Backup Methodologies

Started by moodflow, January 26, 2009, 04:10:39 pm

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I may have brought this up before, but how does everyone keep all their critical data backed up?

Personally, I keep my data (TG2 scene & clip files, personal photos & videos, etc) on a separate "data" drive and not on the system drive.  The "system" drive of course houses the OS and apps.  If the PC dies, the data is separate from it and makes migrating to a new PC a cinch.

I then have an external drive called "data backup", which is an exact mirror of the data drive, though delayed.  I usually back up the data once every two weeks (or less if I've done some major file adds or rework) and I bought a small inexpensive app called folder clone to help with this.  The delayed nature assists with accidental file overwrites, etc. 

The data drive resides in the main PC case, but the data backup drive is stored in a small fireproof/waterproof safe I picked up a few years ago at Walmart of all places.  If there is a flood or fire, it will help keep the drive alive to a point.

I have a 3rd "backup" drive, which I store in an offsite location, but it doesn't get updated, but once every 6 months or so. 

I've thought about having a RAID 1 setup, but I'm not sure if this will be overkill or not.

Anyway, anyone else have any backup designs they'd like to share?
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Use portable drives.  Not much to add, though.
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I think I'm reasonably safe with my backup strategy. I have learned it the hard way, though, sometime in the past, when I lost all my data through a HD crash. Ouch.

Since years, all my PCs run on RAID 1, to begin with. When I buy a new PC, adding cost for the extra HD doesn't really make a huge difference. I enjoy the safety that if one drive should break, I've still got the exact mirror.
To help with that, I run incremental backups of my data folder with a USB drive, and the free application cobian backup. It does the job.
However in practice, the drive is not always switched on, when cobian backup attempts to run a backup. So in reality, I backup once a week approximately to the external USB drive.
It doesn't really matter much to me if I break my OS installation, I can always reinstall the OS and applications on another HD or on one of the two redundant HDs. As long as I can rescue the data without further ado, I'm fine.

People who regard just their tgd files as valuable data have a pretty cheap solution: tgd files are so small, that your lifetime worth in tgd files can fit on a USB stick :-)



I keep incremental backups of my entire disk on an external disk, and keep critical files in other places as well (thumb drives, web hosts, etc.). - A great Terragen resource with models, contests, galleries, and forums.


Yes, I use the "data" drive method too.  I keep all the install programs and data there (scenes, scripts, documentation, textures, photo's, etc.)  I also make an encrypted xxx_info.txt file for each program I purchase and also keep this on the data drive.  This file will have serial numbers, site log-ins info, etc. so I can reinstall or update easily.  Then I back that drive up with an external USB drive that I can plug into any of my computers.

Maybe I'm the only one, but I can't stand the "c:\documents and settings" philosophy.  I like the configuration file local to the application -- much easier to find if problems show up.  But not many programs let you choose anymore.
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I have an off board 500GB USB hard drive (amongst others) and I keep a synchronised copy of various directories on that. I use a bit of software that I bought ages ago called superflexible File Synchroniser ( ) I have the same directories on my work and home PCs and my off board. When I sync at home any new / deleted files get copied / deleted on the off board, then when I sync at work the same happens there (new files from home get transfered to work and visa versa). That way I have 3 copies of all my important stuff in 2 different locations.
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I have the most critical files on a backuped network drive that has 50GB of space. Accessible through internet with ssh and there's also this service called "vault" that takes automated backups. Costs around 5€/month which i think isn't that bad. I also have a mirrored drive on my own computer but I found it's not very reliable and besides all this I have keyfiles to my purchased programs on a crypted 16gb memorystick :)


Yeah..I've never really been one for backups. I used to make DVD backups but it's so bloody frustrating, collecting enough files and folders that you can fill up the DVD but not split up files to do with a particular program or project and then of course you have to sit through the burning and the finalising. I was going to start using DVD-RAM but it's still too expensive. So I went for the HDD way but I ended up using it as a dual boot hard drive to put vista on while my primary HDD had XP on. So I bought another HDD a couple of months ago but ended up putting windows 7 on it ::)
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January 30, 2009, 07:12:22 pm #8 Last Edit: January 30, 2009, 07:21:59 pm by efflux
I backup everything that exists on my computer onto an external drive. While I work I have a temporary USB flash drive for recent stuff which ends up on the main back up drive when the work is finished. Maybe eventually to DVD for archiving but usually there is a mass of stuff on the back up drive that I don't want to keep forever so I eventually cut it all down. The USB flash drives can be dodgy though. I use that just in case my computer gets stolen with the most recent work still on it or some kind of hardware failure.

With Windows, I have all my working files on a separate internal drive or partition so I can ghost back just the OS when it messes up. On Mac and Linux I don't bother with this.


Some very interesting ideas.  Many thanks for sharing.
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I backup our three main computers to an external Firewire HD which is a 500 GB RAID 1 ( so, two 500 GB disks ). One of the disks has just died but unfortunately it isn't user replaceable and is out of warranty, so I'm getting a new similar setup ( 2 500 GB disk RAID 1 ) which does have user replaceable disks. I use Retrospect to backup everything on the machines over the network, it's easy to do. One machine gets backed up most working days, the others a bit less frequently but at least once a week.

I used to switch backups between a couple of external HDs, but since getting the RAID I've just used that.




My wife and I invested in a Lacie 1.5TB network RAID box a bit over a year ago for us both to backup to.  It doesn't have all of the file system features I'd like but it's been reliable and easy to clean.  Probably don't want it next to your bed though ... it's not too loud but noticeable.


I backup onto an external hd.

3 weeks ago my external died.... Of all the data on there I lost I freaked the most over my terragen data.  My music I had on my mp3 player, most pictures I still also had on my computer, various school work files I no longer needed or still had on my laptop, etc. 

My terragen file? /cry.  Thankfully my renders I always kept on deviant art, so I was able to grab all those again, but some of those are slight post edits which I like to keep the origional normal render too.  Also lost all my model collection, clips, and scene files.  Thankfully since I found most of the models I used on my laptop and had never deleted them a lot of the models I liked most I still had.  Same with clips.  I also still had 2-3 of my most recent scene files still on the actual harddrive of my desktop.

But overall I lost a lot of old scene files, all the origional render images, etc... quite depressing... along with a slew of various other things...

Ive never had a normal harddrive fail.... only my BACKUP.  I'd almost rather have a normal harddrive fail and then use my backup for its actual purpose besides of movable storage.


Sorry to hear about your backup drive dying! A couple things about that though.

First, by definition a "backup" should always be a *copy*, not "a place I put data I don't need right now". Otherwise, as you found, if the *one* place that data exists does fail, you lose the data, and it's not really a "backup".

Second, with external drives often what fails is not the drive itself but the IDE or SATA to USB board inside the drive enclosure, or even the power supply, or fan, or other things. In some cases you can simply open the unit up, get the drive out, and plug it into your main computer directly through the internal connections and get your data. If it's one of those ultra small, portable, USB-powered drives, then it's using a small 2.5" laptop hard drive. Those you usually have to connect to a laptop as a second drive or replacement drive, unless it's newer and SATA in which case it will connect just like a normal SATA drive. You can also get adapters for 2.5" IDE laptop drives to connect to your internal IDE system.

Hopefully that helps.

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If you know anyone who has a mac then try plugging it into that. They have a piece of software (can't remember what it's called) that is akin to the IBAS system for data recovery. I think, so long as there's no physical damage it can get data back from hard drives 90% of the time.
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