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Backing up

 
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LitusSaxonicum



Joined: 23 Aug 2005
Posts: 1924
Location: Yateley, Hants, UK

PostPosted: Tue Mar 12, 2019 11:50 am    Post subject: Backing up Reply with quote

Backing up: this post relates to my other post regarding the clean install of Windows as a mechanism to solve some intractable software issues.

it came as a bit of a shock to me with my first PC to discover that all the Fortran I’d ever written would fit neatly on a small capacity floppy disk with room to spare (it doesn’t now, 30+ years later). A further shock was to discover how fragile digital media were, even remembering the equivalent fragility of computer cards and tapes. At first, I backed up on floppy disks of various formats and capacities. I had tape drives. Then I had Iomega ZIP 100Mb and 250Mb drives. I’ve backed up on CDs and DVDs. And then I’ve used external hard drives connected via USB port, both bought as complete units and as bare shells in which I have put otherwise redundant hard drives. I have a USB connected ‘Quickport dock’ on which I can backup onto bare hard drives. There is always the USB ‘pen drive’.

There are issues with absolutely every approach. One of the issues is that certain media become no longer readable because you cannot find a drive that takes them (viz the 5.25 inch floppy as a case in point), and that is long before one considers whether or not the data is retained on the media long-term.

The problem with any USB connection is that to backup a large capacity hard drive of say 2 TB takes a really long time. I’ve explored putting my many spare hard drives in a barebones NAS box, but these are really rather expensive as essentially they contain a computer in its own right, especially the larger sized ones which take more than two hard drives. It is possible to make a PC into a file server with the appropriate software which has the benefit of being free, and this uses up a discarded PC, but has the very real disadvantage usually of not having sufficient connections for a large number of hard drives of both IDE and SATA, and requiring a case with enough slots to hold them. With any file server approach there is the issue about whether you keep the file server running 24/7, and how you do the backups – manually or with a software solution.

I have finally come to the conclusion that the incremental backups are best done on USB pen drives, and the periodic complete backup is best done by cloning the data hard drive. The latter process is a lengthy rigmarole, and the best way round that I have found is to have 2 data hard drives with one copied from another. I have yet to pluck up the courage to do this automatically by configuring them as RAID 1, and instead I do the copying manually.

The 3 issues I have found with my quickport dock are:

1. Even USB 3.0 is slow, and maybe I should have gone for one with eSATA as well
2. Bare drives need a storage case if used regularly, because some of the circuitry is exposed
3. The maximum size of hard disk remains 2 TB if connected to a PC without a UEFI BIOS

Eddie
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wahorger



Joined: 13 Oct 2014
Posts: 531
Location: Morrison, CO, USA

PostPosted: Tue Mar 12, 2019 10:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I use a combination of on-line (DropBox and GoogleDrive) and 2 NAS servers in the basement. One is 1 TB, the other is 2 TB.

Due to my own error, I had removed a folder that contain a lot of data on one of the NAS servers. The same folder existed on-line (archival data), so I downloaded the whole thing using Filezilla Pro. My download speed is 30 mbps and the folder was 571 gigabytes. It took a few days of continuous downloading. Once I had it, though, I then copied it from one NAS to the other also using Filezilla Pro. It took under 6 hours to do the copy.

I also use Syncback Pro. This product backs up my data regularly (every three days), although I can manually kick the process off if I need it backed up immediately. It is quite fast, and it also has capabilities to use API's for on-line services.

My development account is in a folder under DropBox. So, every time I edit a file, create a file, etc., a copy gets uploaded. I pay for the capability to retain 120 days of old data, and can restore at will. I have done precisely this. In essence, I get immediate backup at every save.

I used to backup to archival quality CD's and DVD's. These media are designed to save data for 300 years if stored appropriately. A regular burnable CD/DVD might get you 10-15. My experience was not even that good, and I live in a bone-dry climate and stored the media in the basement which is climate controlled to 70F +/-5 at 25% RH. So, I started making 2 copies of each backup. That took too much time.

