What is your backup strategy?

I’m looking for input on what your home and/or small business backup strategy is.

What? You don’t have one? Well, mine has been spotty at best.

I originally bought my Dell XPS desktop as a “Scratch & Dent” machine.  It has a RAID controller, but only came with a 250 GB hard drive, and the RAID software reported back that the RAID volume was degraded (because it was missing the second drive of the volume).  I eventually replaced the hard drive with two 500 GB hard drives, and opted not to enable RAID 0 or 1 for those two.  Unfortunately, I didn’t enable mirroring RAID, but fortunately, I didn’t enable RAID 0, or 1 TB of data would be lost now.

My boot drive (which of course, houses all of the pictures, iTunes “imported” music, etc. in the My Documents folder) died this morning.  This was not the classic slow death that I’m used on older drives with slower spindle speeds.  This drive now sounds like a chainsaw.

I originally created the boot drive by using Symantec Ghost to resize the original 250 GB drive to a 500 GB drive, so I have that old backup still available.  In addition, I just refreshed the backup of my pictures to the 2nd drive, otherwise, those would be about a year out of date.

My prior backup experiences:

  • Backup pictures to DVD+/-RW using Nero, copying directory structures to backup so that the DVDs would be usable as standalone discs.
  • Backup pictures to DVD+/-RW using Nero or other backup software, using disc spanning and propriety backup formats.
  • Backup pictures to USB 2.5″ HD
  • Backup music and pictures to the shared drive of a wirelessly networked PC that is used for little else.
  • Symantec Ghost backups for dying drive recovery and backup.

I now own a 1 TB USB drive for backup purposes, but I’m torn between Ghost managed backups, Ghost images, or some non-proprietary format for my backup solution.

Any thoughts?

6 responses to “What is your backup strategy?”

  1. I use robocopy to backup to a USB hardrive. I like scripts because they are simple and retain the file format. I manually backup, but could easily add it to task scheduler to automate it.

    I’ve steered away from imaging software because I have found it quicker to restore the OS, apps, and files rather than creating boot disks and learning a new software. I also like a clean, fresh start. However, recently I tested Acronis True Image and was very impressed. It may be worth the 50 bucks.

    I’ve been burned by RAIDs when I lost a HD and a RAID controller at the same time.

  2. Thanks, Mike! I’m really of that same mindset–I prefer file format retention, partly because if I’m doing a full system replacement, I may not actually want to restore an entire backup image, and there is clearly overhead associating with creating and extracting the image.

    I like Symantec/Norton Ghost for creating a completely swappable image of the drive for immediate replacement (I think Acronis True Image provides much the same functionality), but I have yet to actually make use of partition images as a full on solution.

  3. Color me obsessive, but here is my methodology. I have too many novel drafts and pictures to lose!

    (1) Acronis TrueImage: I make a quarterly image and store it offsite. Plus, I take advantage of the programs daily backup capabilities. Full backup to DVD on Sunday; incremental Monday through Saturday.
    (2) Carbonite: Secondary backup (on net) of important files.

    • Obsessive isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I backed up my photos to a USB 2.5″ drive and to 4 single layer DVDs

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