Advice for backing up hard drive

Hi there

NEWBIE ALERT

I have a Dell dimension 9200 which has (apparently) 2 hard drives that use a RAID?!? configuration (not sure which, but they appear to combine 2 250gb drives to make 1 500gb). Problem is, i suffered a recent failure and went through hell to get anything recovered from it (as you cant just simply plug them in to another PC and get the data off).

Ideally i would like the 2 hard drives in a normal configuration, 1 mirroring the other, so if something goes wrong i have an immediate backup, and failing that, can simply plug them in elsewhere and get my data.

Would love to know your thoughts on this, and also any advice on software i might use to mirror.

Thanks very much

In the Dell BIOS there will be settings relating to the RAID configuration, and there should also be a RAID controller BIOS that you would enter after passing the regular BIOS during POST. You can delete the RAID array, and re-set your board BIOS to use non-RAID mode. OR, if the RAID controller is able, you can create a RAID-1 (mirror array) using the existing drives. This will delete all data on the drives. It will require a fresh install on Windows and all drivers.

RAID-1 will give you mirrored security, but will not eliminate some scenarios that could still hose your data. A lot depends on how crippled the Dell RAID controller is, and the related BIOS settings.

For more secure backup, leave everything as it is and buy another hard drive for storing drive images and critical files.

Great - thanks for that. Sounds sensible. I will have a go at the 3rd hard dive option.

RAID-1 is what you want, but the issue is that if you inadvertantly delete something or change a system setting the change will be automatically copied by the raid onto the backup drive.

Raid-0 has always sounded to me like a disaster waiting to happen
as the scheme is used to increase speed of the “Array” and files are distributed in pieces on ALL the discs in the array.

What it sounds like to me is that the previous owner of your computer
OR the joker who set it up did so in RAID-0

IF you lose ANY drive in a Raid-0 array you lose it all.

There is a good explanation of RAID on Wikipedia:

If you are mostly worried about preserving your data (media files, etc)
Raid really isn’t necissary except as a convenience to save you from
manually copying everything to a backup storage drive.

where a Raid-1 shines is for preserving your system setup
because if you have two drives in a raid-1 array and one of
them dies your system still works.

my personal next step is setting up THREE 500gb drives in TWO DRIVE Raid-1
array and swapping one of the three drives out of the computer on a weekly basis
(if a drive isn’t spinning it isn’t wearing) another benefit of this is after the second
rotation none of the drives will be exactly the same age so having two fail at the
same time is even more unlikely and even if it does happen worst case you have
a week old backup onhand.

But even so my “Boot setup” and system files will be installed into
a relatively small partition on each drive, mainly to limit the inevetible
fragmentation that occours on a boot drive.

I only mention my own plans to give you some ideas…

AD