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Old Jun 17, 2014, 10:16 PM   #1
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Default Message Received, Lesson Learned....

For years, I have parroted the line, "You can't have enough backup." This spring, I had the experience of voltage surges (storm related, despite a high-end UPS) causing a motherboard to fail, but when I began to rebuild my computer, I found that most of my USB devices, including my external hard drives, were no longer working. Most significant to me were my primary storage drive (external) AND the external hard drive back-up. The result was I lost ALL my photography files. Finally, after several days of intense effort, I got the back-up drive to function yesterday afternoon after replacing the power adapter and changing the USB plug on the new computer. I have been running backup routines for about 30 hours now, and will probably be working another 24 on it.

What is great is that all that was critical, including multiple directories of family photos I had borrowed for scanning and would have had trouble replacing, were saved because I had backed up. Once I get all of this work backed up, I am going to burn a set of photo DVD's to reinforce the hard drive replacements, as well as at least two or three sets of hard drive backups.

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Old Jun 18, 2014, 4:26 AM   #2
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Amen brother, too many, is just the right amount of backup's
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Old Jun 18, 2014, 7:50 AM   #3
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I hear you, My backup process is all manual, one set of images on my notebook, then one set on my server, and 2 sets on external drives that are not normally plugged into anything. Now that I have started with LR I also need to backup my catalog externally, thanks for the reminder.

...It is better to burn a roll of film than curse the darkness. Equip. K30, Q7, DAL 55-300, DA 35 f2.4, DA 50 f1.8 DA 18-135, SMC-M 28 f3.5, SMC M 50 f1.4, Canon P&S S100 w/CHDK Beta, Panasonic DMC-GM5, Flickr:
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Old Jun 18, 2014, 8:41 AM   #4
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I have my "stuff" backed up in two local locations and two off-site locations (PictureLife and Google Drive). Three if you count Flickr. It's all done automatically and I get emails telling me whether it's been successful or not. With cloud space so cheap and software that backs-up your stuff on-the-fly, it's crazy NOT to utilize it. For instance, PictureLife GAVE me (that's read as FREE) 30 GIGS of space and free software to automatically upload my stuff, I'd be stupid to turn it down. When Flickr GAVE me a full TERABYTE of space, I gladly accepted. Google Drive charges $2 (TWO DOLLARS!) a month for 100 GIGS of space. That certainly isn't going to break the bank! All this, and people still don't do back-ups. Why they don't is beyond me. I have so many friends and acquaintances that STILL don't back up their stuff... even though they have lost their important documents and photos due to viruses, hard drive crashes, system failures, and just plain stupidity -- a couple of them SEVERAL TIMES!
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Old Jun 18, 2014, 9:52 PM   #5
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Paul... If you're going to use photo DVDs as yet another backup, don't use discs that you pick up at your local Best Buy. Use something that will last:


And, while you're at it, pick up two or three DVD drives so that you're not left flat-footed as technology changes. Already, the newest computers aren't even including disc drives.

And one last thing: For your favorite, most-treasured images - print them. I'm not saying you should print all or even most of your photos. Just the ones that really matter. Even if it's at Costco, Target, Wal-Mart or your local drug store. You'll be glad you did.

Last edited by Biro; Jun 18, 2014 at 10:01 PM.
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Old Jun 19, 2014, 12:33 PM   #6
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I have migrated my back-up backups to blu-ray, which is not only higher capacity, but the media is much longer lasting than DVD.

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Old Jun 19, 2014, 7:40 PM   #7
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Thanks fort he reminder Paul. I tend to be fairly casual about backups; I need to be more diligent.
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Old Jun 19, 2014, 8:48 PM   #8
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Personally, I stick to hard drives, as you also need to consider the time involved to perform the backups (and using optical disks for that purpose would be a nightmare for my backups, trying to use lots of disks compared to a small hard drive drive or two), not to mention that I've seen a lot of issues with reading optical discs later (especially if I'm not using the same drive used to create them, probably due to laser alignment issues).

