Forum Thread

Your approach to backups

Dr. J 25,043 3,353 March 19, 2016 at 12:29 PM
I've had some recent "brushes with death" recently with regards to PC data. I got to thinking.... how many people back up "personal data" (meaning, irreplaceable, or data that can't be, say, reinstalled) vs drive imaging?

I usually just back up the personal stuff, figuring I can always reinstall an OS and programs, and it has to be faster than imaging an entire drive.

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#2
I'd rather have a root canal that have to reinstall my OS and all my programs and THEN have to reconfigure all of them to work the way that I want them to. EEK! (Like, why does Microsoft STILL hide file extensions by default? I also like to enable the underlining of hot keys in menus, which MS dropped as the default years ago. Just to name a couple). It usually ends up taking most of a week to get things back to the way I want them. Frown

I use the paid version of Macrium Reflect. It does a full drive image once a week and then does incrementals the other 6 nights. If a drive dies, I just replace it, boot from the Macrium Rescue CD, and in less than an hour my system boots up just like it did yesterday. Smilie

Just need a few files? Mount a backup image and it becomes a VHD. Grab the files you need and copy them to wherever you want them. Easy.

What if the worst happens and you come home to missing computers and backup disks, or a fire, flood, tornado, whatever, destroys all your stuff. To cover that, I use CrashPlan to backup all the really important stuff, encrypted, in a password-protected account, in their datacenters. It isn't free, but how could you ever replace pictures and videos of your kids?
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#3
I do both, though I don't do drive images nearly as often nor do I back them up to the cloud. The reasons I do drive images are:
- It would take me forever to download all my apps and restore everything to the way I want it.
- You never know when some app is squirreling away data inside Program Files or some other directory you didn't think was personal data.

Edit: I have a pretty similar setup to HarryH3, with the exception that I use Veeam instead of Macrium. Crashplan is great.
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Last edited by quotidian March 19, 2016 at 12:50 PM
#4
I retire hard drives before they fail, with notes about what's on the drive storing them well and spinning them up at least once a year. If things ever go really wrong, I know I'll still be able to get some data off of these drives.

I backup some files to encrypted cloud storage and in some cases burn m-discs (special archival 1000+ year life dvd's)

I use software like crashplan or bit torrent sync to distribute files between my computers.

I try to maintain a backup of most of my files, but don't keep the drive connected / powered up 24/7. I don't back up things like tv recordings.
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Last edited by jkee March 20, 2016 at 10:26 AM
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#5
Don't have anythign super important. My somewhat needed pictures I upload to Dropbox as I get htem. For everything else on my computer it's easily reinstalled.
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#6
Quote from HarryH3 View Post :
I'd rather have a root canal that have to reinstall my OS and all my programs and THEN have to reconfigure all of them to work the way that I want them to. EEK! (Like, why does Microsoft STILL hide file extensions by default? I also like to enable the underlining of hot keys in menus, which MS dropped as the default years ago. Just to name a couple). It usually ends up taking most of a week to get things back to the way I want them. Frown

I use the paid version of Macrium Reflect. It does a full drive image once a week and then does incrementals the other 6 nights. If a drive dies, I just replace it, boot from the Macrium Rescue CD, and in less than an hour my system boots up just like it did yesterday. Smilie

Just need a few files? Mount a backup image and it becomes a VHD. Grab the files you need and copy them to wherever you want them. Easy.

What if the worst happens and you come home to missing computers and backup disks, or a fire, flood, tornado, whatever, destroys all your stuff. To cover that, I use CrashPlan to backup all the really important stuff, encrypted, in a password-protected account, in their datacenters. It isn't free, but how could you ever replace pictures and videos of your kids?

Amen to this. I image all drives. Make multiple copies and store one set with the most important of the images and other stuff in a safe deposit box periodically. There is nothing worse than having to re-burn an entire OS, install all your programs and reconfig everything the way you like it if you have a lot stuff on it.

Shadow Protect does a nice job of imaging.

The one thing I will not do is store data in the cloud...I do not care how encrypted or password protected it is, if it is stored by a third party it is accessible by all sorts of IT folks in probably a dozen countries and having worked in IT, there are too many idiots out there running data centers to rely on them to not lose your data or to secure your data properly.
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#7
Maybe I'm a bit simplistic but perhaps 15 years ago I would have agreed with the "config" part; installing an OS these days is super quick especially with an SSD; most drivers are preinstalled or (e.g.) Win10 just "does it". Minimal customizations. I'd say if I sat down without distractions, and internet access, I could fully "restore" my PC in less than 3 hours. Either my life is simpler or I don't care as much, I guess.

As for "cloud" - I use Dropbox but I'm not putting 500GB of shit out there. If I really wanted to go that route I'd probably set up a NAS or something at a separate location like the IL's house or something.
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#8
Quote from Dr. J View Post :
Maybe I'm a bit simplistic but perhaps 15 years ago I would have agreed with the "config" part; installing an OS these days is super quick especially with an SSD; most drivers are preinstalled or (e.g.) Win10 just "does it". Minimal customizations. I'd say if I sat down without distractions, and internet access, I could fully "restore" my PC in less than 3 hours. Either my life is simpler or I don't care as much, I guess.

As for "cloud" - I use Dropbox but I'm not putting 500GB of shit out there. If I really wanted to go that route I'd probably set up a NAS or something at a separate location like the IL's house or something.

You not only have to load and config the OS, but all your app settings, permissions such as for media and file sharing and the like, etc. if you have a large setup.

