Suggestions for external backup?


I had a 250G external drive go bad yesterday. Not too much lost, maybe a day or two. So far, no big deal. But it got me thinking. I want MORE. I want TRANSPARENT. I want K.I.S.S. I want not just one backup copy, I want TWO, running in parallel. I want it built from standard, off-the-cart stuff.

Storage is cheap, certainly cheaper than my time. Ideally, I'd like to capture any file that changes AS it changes, but something like the Syncback doing a batch cron backup might be OK.

I figure we've got enough designers, copywriters, seos(?) at TW that somebody might have already invented this wheel. Anybody?


Server or Desktop?

If you are on your server, you have two options -

1) run RAID mirroring. I'm not a huge fan of this actually - RAID has it's problems, and if a disk goes down while you are rebuilding a broken one, you lose everything. (This is the part that sales people won't tell you. If you go RAID, use a hardware raid, and if you can afford it, get a 3ware caching controller.

2) rsync. rsync is included in just about every linux installation. It backs files up simply and easily. You can have a cron job that runs it every night or even more regularly than that. With rsync, you get easy copies of all of your files, including permissions, and those files are ready to go live at any time. You can also set up multiple rsync boxes, where you might have a copy of your files on another local hard drive and on a remote box.

Now for windows on your desktop, the Matrox one button external drives come with backup software. You can also use Norton Ghost. There are also rsync options for windows out there too.

--Now that I've read your post again it looks like you want something automatically copying everything. RAID mirroring is the most efficient option. Like I said - the 3ware cards are the way to go (at least for SATA) - they have a battery backup on the card so that even in a power failure cached writes don't get lost, and the boost in performance from using a caching controller vs. what might be included on your Motherboard is astounding. 3ware + SATA gives SCSI a serious run for it's money at a significantly lower cost.

Amazons S3

JZ covered this awhile ago better than I can..

Buffalo TeraStation. Get a

Buffalo TeraStation. Get a terabyte (or 1.6Tb) of backup, and it's RAID, so if one drive goes bad you're still covered.

For our local test servers

For our local test servers we run a few things, including backup servers. But for simple storage and RAID, we use Systemax Mini-Vault NAS 1000

I wrote about it over here.

For my laptop, I run a program that clones my harddrive to an external hard drive. I wrote about that here.

I assume this is your desktop. I personally should probably backup more often than three times per week and have two different hard drives backing up.

I echo WP's thoughts but do

I echo WP's thoughts but do it in a slightly different manner to JZ.

I use Amazon's S3 service directly, but I also indirectly access it via Jungle Disk which makes the server directly accessable via WebDav, and is therefore mountable as a local disk.

When this is combined with running your desktop and servers via virtualisation software, such as VMware you can back the whole image up and if the worst happens, you can have your identical desktop back in the time it takes to download the single file. One of the major things I like about doing it this way is there is literally no configuration to get your (pre screw up) desktop / server / hybrid back the way it was before the disaster and at 15c per GB per month I can't think of a lower cost DR plan


Sorry, yeah, desktop. As a rule, I do everything clientside.

Funny you mention Buffalo, Matt. I really hadn't heard of them until yesterday --but I haven't been looking for externals in the last few years, either.

My thought is to have smaller, redundant hardware, too. Once a quarter, I rotate the hardware off premises. If I go TB, I'm afraid it'll just sit there. I'd feel more comfortable with more, but smaller, chunks of data.

ahh yes ReoBack. I

ahh yes ReoBack. I recomended ReoBack to Gimp a while ago but to bring both my advice to Gimpy n you uptodate, I use it to backup to S3 via WebDav, the same as previously mentioned on servers I have yet to deploy a Virtual framework around

OK, I hear you on the S3. RC wants the Platinum plan.

So, now I'm thinking I want the desktop setup I've outlined AND add the S3 serverside as well.

added: I'm WinXP (to Littleman's great distress, hhh!)

I use to

I use to sync everything I need between home computer, work computer and laptop. Any on of those dies I lose nothing at all. I use hosted exchange to handle email and as a backup I just incase all of my computer die simultaneously. I lost data once - never again.

