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Thread: Backup Backup Backup (long)

  1. #1
    caribbeansun's Avatar
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    Default Backup Backup Backup (long)

    I thought I'd share my pain in the hope that it might spur some of you out there to take action while you still can.

    I had a complete system melt down a couple weeks ago. Had been out all day and returned to the blue screen of death around 7pm. The computer hadn't even been used since 9am that day.

    2 attempts to recover data on the hard drive - 100% failure.

    I have a "set and forget" backup that runs but it had been giving me pop-up error messages that I hadn't attended to - too busy to check on that. I also use Carbonite to backup to the cloud.

    I was able to do a quick restore of critical files from the cloud to a temporary machine so I could continue to do work (as in what buy groceries with ) . Some relief from state of panic.

    Ordered and received a new machine in about a week - crunch time - what's going to work, what's not?

    Successfully restored all of my work files from the cloud so incoming groceries are assured for the foreseeable future. Searching the cloud backup I realize that very important personal files are missing, everything that was zipped (ie backups of important files) and it appears anything that was in a sub-folder under program files are not there, also missing and due to limitations of Carbonite all my downloaded program files, plug-ins, etc are all vapour.

    Attempt to restore from USB drive using my "set and forget" which is a program called Backup4all - won't recognize the file, won't open the catalog and therefore won't unzip the backups. After a very long weekend I decide to download the newest version of that software and try it again. Success at restoring the very important personal files!

    Okay, now it's time for the photography library (mine and DW's). Memory is fuzzy on this but I seem to recall the library is something in the range of 34,000 files if you include all the sidecar files for Camera Raw and around 150GB of data. Restoring via Backup4all fails about 50% of the way through, I had mistakenly only set this as an incremental backup and hadn't done occasional full backups. One or more of the incremental files was damaged, corrupted or missing. I'm now having to restore 50-70GB of data from the cloud. YOU DO NOT WANT TO DO THIS.

    One other thing about Carbonite, it stores versions of files and folders which is an excellent thing for accidental deletion of files, not so great if I had to do a full restore because it's storing huge amounts of data that are no longer relevant. One example is the fact that when I download images from my camera, they dump into a folder by year/month/day. I then purge the obvious junk but I rename the folder to include a quick reference to what is in the folder ie. I add the word "abstracts".

    Oh yeah, and it stripped all of the metadata from my files - no keywords, no ratings - all gone, big zero, nadda.

    So happy story - minimal data loss, in fact no data at all (other than the metadata in my images) but I did lose all my downloaded programs and plug-ins so that will take time to restore via download, reinstall, etc. - you realize very quickly how important it is to have a file with your registration keys when this happens to you.

    So, for those of you out there that don't do regular backups or rely entirely on cloud backup - please reassess. Had I relied entirely on one backup, or even one backup approach my loss would have been significant. I was very lucky and fortunate that the what failed on one backup worked on the other.

    So, time to rethink backup strategies. I'm going to add a NAS to my home network for backups, change cloud backup to include those vital files that Carbonite missed and have two backups of my photography library that are on hardware and NOT in the cloud. Ensure that I run full backups at least once per month, with incremental backup in between, test a restore at least once or twice a year from hardware.

    I hope someone benefits from the lessons I learned.

    Cheers!

  2. #2
    Rockin Ronnie's Avatar
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    Default Re: Backup Backup Backup (long)

    I backup onto a second 1TB drive in the same machine and use Memeo Instant backup to back up onto a another drive, a USB 3.0 1 TB drive. I agree, I cannot stress enough the value of backups.

    Cloud services are great to a point (your experience is interesting) but if you also need plenty of space things can get a little expensive. Off-site physical storage (i.e. taking your portable drive to work etc.) is something I don't do but it is a good practice.

    Ron
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    elbows2 is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Backup Backup Backup (long)

    Good to know you recovered as much as you did -- this is not a fun experience.

    It happened to me several months ago when restoring my system after installing new hardware. Somehow the system decided to reformat both the external HDD with working image files AND the external HDD with onsite backup. No idea at all how or why it happened (the log wasn't very helpful). I was multi-tasking and didn't realize what had occurred until going back to the system.

    Talk about a sick feeling.

    Happy ending, though: I use two backup HDDs, swapped out weekly, one kept onsite and the other offsite. So there was backup for everything but the most recent files, and these I recovered intact using Prosoft Data Rescue 3 (disclaimer: I'm not connected to Prosoft in any way except as a customer).

    So I'm with you in STRONGLY recommending that anyone out there who is lackadaisical about backing up re-think that approach. Regular, redundant back up -- there's no substitute for it.

