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Raid1 or Mirror, software-based?

  1. Dec 8, 2009 #1

    turbo

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    I have two identical HDs in my PC and periodically, I back up from my primary drive to the slave to keep copies of modified files current. Is there anybody here using a software-based Raid or Mirroring solution to keep a HD duplicated in real-time (or perhaps batched overnight, etc)? I'll probably have to upgrade PCs sometime in the next year or two and would prefer not to get locked into a hardware-based RAID1 solution, if possible.

    Is there an easy-to-configure software solution available - preferably a free utility? I can probably stand a hit in productivity since I'm not a gamer, and I'm not running any real processor-intensive applications. Thanks in advance if you've got some suggestions!
     
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  3. Dec 8, 2009 #2

    mgb_phys

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    Unless you are going into big $$$$ solutions software raid almost always works better than cheap hardware raid. Windows has built-in software raid that works very well.
    BUT - raid isn't really meant for backups, it's meant to protect against (rare) hardware failures. If you (or a virus or a bug) delete a file then it's also deleted in the raid copy.

    You might be better off just formatting the second disk as a data drive, then doing a full image backup of your PC say once/month and then doing incremental (daily/hourly) backups of your desktop and 'my documents' folders
     
  4. Dec 9, 2009 #3

    rcgldr

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    I use multiple partitions on both my primary and backup hard drives. I have a dual boot system, with separate partitions for each instance of OS. This allows me to backup the OS partition by booting into the other OS.

    You can also defrag partitions with this setup, but don't do this with your boot partition. On my system, I only have a tiny C partition used for the boot loader stuff, and keep the OS, programs, and data in seperate partitions. I copy a partition into a folder or partition on the backup drive, do a compare to verify it's good, then I format the source and copy back to defrag, and do another compare to verify.

    I have a 3rd USB external hard drive that I use for backing up important data.
     
  5. Dec 9, 2009 #4

    turbo

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    Thank you both. I still haven't decided what avenue to pursue.
     
  6. Dec 9, 2009 #5
    The purpose of a Raid 1 is to create a back-up in case of a hardware failure. I would definitely recommend this if he is storing sensitive data on a hard-drive. Even though it backs up the viruses as well, you will still have your complete OS in the event of a hardware failure. The periodic back-ups are just as likely to back up a virus if you are unaware of its presence on your computer. I think that you would be best served by doing both.

    Use the Raid 1 and make periodic back-ups of critical files. The back-ups are in case of virus damage, severe driver conflict and registry errors. The Raid is for a hardware failure. The windows built in software raid should be fine. If I am not mistaken, some (if not most) motherboards have bios setting for standard Raid set-ups.
     
  7. Dec 9, 2009 #6

    turbo

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    I may have to look into the Windows-based Raid1. I have Avast and Ad-Aware running, and have not had any issues with viruses or spy-ware, so Raid might be the best way to go.

    I have some files that I'd hate to lose, though the research files are not at risk at all. My collaborators and I share everything via email and we archive those, so our raw data and the resultant databases, spreadsheets, plots, etc, all reside in several PCs in the US and two in Finland.
     
  8. Dec 9, 2009 #7
    I think the Windows based Raid is what you would best be served by. It would be the easiest to recover from should you have a Hard Disk die all of the sudden. If you don't make regular back-ups (or System Restore) of your computer, I would suggest that you do this as well. This could prevent some of those nasty accidents that can happen when you update your drivers or download a buggy program. If you get the blue-screen-of-death or some other fun problem, having a recent back-up can be really nice. I would recommend backing up your computer before makeing any major changes e.g. update drivers or install new hardware. I learned to do this the hard way. Between these two options you should feel pretty secure.
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2009
  9. Dec 9, 2009 #8

    mgb_phys

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    https://www.dropbox.com/ is good for this, 2Gb of storage for free and you can send links to the other person to have them download the file,
    it also has smart differencing so you only upload the changes to files and you can track and download previous versions of the same file.
    The paid for version has more space and lets you publish sets of files to more people.

    I also use http://mozy.com/ for backups, again 2Gb is free , it's more secure than dropbox (everything is encrypted localy before uploading) and comes with a local client that can back chosen directories/files at set times.
     
  10. Dec 9, 2009 #9

    turbo

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    Thanks. I used to program, repair computers, and administer computer networks for a large medical practice, but all that ended over 10 years ago and I have not kept up with RAID/Mirror, etc since and wanted to know what is out there today. I'll see if I can find some cogent instructions for implementing Raid under XP - MS's documentation of such features is often sadly lacking.
     
  11. Dec 9, 2009 #10

    mgb_phys

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  12. Dec 9, 2009 #11

    turbo

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    Thanks. That's something that I been trying to work around, since I only have XP Home SP3. I had hoped an OS-based utility would be available, but no luck. I'm running a Dell Dimension 8400, and apparently the chipsets of some of the motherboards shipped in that series support RAID, but in searching for information on that approach, I found many tales of frustration and wasted effort. Maybe I'll just back up manually from time to time until I have to get a new PC, then make sure that it's configured for RAID before installing software and copying files.
     
  13. Dec 9, 2009 #12

    mgb_phys

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    Generally stay away from hardware raid (except on $$$ hw) it sounds like it should be better since it's done inside the controller but it seems to be one of those 'friday afternoon' features that is never quite done properly. And if it goes wrong you have very limited tools to deal with it.

    Software raid on Windows is surprisingly good and because the OS knows a lot about how and which files have changed it can do more to optimise when/how the second copy is written so the performance is often better.
     
  14. Dec 11, 2009 #13

    stewartcs

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    Hey Turbo,

    I recommend http://www.seagate.com/ww/v/index.j...oid=33fcb84a3266e010VgnVCM100000dd04090aRCRD" by Segate. It's a stand-alone backup server that keeps your files up to date as they change. It has some really useful functions such as web access (so you can connect to it remotely to view or download your files) and it keeps up to the previous 8 versions of a file (I think it's eight anyway).

    I bought mine at Best Buy a few years ago. I've not had any problems with it yet.

    CS
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 24, 2017
  15. Dec 11, 2009 #14

    turbo

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    Thanks, I'll look into that, and other external storage solutions. I wish the cost was a bit more reasonable, but it seems to do a lot.
     
  16. Dec 17, 2009 #15
    Bad idea, and here's why: You want different backup sets. Ideally, for a home user, you'd like incrementals every day, with full backups every week, restarted once a month.

    http://www.educ.umu.se/~cobian/cobianbackup.htm".

    Good. When a mirror set fails, the question is: which drive failed? RAID 5 and beyond...

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ZFS" [Broken]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
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