It sounds like your issue was mostly USB port related on your new PC (as you said other USB devices didn't work either). That happens.

But, it sounds like you found power brick issues as well. That also happens. It's been my experience that the most common issue with external drives is their power bricks (ac to dc power adapters). The next most common issue is their USB to SATA bridge chipsets built into their enclosures. So, removing the drive from the enclosure and attaching it directly to a SATA port in a PC is usually a good way to read the drive again. Rarely, the drive itself fails, too (but, that's the least common point of failure).

Personally, I just use USB docking stations with standard "off the shelf" bare SATA drives for backups. I have them stacked on a shelf in my office. That way, I can plug one of them in for backups or restoration. If the docking station fails, no big deal, as you can find a USB 3.0 docking station for under $30 delivered anymore (that also works with older USB 2.0 ports).

Also, any time I upgrade a hard disk drive so that I'll have more storage space, I simply clone the old drive to a new drive and use the old drive for an additional backup (adding it to the stack of drives I have with data on them). For example, if I go from a 500GB drive to a 1TB drive, I'll clone the old drive to a new drive, expand the original volume size on the new drive, and put the older smaller drive on a shelf for yet another backup. Then, if I need more space, I replace the 1TB drive with a 2TB drive, and use the older 1TB as yet another backup.

I've used that procedure for years (buying newer drives when more storage is needed, using the old drive as another backup; going from 5MB Drives, to 10MB drives, to 20MB drives, to 100MB drives, etc. over the years.

I have a *lot* of old hard drives around now.

Interestingly, even my oldest hard drive, which is a 5MB (not GB) Seagate ST-506 still worked the last time I fired it up (although the bearings were making some noise, it still worked). Of course, that drive type (MFM versus newer RLL, PATA or SATA models) is so old that you need an older computer with a custom EEPROM on a WD controller card to access it (and I still have a computer that works with it). You'd be surprised at how long a hard drive can last (around 30 years with that one, so far).

But, they don't make them like they used to. So, make sure to copy data to newer drives every few years and keep multiple backups on multiple drives if the data is important to you.

As far as my working with "bare" drives using a docking station, if buying a new one, I'd suggest that you pay attention to the type of USB to SATA bridge chipset it uses, and look for 4GB+ drive support and support for UASP (USB Attached SCSI Protocol). That's because the chipsets used in many docking stations don't support the latest 3TB or larger drive sizes, and don't support the newer UASP standards for faster throughput.

For example, the Asmedia 1053E USB to SATA bridge chipset is much faster than many of the others around, and you can find docking stations with those features for very little money anymore, with support for 2.5" and 3.5" drive sizes in 4TB or larger sizes. Here's one example:


Note that physical drives are still limited in speed, as you can see by someone testing one with that docking station in this review of it:

But, with an SSD, you can get over 400MB/Second (provided your PC's USB 3.0 controller chipset is UASP compatible and has sufficient bandwidth to the bus), using a docking station with an Asmedia 1053E chipset like that one:


I also have a 4 Bay eSATA attached drive enclosure (and they make them with eSATA, Firewire, and USB 3.0 interfaces), that I bought on sale for only $79.99, including a SATA 3 (6Gbps) PCIe eSATA card with port multiplier support from newegg.com a while back.

IOW, I quit using stand alone desktop external drives a long time ago (as they're known for failures due to heat, USB to SATA bridge chipset failures, power adapter failures, etc.), and just use standard 3.5" "bare" SATA drives instead (either with a docking station, or with my 4 Bay enclosure), and they would also work plugged into an internal SATA port on virtually any modern computer (without the problems associated with enclosure electronic failures, power brick failures, etc.).

I also try to keep a copy of my data off site (as you never know if/when you'll be the victim of theft, fire, flood, etc.). I keep drives in a drawer at another home for that purpose (in between clothing for "padding"). LOL Of course, a safe deposit box is a better idea.

