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Backing up data to an external hard drive - is it painless?

Discussion in 'Computers' started by Jon_Are, Dec 11, 2004.

  1. Jon_Are

    Jon_Are Cinematographer

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    I'm considering buying an external hard drive for the sole purpose of regularly backing up files (including MP3s and digital photos).

    Here is my assumption as to how this will work (tell me if I'm wrong):

    * Connect external drive via firewire or USB

    * Computer recognizes device and it shows up in Windows Explorer (or on desktop?)

    * I select and drag the files I want to back up to the newly-recognized drive (within Explorer?)

    * Once the files are transferred, I unplug the drive and stash it away until next time.

    Also, is there a way to perform incremental backups, such as software designed for this purpose? Or will I have to erase the entire previously backed-up data and then re-transfer all my files?

    Thanks,

    Jon
     
  2. Seth--L

    Seth--L Screenwriter

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    Jon,



    You can just drag and drop or use software.

    An external hard drive works the exact same way as the one in your computer, only it's external.
     
  3. Francois Caron

    Francois Caron Cinematographer

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    What if the house burns down? Or a virus finds the drive? Or a thief takes the computer and the backup? Or a power spike travels through the computer and the peripherals?

    Just wanted to point out the main purpose of a backup. [​IMG]

    One step is missing. If the hard drive is brand new, it will most likely not have been formatted yet. You'll need to create a partition on the drive and format it before transferring files. A quick format should be sufficient since normally new hard drives are scanned for bad partitions before they leave the plant.
     
  4. Jon_Are

    Jon_Are Cinematographer

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    Exactly why I will probably hook it up only when backing up.

    The drive I'm buying is pre-formatted, but it's to FAT32. Should I re-format to NTSF?

    If so, how is this done?

    Thanks,

    Jon
     
  5. Tony Loewen

    Tony Loewen Stunt Coordinator

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    I bought myself a maxtor 300gb firewire. It was nearly plug and play, and it comes with software for 1-touch backup. I use it solely for storage, not for backup, so I have not set up that feature. But yes, it is completely painless. Didn't even have to format, and its NTSF. Actually thinking of picking up a few more. I think you can daisy chain up to 16 of them via firewire, if memory serves me right.
     
  6. John Watson

    John Watson Screenwriter

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    I have one, that I leave always on.

    What struck me, was that the instructions recommended initially running a Thorough Scan Disk.

    For 40 gigs, that took 30+ hours!

    I need to consider detaching it tho, for all the good reasons mentioned.
     
  7. Francois Caron

    Francois Caron Cinematographer

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    If your computer's internal drive is formatted for NTFS, definitely! Connect the external drive to the computer, go into "My Computer", right-click the external drive and select "Format...".

    You might want to check the drive for any existing software packages BEFORE performing the format. There MIGHT be something useful such as backup software. [​IMG]
     
  8. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer
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    If your data being backed up is stored in just a few subdirectories, you can just use the XCOPY command to backup files that have changed since your last backup. For my backups, I have a batch file that I run with a few XCOPY commands -- use the /m and /y extensions. For example:

    XCOPY C:directory*.* D:directory /m /y

    For my critical data, I use a USB 512MB flash drive for this purpose. I also have a 160GB external firewire/USB drive for large data amounts like photos, video, etc.

    The IOGEAR external 160GB drive I purchased came pre-partioned in multiple 20GB-30GB segments, so I had to re-partition and format the drive, since I didn't want a bunch of small partitions (and drive letters). Very annoying.
     
  9. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    And you can schedule that xcopy task via a batch file so that you back up certain directories at a regular time each week or day or hour.
     
  10. Jon_Are

    Jon_Are Cinematographer

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    Yeah, but then I'd have to leave it connected all the time.

    Since my primary purpose is back-up - as opposed to storage - it wouldn't make sense to me to leave it connected. That would be almost like backing up data onto the same drive it resides on, seems to me. (i.e., still vulnerable to viruses, power surges, etc.)

    Or maybe I'm missing something?

    Jon
     
  11. StephenL

    StephenL Second Unit

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  12. Jeremy K

    Jeremy K Stunt Coordinator

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    Can someone post some more info about the XCOPY command, and setting up a batch file?