Yeah, I might be "hanging it out there" with my data on-line. But the providers do take care to have backups, RAID compliance, and drive replacement programs that I am definitely paying for. It is highly unlikely that they will all fail (on-line, NAS1 and NAS2 + desktop+laptop).

BTW, I did have one of the drives in NAS1 (RAID1) fail on me. the second drive was fine, so I replaced it. Turns out, the manufacturer of the NAS did not allow for enough ventilation AND I live at 7550 feet ASL, so that is a factor. I pulled the covers off of the drive and have a recycled computer fan that continually pulls air through, keeping the drives at 75F. I also placed a fan on the other NAS. It was running at about 100F, now 75F. I suspect they will last a long time.
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JohnCampbell



Joined: 16 Feb 2006
Posts: 2033
Location: Sydney

PostPosted: Wed Mar 13, 2019 9:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Eddie,
My experience with backups has been similar, although my realisation moment that backups don’t work came over 20 years ago when my (DOS) QIC tape backup would not (easily) run on an updated Windows O/S.
For me, the only reliable backup is a “live” backup, as technology is always changing. At present I have 3 PC’s and about 20 1-TB USB drives, although the only reliable backup is on the other PC’s. My backups are about 300 GB, using .bat files and xcopy, which take a few hours. (You have to be careful that the USB drives are NTFS and not FAT32)
I can’t remember a disk failure in over 20 years. Perhaps a disk error due to a power failure? Back in the early 80’s we would have CDC 300 mb disk failures every few months (which would require a rebuild from the weekly full tape dumps and daily partial dumps), so the change in reliability is remarkable.
Then it was equipment failure, now it is equipment and O/S obsolescence. Live backups to the other PC or lap-top are the only ones that work (maintain current technology).
No cloud for me, but that's another story !

John

Strange ? Today I am having problems recognising 8GB FAT32 USB sticks on my Windows 7 PC. Is FAT32 about to drop off the supported list ? although I have just installed some recent O/S updates.
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LitusSaxonicum



Joined: 23 Aug 2005
Posts: 1924
Location: Yateley, Hants, UK

PostPosted: Wed Mar 13, 2019 5:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Many thanks for your observations – I will try some of the suggestions. I wrote the original post as an appendix really to my post on the topic about doing clean installs, and I realise that there are numerous approaches. Bill, I bought a NAS, but found that the software I had on my then machine for the interface clashed with my film scanner software, and worse, it wouldn’t work well with Windows 10 after the update from 7.

My experience with tape drives (HP T100) was similar to yours, John, as they connected (if I remember) to the floppy drive cable, and also wouldn’t work with Windows 95. Most of my ZIP drives were IDE, and I now read them (and floppies) with USB-connected drives if I absolutely have to. I also have a USB DVD drive because my current laptop has neither floppy nor DVD. There are both hardware AND software issues with scanners, printers and plotters that suffer from drivers that aren’t updated, and if they connect to parallel, serial or other now defunct port types become so much junk.
My problems with backup are rather simple. I have a huge archive of photos, Powerpoints, the text and figures for many papers and several books, reports, drawings and many other things, most of which don’t change much, and a small – comparatively tiny – corpus of programs and other things I work on. Daily or more frequent working backups are easily held on USB pen drives, and the currently active set of things are on a laptop as well as spread across multiple machines. In total, there is about 2.5 TB, of which the Fortran code, obj and exe files, icons, help files etc run to about 10Gb.

Disk failures are more common that your experience, John. I had a Toshiba 3.5” 2Gb drive expire. Fortunately, it gave warning (which for a while I didn’t believe) through SMART reports at boot time. Mostly, however, it is the 2.5” laptop drives that go. One was dropped by an airline stewardess in Tokyo – that wrecked the laptop as well as its disk. One laptop overheated in my bag where it had been put, running, by Security at Gatwick. Others just protest at the workload.

Anyway, to revert to the original reason for the post, Windows is flakey because it tries to do so much. Occasional reinstalls are needed, and they are easier if one has a boot drive or boot partition that doesn’t contain too much. The rest of the backup problem is simply one of volume.