If you don't like "bare" drives in a USB docking station or similar, you can buy a USB 3.0 "Portable" 1TB 2.5" hard drive that runs from USB port power for around $60 now; or buy a 2TB drive like that for around $100, with no power brick needed.

If for any reason the enclosure electronics fails (for example, a USB to SATA bridge chipset problem), you could always remove the drive and attach it directly to the SATA and Power Connectors in a PC (or use it in a docking station or different USB enclosure); as the drive itself is the least likely failure point.

Of course, the drives can fail, too (so make sure you have more than one backup of important files). But, with external drives, it's usually something else causing the problems versus the drive itself.

Larger 3.5" solutions are usually cheaper. But, the portable drives can be very convenient, and I'd prefer them over an optical disc solution.

Of course, they'll also work with USB 2.0 ports (you just don't get the faster USB 3.0 speed that way). That would be dramatically easier (not to mention a lot faster) compared to trying to use an optical disk solution with multiple discs involved if you have hundreds of Gigabytes of data (as I do) you want to backup.

Then, just copy the backup drives to new drives every few years or so for better long term reliability.

Also, unlike other solutions (different types of optical discs, etc.), I don't see USB attached Mass Storage Devices (e.g., USB attached hard drives) being obsolete anytime soon.

Instead, the standards will just continue to evolve (as we've seen with USB 1.1 to USB 2.0 to USB 3.0). The latest USB 3.1 drives will be coming soon (latest 3.1 standards already approved with manufacturers working on USB 3.1 drives and controller chipsets) with dramatically faster speeds (with standards that are backwards and forwards compatible, so that you can use the latest USB 3.x drives on older USB port types; and vice-versa where you can use the older USB drive types on newer USB port types.)

From my perspective, with Optical Discs, they're more likely to be like the variety of floppy discs used in the past, where you may buy a new computer and have no easy way to read them. For example, very few computers come with Blu-Ray drives (as that standard has just not been very popular for use with PCs), and more and more notebooks don't come with any type of optical drive at all. Finding a new PC with a built in floppy drive... good luck with that. So with optical disc and floppy disc solution, you're left with USB attached solutions that may or may not have drivers available for newer operating systems as time passes.

Yet, it's very hard to find a computer without USB ports that work with virtually any type of USB mass storage device (i.e., a USB attached hard disk drive, where no special drivers are needed to work with virtually any modern operating system).

Again, just the time involved to backup a lot of data to optical discs (even using the latest Blu-Ray discs) seems very impractical to me (given the amount of data I have backed up), not to mention the number of discs needed to perform the backups and keep track of. I sure wouldn't try it for my backups.

But, as long as you are using more than one backup type, it would not hurt to have an optical disc backup available, too (if you have the time and patience to do it, and make sure to have a PC and operating system with appropriate device drivers and optical drives available that work with them). As for me, no way (as it would be *far* too time consuming compared to using faster USB 3.0 attached hard drives (and if you're using a PC that only has USB 2.0 ports, you can buy a USB 3.0 PCIe card for under $20 that gives you the faster speed).

From my perspective, a larger physical hard drive or two is a lot easier compared to stacks of optical discs (and again, just have multiple drives with the same data for safety in case of a failure, and copy them to newer drives every few years to help insure that you have that data available in the future, keeping the older drives for even more copies of the same data).

Of course, as cheap as "cloud" storage is anymore (for example, around $100/year for a Terabyte of storage using a solution like Google drive), it wouldn't hurt to use it as an option for more important files so that you'd have yet another backup of that data. Just don't expect it to be finished anytime soon for the first backup (and make sure you have a good broadband plan without any practical limits on bandwidth usage).

The more backups, the better. But, as far as your experience with your existing external drives, it sounds like your problem was mostly the USB ports on your new computer system, combined with a power adapter failure (the most common issue you see with external drives), versus a problem with the actual hard drives inside of the enclosures.
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