BackUp in the extreme--advice please

  Enoch 07:19 13 Nov 2006

Any thoughts please. I have had the experience of a total loss of date about 4 years ago and I am ditermined that it will never happen again-----EVER.

I am on XPhome with IE7. I have a laptop AND an external 80g hard drive. Currently I back up weekly to my external HD, once with Acronis True Image and then the following week with Norton Ghost, not incremental, but I delete the earlier back up of the relative programme, so at any one stage I have on my external HD one backup of Acronis and one back up of Ghost. Each of these takes about 23g's so I actually have my hard drive backed up twice, using two different programmes, but on the same external HD. I am considering now also using the WindowsXP own back up programme.

Now, whilst accepting the fact that I could be over backing up, am I doing anything apart from that, in backing up 2 or possible 3 back ups to the same external hard drive

  Meshuga 07:36 13 Nov 2006

Having both backups on the same external HD risks losing both backups if the ex/hd fails. To backup each b/u to separate h/ds is to go over the top. Better off to backup to disc in my opinion. Less risk of loss.

  Enoch 07:46 13 Nov 2006

The back ups to the external drive are complete back ups of my laptop hard drive. Believe it or not, I also back up specific folders weekly as well, once to a CD-RW and the following week to a USB flash drive. Effectively, over a period of four weeks I backup once a week to one or the other. Therefore I have 2 full-backups and 2 specific backups. Over doing it---yep, but I sleep at night.

My real question, accepting your comment about losing both if the ex/HD fails, am I corrupting the exHD by putting two backups on the same ex/HD

  Diodorus Siculus 08:05 13 Nov 2006


This is the Holy Grail of Backups: A method that ensures you’ll never lose an important file; never have to rebuild your system and reinstall all your software from scratch; never have to re-type or recreate old data; never have that awful “Oh, no!” moment when you realize you need a file you deleted several weeks--- or even years--- ago.

Good backups do all that. They let you restore either a single file, or all files--- including system files--- back to a known-good state.

click here

  squillary 08:32 13 Nov 2006

The way it used to work when I was only middle-aged (!) - on tapes back then - was that a full back up would be done at the start of the week followed by an incremental update on the two following days. It used to be spoken of as Grandfather, father and son backup sets (something like that).

Then the first tape would be overwritten with a fresh full back-up, followed by the second overwritten with an increment and so on.

That way, every day's work would be retrievable with only one day's worth getting lost at the worst. Obviously this was in a business environment with a lot of data getting written daily, but it would follow just as well on a weekly basis at home.

The only other thing I'd add is, do you verify each backup you make? Do you ensure each time they're restorable?

  Enoch 08:43 13 Nov 2006

Diodorus Siculus--I appreciate your answer and I am looking into your suggestion, but unfortunately, it did not answer my question which was "am I doing any damage by putting two separate full back-ups on the same external hard drive". Respectfully, let me decide on that question before investigating your recommendation

  Terry Brown 08:43 13 Nov 2006

If you are so concerned with losing data, try an online storage system with daily, weekly or even real time backup, unfortunately these are not free, or you could purchase a web address with enough storage for your data, which you could change as and when you needed to.As this is offline (External storage). this would give you the security you need.

  Enoch 08:52 13 Nov 2006

squillary-----yes I do verify, as much as I can the backups. In Acronis I use the "validate" and "mount then unmount image". In Ghost, I look at the backup on the ex/HD and prove to myself that files are on it. On CD=RW and on the flash drive I look into each of them to see if the files are there. So in answer to your final paragraph, yes, I do verify to the best of my ability.

Terry Brown----I am a bit nervous of the security, not secrecy.

  UncleP 15:48 13 Nov 2006

To answer the question in your first post, it is unlikely that using two backup programs with the same external HD will cause any significant increase in the risk of data loss. It does make your backup procedure more complex, however, and this introduces the possibility of an operator error (especially as you get older!). It does not improve the reliability of your system, in my opinion, as there is no evidence that either product (Acronis or Norton) is more prone to failure.

Unfortunately there is no 'Holy Grail' - there is always a residual finite risk of data loss. A backup system should be designed for your computer and the way you use it to reduce this risk or chance to a level you regard as acceptable or negligible. That's not a simple matter - it requires risk factor assessments for the major mechanisms of data loss, and techniques for their reduction.

To give a (very) simplified example; I would guess that the main data loss mechanism in a well-run home computer is through a HD error or failure and has a chance of around 10% over the typical 5 year life of such a machine (I stress that this is a guess, but based on a fair amount of experience). So we add a second HD to the computer, and copy files across to it once a week, for argument's sake.

The chance that one HD will fail during a given week is about 1 in 2500 (0.1/5 x 52) but no data is lost as there is a copy. The chance that both might fail in the same week, causing possible data loss, is the square of this ie about 1 in six million. However, this is so small that other factors then become significant. The HDs are not independent, and may both be damaged by a common factor - a power surge or a mechanical shock, for example. And if, God forbid, there is a fire in the computer room or a thief steals the computer unit, both HDs are affected.

To avoid these correlated failure mechanisms you can alternatively use an external HD (an Internet storage facility is even better if you are not concerned with data security or the cost). After backing up and validating the resultant file, it can be disconnected and stored away from the computer to avoid thieves, especially those on fire. The fact that it is operating only once a week will probably also extend its lifetime.

If you are still concerned about the ruggedness of your system, then you can use a set of external HDs to mimic the traditional technique described by squillary above. Me? - I backup (in addition to an Acronis/external HD combination) really important data files on CDs or DVDs with Nero - just being careful!

  Enoch 16:48 13 Nov 2006

UncleP-------Your post was exactly what I was looking for, which was an opinion based on what I was currently doing as opposed to an opinion about what I should do. Your post has given me a structure to make my own mind up, and for this I thank you.

Now it is make up my mind time

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