back to article Where has all the bad storage gone?

Spare a thought for the humble storage columnist looking for targets to skewer. It's a tricky job if you want to sound off - everything is just so basically good these days, and with no stand-out dismal products, what is there to knock? It was different a few years ago. Ever tried backing up your PC to Travan tape? I made that …

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Don't know about vista

but xp has a backup facility that does all this.

Here's an idea - if you like mac software - why don't you NOT use windows.

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Ian

Hi.

Dear storage journalist.

I can help you with your woes.

Just look for anything with a Maxtor hard drive in it whether it be a PC, a NAS box or a removable drive. This will give you plenty to pounce upon as Maxtor drives as still to this day the pinnacle of utter shiteness and super-high failure rates.

Your job is not obsolete yet.

Regards,

Me.

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Any better ideas?

You came upon the better idea in your column...stop using Windows.

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Gates Halo

WHS

I think Windows Home Server does something like what you want:

http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/winfamily/windowshomeserver/protect.mspx

Although I'll admit that is a bit of a pain in the arse compared to Time Machine, but having a dedicated server backing up your other computers automagically is nice.

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Tape

Either use an online backup provider if you *really* trust them, or use tape. OK, so tape isn't that cheap if you want to backup a terabyte of hard drive but frankly - how often do you need to do that - most data is static. With the right hardware tape is cheap, efficient and a lot more shock proof than removable drives. It won't last forever, but neither will hard drives.

Leaving all your data in one place as per time machine, is not entirely sensible.

From a consumer point of view, an online backup makes a tremendous amount of sense, but I can understand people being too stingy or lazy to buy into it.

There was also nothing wrong with Travan - it worked. Like any other technology you have to design your backup strategy though - which usually means overnight.

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Thumb Up

Windows Backup

I got a Buffalo 500-gig external drive. It came with Memeo Autobackup software. It works, lets you save as many copies/versions of a file as you designate (great for writers!), and does it without your intervention. Saved my data several times so far. Works just fine on Windows XP.

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Just use rsync

Rsync is the obvious choice if you don't mind writing a script to specify exactly what you want to back up: you need only do this once. Then simply start the script before heading for the pub. Or let your scheduler take care of running it.

Rsync is free, available for Windows as well as *nixen and fast. My weekly full system backup takes about 12 minutes, though the initial backup will take some time. Its fast because it only does the minimum work needed to keep your backup disk synchronised with your system disk.

It can either back up to a locally attached disk (USB, etc) or across a network: since the backup is a duplicate of the system disk, drag'n drop handles individual file recovery. Of course you can use rsync itself to recover a whole disk.

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Pirate

Backups

Nothing can beat using VCRSAV & VCRRES on an AMOS32 system. My hair didn't even have the time to go grey, since I'd torn it out by then.

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Jungledisk

Jungledisk will get it all done albeit remotely - after all, why have the backup in the same place as the machine itself? If you want very safe and don't need that fast access it's a very good candidate.

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Coat

Vista does have

Windows Vista Ultimate has a backup and restore utility, both for entire computer disc images and for files. Media to be decided by the user; external USB drive works fine. No sex though; who needs that with a computer? It does strike me that everyone on this blog has something to say about Windows but nobody appears to know it.

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Anonymous Coward

Shadow Copy

You can shadow copy onto another drive. Its under the drive settings in "My Computer".

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Boffin

RAID 1

RAID 1 , what more do you need?

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Apple + virtualbox

If you want an easy backup solution for Windows, use Apple's Time Machine :D

Buy yourself a Mac, get your backups working, then install VirtualBox and setup shared folders. Store all your windows files in your shared folder and it'll all be backed up automatically by Time Machine. If you want to be really thorough, redirect your Desktop and My Documents folders so they're stored in that shared folder. I haven't actually tested this with VirtualBox, but the theory is sound.

Best solution all round really. A better OS, more secure web browsing, but you still have windows available when you need it.

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Windows does have several backup options

Vista has a backup and restore center, which can be found in control panel. Windows 7 has expanded this further and made it better, outlined in the link below:

http://www.neowin.net/news/main/09/01/18/windows-7-windows-backup-overview

AFAIK, you can back up to optical media, hard disks, and network folders, and schedule it however often you want. You can also back up your system image in the process, so it isn't just your user files/data.

There's also Windows Home Server, which offers a whole host of options too.

I'm not sure if any of the windows options have the capability of storing files from different dates, but otherwise, it does exactly the same job as Time Machine.

