External backup recommendations needed

Jodi_SoCalMay 12, 2012

I'm in the market for a 1 to 2 TB hard drive with easy to use backup and retrieval software. Probably need one that creates an image.

When attached I like my back up drive to be as readable and accessible as my computer drive.

And it needs to be usable on both a Mac and a PC, notjust one, or the other like my previous backup drive.

Small and portable would be nice, but not necessary.

Question ... I've heard of incremental backup for years but would like to know what exactly this means. If I do a full backup to my external drive and then delete some files on my computer drive, will the deleted files that were previously on the backup drive disappear with the next incremental?

Anyone know of any good deals from 'Deal of the Day' type offers or sites?


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I recently acquired a 1 TB Western Digital MyBook that I use with the XP box. So far I've only done 1 backup with it but the drive itself seems to be fine. The software that comes with it seems buggy, IMHO. Sometimes it gags when the computer gets rebooted and has to close itself. I'm not sure I want to trust it to do backups. A while back I downloaded a free version of Macrium Reflect and will give that a workout.

I'm not knowledgeable enough to know if you can use it on both a PC and a Mac at the same time. Seems to me that if the drive was formatted for one method, it couldn't be used for the other....but I could be wrong.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2012 at 10:40AM
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If you haven't already considered - You might want to read up on Raid.

Just stick a 2nd drive in the pc, maybe a controller card.

Here is a link that might be useful: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RAID

    Bookmark   May 12, 2012 at 10:42AM
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ravencajun Zone 8b TX

I have a Seagate free agent pro.
you can get several free image programs including the one mentioned macrium.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2012 at 12:32PM
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I created a 25 Gig partition on my XTRNL hd then about every month drag n drop My Documents to it click copy and it takes just a few minutes. I change the file name to include the date. Sure beats the 4 hour grinding put put put of incremental backup.

Files deleted from the current B/U will still be in the previous. Restoring any file is just drag n drop.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2012 at 12:45PM
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Thanks for the replies. I think RAID is overkill for what I need and looking for. I'm hoping to find 1TB, 1.5TB or preferably 2TBs for under $100 of possible.

Mxyplx, I've already been doing something similar over the years and really don't want to do it any more. Just want a nice clean backup system with files (mostly photos and music) that reside all in one place. Because I've been doing something similar, I have multiple copies of the same file and finally had to break down and go through them all (thousands of files) checking for dups and deleting them. Ugh.

I'm a graphic designer so some files are on my Mac, others on three laptops and a desktop I have with four internal hard drives. I dream of the day when I can consolidate all the files.

I do know not to put all my eggs in one basket so I have other external hard drives to drag the really important stuff to and store somewhere very safe.

Can an external drive can be successfully used on a PC *and* a Mac? The last one I bought (a portable Maxtor) was formatted from my PC and works great on the PC. I can retrieve files when I plug it into my Mac but cannot save or drag to the Maxtor.

Still wondering about the incremental backups. Do they overwrite what was previously there or append the files so that anything I copied to the backup drive earlier and deleted from the computer will remain on the backup during the next incremental.


    Bookmark   May 14, 2012 at 4:09PM
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I'm assuming that you are making 'compressed' backup sets. Such a backup set is one large file that contains a compressed set of all the files chosen for backup. It has a special file structure. Keep in mimd that it is only one big file.

Incremental backup stores only new-files and changed-files written since the last backup. You start with a full backup and then periodically do incremental backups. At some point, it is advisable to start over with a new full backup.

Here's why. To restore a file set containing incremental backups, you have to start with the full backup set and then restore all incremental backups in the same order as they were written. In this way, all file revisions gets restored in proper order ending with the last version. Newer versions of a file overwrites the older version.

A minor nusiance can appear. Old deleted files can reappear. For example, suppose you had file "A" and it was included in the first incremental backup. later, it was discarded and does not appear in later incremental backups. It will reappear while doing a full restore.

A lot of folks do not use incremental backups, but do only full backups. Its less confusing, but uses much more storage space and time.

I simplify my backups by not using a compressed backup set. I keep all my improtant data on one logical drive. Since I have a very large external drive, I merely make an ordinary copy of my data drive to the external drive.

To enhance relibility (life) of the backup drive, it is turned off most of the time and turned on only for file copying.

