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  1. #1
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus squirrel's Avatar
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    Maintance of USB Portable HDD

    Hi, guys. I bought such a HDD by Seagate, 1TB, with both USB2.0 and 3.0 compatibility (suits me most, because my desktop has no USB3.0 while my notebook has). After months of struggling, I finally restored all my books and notes from my discs, and this HDD is for backup of those restored materials.

    So what I need to pay attention to for preserving the portable HDD? I know that some years later the HDD in my desktop will break (this is just a fact, cruel as hell though. No appliance is functional for eternity), so how can I prevent the same happen to the portable drive? Seagate's warranty only covers the hardware itself, not the data in it.

    From time to time I still plan to acquire new materials, and will use this drive for backup.

  2. #2
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    Being a portable drive you may be tempted to move it when it's plugged-in - DON'T do that - EVER.

    Otherwise there's nothing you can do to preserve it, other than the obvious things like 'don't drop it' and 'drop spill coffee into it'.

    Make sure it's a LONG WAY from your PC when you're not using it of course - the number of people who keep their 'backup drive' plugged-in or in the same room is mind-boggling (Project Zomboid!?) - makes it easy to steal and means it will suffer the same fate in a fire etc.

    Backup is a process of duplication - if you only keep 1 "backup" of all your work, you reduce your chance of losing it by half BUT if you keep 2/3/4/5 different backups then you half it again every time (note that whilst the odds reduce, they never reach 'no chance'!!).

  3. #3
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus squirrel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trjp View Post
    Being a portable drive you may be tempted to move it when it's plugged-in - DON'T do that - EVER.
    Frankly, in office I always do that. Bottom line, that portable HDD is company's, not mine. Hehe~

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by squirrel View Post
    Frankly, in office I always do that. Bottom line, that portable HDD is company's, not mine. Hehe~
    HDDs will deal with some movement (people carry powered-on laptops around a lot) but if you drop it, you'll almost certainly lose everything on it because portable drives lack the '3D Drive Protection' which a lot of laptops offer and they're made of crap.

    I'm not a fan of portable drives for backup tbh. They're too fragile and relatively expensive per-MB - they're a convenience thing, not a safe backup method.

    I've prattled-on about my own backup-schemes many times - but basically.

    All my work is in Dropbox
    My PC is also backed-up using Crashplan (hourly) - this covers Dropbox, %APPDATA%, User Files, allsorts of other stuff.
    Periodic backups of everything (by project or type of thing) go to DVD (soon BluRay)
    System drive is mirrored to my NAS AND to a redundant drive in the same case AND to a spare drive in a firesafe somewhere.

    Add to that most of my work is on the web somewhere, is mailed to clients regularly (so it's in GMail) and so on.

    My biggest issue isn't losing a file - it's working out which place to recover from first :)

  5. #5
    Well I use a 3TB Portable drive not for backup but for media purposes. Nothing I can't afford to lose, but nothing I'd want to lose either. Lately such as Seagate have been pretty damn reliable so I'd just say do the smart thing, don't move it, don't drop it, don't kick it. It'll last until it naturally fails which could be anything up to and over 4/5 years, knowing Seagate it will be a while.

  6. #6
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Boris's Avatar
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    Don't drop it. Any data you don't have backed up is data you don't care about.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by halbarad View Post
    Well I use a 3TB Portable drive not for backup but for media purposes. Nothing I can't afford to lose, but nothing I'd want to lose either. Lately such as Seagate have been pretty damn reliable so I'd just say do the smart thing, don't move it, don't drop it, don't kick it. It'll last until it naturally fails which could be anything up to and over 4/5 years, knowing Seagate it will be a while.
    It's worth saying the HDDs will ALWAYS fail and no-one can predict when - I've seen drives last 10 years and 10 days.

    What we do know is that

    a - it's not specifically heat related but that's probably a factor
    b - it's not usage related but that's probably a factor
    c - it's not always movement/drop related but that's almost certainly a factor

    It's worth noting that HDDs come with a variety of prices which often relate more to their warranty period than their size or performance (Seagate have 2/3/5 year options, for example). It's also worth noting that there's little difference between these drives and the warranty doesn't cover your data - e.g. you're really putting a deposit on your NEXT disk at best!!

    If you have data on an HDD and it's not backed-up anywhere else - it's data you don't care about. HDDs can fail at any time, they're relatively fragile, they tend to 'crumble' before they die (so data will disappear in a way you won't notice before it's too late) - they're basically 'volatile storage' and the brand doesn't change that.

  8. #8
    Lesser Hivemind Node L_No's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trjp View Post
    Add to that most of my work is on the web somewhere, is mailed to clients regularly (so it's in GMail) and so on.

    My biggest issue isn't losing a file - it's working out which place to recover from first :)
    What place would you recommend for backing up large amounts of images (photos)? My documents are backed up in various locations, but I have quite a large amount of holiday pics, etc., that I'd like to backup somewhere else than on my external HDD.