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Happy

VHS backup

I had one of these 4 my old Amiga 1200 Think Power Computing was selling that at the time for 60quid which was good for teh time :-)

It did tis job but god it was boring

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Boffin

CrashPlan

CrashPlan (www.crashplan.com) offers automatic online backup. It's free for personal use, and you can backup to a drive on another computer (Mac or PC) and that could either be on your local network or attached to a friend's computer over the Net. If you need to do a restore you can even take your friend's drive and plug it in to your computer to speed things up (saves waiting for Internet speed download of your entire drive). They also offer an inexpensive central storage subscription (cheaper than BT, with greater capacities). If you are paranoid you can back up to multiple destinations. The installation is a doddle and you can easily check/uncheck folders to backup, and control bandwidth/server usage.

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Windows Home Server

Yes, it's a server rather than a software solution, but I really like it. It backs up my desktop, laptop, media center PC automatically, and restoring the whole OS is very easy if things go wrong. Restoring a file is a little slow, but nicely done once it's up to full speed.

The added benefits of a server is it can also sit there serving up all my media, with access via the web as well locally.

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Happy

NSLU2

Cisco Netslug box (NSLU2) with Bacula on the client ->fast, incremental backups over the network, via an ssh tunnel. Doesn't help you if your house burns down of course, but covers a broken disk and some burglaries where the ne'er-do-well in the stripey jumper nicks your PC (or Mac) but fails to notice the discrete box in the attic or cupboard under the stairs where your photos, etc., are backed up.

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Silver badge

Another vote for rsync

Been using it for years.

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Tom

Syncback

it's free, it's highly configurable and it works. Coupled with an external drive it's even convenient enough for a lazy git like me.

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Go

Two cheap external drives and

robocopy for the win!

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Unhappy

NAS boxes will repay attention

Why not try getting an NAS box to work reliably with lots of reads and writes going on form all sorts of software - ie real situations. It should be easy but there certainly appear to be enough problems to keep you busy for a while.

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Microsft's new backup

Want a bad product? Check out the "backup" solution that ships with Windows Server 2008(and I think Vista, I haven't dared brave that quagmire for long enough to check). Gone is the simple yet flexible NT backup, replaced by what can only be considered a cruel joke. Want to backup, say, just your OS on a schedule? You have to dedicate an entire drive for it, even if you only need 20gigs or so, and you don't get to choose what to backup. Just entire drives. That drive then disappears to the operating system. Recovery? Who knows how well that will work.

For some stupid reason you CAN backup just what you want, and not dedicate a drive for it, but YOU CAN"T SCHEDULE IT! SO you either get to schedule an invisible backup taking an entire extra drive, or you can pick what and where you want it, but you have to redo it manually every time. Even MS admitted in a posting on a blog somewhere that this was a have cocked rushed beta of a backup program.

And don't even get me started on their new disk defragmenter . . .You want shoddy products? Just go hang with Redmond for a while. Didn't their "home server have massive data corruption problems to?

Now off to upgrade firmware on a bunch of Seagate drives. No bad storage anymore???. . .look around.

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Jobs Halo

Perfect solution

I run Windows under Parallels in MacOSX on my iMac - possibly the perfect solution, if you must use Windows. Not only is the whole virtual machine backed up automatically with Time Machine - but I can save copies of the Windows image should I want to try something and maybe roll back. I'm guessing it would also work with Linux, or even previous versions of MacOS, if you're particularly methodical about programming for backward compatibility.

Time Machine is simply glorious - my MacBook died an ignomious death on the weekend as it was rattling around my motorbike's top box - which it has done many times before, but I must have gone over a few too many sleeping policemen this time, as the hard drive is buggered and the LCD disconnected. However - I know for a fact that it last connected to Time Machine on Friday - and when I plug the repaired laptop back in, it will restore perfectly.

I am now smugness personified.

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Happy

To the idiot who said RAID1

One day you'll find out the difference between RAID and backups.

(Unsubtle Hint: with a RAID setup, what happens if you or a piece of software (such as MS WIndows Home Server [1]) accidentally corrupts or deletes a file you wanted to keep? You've still got a copy on your BACKUP, right? Oh, you thought RAID and backups were the same thing? Pillock. Mind you, there's a lot of it about.

[1] http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/03/11/microsoft_windows_home_server_bug/

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Flame

RE: RAID 1

On its own, RAID is not a backup strategy -- it's an improved availability and/or performance strategy.

Your straightforward RAID1 volume is only good right up until the moment a file gets corrupted by the operating system or an application. Your mirror will be a perfect copy of the corrupted data. Handy.

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AMOS32 !??!!?

OMG I thought I was the only one who had ever worked on this beast!

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Windows?

Forget Windows. OpenSolaris (or Mac) with ZFS, a bunch of cheap disks, and the Time Slider.

http://blogs.sun.com/erwann/entry/zfs_on_the_desktop_zfs

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Even better Mac Backup

(yes, I remember Travan, still have the tapes in the loft!)