These days, RAID arrays is the popular way to maintain files. RAID has the advantage of automatically keepng duplicate files and can recover from a loss of one of the drives in the array. I'm not sure about the minimum number of drives required to gurantee a recovery from the loss of s drive.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2012 at 4:03AM
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I do not do incremental backups for the reason Jemdandy notes. I delete the old backup and create a new one and I also copy the My Documents folder over to the external drive each time.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2012 at 6:39AM
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I have too many backups now.. Lenovo oem restore, Lenovo first user setup image. Then windows does daily backup & image to local hard drive.. I image it on sundays to remote hard drive.

But what seems to save me ... is my Doc & Pictures.. are in DropBox. Even if I wrongly delete something its easy to get it back from dropbox whom saves copy's of the deletes for some days. My laptop dies... all docs/pics still at dropbox. Pretty simple.

Here is a link that might be useful: DropBox (referal u & i both get extra 500 mb free)

    Bookmark   May 18, 2012 at 11:35AM
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If I'm understanding correctly, what I am currently doing (dragging a folder with all my personal files, photos and docs) to an external hard drive, is pretty much what some of you would recommended rather than an automatic back up system that gives me one large compressed file. And I would agree with that.

I certainly don't want that which is why I said in my OP that I wanted it to ... "be as readable and accessible as my computer drive." I only connect my external drive to my laptop when I am going to either back up files or go find a file that I've deleted on my laptop.

In the past, I just kept dragging the same folder with my personal files onto an external drive and renamed it with the date so I knew the latest version. That way if I deleted something on my laptop (intentionally or not), I would always have at least one copy of it in a previous dragged backup. But which folder was always the question? So none of the previous drags ever got deleted and I ended up with several copies of the same file.

Does anyone know what the Seagate Expansion is? Does expansion mean it is just another drive letter (when plugged in) and you can only drag or save your files to it? If so, that's fine with me if there is a software (Macrium Reflect perhaps, or?) I can use in conjunction to get at least one clean image before I start dragging just my fines to the backup drive.


    Bookmark   May 19, 2012 at 1:54AM
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If you're looking for a central repository for multiple computers, you probably want to be looking at network attached storage (NAS). Unfortunately, they are a lot more expensive than $100. If you don't want to do that route, you can use a drive (or drives) in one of your computers. Just share the drive and point all your back-ups to that drive. Of course, that computer needs to be on 24/7.

In terms of a back-up plan for any critical data, one back-up isn't sufficient. You should be looking at off site storage as well. That could be putting a physical copy to another location or using any one of the online services (or both).

An incremental backup is a backup of data that has changed since you last full back-up. The advantage is that you have a much smaller amount of data to backup, which goes quicker. You could, for example, do a full back-up weekly and incremental backups the other six days.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2012 at 9:30AM
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I'm back ...

I am looking at a 2TB WD MyBook Essential with WD SmartWare software for backing up. The selling points for me are the USB 3.0 and Windows 7 compatibility, customer reviews and price.

What I don't understand is whether or not I can just drag and drop the files I want to back up instead of using the SmartWare software. I just want to occasionally plug the WD into my laptop and have it appear as a drive. Is this possible with this particular WD model?

I currently have no use for RAIDs or NAS. Just want a place to store all of my files. I also use an only site for photo storage and burn CD/DVDs, plus I have two smaller external drives.

I was really sold on and ready to buy a 2TB WD Elements Desktop because it gets good reviews but it only offers US 2.0 and I can't find anywhere that says it's Win 7 compatible.

As you can see by my original May 12 post, I'm not an impulse buyer. :-)


    Bookmark   June 27, 2012 at 8:23AM
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Richard (chuggerguy)

I have a couple older(USB 2.0) MyBook Essentials. I wasn't interested in the software so the first thing I did was reformat them to be rid of it.

I use them as you describe... grab a drive off the shelf... plug it in... it gets detected and assigned a drive letter... I drag&drop files to/from it. When I'm done, I eject it, unplug it, and re-shelf it until next time.

I don't have an "Elements" but can't imagine any issues especially if you're not planning on using the software anyway.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2012 at 10:48AM
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ravencajun Zone 8b TX

you can still drag and drop you can use the software or just ignore it and do what you want, or your can do both use the software and also do your drag and drop. One is not exclusive of the other generally.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2012 at 1:32PM
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