Suggestions for external backup solution

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  1. Posts : 43
    Windows 10
       #1

    Suggestions for external backup solution


    I hope this is the right section. A bit unsure where this question would be best posed. I have (very shamefully) been manually backing up all my work files for pretty much ever. Many years ago, at home solutions just seemed to be.... bad. Haha. Not purposeless and I am sure better than nothing but I tried a few and they were a train wreck. Mismatched files in wrong locations everywhere. I would change or update files and they weren't being backed up, seemingly because I think that the software thought it already did. But, it has been a long time since the days of windows vista and I would be shocked if things are still that crazy. This also means I am out of practice.

    I am hoping for some suggestions for an external backup hard drive that can meet a few needs of mine. I also am open to alternative software if you think that maybe a hard drive is good but there is better software to use. I want to be clear. I am not incapable of google searching this, but enough articles with bold text saying "BEST DRIVE TO BUY IN 2021!!!" with multiple authors from the same blog contradicting each other doesn't give me confidence. I am hoping for first hand accounts, ideas of why you do or don't like certain options, little quirky features that get you really excited, etc.

    Basically I need it to:

    • Be compatible with Windows
    • Be at least 4tb,
    • Be stable and independent of my machine so if something were to happen to my computer I can trust it didn't completely screw me over,
    • Have some sort of automatic backup feature whether it is scheduled nightly or real time, or something so I can pretty much forget about it,
    • Preferably the drive and software (if separate from what is included with the drive) will be under $150, but that is a soft number and I have a bit of wiggle room if the suggestion is just that great.
    • Network features are certainly cool as I have multiple machines, but not really a NEED per se


    I really appreciate all of your help!
      My Computer


  2. Posts : 4,453
    Win 11 Pro 22000.708
       #2

    If you're a Costco member, they have a Seagate 8TB drive for $150. https://www.costco.com/seagate-backu...100458004.html It is intended for backups. (It's available through Amazon, at a higher price.)

    I have one, but I haven't used the provided backup software. I do backups manually, using Acronis True Image. The drive isn't normally connected to the PC.
      My Computers


  3. Posts : 43
    Windows 10
    Thread Starter
       #3

    bobkn said:
    If you're a Costco member, they have a Seagate 8TB drive for $150. https://www.costco.com/seagate-backu...100458004.html It is intended for backups. (It's available through Amazon, at a higher price.)

    I have one, but I haven't used the provided backup software. I do backups manually, using Acronis True Image. The drive isn't normally connected to the PC.
    I have acronis. I never actually used the backup function. How does it do with duplicate files? Is it good at detecting changes? in the past (not with acronis) I have been stuck with 20+ previous versions of things that were completely pointless as I keep records of my previous versions of files already as needed so it was creating duplicate backups on my backups. It was acting more like a really terrible version control with no change log than it was a backup software. I know you said you do it manually but do you know at all how the auto backup fairs? I see multiple backup methods. I just want something that can accurately know that something was changed and adequately back it up.
      My Computer


  4. Posts : 2,558
    Windows 10 Pro 64bit
       #4

    Macrium Reflect for imaging.
    Try a Seagate or if money is no object a Western Digital external drive.
    If you require hourly backups of personal files then File History will do this & supplements Macrium.
    Macrium ver 8 when released will have the hourly backup feature too.
      My Computer


  5. Posts : 2,487
    Windows 10 Home, 64-bit
       #5

    I'd be wary of anything "automatic". They generally work, but also lull you into complacency, thinking all is well when that ain't necessarily so. And they reduce your familiarity with the backup application precisely because you wouldn't regularly interact with the software.

    I'd try to think of the job in 2 parts:

    1; backup of Windows and applications via an image.

    2; backup of personal data.

    Category 1 could be configured to include personal data, but it's not the simplest and most elegant method.

    Category 2, if used, would deliberately avoid imaging.

    I'd also be wary of using any software supplied with the drive.

    At anywhere near 150 dollars, you are confined to a spinning hard drive. Most are above 150, closer to 200, for 4 TB.

    I'd look at the negative reviews on Newegg for insight into issues, although many reviewers are either dim bulbs or just had bad luck. These cheaper backup solutions are the rankest of commodities, so I wouldn't expect high performance or high reliability.......you can't avoid rolling the dice to some extent.

    Far better to use your own enclosure and your own choice of hard drive, possibly M.2 non-spinner, but that would drive the price up at the 4 TB level....circa 400 dollars or so.
      My Computer


  6. Posts : 4,453
    Win 11 Pro 22000.708
       #6

    Thornton said:
    I have acronis. I never actually used the backup function. How does it do with duplicate files? Is it good at detecting changes? in the past (not with acronis) I have been stuck with 20+ previous versions of things that were completely pointless as I keep records of my previous versions of files already as needed so it was creating duplicate backups on my backups. It was acting more like a really terrible version control with no change log than it was a backup software. I know you said you do it manually but do you know at all how the auto backup fairs? I see multiple backup methods. I just want something that can accurately know that something was changed and adequately back it up.
    Sorry, I'm not that organized. I just image a drive or partition at releatively long intervals. I don't even use an incremental scheme.
      My Computers


  7. Posts : 43
    Windows 10
    Thread Starter
       #7

    ignatzatsonic said:
    I'd be wary of anything "automatic". They generally work, but also lull you into complacency, thinking all is well when that ain't necessarily so. And they reduce your familiarity with the backup application precisely because you wouldn't regularly interact with the software.

