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Thank goodness for Firewire

My desktop PC's data disk is dying - so I'm updating everything on it to my firewire backup disk (including the stuff I don't normally backup).

Proabbaly time to rethink just how I use this machine. I'm considering dropping it down to a single disk system, but with a much bigger drive. Following a suggestion from jonhoneyball, I'll be running scheduled backups to two firewire drives - and (as ramtops suggests) handing one to a friend when we go on holiday (or sticking it in the car when we're away in the UK).

I have to remember - this PC is my whole livelihood now. And I need to treat it as being that important.

And there are things on it which may not be work, but are still important to me. So I need to back them up as well.


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 11th, 2003 03:08 am (UTC)
Yep, backups are good. Especially when your PC/Mac is your livelihood.

Me, my excuse is to back up my personal data onto the 20Gb iPod every day, after I finish work, using rsync. Takes about a minute at most, and the fact it's on an iPod means I carry it everywhere I'd take a walkman, which is to say everywhere -- the house could burn down but as long as I could source a second-hand iMac I'd be back in business rapidly.

(Don't bother backing up the system or most of the apps -- don't need to, I write in ASCII. Do bother backing up email and administrivia and photographs and such. The apps and OS are replaceable commodities but the data is the stuff you live or die by. At least, that's my experience. Now I've got this TiBook with a 60Gb drive I could do with a 100Gb iPod to hold my Sims installation ...)

May. 11th, 2003 01:40 pm (UTC)
Re: Backups
There are 2 issues with backups, losing the drive or issuing the wrong command, and someone stealing your computer or having the house burn down. I run mirrordir every night to a spare drive to cope with the former, and backup (too infrequently) to CD-R for the latter. sbisson sounds like he has both covered. Now I've ripped my CD collection I suppose I should offsite that, but its too many CD-Rs for me to bother. If I can get a MP3 player for the car perhaps I'll ship off the CDs then.
May. 11th, 2003 05:13 am (UTC)
Have you considered IDE RAID? Like you, I backup regularly (to my laptop, over ethernet), and keep my most essential files on a 128MB USB memory disk.

So if my hard drive failed tomorrow, I wouldn't lost much data, but that's only part of the equation. What I would lose is time.

Murphy's law dictates that your hard disk will fail, and probably the day before you have to have your most important project ready to demo to your most important client, when the last thing you have time for is rebuilding the system.

It can take the best part of a day to get an OS installed and configured to your liking (and even an emergency temporary configuration can take a couple of hours), and it can be weeks before everything is back to your favourite personalised settings. Plus you always find things that were missing from your backup, like that macro that comes in handy every once in a while.

So my next PC will definately have two mirrored hard drives (RAID 0). I might put it in this one if I feel the urge (but it would be nice to switch to SerialATA at the same time). This means that if anything happens to either drive, the other one has a complete copy of everything, available instantly, no downtime. Just get a replacement drive when you get the chance and everything will sync back to that.

An IDE RAID card only costs a few quid, plus the cost of a second drive, which is very cheap for a PC that's your livelihood.

Of course backups are still essential - RAID won't protect you from somebody dropping a safe on your computer...
May. 11th, 2003 05:26 am (UTC)
The new house server is RAID 0. But that's on a RAID motherboard.

I am wondering about getting a RAID card, and going RAID 0 with two 180GB drives on this box...
May. 11th, 2003 07:50 am (UTC)
A software IDE RAID card does more or less exactly what motherboards with it built-in do, and shouldn't cost more than £20-30. THese should be perfectly sufficient for RAID 0 or 1 (RAID 1 give you fast access to lots of data, but if anything goes wrong with any drive you lose everything, so steer clear of that one). If you're worried about losing any precious CPU cycles to the hard drive, you could shell out £100-£400 for a hardware RAID card, but unless you need RAID 5 there's no real benefit.

Two 180GB drives in RAID 0 sounds cool.

Tom's hardware had a recent article showing what's possible with IDE RAID.
(Deleted comment)
May. 12th, 2003 03:53 am (UTC)
Re: So can Windows NT/2000/XP
Windows NT has had support for software RAID since it's inception over ten years ago. However because it had to boot up first, if couldn't apply to the system drive. Software RAID cards use the processor to provide RAID 0/1, but because the software is in ROM, they can apply to the system drive, which means you can have an easy duplicate of your whole PC. Many motherboards now have this functionality built in.

By the way, I'm not sure if we're talking about the same thing. I'm talking about having two hard drives in the same PC, which means that if one fails the other has a complete copy of everything.

Automatic backup over network is also a great idea. I'm not sure if Windows has this built in. It should work fine over 802.11B, though if you're working with Gigabyte files, they'd quite a few minutes to transfer. It could be worth moving to 802.11G which would make it a bit faster, or even Gigabit Ethernet if you want them to copy in real time.
(Deleted comment)
May. 12th, 2003 04:31 am (UTC)
Re: So can Windows NT/2000/XP
If I was working with those volumes of data, I'd invest in a hardware RAID card and probably put six 120GB drives with one for striping and one spare on standby, giving me 480GB of space available (RAID 5).

Windows 2003 Server has a rather cool sounding option that you can tell it to keep previous versions of every file, so if you accidently erase or overwrite a file, you can get it back. Previously you'd have to go looking for your backups (or call the network administrator and try and sweet talk them into restoring it for you). Now you can just right-click and restore previous version, and the OS will say "which previous version would sir like?" Of course, this is all in theory. I haven't tried it, but that's the way I'd like it to work in practice. And I'd like it to be available on the desktop versions.
May. 11th, 2003 11:17 am (UTC)
I have to remember - this PC is my whole livelihood now. And I need to treat it as being that important.
And there are things on it which may not be work, but are still important to me. So I need to back them up as well.

I"m glad you are backing up, and taking of yourself and your work needs. Good for you to take that seriously!! And I am sure you will come up with the coolest and most effective sitch there is. You're my *favoritest* geek in the world! *Hugs*
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )