support that it all works.

3) Does the size of the drive affect its reliability? (i.e., are the larger capacity drives more prone to failure?)

At this point I can't grasp what you are asking. CDRW drives are all the same size and DVD is the other size. All have some MTBF numbers which you can look over. BUT it's a non-issue. CDRW drives are now about 20 dollars and last 2 or so years. You can't buy a 10 year drive. You can buy a new drive or disk when need be.

4) Is there anything that is known to cause these drives to lose data or fail?

Yes. Media handling is one. The 20 dollar price tags is another. But you can't buy longer lifespan parts. There's no reason to since the parts are plentiful and easy to replace (on desktops.)

5) Is there one in particular that you'd highly recommend?

Yes. If CDRW, 20 dollar drive and 50 cent media. Get a 10 pack and rotate the backup sets...

With such low prices, no one will talk much.

Bob

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Re:Just me and > a decade of use writing....

In reply to: Just me and > a decade of use writing....

Bob,

Thanks so much for your detailed reply. I found the information very useful. However, as I wrote in my earlier post, my list of questions were "With respect to the USB Flash Drives", not CD-RW media. That's proably why a few of them seemed so strange to you! Would you mind tackling the same questions for USB Flash Drives?

Your help is appreciated!

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Re:Re:Just me and > a decade of use writing.... About flash.

In reply to: Re:Just me and > a decade of use writing....

You can research flash in depth. I'm going to write the Sandisk rated Compact Flash cards for about 300,000 erase cycles. As an engineer, I know they note erase/write cycles, but in the embedded world we could extend the number of write cycles out beyond the erase cycles with a little software work.

Reference Google: http://www.google.com/search?&q=compact+flash+erase+cycles

If you used a CF card or USB key once daily, we'll do some off-the-cuff numbers to find how long you'll get usage until you hit the warrantied erase/write cycles...

For round numbers, I'll count a backup to use up 10 erase cycles. Which will give you about 82 years of usage. This is obvious not going to be correct since other components such as the connector will likely wear off or break sooner than the 30,000th usage.

Bob

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Re:Advice Please - Backup Medium

In reply to: Advice Please - Backup Medium

Hi again,

I was recently given a new idea. Does anyone have any thoughts on using a hard drive-type music player as a backup medium? Specifically, I would be looking at using an Archos Jukebox 20GB MP3 Player/External Hard Drive to regularly back up my files. Cost is not a factor, as I can get one for next to nothing. I would not use it for music purposes, only for data backup.

Given that the device contains a hard drive, I would assume that it would be more reliable as a storage solution than CDRWs, Zip Disks, or USB Flash Drives. Am I wrong? Is there anything I should be concerned about with respect to the reliability of this type of hard drive in general or this brand of hard drive (Archos) specifically? Any horror stories or things I should be aware of?

Thanks!

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Hard disk as backup. Rarely qualifies. Why?

In reply to: Re:Advice Please - Backup Medium

No write protection.

Great for a "copy", but "backup" in my world means more.

Bob

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Re:Hard disk as backup. Rarely qualifies. Why?

In reply to: Hard disk as backup. Rarely qualifies. Why?

I'm not sure what you mean by "no write protection". Wouldn't the same be true for a Zip Disk or USB flash drive? Can you elaborate please?

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Re:Re:Hard disk as backup. Rarely qualifies. Why?

In reply to: Re:Hard disk as backup. Rarely qualifies. Why?

My latest flash drives have a slider to write protect. Zip's software has a write protect setting, so it's borderline.

It's important since you don't want that virus/trojan/worm/other to be able to jump into that "backup."

Again. "Copy" is more accurate for many of these.

bob

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