  9. #9
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus squirrel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trjp View Post
    It's worth saying the HDDs will ALWAYS fail and no-one can predict when - I've seen drives last 10 years and 10 days.

    It's worth noting that HDDs come with a variety of prices which often relate more to their warranty period than their size or performance (Seagate have 2/3/5 year options, for example). It's also worth noting that there's little difference between these drives and the warranty doesn't cover your data - e.g. you're really putting a deposit on your NEXT disk at best!!

    If you have data on an HDD and it's not backed-up anywhere else - it's data you don't care about. HDDs can fail at any time, they're relatively fragile, they tend to 'crumble' before they die (so data will disappear in a way you won't notice before it's too late) - they're basically 'volatile storage' and the brand doesn't change that.
    Actually this is not a secret all HDDs will fail. There are official statistics released on how many times you can do read/write on a specific model of HDD, and beyond that it will fail anytime and cannot be considered manufacturers' fault.

    My Seagate portable HDD is covered by a 3-year warranty. My 1TB internal secondary HDD, where I once stored most of my books in, failed once. Dell under its warranty guarantee replaced it for me, but restoring the contents from DVDs/CDs almost made me bang my head to wall, and Dell made it crystal clear it's none of its responsibility. I know it's reasonable.

    I read that without online backup, all you can do is to periodically backup everything on a new drive. This is too costly for me. Actually I store everything in optic discs and treat those as permanent storages, but the main issue is that you cannot access the materials anytime you want. One disc can contain hundreds of books so it's infeasible for me to write all the titles on the cover. I need a library system for them and currently HDDs, either internal or external, are the only places I can implement one.
    Last edited by squirrel; 27-09-2013 at 11:37 AM.

  10. #10
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    Optical discs are supercheap but they're also super-fragile - between media errors, format errors, compatibility problems and the ease with which they're damaged or lost - I'd view optical backups as something you take FREQUENTLY.

    No use backing-up to DVDR just once - you need several copies and you need to refresh them from time-to-time.

    As for storing lots of photos, the only difference to other forms of data is whether you might want to share those photos with others/publicly. Services like Crashplan and Dropbox aren't really aimed at sharing (tho they offer it) - services like FlickR/Picasa are.

    Remember that you get 'free' space from lots of places - even GMail has loads of space - it's all something you can use to hold 'one copy' of your stuff and the key to backups is LOTS of copies.

    As for Squirrel's points - the core issue is that whether a drive fails due to a fault or just 'wearing out', you lose your data either way. If you lose 3Tb of data on day 2 you still lose it - no-one will bring it back for you (unless you pay huge sums of money) so you HAVE to see data on an HDD as being 'volatile'.

    Summary

    Memory Sticks - super-volatile - they're really for taking data from A-B, not for any form of long-term storage.
    HDDs - volatile but essential for storing files too-large for optical or files you update frequently(*)
    Optical - less volatile but still fragile - practical to make multiple copies so DO THAT
    Cloud - the only reason you don't backup everything you have to every cloud service there is, is bandwidth(**)

    (*) - refurb 2.5" HDDs are cheap, easy to connect and whilst they're volatile, being able to afford several mitigates that ...
    (**) and perhaps privacy concerns but - seriously - how many files do you have that the NSA care about? :)

  11. #11
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus squirrel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trjp View Post
    Optical discs are supercheap but they're also super-fragile - between media errors, format errors, compatibility problems and the ease with which they're damaged or lost - I'd view optical backups as something you take FREQUENTLY.
    Yes I am also aware of this issue many would point out. But for me, my CDs written ten to twelve years ago are still perfectly readable. I believe it so much depends on how we preserve those discs. Humidity is always your primary enemy.

    Of course, always choose trusted brands. My favorite: Mitsubishi, Verbatim, Imation, TDK and Fiji Film. Kodak Gold is of course a perfect one but they are too pricy for commoners like me.

    I want to make multiple backup too but if you have several TBs of contents you need to back up...... let's say more money is always preferable. Back to the origin of EVERY problem one will face in their life......

  12. #12
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    I've been burning CDs since the drives were 300 and the discs were 10 - I have the full range of discs used over that period and I'd say about half either have issues or won't read (you can actually see where the dye has leeched or faded in many cases).

    Even recentish DVDs will sometimes throw errors - discs written on my last DVDR (now dead) don't always read well on my new one either.

    What I'm saying is "one backup is useless" - doesn't matter what you use, the only way to be remotely secure is to have several backups - recent backups - incremental/historic/versioned backups.

    Cloud is best but what it you're not online?

    HDDs are fast and convenient but you need to cycle them offsite and they will, one day, simply not work

    Optical gets bloody tiresome as you re-write the data for the 100th time :)

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