Install Windows 7 can take 1-2 hours.
Apply the 200+ security patches afterwards...another 1-2 hours
load and config norton
load malware bytes
load and config Mozilla\recover bookmarks\favorites
load and config video board software...sound board software.
load any other type of software for hardware stuff like NASs, scanners, cameras, printers, etc.
setup shares and permissions
setup media server directories and permissions if it is storing media
load and config office...SQL server...multiple adobe products...Visual Studio...a bunch of games...etc.

Just to name a few. For me, on a serious home PC, it would take the better part of a day and it is nothing but a pita that all can be avoided with an image backup restore.
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#9
Quote from Dr. J View Post :
As for "cloud" - I use Dropbox but I'm not putting 500GB of shit out there. If I really wanted to go that route I'd probably set up a NAS or something at a separate location like the IL's house or something.
Agreed. Other than photos, I only have a couple gigs of well encrypted data in the cloud. A couple dvd's or a 128gb flash drive with encrypted files in a safe deposit box or with a relative also works well.
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#10
This discussion makes me wonder what you all are storing.... encryption, safety deposit boxes..... I'm just storing family photos and financial info (tax documents, paystubs, etc). While I wouldn't want that stuff out in the open, it isn't like we're talking about state secrets or something.
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#11
Quote from Dr. J View Post :
This discussion makes me wonder what you all are storing.... encryption, safety deposit boxes..... I'm just storing family photos and financial info (tax documents, paystubs, etc). While I wouldn't want that stuff out in the open, it isn't like we're talking about state secrets or something.
I'm just not that trusting, I know some people I otherwise trust would have a hard time resisting the temptation to snoop through my stuff if I left a backup in their care so I remove the temptation. A safe deposit box can be a good off site option and doesn't always cost much. I don't keep anything financial on my computer unless it's encrypted, but generally I don't encrypt everything.

Regarding encryption, I tend to think my data in the context of whether or not a virus on my computer could access it and if i'd care.
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#12
Quote from Dr. J View Post :
This discussion makes me wonder what you all are storing.... encryption, safety deposit boxes..... I'm just storing family photos and financial info (tax documents, paystubs, etc). While I wouldn't want that stuff out in the open, it isn't like we're talking about state secrets or something.

As noted, encryption is for protection against viruses, malware and just snooping eyes.

Safety deposit boxes are for backup in case of a fire and for insurance purposes. It is a good idea to keep a copy of your important computer files and documents in a safe deposit for protection in the event of a fire. If you take pictures of your valuables,furniture, etc. and store them in a safe deposit box, it goes a long way to proving to an insurance company what you had in the house if the whole place burns down (heaven forbid). And having a flash drive or portable drive in your desk with a backup does little if the place burns down as it will burn the backup as well...you lose everything potentially from family photos to financial records. A small safe deposit box costs anywhere from free (rare these days) to like 40-50 a year...worth it imo.

You can get a fire proof safe as well, but good ones are pretty expensive and unless you have a bunch of valuables you need to store in the house, it is basically not really worth it for most people imo. Those small ones from Sentry you see sold in many stores are OK, but someone can easily get into them and I do not know if I would really trust them to protect your computer files if there is a fire. Better than storing it in a desk obviously, but at a certain point one should just put it offsite.

As for cloud backup, as I noted before, I would never let a third party control important data. Yes I am not the trusting type and a bit paranoid in this regard...it comes form decades of operations management in IT lol. Too many idiots with systems that are really not that secure.


My 2 cents.
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#13
Quote from YanksIn2009 View Post :
As noted, encryption is for protection against viruses, malware and just snooping eyes.

Safety deposit boxes are for backup in case of a fire and for insurance purposes. It is a good idea to keep a copy of your important computer files and documents in a safe deposit for protection in the event of a fire. If you take pictures of your valuables,furniture, etc. and store them in a safe deposit box, it goes a long way to proving to an insurance company what you had in the house if the whole place burns down (heaven forbid). And having a flash drive or portable drive in your desk with a backup does little if the place burns down as it will burn the backup as well...you lose everything potentially from family photos to financial records. A small safe deposit box costs anywhere from free (rare these days) to like 40-50 a year...worth it imo.

You can get a fire proof safe as well, but good ones are pretty expensive and unless you have a bunch of valuables you need to store in the house, it is basically not really worth it for most people imo. Those small ones from Sentry you see sold in many stores are OK, but someone can easily get into them and I do not know if I would really trust them to protect your computer files if there is a fire. Better than storing it in a desk obviously, but at a certain point one should just put it offsite.

As for cloud backup, as I noted before, I would never let a third party control important data. Yes I am not the trusting type and a bit paranoid in this regard...it comes form decades of operations management in IT lol. Too many idiots with systems that are really not that secure.


My 2 cents.
But what hard copies are robust? Not DVD....
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#14
Done properly, encrypted cloud backup doesn't require trusting anyone other than the people who wrote the encryption software and your own key management, but I think we've already run that debate into the ground on this board, so it's probably not worth having it again. Ultimately it's about the tradeoffs you feel comfortable with.

Do use encryption if your going to be putting tax documents anywhere even remotely insecure, as those are a gold mine for identity thieves.
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#15
Quote from Dr. J View Post :
But what hard copies are robust? Not DVD....

No...flash drive or portable drive depending on what you are storing (and yes, you should use a quality, name brand one). No media is 100% guaranteed to be safe over time, but one uses the best available. For certain things like pictures, if you are really paranoid about the media you can just print them out and store the paper in a safe deposit box, but I hardly think that is really worth the trouble. If you are that worried about media failure, change it periodically or keep a second copy in the box. At a certain point it is way too much overkill though. You will have to swap out the media periodically anyway to update the backup, so you sort of have a built in check on the process.
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