    I'd try to think of the job in 2 parts:

    1; backup of Windows and applications via an image.

    2; backup of personal data.

    Category 1 could be configured to include personal data, but it's not the simplest and most elegant method.

    Category 2, if used, would deliberately avoid imaging.

    I'd also be wary of using any software supplied with the drive.

    At anywhere near 150 dollars, you are confined to a spinning hard drive. Most are above 150, closer to 200, for 4 TB.

    I'd look at the negative reviews on Newegg for insight into issues, although many reviewers are either dim bulbs or just had bad luck. These cheaper backup solutions are the rankest of commodities, so I wouldn't expect high performance or high reliability.......you can't avoid rolling the dice to some extent.

    Far better to use your own enclosure and your own choice of hard drive, possibly M.2 non-spinner, but that would drive the price up at the 4 TB level....circa 400 dollars or so.
    I appreciate the response. It would not be entirely to replace manual backing up of files. I keep multiple offsite for my work files that I backup manually as I work through projects, and also manually backup to an external hard drive every month or 2. I am just looking for something more verbose that will give me a chance to hopefully not spend days downloading 2+tb of data and counting from a cloud storage, should all hell break lose tomorrow. I am looking for a somewhat leave it and forget it option so I can be a little more cautious with what I upload to one of any handful of cloud services I use, and also stress a little less about if I miss an upload. Power surges are a thing in my area and even with a power conditioner, (battery wont help me much pulling 1000 watts while rendering) I don't 100% believe my computer won't be the subject of a failure. Easiest at this point just to keep my clone of my C drive, and then pay for the insurance on the device in case I need to replace it.

    I was looking at some WD stuff, but I think it was their software that was upsetting me many years ago so I mostly am asking to see if anyone has had a different experience or if they have one they know works well. In terms of checking new egg.... I historically have found people who know little of how to care for or maintain hardware, or just dont understand the software (not to say I do but I can learn) love to leave bad reviews and sometimes its obvious they dont know what they are doing and sometimes it isnt.
      My Computer


  8. Posts : 2,487
    Windows 10 Home, 64-bit
       #8

    see comments:

    Thornton said:
    It would not be entirely to replace manual backing up of files. I keep multiple offsite for my work files that I backup manually as I work through projects, and also manually backup to an external hard drive every month or 2. I am just looking for something more verbose that will give me a chance to hopefully not spend days downloading 2+tb of data and counting from a cloud storage, should all hell break lose tomorrow.

    Anything cloud-ish will be relatively slow. Maybe you are forced into it because you need to access backups from remote sites or because of high anxiety. I don't use the cloud at all for data backup, but if you do you have to live with its well known shortcomings.

    Not entirely clear on "more verbose". More configurable? More complicated?


    I am looking for a somewhat leave it and forget it option so I can be a little more cautious with what I upload to one of any handful of cloud services I use, and also stress a little less about if I miss an upload.

    If you use multiple cloud services, I assume you are quite concerned with backup access.

    I am concerned as well, but I don't need remote access and thus rely on multiple levels of purely local backup.

    1: All personal data (personal data only) to a separate internal spinning drive; 2 or 3 times a day on demand with SyncBackFree app, not images. Takes under 2 minutes for 1 TB.

    2: Important but not crucial personal files (all data minus all video files) to an M.2 NVMe SSD external in an enclosure, on demand with SyncBackFree, roughly every month. Not an image. All of this is also in method 1. Takes under a minute for about 400 GB.

    3: Crucial personal files only (largely irreplaceable), hand picked; about 20 GB; to a USB flash drive, on demand with SyncBackFree; roughly monthly. Not an image. All of this is also in methods 1 and 2. Takes about 20 minutes for a medium speed flash drive.

    4: Macrium full image of all partitions on my OS drive; no personal data; every month or two; manual, not automated. Takes about 4 minutes for a system drive with 40 GB occupied.This image file is backed up in methods 1 and 2 above. I'm not highly concerned with Windows backup because it only saves me installation and configuration time, not my much more valuable personal files.



    Power surges are a thing in my area and even with a power conditioner, (battery wont help me much pulling 1000 watts while rendering) I don't 100% believe my computer won't be the subject of a failure. Easiest at this point just to keep my clone of my C drive, and then pay for the insurance on the device in case I need to replace it.

    That sounds OK. Do you keep a clone on a "ready to boot" hard drive or an image that must be formally restored?

