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Backup Space – What a minefield!

You would think just a second hard drive would be enough to suffice for something like this wouldn’t you? This isn’t so, neither for the server or home use!

Home Backups

I bought a Netgear SC101 a year or so ago, put a 400GB HDD inside it and it runs like a dream, I’m only using one slot of the two available, so it’s not RAIDed or anything. On recent duplicate file scan I discovered that I’m not actually using it as backup device, it’s simply become add-on storage (and lots of it!). I clearly need to backup the data on that as well! You ought to do a scan yourself, you might find you have exactly the same problem!

Fact: I need backup space for all of my hard disk on both laptops (and probably the wife’s as well), and also for the whole of the SC101 storage device.

  • Option 1 – 2nd Drive (A)
    Get a second drive, copy all the data back to my laptop (not sure it would fit, but we can cross that bridge later), RAID the existing HDD drives in the SC101 for redundancy, copy the data back to the newly RAID’d disk and I have a secure device.
    Pro’s: All I need is a second HDD of at least equal size.
    Con’s: I’ve read some absolutely abysmal reviews of the SC101 under RAID conditions recently. I’d also still be using the SC101’s proprietary file storage system, so couldn’t just stick the drive in another machine to get the data off, if the box ever blew up I’d need another one to make it work and get the data off.
  • Option 2 – 2nd Drive (B)
    Get a second drive, add it to the SC101 copy all the data to it from all the machines and the SC101. Remove the disk and store it somewhere VERY, VERY safe.
    Pro’s: All I need is second HDD of at least equal size, but at least I won’t be using the badly reviewed RAID capabilities of the SC101. I’ll also be able to have it copied over in a day without any major headaches of moving data.
    Con’s: I’ll need to store the drive safely, and it still will be in this proprietary format that means I can’t get the data off without another SC101.
  • Option 3 – USB Hard Disk
    Largely similar to option 2 in that the data is on a USB hard disk that I can unplug whenever I feel like it and store it away, alright it’s in the house, but I can probably live with that!
    Pro’s: No RAID headaches, plug it in the laptop overnight, stream the data, can even use syncing software to get the data across, it’s not plugged in all the while, nor is it in a proprietary format.
    Con’s: I can’t actually think of any, except that the data on the USB isn’t RAID’d, but as it’s a backup that shouldn’t be a huge problem (how many failsafe’s can you put in!!?)
  • Option 4 – Another Network Disk
    Again largely similar to option 2, but it sounds/feels more permanent than a USB disk, yes I know thousands of people use them everyday, there’s just something I dislike about USB!
    Pro’s: Use syncing software to get the data across, it can be plugged or unplugged when necessary, and it isn’t in a proprietary format. I could even RAID it with the right type of disk.
    Con’s: Probably an increased cost vs option 4?
  • Option 5 – Online Services
    Something like JungleDisk, or the online backup service from my own ISP? This is putting my data in the hands of someone else, and paying for how much I use – not something I’m particularly keen on!
    Pro’s: Offsite, way, way offsite!
    Con’s: Data security, integrity, internet latency etc. etc.
  • Option 6 – My own Online Service
    This doesn’t actually exist yet, but may well do pending the outcome of a future post on server backup data services.

Which would you choose?

This entry was posted on Monday, December 31st, 2007 at 6:20 pm and is filed under Hardware. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

Comments (8)


  1. Mapquest says:

    I use tape backup personally. Out of the options you listed I would pick USB drive for reasons you listed already 🙂

  2. Keiron says:

    Hi Mapquest,

    I’d almost come to that decision, was just bordering on a last idea of a USB hard drive enclosure and then I could put any size drive I liked in it…. But found a nice USB HDD, 750GB for just over £100.


  3. Mapquest says:

    I would just go for it – sounds like a good deal 🙂

  4. […] threw a real spanner in the works just before I went off to buy this damned USB Hard Drive as a backup […]

  5. Darren Crannis says:

    I see this post has been superceeded by “The minefield just got bigger”

    I like Mapquest’s post about tape-backup, because you can take it off-site, but tape is still tape (all our customer servers are RAID5 and run tape backup systems) but for large amounds of data (of 100’s of GB) the LTO range of drives LTO-3 (&4) which will now do 800GB-1.6TB compressed (never achievable, so stick to x1.2 of the native, say 500GB-1TB). Backup in 100’s of GB of data onto tape will take hours (and hours), so moving towards external removeable HDD is coming in for speed. (n.b, an HP Ultrium-3 drive + scsi / sata HBA card + tapes will set you back about £1k + backup software, a 500GB disk will cost you about £70).

    As for your commend about external on-line backup sites, I’ve seen these, and beleive me, the infrastructure is amazing. Due to EU regulations, you won’t have to worry about security side of things (too much). There are several on-line sites, the business ones will typically charge £4-8 per GB (compressed).


  6. Keiron says:

    Hi Darren,

    I definitely want to stay away from tape drives – always hated the damned things!!! I can back upto DVD if I want to.

    You make a good point about the offsite/on-line solutions, but some of the lag I’ve seen has been appalling – everyone raves about their download speeds, but their upload is typically seriously limited at 256k or 512k!

    I saw something the other day, P2P backups, but I’m not sure I’d want the rubbish off your Hard Disc filling up my machine!!

  7. Darren Crannis says:

    Hi Keiron,

    If you’re looking at streaming data off-site, you may want to look at ADSL 2+ or ADSL Max Premium….800k upload (or something like that) – but you pay for it!

    For local P2P disk-disk backup, I’ve heard that Retrospect is a good piece of software…or there is the old xCopy scripts…

  8. Daniel Smith says:

    I prefer having a USB. It is more convenient and easy to use.

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