    John
    Old enough to know better, young enough not to care.
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    Stewart G's Avatar
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    Default Re: Backup Backup Backup (long)

    Back up methodologies are a lot like religion or politics, are very personal. So what works for me might be ridiculous to you. But here's what's been working for me:

    Electricity and Internet access comes and goes in my home, is not something I can rely on as always being available. This inconvenience has led me to devise simple methods of data storage for relatively modest archives, say, 100,000 image files plus related thumbs, data files, etc.

    My overall opinion is that the more "secure" one makes backups, the more complicated they become. John's suggestion of redundant backup up drives with alternate physical locations is about as good as it gets.
    I know it saved your bacon in this case, but I stay away from The Cloud, tend to view the whole concept with deep suspicion of its reliability. For instance, if simple sunspot activity can take down the Internet, why would I store anything important to a remote server?
    I also stay away from back up software, and instead use the same "system" that I used with Windows 3.1, that is, the file storage tree is something I designed and can comprehend with my own brain, and can easily copy the whole enchilada onto whatever device I want. Any software that needs to store files outside of the tree is summarily dismissed.

    I don't use compression of any file that I care about. In other words, no compression whatsoever.

    Backup drive(s) are always OFF during normal computer usage. Ditto DSL. Nothing touches my junk unless I command it so (which is still plenty risky).

    This a simplistic solution, perhaps, but in the end, the K.I.S.S. philosophy rules the day.
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    MikeL is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Backup Backup Backup (long)

    Have you tried TestDisk?
    February Photos
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    Comments/criticisms are just my personal opinion and are meant to be constructive. Please feel free to do the same for me.


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    bobbert is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: Backup Backup Backup (long)

    Do I ever agree with stewart... NO automatic anything, have the discipline to manually initiate a backup every week. No cloud, can't afford the bandwidth. No compresion ever. I back up files and folders as duplications. I do use a synchronization program called Allway sync. It backs up all changed files and can propogate deletions if you set it to. I have 2 large backup drives which i use sequentially. Plus everything is on my computr hard drive, and i never delete files from the camera card 'til a backup has run. So i have 3 copies of evrything. Offsite... I really should... now is a god time to start.

    As far a programs favourites and setings go, I'd rather reinstall and have a clean system. Remove the stuff I never use, and all the hidden marketing junk that slows the system down.
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  7. #7
    Michael Meissner's Avatar
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    Cool Re: Backup Backup Backup (long)

    Quote Originally Posted by Stewart G View Post
    I know it saved your bacon in this case, but I stay away from The Cloud, tend to view the whole concept with deep suspicion of its reliability. For instance, if simple sunspot activity can take down the Internet, why would I store anything important to a remote server?
    As a counter-example, consider Hurricane Katrina. If you have at least one copy of your files stored in remote servers, and you have a disaster with wide effects, you can recover your files. If you only have physical backups at say your work, safe deposit box, and home, then something like Katrina can wipe out all of these copies.

    Now, storing remotely has some problems as well. The company you are storing your data on may go out of business, or there are any number of reasons why a site might not be available. If you are storing personal data unencrypted, somebody can access it remotely. In addition, if you have an internet plan that starts charging once you get past a certain limit of data moved per month, and you get snap happy, you can easily go over your data limit and have a bill in the hundreds of $$$'s.

    So I have a multi-tiered approach:

    • I have full copies on the two systems in my house, and I update the other system after I'm done making changes;
    • I have a snapshot disk of the albums that I'm working on that is created nightly, so I can go back to the snapshot on any particular day for the last 4 months or so;
    • For the albums that are closed, I have a complete copy on a separate disk;
    • I have two removable disks that have copies of the data;
    • I have a removable disk that has copies of the data at work, and I rotate that disk with home every so often;
    • I store most things on my web server.

    Now, one thing that is currently a problem, is I am starting to fill up the disks. Normally, I would just get the current disks in the $100 range, which usually double or triple the capacity I have. Unfortunately, the floods in Thailand last year mean that disks are a lot more expensive, and it would cost a lot more to upgrade. I'm hoping that disk prices start falling as more factories are brought online before I run out of space.

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    Rat44's Avatar
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    Default Re: Backup Backup Backup (long)

    Quote Originally Posted by Rockin Ronnie View Post
    I backup onto a second 1TB drive in the same machine and use Memeo Instant backup to back up onto a another drive, a USB 3.0 1 TB drive. I agree, I cannot stress enough the value of backups.
    Ron
    I learned the hard way not to do it this way.
    Had a power supply short out in the computer and it took out All of the hard drives in the machine.
    Now I have an external hard drive that is only attached during backups.
    A UPS or power supply can't damage it if its not plugged into the system.

