Question Pondering longer-term backups, when have they been useful for you

mikeymikec

Lifer
May 19, 2011
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As a result of this thread:

It has occurred to me that maybe I need to think about my longer-term backup sets a bit more thoroughly. For the vast majority of my (important enough to be backed up) data, I'm cycling between 3 backup sets, updating one set per month, backup media is encrypted HDDs and one backup set per HDD. For longer-term backups I have:

1 yearly updated backup set (encrypted HDD), independent from the 3 already mentioned.
An encrypted HDD with datestamped backups of specific bits of data (e.g. documents, photos). For specific bits of data this can go back years (I recently replaced the ancient 400GB drive I used and had been deleting some older backups off it and decided that it was better to use a spare bigger drive instead).

I keep track of my backups in a spreadsheet.

On Linux I use veracrypt then rsync to transfer the data to the drives, and for the datestamp backup drive I'm compressing files. Oh god, I've just thought of another thread I can start on that sub-topic :)

These are all just personal data backups, I don't do OS image backups because I figure the OS can be easily replaced.

So my question is, when have your longer-term backups come in handy? For me, the last time I lost important data was just over twenty years ago, I had an IBM DeathStar drive and no backup system to speak of. The worst loss was my old college data. One other scenario I encountered was a customer had a particular spreadsheet that hadn't been looked at in about 4 years but was still important, and at some point along the way the file had become corrupted. The customer's backup system didn't help as the backup sets were cycled often enough to all include the corrupted version, but we got lucky as I had stowed a separate backup when I migrated their stuff from an old PC to their current one. I realise that at the end of the data no backup strategy is perfect, so unless you have tonnes of money to throw at the problem then there's always a small chance that some scenario will slip through the net.

As a side note I was pondering whether using 25GB BR discs to act as ancient backups for particularly important bits of data is a good plan but most importantly whether it's really worth it. They're easy to store a lot of and use up a lot less space than their counterparts, and 25GB will currently house say my entire music or photo collection. The fact that I'm considering optical for this isn't that relevant I guess (hence the new thread), because I have spare older HDDs I could use for this purpose, but I guess using a different backup media makes me slightly happier rather than relying on one system for most of my backups.
 

kschendel

Member
Aug 1, 2018
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I think the longest I've had to go back was maybe 7-8 years, for a source file that I thought I had kept online (in a directory that I never look at), but had disappeared. Took a while to dig through old backups to find it. Fortunately, I didn't have to try to get the DLT tape drive working.
 

Charlie98

Diamond Member
Nov 6, 2011
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These are all just personal data backups, I don't do OS image backups because I figure the OS can be easily replaced.
In my case, I do 3 full images every night, across 2 portable drives, and one internal HDD... because I want the ability to reimage a new OS drive and have it up and running with a minimum of data loss (less than 24 hours.) This... because I HAVE lost an OS drive (a nearly brand spanking new Samsung 840Pro SSD, in fact...) and the ONLY thing that saved me (and my business records) was that full image. With me, it's a matter of time... rather than installing a fresh OS, reinstalling all the software, then recreating my files. Once I had the new SSD installed, I was imaged and running in 30 minutes. I have 3 portable HDD's, 2 in rotation, the other in a safe deposit box at the bank; that one gets swapped out once a month.

As far as long-term storage... and all I do that with is 1) movies, which I don't consider irreplaceable, obviously... but it would be a real pain to have to rip 6TB's of movies, again.... and 2) photos and documents... which I DO consider irreplaceable. Those are backed up as files on portable HDD's, and then stored, and also copied on a backup PC I have. Redundant redundancy.

I don't know that I've had to go back, digging through years old data, for some nugget I was looking for. I have accidentally deleted some photos, but it was easy enough to import the photos back in from one of the backup drives... so stupidity can happen, too.

I guess it all depends on how accessible you want archived data, and how easy it is to restore it.
 

Hulk

Diamond Member
Oct 9, 1999
3,371
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I also had a drive fail about 20 years ago. I didn't have much data then so building things was difficult but not impossible.