As for USB FAT and FAT32 storage, the USB interface shields us slightly from the problem. Memory cards for cameras are often FAT-style, as are small capacity USB sticks, so I imagine that they will be supported for a reasonably long time hence. They do ‘wear out’ as there is a limit to the number of times the chips can be rewritten. I suggest* reformatting and running CHKDSK on them (still there in Windows).

Eddie

*Or roaming the exhibitors' stands at trade fairs for freebies!
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wahorger



Joined: 13 Oct 2014
Posts: 531
Location: Morrison, CO, USA

PostPosted: Wed Mar 13, 2019 5:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Eddie, I also found that one of the NAS drives was not Windows 10 compatible, but only because SMB1 protocol was not enabled in Win10. So, I enabled it, and now have the two NAS servers active. I did not have to load specialized SW for either the Seagate or the Western Digital NAS. I do have them at a fixed IP address so "discovery" is not required. Each new Win OS seems to want something different for device discovery, so I just don't use it.

My HD failure experience is similar to your. Heat is the killer of anything electronic, but also anything mechanical. Whether my particular failure was electronic or mechanical in nature, I have no idea. I just know the drive was too hot to touch. Which also means the second drive was exposed, but, for whatever reason, is still working 2 years after the failure event.

Storing on-line does preclude SOME of the incompatibilities of connecting device to your computer. Still, I'm uncomfortable with it.

Bill
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John-Silver



Joined: 30 Jul 2013
Posts: 1007
Location: Aerospace Valley

PostPosted: Thu Mar 14, 2019 10:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

this is a good discussion.I shall contribute. But just a quicky first.

What's the best way to get data OFF a DAT tape these days.

Are there any easily obtained and reasonably priced DAT drives for PC ?

I tried a while ago now to find one but had no luck

even if one gets hold of a DAT drive the problem might be software ? (and the damn commands to use !)
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''Computers are incredibly rigid. They question nothing. Especialy input data.Human beings are incredibly trusting of computers and don't check input data. Together they are capable of cocking up even the simplest calculation ... Smile "
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JohnCampbell



Joined: 16 Feb 2006
Posts: 2033
Location: Sydney

PostPosted: Fri Mar 15, 2019 12:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

John S,
I am not familiar with "DAT" tape, but I do have a lot of old tape cassettes in boxes, which are now useless. I do have a tape cartridge from either an Apollo or Sun with information I don't have anywhere else, but it's not worth the trouble to recover.
I no longer have any 3.5" floppy drives either, so they are now becoming junk. (all those old FTN95 install disks)
As I said before, my main backup is on my 2 active PC's. I wonder what I would do if a power surge knocked them all out ! There was a big lightning storm here last night.
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LitusSaxonicum



Joined: 23 Aug 2005
Posts: 1924
Location: Yateley, Hants, UK

PostPosted: Fri Mar 15, 2019 9:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As far as 3.5" floppies goes, I have a USB version (complete with memory card reader) but the plain version is available for under GBP10 on the web, as well as some old computers that can read them. Without any drive, you might as well throw away the media. That goes for tape, magnetic and optical media.

You could add punched cards or paper tape to the list.

A particular concern to me is how the results of computer analyses are checked or verified, and how they are archived. This is related to the backup problem, but in some ways even more complex. Perhaps it deserves another thread in the General forum.

It's fascinating to see some of the names of old computers: presumably Apollo (the Sun God) was chosen to trounce plain old Sun. In the UK there was a company called Apricot (the Golden Apple) perhaps with someone else in mind. I've seen it argued that HAL 9000 in 2001 was chosen because it is one letter shifted from IBM, but who knows?

Eddie
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John-Silver



Joined: 30 Jul 2013
Posts: 1007
Location: Aerospace Valley

PostPosted: Sun Mar 17, 2019 11:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

At Eddie's suggestion I've started a Seperate Discussion thread started here for archiving etc ....

http://forums.silverfrost.com/viewtopic.php?p=26443#26443
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