Which single method do you recommend for backing up data?

Hi, im looking to store/backup all of my files/games/images and im trying to decide between:

External HD



i know most will say to use both but i really dont feel like doing both im just wondering:

a) which do you think is a safer option/last the longest

With the hard drive i would get a 1 TB external and plug it in via usb and only use it when i want to add more file/use the files and then turn it off afterward not leave it on at all times. How long would the average drive last in years with this method? I would prefer hard drive if its safe/reliable for what i plan to do based on size/ ease of adding/removing files if needed.


I’d recommend a cheapish NAS (Network Attached Storage) unit instead that supports RAID 1 (which mirrors the data across several drives).

If one of your drives fails you can insert a new one and the array will reconstructed without loss of data.

Having said this nothing is foolproof.

Your house could go on fire, your power lines could be struck by lightning etc etc and take out all your equipment.

So if you really really can’t afford to lose the data then keep it on DVD as well and/or store it online at a remote location.

You’ll need a unit with two 1 TB drives to provide 1 TB of storage space since the data is mirrored.


If you’ve got high speed broadband and strong encryption (I recommend TrueCrypt), then an online backup service is another option. This has the double advantage of being offsite (so covers you for fire, earthquake and other total loss scenarios) and will almost certainly be backed up to tape by the service provider as a matter of course. Just make sure you keep a copy of your encryption keys in a secure location as losing these will effectively turn all your backups into random collections of 1s and 0s.



The short answer:

Use (at least) two harddrives and store them at different locations except when synchronizing your backups.

I use an external harddrive .With Acronis True Image.
I don’t keep the external in another location .I probably should .

I’d vote for a NAS too, but not “cheapish”. Go for at least Synology (perferably) or Qnap.

[QUOTE=Jeremey;2542003]Hi, im looking to store/backup all of my files/games/images and im trying to decide between:

External HD


DVDs[/QUOTE] The only question you gotta ask yourself is:

How much money would it cost me per day to get my precious data back where it belonged?

Base your yearly investment purchase and risk on the answer of the above question.

[QUOTE=DrageMester;2542069]The short answer:

Use (at least) two harddrives and store them at different locations except when synchronizing your backups.[/QUOTE]

EXACTLY what I recommend (and do myself)

Just remember thare are several things you are protecting other than simple “Data”

as there are catagories of “data”

First your Data itself the actual files, and it doesn’t matter is you are protecting text documents, pictures, Audio or video, this is simple "data"
that must always be protected and could be used in another system.

the next thing is your “system setup” all the little adjustments you make to your own preferences.

And the system itself so you don’t have to call and whine at microsoft if/when your attempts to reinstall the system on your computer after your system/boot drive fails… and your system hard drive WILL fail… More on that… If you have never had your system drive fail either it is about to
(to teach you an important lesson) OR you have been sufficiently paranoid and swapped out your system drive for a “clone” and “derated” the previous drive from system use.

Personally I will use a HDD for a system drive for no more than a year (total run time) At any given time I have THREE system drives that I use in rotation so for my “system” I have to buy a new $40 HDD once a year
(I use 7200rpm 80gb drives for my system)

Though should also note that I am discontinuing use of 80gb drives for this purpose… I’ve already switched a 160gb drive into the rotation all future replacement HDDs ( the next planned for later this week) will be 160gb.

My “System” baclups will all be on 60gb partitions on 160gb drives christmas

This switch is based purely on delieverd price of a HDD.
It isn’t purely the price of a drive but the price of a drive shipped, and frankly if Newegg offers free shipping on a $44 160gb drive it winds up being cheaper than an 80gb drive for $38 but costs $6.29 to have it shipped.

this is part of my switch from IDE drives to SATA system drives.