Today I have a 4GB SSD connected to a router to which everything gets backed up on a daily basis. My Home Theater computer also has a large enough mechanical drive to back up that SSD. I do that probably once a month. Then I have a mechanical drive that sits in a safe that gets backed up every couple months. Everything but video is on my working desktops and laptops. All important files are Winrar encrypted.

My important personal docs and things like that are probably 5GB or less. I also back those up time to time optically on one disc. Music is all replaceable and only a couple GB. Family videos a couple hundred GB. The rest would stink to lose but I wouldn't lose sleep over it.
 

Insert_Nickname

Diamond Member
May 6, 2012
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With me, it's a matter of time... rather than installing a fresh OS, reinstalling all the software, then recreating my files.
I always keep data on a separate partition, or even drive. That way, if the OS gets hosed for some reason, it's quick and easy to reimage or reinstall, since there is a lot less data to move around.

As far as long-term storage... and all I do that with is 1) movies, which I don't consider irreplaceable, obviously... but it would be a real pain to have to rip 6TB's of movies, again.... and 2) photos and documents... which I DO consider irreplaceable. Those are backed up as files on portable HDD's, and then stored, and also copied on a backup PC I have. Redundant redundancy.

I don't know that I've had to go back, digging through years old data, for some nugget I was looking for. I have accidentally deleted some photos, but it was easy enough to import the photos back in from one of the backup drives... so stupidity can happen, too.

I guess it all depends on how accessible you want archived data, and how easy it is to restore it.
My important personal docs and things like that are probably 5GB or less. I also back those up time to time optically on one disc. Music is all replaceable and only a couple GB. Family videos a couple hundred GB. The rest would stink to lose but I wouldn't lose sleep over it.
For the really irreplaceable data, I keep a couple of copies on (encrypted) bluray with other members of family. That way, if there is flood, fire or just break-in I still have the data a (relatively) short drive away. Computers can be replaced. Important documents, business records, family photos and video can't.

Obviously, I hope never to use it. It's just insurance.

The rest, I'll not loose sleep over.
 

Charlie98

Diamond Member
Nov 6, 2011
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Obviously, I hope never to use it. It's just insurance.
When I lost my OS drive, it was happenstance that I had a good, recent image of the OS. I had been fooling around with backup images and Acronis. After that episode, I became a backup zealot... and developed the rotating drive plan I use today.

I'm hoping that because I've spent a fair amount of time and money on all this backup nonsense... I'll never have to use it, sort of Murphy's Law in reverse.
 
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Charlie98

Diamond Member
Nov 6, 2011
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As a side note I was pondering whether using 25GB BR discs to act as ancient backups for particularly important bits of data is a good plan but most importantly whether it's really worth it.
Question for you... and I don't really know the answer to this.

How reliable is the BR disc for long term storage? I have had burned CD's fail on me... and I don't know if it was because of the physical disc itself, or a poor burn, or just bit rot. Is a BR more reliable than, say, a HDD? I don't think I would compare BR to thumb drives, which can have low quality chips... I consider thumb drives a convenience rather than a long term storage tool.
 

Insert_Nickname

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May 6, 2012
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I have had burned CD's fail on me... and I don't know if it was because of the physical disc itself, or a poor burn, or just bit rot. Is a BR more reliable than, say, a HDD?
CD/DVDs are more vulnerable to go bad since they use an organic recording layer. Which breaks down eventually. How long depends on both the quality of media, quality of burn and storage conditions. But they will go bad.

Bluray (and DVD-RAM) are phase change media. Which use an inorganic recording layer, that can potentially last as long as the disc itself.

I don't think I would compare BR to thumb drives, which can have low quality chips... I consider thumb drives a convenience rather than a long term storage tool.
I only trust them as far as I can throw them... :p

Which admittedly can be quite the distance.
 
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Muadib

Lifer
May 30, 2000
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Question for you... and I don't really know the answer to this.

How reliable is the BR disc for long term storage? I have had burned CD's fail on me... and I don't know if it was because of the physical disc itself, or a poor burn, or just bit rot. Is a BR more reliable than, say, a HDD? I don't think I would compare BR to thumb drives, which can have low quality chips... I consider thumb drives a convenience rather than a long term storage tool.
You should take a look at M-disc. They are supposed to last longer than Blu-ray disc.
 
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