    Insurance? I assume you mean extended warranty? Might be worthwhile if you would otherwise worry without it, but my adage is to not insure what you wouldn't mind replacing.


    I was looking at some WD stuff, but I think it was their software that was upsetting me many years ago so I mostly am asking to see if anyone has had a different experience or if they have one they know works well.

    Very common complaint about backup software supplied by HD manufacturers. So avoid them. There are many competitors.....FreeFileSync, Karen's Replicator, SyncBackFree, Second Copy, etc. None use imaging. I've successfully used 3 of those 4.

    In terms of checking new egg.... I historically have found people who know little of how to care for or maintain hardware, or just dont understand the software (not to say I do but I can learn) love to leave bad reviews and sometimes its obvious they dont know what they are doing and sometimes it isnt.

    Agreed........you have to be discerning enough to throw out the chaff and pay attention to the wheat. And look for reviews from other sources.

    My primary advice would be to settle on some good non-imaging backup application for local personal data backup and to use the cloud only if you have some over-riding need for it. I don't. If you must, you are stuck with its weaknesses.

    I'd guess the various sub 200 dollar 4 TB backup hardware are largely a crap shoot. Thus the need for more than one layer of personal data backup.

      My Computer


  9. Posts : 43
    Windows 10
    Thread Starter
       #9

    ignatzatsonic said:
    see comments:
    This is an awesome reply. Thank you for taking the time! Yeah, I work both at home and remote and frequently have to share source files for large portions of my work with colleagues and clients, so keeping an internet backup is good, and the manual backups are a great counter part, but what I mean by verbose is, I dont want to manually be backing up daily, so I do it every couple weeks at best to couple months at worst and I would like something that can just sorta double down on that. This is more of a backup backup system just in case my manual and web backups are A) fail or B) are too inconvenient. As we both mentioned, if I need to download 2tb of data thats a long download, and if I need to do it from another country, well, thats probably even longer. I will take a look at the software and hardware you suggested. I am open to more suggestions if anyone has any but that was a HUGE huge help.

    As for some of your other questions. I have a couple hard drives that I use acronis (never failed me yet) to clone my C drive to in rotation so I always have 2 dates of backup. The oldest gets overwritten at some point. The exception is one other drive that I keep a clone of with my core applications and things already installed should I need to go back to a relatively "clean" state with my essentials. In terms of insurance, my renters insurance covers my workstation. Not a warranty. Built it myself so no singular warranty but it was easy enough to just adjust my coverage to handle power surges and compensate the value of my computer into the policy. Just need to use surge protectors but I have a power conditioner/surge protector that I think for sake of inconvenience has me a LITTLE more protected. You dont have to hear thunder here for the lights to flicker. I dont know why but the power in our area is super spotty. I have not had the power go out yet in the time I have lived here, but I have had all my devices turn off and turn back on. I am (knock on wood) shocked that literally nothing in my home has been damaged yet from it but I try not to count my chickens... The city hasn't done anything about the power issue in our area so anything could happen. Thats digressing a bit but in short, the data is what matters. Replacing my computer would be a HUGE inconvenience but what I do is not cheap and I would rather not be the one shelling out the dough because the city cant keep their power consistent.
      My Computer


  10. Posts : 2,487
    Windows 10 Home, 64-bit
       #10

    see comments:

    Thornton said:
    I dont want to manually be backing up daily, so I do it every couple weeks at best to couple months at worst and I would like something that can just sorta double down on that.

    Any of the backup apps I mentioned can be run with 1 or 2 clicks....after configuration.

    Generally...you can include or exclude files and folders at will, saving the configuration in what is often called a "profile".

    You can have multiple profiles, each backing up a distinct bunch of files. Methods 1, 2, and 3 above are each separate profiles in my SyncBackFree. I run them manually at will, but I'd guess they could be configured to run on a schedule via Windows Task Scheduler.....................which I don't use.

    Primary issue you will need to decide on: "mirroring" or an equivalent term that varies between the various applications.

    Example: you take a picture of your cat and name it kitty.jpg. You run the backup profile. You now have the original and the backup copy.

    You later use a photo app to change kitty.jpg from a color pic to black and white and save it WITH THE SAME NAME.

    Your original is now black and white and your copy is still color. You run the backup again.

    Do you want to still keep the color version on the backup drive or do you want it to be overwritten with the black and white?

    If no, use mirroring. The color backup will be overwritten with the black and white version.

    If yes, don't use mirroring. You'll end up with kitty.jpg and kitty (2).jpg or something like that on the backup drive. One color and one black and white. It will be an option somewhere in the configuration.

    As for some of your other questions. I have a couple hard drives that I use acronis (never failed me yet) to clone my C drive to in rotation so I always have 2 dates of backup.

    Do you habitually confirm that these cloned hard drives are in fact bootable as they sit? I certainly would NOT assume they are.
      My Computer


 

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