The size of the drive is irrelevant only the price matters
The thing is I prefered smaller drives because it removed the temptation
to use the drive as a data drive… but I’ve lately taken to storing a copy pf my complete 160kBit/second mp3 library on a second partition on the extra space (in a seperate 100gb partition) on the system drive

NOTE: With a two drives OUT, one drive IN, cloned weekly, and rotated every four months that it takes three years for me accumulate a year’s worth of “total run time” on any particular drive

AND after I’ve permanantly rotated a particular drive out of use as a system drive in my personal system it is STILL useful as a “pure data drive” for intermittant use OR to be used as a system drive in a “give-away” system…

How important do you consider your Data/Meta-data/system/system set-up to be?

How much time would it take you to reconstruct it all?

Because it isn’t only your “pure data” you are protecting but your TIME in arrainging it the way you want it…

My heartfelt opinion is that you should be spending half as much time (cumulatively) protecting your data and setup as you would recreating it in the event of a worst case failure.

it may seem tedious, but it’s better than the alternative…

How many copies you have and more importantly how often you make cloned copies is dictated purely by your own paranoia.

My “Data” is backed up as often as I make any additions, often daily!
(and sometimes more often) I always have atleast four copies of


Thanks so much for the helpful replies, i decided i would go with hard drives since they are pretty cheap and unlike dvds i can search and index easier. What i plan on doing is something like this. Right now i have 2 smaller/older external drives i use to store some data on. i think i will buy a 2tb Western Digital WD20EARS Caviar Green 2TB put it in an external case and back up my other drives to it and store my other drives away for safe keeping and use the newer drive for when i need to use the files. Now im wondering whats the best way to store the bare drives, just in a dresser drawer or shelf or should i put them in some sort of casing? I plan on getting one of the hot swap docking stations to easily pop them in and out for some reason if i need to.

Thanks again!

Why not buy an external HDD from the start which usually is cheaper?

[QUOTE=DiiZzY;2542257]Why not buy an external HDD from the start which usually is cheaper?


and not “slightly” cheaper than the cost of a drive plus an enclosure either


Somewhere next week there will be a review posted here on MyCE that covers external USB 3.0 hard drives, I’d recommend you read this review :iagree:

I hate to sound dumb but im not a pro with this stuff so be easy on me :). The reason i wanted to go with the internal drive+external case+hot swap dock is because:
A) I know what the drive is inside the case and is reviewed well.
B) Here where i am in canada a Iomega Prestige 2TB External Desktop is 139.99(cheapest i found for external 2tb) but i can get the 2TB Western Digital drive for 109 + the price of an enclosure but atleast i know the drive is a well reviewed/reliable drive than the Iomega which i dont even know whats inside of it. Maybe im looking at this all wrong. Also what about stoing of the older hard drives? Will they last being bare on a shelf or should i protect them while storing them?

I use Acronis for on-site image and data backups, so that i can easily restore either individual files, or an entire drive/partition. I also use Mozy, a web based backup for my critical files (yes - encrypted), in case of a fire/natural disaster. Mozy give a user 2 GB for free, which is enough for me. For photos, MS Skydrive is a good alternative - 25Gb for no charge.

I’ve read that a 3 drive raid config forget the terminology-- either 0+1 or 1+0 which is data spread across two drives, and a mirrored backup should either of the first two fail. Then there are 4 and 5 drive configs which backup “parity data” which assumes that your just losing sectors instead of a catasrophic loss of an entire drive (a rebuild could take days instead of hours with the former config). The problem with that idea is if a drive fails, it’s more likely than not to be catasrophic in nature-- the higher in data density of the drives (think 2+tb drives).

Going back to your question, How important is the data? If it’s irreplaceable, you will want extra redundancy (as much as you can reasonably afford). I’d say 3 backups at least one to two on hard drive(s) and 2-4 backups on either flash drives or optical disc media… dual layer dvds, blu ray discs, etc. Might I also suggest online storage sites and/or keeping copies at sites other than your home if the data is very important.

With all the choices out there, as long as you can ‘live with the clutter’ you can have more than one of each medium (hd, flash, optical, remote/cloud).