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Best Backup Solution for Multiple Drives?

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Posted · Original PosterOP

I'm looking for the best backup solution for my PC whether it just be a massive internal HDD or an external NAS solution.


Right now my system uses a 500GB SATA SSD for the boot drive (40% full), a 1TB SATA SSD for my games drive (90% full), and a 4TB 7,200RPM HDD for mass storage including games, pictures, documents, and most importantly, my YouTube projects which consist of video files, project files, assets, music, etc. (56% full). I've started noticing my hard drive has been getting a bit noisy and I've only been using it for maybe 2 years (it's a Seagate BarraCuda Pro) but I'll also hear it spin up considerably when I'm doing basically nothing more than idling or watching YouTube before ramping back down. It's been a miracle I haven't experienced any data loss or drive failures *knocks on wood* but I'm starting to get antsy about when that may be.


I feel like going with something with 8TB of space or more would do nicely as it'd need to be able to hold partitions of each drive as backups as I want to back up my whole system, not just one drive, on the regular. Plus, I might be upgrading my SSDs here soon as my games drive is basically packed at this point and I'm now resorting to installing games on the hard drive.


Would it be more beneficial to just throw an 8TB-10TB HDD in my system and call it a day? I have an extra hard drive bay free and plenty of SATA ports so no shortage there. If so, what models would you recommend? I know there's NAS optimized and data center specific HDDs out there which have added features over your standard consumer drive. Or would it just be better to get a multi-drive NAS system with multiple drives and possibly, multiple backups? I don't want to spend too much money as I could easily look up 4TB SSDs and call it a day but those break into the $500 territory per drive. And like I said, I might need to save some money to pay for new SSDs. 


Thanks in advance!

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You are to be commended for realizing the need to back up your data. However, if your backup drive(s) is in the computer, it won't be a true backup due to certain vulnerabilities. If you put a backup of a drive on a partition on the same drive, if that drive goes the way of the dodo, you backup will also be gone. Even if you use a separate drive(s) in the computer for all your backups, if the computer gets stolen, knocked over, the house burns down, a power surge fries everything inside, a virus or other malware infects everything, you accidentally delete a file, etc., your backups will also be history.


For data to be reasonably safe, it must exist in three, separate places. What you are proposing would have all your data, including "backups", in only one place. The easiest and least expensive way to have your data in three places is to have it on the computer, on an external, onsite backup drive, and on an external, offsite backup drive. For a backup drive to be a true backup drive, it must be kept disconnected from the computer, powered down, and stored out of sight of the computer except while updating the computer.


For your situation, I would suggest using four backup drives, one onsite and one offsite for your games drive and one onsite and one offsite for your data. The onsite drives and the offsite drives should be swapped out as often as practical to keep both sets as up to date a s possible. For backup drives, I suggest using internal type HDDs with an external dock or an internal hot swap bay installed in a 5.25" bay.  You will get better quality for less money and they will take up less room in storage. HDDs are still the most cost effective way to store data. You can backup up both HDDs and SSDs to an HDD.


To backup your C:\ drive and the games drive, I suggest imaging using a program like Macrium Reflect Free. An image is basically a compressed snapshot of your computer which can be used to restore your drive to the state it was in when you took the image. Since you will be keeping multiple images of each drive, you will want to have a backup drive that's at least three times the total capacity of the two drives.  Making an image is as easy as connecting the backup drive, clicking a few keys, giving the image a name that you will recognize, then sit back and let the computer do all the work (it's also a good idea to first run anti-virus and anti-malware scans to make sure you do not back up a virus or other nasty). It takes only a minute or two of your time and the computer does the rest of the work.


System filesneed to be imaged only after you make a change to them, such as after updating the OS or a program or making changes to your settings, so you probably will not need to image them very often.


While imaging is essential for backing up System files (OS, programs, games), it's too slow and cumbersome for backing up data. Instead, you should use a folder/file syncing program, such as FreeFileSync (FFS). When set to Mirror mode (not the same as RAID 1!), you will essentially end up with a copy of your data drive. Since only files that have been added, changed, or deleted snce the previous backup will be involved when updating the backup, updates can take very little time. Also, most folder/file syncing programs have a feature called Verioning that, when enabled, will send files deleted during an update to a user designated Versioning folder or drive. This will protect you from losing accidentally deleted files.


Some one will probably suggest using a RAID in your computer or a NAS to backup your computer. First, RAID of any kind is NOT A BACKUP! RAID levels 1 and up are redundancy and will only protect against drive failure up to the fault tolerance of the RAID. As I mentioned earlier, drive failure is not the only thing that can cause data loss. A NAS, unless kept powered down and disconnected from the network except when updating a backup, is still the same place as the computer, not a separate place. 



As long as anyone is oppressed, no one will be safe and free.

One has to be proactive, not reactive, to ensure the safety of one's data so backup your data! And RAID is NOT a backup!


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2 hours ago, Velcade said:

Perfect timing for a new Linus video.  He goes over the proper way to store data using the 3, 2, 1 method.



The only thing I don't like about this system is it has to run all the time and stay connected to the networks. If a virus or other malware infects anything on either network, everything can become infected. There is also the expense of the Synology units.



As long as anyone is oppressed, no one will be safe and free.

One has to be proactive, not reactive, to ensure the safety of one's data so backup your data! And RAID is NOT a backup!


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13 hours ago, Lady Fitzgerald said:

There is also the expense of the Synology units.

Though to be fair, DSM (The NAS's software) is easy to use. You can also backup data from the NAS straight to a cloud service.

If you go the NAS route and you don't want to build it yourself, I know that WD makes prebuilt NAS units. (Search My Cloud Home)

Having a NAS is great, and anything on your network can also access it at the same time.

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