    I would like to be able to back up everything in My Documents folder, and c:stuff folder, to M:backup, and I would like to have it setup like Scott has it, to only backup things that have changed since last backup.

    Thanks for any help.
     
  13. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer
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    Jeremy,

    Use an editor (I use EDIT from the command prompt), and create a batch file called BACKUP.BAT (or whatever you want to call it). You should add the following commands to the batch file:

    XCOPY "C:Documents and SettingsJeremyMy Documents*.*" "M:backupMy Documents" /s /m /y

    XCOPY C:STUFF*.* M:backupstuff /s /m /y

    I am assuming your userid on your PC is "Jeremy". If it's something else, replace "Jeremy" in the first XCOPY command with your userid. The /s parameter copies all subdirectories, the /m parameter only copies files that have changed since the last XCOPY, and /y prevents the XCOPY command from prompting you for file overwrites.

    You can then create a new shortcut on your desktop called "Data Backup" and point it at the BACKUP.BAT batch file. Executing the shortcut will run your backup.
     
  14. Jeremy K

    Jeremy K Stunt Coordinator

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    Works great. Thanks for the help[​IMG] .
     
  15. garyPalombit

    garyPalombit Auditioning

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    If you are simply going to back up data, why not just use CDRW discs. If you need more, a Cheap DVDRW disc will store close to 5 gigs. A second hard drive is great storage. But I would not trust a hard drive as a backup, due to its mechanical nature. An optical disc can be read by just about any computer. It can be taken off site easily. If you want to copy your Documents folder simply highlight the folder, right click select copy, move to folder you want it copied to ,highlight it, right click ,select paste.
     
  16. Kimmo Jaskari

    Kimmo Jaskari Screenwriter

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    Depends on what you want to back up. CD's are just too small, and even the 4.7 GB DVD's can be a pain if you have 200-300 gigs of data to safeguard. That leaves you with no option besides wildly expensive backup tapes or detachable hard drives.

    2-300 gigs isn't that hard to amass; many people have even more space than that. It is very convenient to have movies etc on a hard drive array so you don't have to go looking for the discs, for instance (with the proper gear, you just play the movies straight off the hard drive). Same thing for music.
     
  17. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    how often do you plan on doing backups? i have mine set to backup to an external hd about once a week. i use the iomega 80g hd external.

    it's connected all the time, but it's only "used" when the software (included and very easy to use) is set to run and access it.

    tbh, i'm not sure why you would *not* want it connected all the time? the whole point of having a backup device is so that your pc can access it and back up the data.
     
  18. garyPalombit

    garyPalombit Auditioning

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    If you legally own the programs and the operating system, than there is really no need to back them up. They can be easily reinstalled in case of a system crash. That leaves only data that needs to be backed up. you would only back data once, so once certian file were backed they are marked.
    The next backup you would only back the files stored since the last backup. As you can see a CDRW or DVD would then store more than enough data. If you add an improbable 5gigs a month of data that's only one DVDR.
     
  19. Cees Alons

    Cees Alons Moderator
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    Because you want to separate the fate of your backup from that of the original. E.g. theft, fires, harddisc malfunction caused by power fails, etc.

    If you leave it connected, why have an external drive in the first place? A second huge internal drive would be much faster and less expensive.

    Not to mention using it for more than one PC.

    BTW, Jon, before you unplug it from the USB, don't forget to use the "safely unplug external hardware" icon.


    Cees
     
  20. Kimmo Jaskari

    Kimmo Jaskari Screenwriter

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    If all you have is office and a few megabytes of word files you've written, backup is ridiculously easy.

    If, however, you have ripped a couple hundred DVD's onto harddrive for easier online access from a HTPC and then done the same with hundreds (or thousands) of CD's, the problem becomes very different. Backing those quantities of data up on DVD-R's just isn't feasible.

    Re-doing all that work to get the data back on hard drives just isn't something you want to have to do. We're talking about quite a few hours of disc juggling.

    Therefore, you need a way to back that data up, even if we're talking multiple hundreds of gigabytes.

    CD-R's or DVD-R's might work just fine for many people, but not people who store serious quantities of data.
     

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