I use SuperDuper for Mac, brilliant program - OK, so my iBook hard drive is only 40 GB or some Jurassic size, but it holds all my e-stuff since about 1980 (I don't use an iPod, or take many digital pics). So I bought an 80GB external USB drive and a 32GB Flash stick, and do a full backup to each once using SuperDuper (maybe 8 hours a pop), then a daily incremental alternately to each, takes maybe 30 minutes with auto-shutdown at the end so it's click the button and go to bed.

House sets on fire, I grab the USB stick and I'm good.

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RE: RAID 1

Cris Wilson, RAID1 is not a replacement for a backup, merely a complement to it. It won't protect you against file or operating system corruption, it won't protect you if your computer gets destroyed or stolen. Solely relying on RAID 1 for disaster protection is an exercise in foolishness.

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Stop

@RAID 1

What more do you need?

Some way of retrieving your data when the mirrored drives become corrupted.

A way of accessing data that has been deleted several weeks ago.

A backup that is not in the same computer, room or building that just had a fire, flood or accident involving lots of coffee, beer, urine, blood.

Raid is for reliability through redundancy (24-7 access even in the event of disk failure) it is NOT for backup.

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Backup, Archive, Recovery

I've got Time Machine serving two Macs, a MacBookPro (over wireless) and a PowerMac G5 (wired). The disk is attached to an Airport Extreme.

The MacBookPro never gives me problems, but I'm not backing up a lot. The PowerMac is another matter. The "sparse bundle" disk image gets corrupted every few months and I then have to spend 18 hours re-initializing it with a fresh backup (currently, 250G.) Both backups are to the same disk on the Airport Extreme.

I'm only backing up User space. I see Time Machine as an archive/recovery mechanism, not a disaster backup/recovery.

Has anyone successfully used Time Machine to recover an entire system? I'd like to know if anyone has set up Time Machine and then managed to recover what they needed after Time Machine had been running for several months.

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Alert

Time Machine on a MS system?

An intriguing concept. Maybe MS will have enough sense to have it check the backup media is still THERE before it does its 'backup'.

(Comment is a result of a Leper Mac failing to realise that the external drive it was 'backing up' to had actually FAILED some two weeks previously! Now that's what I call user friendly backup...)

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Paris Hilton

RAID, online

@ Cris Wilson

RAID 1 isn't really backup, it's more redundancy for continued operation in the event of a disk failure. It doesn't protect against file corruption, virus damage, accidental deletion and catastrophes like office fires, raptor attacks, black helicopters deploying EMP weapons, Paris Hilton messing with your RAID settings, magnetic hamster infestations, localised yoghurt tsunamis etc

@ Chris Mellor.

I back up onto an external hdd regularly but I also back up online (not using the C word!). I use Carbonite, have to say I am quite impressed. $49 per machine per yr for UNLIMITED online backup that's automatic. Appears in My Computer in Windows and all files targeted for backup are marked with a status dot in Windows Explorer so you can see what is backed up.

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Happy

Flyback anybody?

Haven't tried to get this working on Windows. Suspect if you installed cygwin and python, or possibly even just the GNU tools and the Windows version of python it will work. It just works for me on my Linux machine...

Poor man's Time Machine but then ...

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Happy

Where has all the bad storage gone?

Buy a 1GB Seagate HDD and find out ;-)

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IT Angle

Huh?

Title: Where has all the bad storage gone?

Page 1: a review of bad BACKUP tools from the past

Page 2: drooling over Time Machine, Apple's BACKUP tool.

Is it too much to ask that an article with STORAGE as the subject of the title actually be about STORAGE?

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Paris Hilton

Time Machine / Tiger

Hmmm.... me thinks you had/have Leopard. not Tiger. No Time Machine in Tiger...

Paris, because I live there.

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Happy

Re: Backup, Archive, Recovery

Yes, I've used Time Machine to recover an entire system, several times.

Even better - a few weeks ago I bought an iMac, and wanted to move everything from my MacBook to it - documents, music, identity, applications, everything. On the initial setup, I just selected 'move from a Time Machine backup' rather than move from another computer - and half an hour later, my iMac was an exact mirror of my MacBook. Wonderous stuff.

I've just realised the original article misses something important - ZIP disks! How could you forget such things? When I was at university, it was the enforced standard of data transfer. My God, they were bloody awful things. Remember the click of death? There were all kinds of reasons why a disk would suddenly stop working, inevitably the one with your PhD thesis backup.

The only saving grace of ZIP disks was the eject mechanism - carefully angled, the drive could fire the disk across the desk...

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RAID controller failure?

In the context of RAID, it seems as though everybody assumes that the only parts of a RAID array which can fail are the disks; yet, twice I've heard of incidents wherein the RAID controller card itself failed and simply hosed all the disks.