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    Stewart G's Avatar
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    Default Re: Backup Backup Backup (long)

    I fried a back up drive because the firewire 400 plug on my G3 laptop could be inserted upside down. But as is often the case, only the drive's controller was fried, and the drive itself found a new life in one of those removable toaster-style enclosures.
    E-1 (!), e-410, e-510, 9-18 14-42, 40-150, 50 macro, ex-25, 12-60 swd, 70-300, FL-36r, Velbon 443 boom tripod, Redged RTA-320 mini tripod.
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    Rockin Ronnie's Avatar
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    Default Re: Backup Backup Backup (long)

    Quote Originally Posted by Rat44 View Post
    I learned the hard way not to do it this way.
    Had a power supply short out in the computer and it took out All of the hard drives in the machine.
    Now I have an external hard drive that is only attached during backups.
    A UPS or power supply can't damage it if its not plugged into the system.
    I have had hard drive failure in the past and usually it is the failure of one drive among 2 or more in the box. I suppose that it is statistically possible but in my 20 years with home computers failure is generally confined to one component at a time. What works for me may obviously not work for you.

    Ron
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    Big Greg is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Backup Backup Backup (long)

    I backup my OS / Programs drive daily to an external hard drive with Acronis and all my photos and the majority of my other files are on separate drives that are backed up to other external drives with SyncBack automatically every night. I do check the backups regularly and do a new full backup about once every month or two.

    I also backup to the cloud using CrashPlan. Very affordable.

    Having automatic backups makes sure that they happen and it also ensures that your most current information (like that wedding you just shot yesterday, the pics of your kids you took over the weekend, etc.) are backed up right away. You can lose an awful lot of information if you're waiting a week (or more) between backups.

    A note about cloud backup... most services will let you populate your initial backup by shipping an external hard drive to them and if you lose your data you can have them ship you a hard drive.

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    caribbeansun's Avatar
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    Default Re: Backup Backup Backup (long)

    I assume you are using Acronis to do a mirror.

    I was considering implementing the following after all of this:

    - Acronis mirror of OS/Program files to USB1 weekly
    - Backup4all to make incremental and full backups of data to USB1 nightly
    - backup primary PC/Laptop(s) to NAS nightly
    - will either use RAID 5 or 6 on NAS
    - mirror copy of music once a month from HTPC to NAS
    - cloud backup of documents (not photos or music as they take too much bandwidth)
    - Backup NAS to USB2 twice a week
    - Incremental backup of NAS to either cloud or offsite (weekly)

    It's probably overkill but having more backups seems like a better plan than fewer and my preference now is to "need" the cloud backup as little as possible and only call on it if all else has failed.



    Quote Originally Posted by Big Greg View Post
    I backup my OS / Programs drive daily to an external hard drive with Acronis and all my photos and the majority of my other files are on separate drives that are backed up to other external drives with SyncBack automatically every night. I do check the backups regularly and do a new full backup about once every month or two.

    I also backup to the cloud using CrashPlan. Very affordable.

    Having automatic backups makes sure that they happen and it also ensures that your most current information (like that wedding you just shot yesterday, the pics of your kids you took over the weekend, etc.) are backed up right away. You can lose an awful lot of information if you're waiting a week (or more) between backups.

    A note about cloud backup... most services will let you populate your initial backup by shipping an external hard drive to them and if you lose your data you can have them ship you a hard drive.

  13. #13
    olddigiman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Backup Backup Backup (long)

    Just want to chime in, I do a weekly incremental auto backup of the system, to two dedicated internal drives but the danger of this method is the one corrupted archive file and you are toast. So I restart with a full backup once a month (I have two rotating bacups going, so at the end of month B, I will delete month A and start a new monthly series. Realizing that I could get a totally corrupted drive, I periodically do a full system backup to an external drive.

    But also do straight file copies of the photos, again rotating around 2 external drives, so I always have the last two months stored off-site. I use straight file copies because if an archive gets corrupted, you lose the lot. A bad file or two means you lost just those.
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    Big Greg is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Backup Backup Backup (long)

    Quote Originally Posted by caribbeansun View Post
    I assume you are using Acronis to do a mirror.

    I was considering implementing the following after all of this:

    - Acronis mirror of OS/Program files to USB1 weekly
    - Backup4all to make incremental and full backups of data to USB1 nightly
    - backup primary PC/Laptop(s) to NAS nightly
    - will either use RAID 5 or 6 on NAS
    - mirror copy of music once a month from HTPC to NAS
    - cloud backup of documents (not photos or music as they take too much bandwidth)
    - Backup NAS to USB2 twice a week
    - Incremental backup of NAS to either cloud or offsite (weekly)

    It's probably overkill but having more backups seems like a better plan than fewer and my preference now is to "need" the cloud backup as little as possible and only call on it if all else has failed.
    Yes, I'm using Acronis to image (mirror, ghost, etc.) my C: Drive.

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