Infrant NV+ w/Raid5

I'd check out the Infrant ReadyNAS NV+ external RAID severs - they come as configured or bare-bones systems and run much quieter than the Buffalo systems:

If you get the bare-bones system, check out the Seagate SATA Barracudas - they're fast, solid, and quiet drives. Good price comparisons on them here:



I'm sure you could find something suitable at Dealigg...quickly becoming my fav site for online deals. Here's a hard drive for a decent price:
250GB for $79

Cheap and easy

Here's what I use:

Cheap and easy, low end hardware, includes archives and offsite and is as low maintenance as I can make it. Basically you throw a cheap linux server in a closet and set up a couple of scripts to remotely backup your webserver to it each night, then archive it to a second drive on the machine, then burn some dvd's about once a month.

think differently

I use WSFTP's sync utility to backup websites to my local disk.

great thread. lotsa new stuff shown

Thanks for the ultra-knowledgeable keyword feed, twers. Using them, I went off searching around rsync and robocopy and soon ran across Deltacopy and Karen's Replicator as possibilities to use to as the script to drive a new setup. Deltacopy was interesting, and seems to get very high marks for speed but low marks for UI. Karen's Replicator gets kudos for both UI and its internal scheduler. I gave it a test run and was extremely impressed. I plugged in another flash drive and set it to copy MyDocs without any filtering. It move 17Gb in 19 minutes via firewire to a Maxtor. Not bad. Since I ticked 'changed files only,' the next pass (I set it up for every 2 hours, you can get down to minute intervals) should be very quick. Since it'll run multiple jobs within the schedule, it'd be easy to set up another Maxtor on a 2 hr cycle and offset the start time by an hour. You'd end up with the external drive redundancy I wanted and one of them would have a backup no older than 1 hour. That's fine for my stuff.

Now to check out using it or something else to copy to the server.

so your computer is on your

so your computer is on your desk and you have 2 hard drives daisy chained off that same desktop. Not bad. Redundant backup and 3 copies of your data. I hope your house doesn't burn down ;)

>you have 2 hard drives

>you have 2 hard drives daisy chained off that same desktop. Not bad. Redundant backup and 3 copies



Yeah, I hear you. This setup is at the office. I keep a 3rd and 4th 250G Maxtor off-premises and swap one of the 'live' ext drives with the oldest one of those. I back up some files to the dedicated server with FTP, but that's not being done automatically now --it should be.

I like the services you posted, I like them a lot. But you know how I am about 3rd-party or hosted services ...I just gotta roll my own.

I've not used it yet but

I've not used it yet but CrashPlan looks about right to me. Background process, multiple-version, off-site, cross-platform, inexpensive, incremental backups are why I bought it. Now I'm just trying to find one friend who actually backs up his PC (or who cares about backups) to partner with!


is pretty helpful backup software for those external drives

to: stuntdubl

do you mean Handy Backup?

Broadband Bastards

If any other poor sod also has a connection that isn't up to doing remote backups of any meaningful size, let me point you at the Iomega Rev drives. Fast, pocket-sized disks (really, they are) and the newer ones hold 70G. Get a decent rotation system going for daily and then weekly off-site.

Primary LAN backup through Retrospect for data (can't really praise it, now wish I'd gone with Veritas) and Acronis TrueImage for full partition and disk imaging. This latter is absolutely wonderful - streets ahead of Ghost and Drive Image; full imaging from within Windows, background tasks, scheduling, emergency boot disks, protected emergency partitions, cheap and fast.

Have also used the freebie Microsoft SyncToy for quick 'n simple mirroring/syncing between two boxes.


RC reporting in: One of the things I didn't mention as a requirement would be that it'd be nice if the UI was bulletproof enough that I could use it in the ultimate PC data horror chamber ...the everyday, non-tech, small office environment. So I let them have a look, ramble through the set-up, even set up their own job schedule. I am stunned, -stunned- to announce that they actually GOT IT when using Karen's Replicator. Looks like this is one that can be recommended without cringing and knowing that you're adding to your parasitic support group. Woo hoo!

As for off-site, I have a new dedicated server with plenty of room that uses SFTP. Most of the popular Win backup software only does FTP. So I need to bridge FTP-to-SFTP. I'm looking at this set-up, Using FTP applications over SFTP, where he uses Syncback and Tunnelier.

re: handybackup


off-site via SFTP

to have Syncback auto-login, auto-logout, and exit Tunnelier

add following commandline in Syncback > Programs > Run Before Profile
"C:\Program Files\Bitvise Tunnelier\Tunnelier.exe" -loginOnStartup -exitOnDisconnect
tick the 3 checkboxes under it, 'Wait 20 seconds' (may not be needed)

under Tunnelier > Options
tick "Auto logout when session activity over"

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.