In particular, the machine which stores user account information at the computer center from which I'm posting this was host to such a calamity in the fall of 2007. Were it not for incremental tape backups, everything of which users hadn't made their own copies would have been lost.

Even if there were no software problems or accidental deletion, RAID still does not amount to a backup. RAID serves only to increase uptime for servers by protecting them from disk failures. To depend on it for anything more is unwise.

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Synctoy?

I haven't tried to schedule it, but synctoy isn't bad for a freebie. That or 2BrightSparks SyncBack, or AllWay Sync.

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Anonymous Coward

RAID won't save your neck

Had a RAID 5 system in place I used to work. 'twas RAID, who needs backups, eh? We didn't!

Drive failed and because no-one there knew anything about it, very nearly lost the lot - all the company data, which (as we were a data collection company in essence) meant losing all our clients' data.

Big clients - biiiiiig clients! You know them all! Expensive data! - totally fucking !!!expensive!!!

Phoned 2 of my ex-workmates who came in immediately (though thoroughly pissed), and worked until 5AM to get it back up, and they succeeded just in time.

My boss whined "but it's RAID! how could this happen?".

IT manager got sacked, in stages. Kind of death by a thousand demotions.

I could understand how our company could be so crap, I don't understand how our clients could review our IT infrastructure and sign it off as OK.

There endeth the lesson.

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External hard disk any good?

Works for me, no problems - seagate freeagent drive that comes with a bit of easy backup software that automatically backs up any folders I select at any time.

I have it spend a few minutes every night backing up the stuff I've been working on that day, and have a seperate weekly backup of the entire hard disk.

There is always the risk that both the external and internal drives will fail at the same time, but that's incredibly unlikely. Pretty easy, and most external drives come with some sort of backup widget that does the job.

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IT Angle

@ AC 20:29

Ah... I recognize the scenario you describe.

Is it publicly funded by any chance? Run by experts that have not a clue?

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Boffin

re RAID

As many others have mentioned, mirroring your data is not an effective backup strategy. On the other hand, backing up *to* a RAID1 is good if you're concerned about a backup drive failing. Or use a RAID0-like setup, where snapshots are written to alternating drives, to minimize the damage from data corruption.

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Anonymous Coward

@@ AC 20:29

> Is it publicly funded by any chance?

Nope, private company as were all their supposedly hi-tec corporate-goliath clients.

> Run by experts that have not a clue?

I... Just don't know how to answer that. I guess the answer's no and yes respectively. Like most companies they were very IT-ignorant, and indifferent to that ignorance.

Should mention, that almost-wipeout taught them to make offsite backups - and nothing else. Nothing.

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ShadowProtect

ShadowProtect from StorageCraft http://www.storagecraft.com/ can snapshot your disk image every 15 minutes and you can roll back to any snapshot (mounting the backup as a drive letter or under an existing directory).

Very nice to use, although I've only used the server flavours.

Its main problem is that it always backs up the entirety of any disk, so if you have a lot of applications installed it can be fairly inefficient.

I don't work for StorageCraft or any of their resellers, have just used their product.

...Ronny

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Anonymous Coward

Another vote for rsync

I have no idea what this article is going on about, it has been cheaper to buy another disk and use rsync for ages.

All this time machine, cloud backup stuff, windows, mac stuff just goes right over my head, I feel a right luddite, and out of the loop :)

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Silver badge

Almost funny

Except that, as noted, this article is not about storage, but about backup tools.

What I find hilarious is that the author had trouble creating CD backups. Come on, Nero was good enough and all you needed was to create your disk image and burn it. Not that hard.

But of course, I understand that it is much less sexy than the Call Of Jobs' Software, so you had to find an excuse to use it, and you end up accusing CD burning. Fair enough. And I do agree that a single-core Windows platform had best be left alone when burning an optical disk. Fortunately, multi-core has since come to the market.

Unfortunately, when it comes to backup, I don't care about sexy, I want efficient. And creating/burning a DVD image is efficient enough for me.

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Vista's backup is pretty good

Sent to me:-

You mentioned in this article that Vista doesn't have a real backup. However, Vista Ultimate (and I think the enterprise version) definitely has an outstanding backup ability.

The backup in Vista goes to any location you want: HDD, network share, or DVD. I'll ignore DVD due to the limited size.

The backup uses a single-instance-store of any given sector. Thus, the first backup takes a bit of time, but the remaining backups are quite fast. Also, the restore process actually works. You can restore your machine from a standard Vista installation DVD.

Please update your article, and try it out. It's already saved my bacon a few times.

Caveat: Yes, I work at Microsoft. No, I did not work on the backup solution. Yes, I know there are shortcomings. But, at least give partial credit... :)

= = = = = = =

Happy to do so with this comment.

Chris.

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