Cost Effective Backup Alternatives

Hey all,

I was hoping for your opinions.

I have been a bad boy and not backed up my data for some time.

What do you use to back up your drobos with that doesn’t break the bank?

With multiple terabytes of data, my Drobo is the largest device I have access to, and I can’t possibly afford another one to backup to.

What do you guys use? Are there cost effective tape backups out there for home users?

I considered using one of those “cloud” backup services, but not only would this take forever to do, it would also be pretty expensive.

I appreciate input!


essentially you need to break your data down to replaceable and irreplaceable

i’ve got a few hundred gb of irreplaceable data - and 22Tb of media (which would be a pain to replace but not impossible)

so i backup what i can reasonable afford to, and just hope that he redundancy is enough for the media!

My philosophy exactly.
Put simply, think of backups as insurance. Decide what your data is worth to you, and then find a backup solution that meets your requirements. You can save time and/or money by “buying” lower levels of insurance for certain things. I was pleasantly surprised by how much the costs of backups have dropped in recent years.

For example, here’s my backup strategy:
Photos, email, and financial and business data are continually backed up to CrashPlan’s service and manually synched to an A/B rotation of external hard drives. I periodically burn copies to DVD.
Images of my computer OS partitions get backed up to the A/B rotation of external drives.
Radio programs and MP3/OGG rips of my CDs get manually synched to one external hard drive. Friends’ CrashPlan data gets manually synched to another external drive.
I consider some data on my Drobo to be not worth backing up, like TV programs I’ve recorded to watch later.

You have to decide what is important. I have a multilayered backup system. Important data from all of my computers goes to Crashplan. Work Mac & PC are cloned to a separate drive nightly. Work Mac & PC also have an incremental backup drive as well. Another layer of data & media on the drobo.

Adding another 6 TB of backup isn’t that expensive. Lots of cheap RAID 5 boxes out there for under $300 and 2 TB drives are as low as $65.

I use w Thermaltake eSata external docks…




Or search NewEgg for other external docks. I also have a USB only Thermaltake Dock (my first one). eSata probably has little benefit with the USB/FW Drobo but it’s handy for other things and I thought worth a few extra bucks.

I started with 4x1TB drives in my Drobo, and have steadily upgraded. As a result, I have a growing pile of 1TB drives.

I organize my Drobo volumes with top level folders that never contain more than 900GB of data (whatever I feel comfortable packing into those 1TB backup drives). You can pick whatever size you want, based on the size of your backup drives. If I had non-vital data I would just segregate that into a dedicated top level folder that didn’t get backed up.

I use SecondCopy to back up the Drobo top level folders to the backup drives.


SecondCopy does changes only and will delete files on teh target not on the source… very flexible and whatever you want in terms of backup policy. The only thing I do not like about SecondCopy is that they do not yet have a services based version that works with 64 bit Win OS’s. That means I have to leave my file server (which usually has the Drobo attached) logged in.

The nice thing about the eSata docks is that you only need one or two, and then can you buy raw drives without paying for a case. Of course, drives with simple USB enclosures can be had for the price of a raw drive but they tend to come with a 1 year wearranty that is voided if you want to pull the drive out (I have a few WD Mybooks from before I got smart and found the external docks).

You could also get a Sata backplane box and eSata port multiplier card to plug into existing empty 5.25" slot(s) if you have them, for easy all in one hot swap, or an external multi-bay enclosure.

The above is the method I use for my “offline” copies that rotate off site.

For daily backups I have 2x2TB drives in the Win file server with the Drobo. SecondCopy runs automatically every evening, ensuring I have one full up to date copy. I rotate two offline copies.

I thought about another Drobo or a Raid box as suggested above. I decided that my backups should be as technically simple as possible. That is the Hail Mary Pass and there I feel better knowing I can pop those drives into any Win box and read them. No Raid issues, etc. Plus, I have noticed over the years that bad luck and disasters happen in small groups. That’s why I keep 4 copies of my important data and keep the backups as simple JBODs. If my Drobo array crashes I don’t want to worry about doping something stupid to the Raid box backup in the heat of the restore battle, or just have a really bad day lose that array too.

Plus, reading a lot of NewEgg reviews of cheap Raid boxes, I get the feeling that more Raid arrays are lost due to software problems or other issues beyond hard drive failure than are saved by Raid 5 redundancy.

A lot of the above is just religious and philosophical. Do whatever makes you feel comfortable.

hi matt, like the guys here said… .what types of data do you have?
and how many Gigs / TB’s do you have currently?

i actually got a 2nd drobo fairly cheap from amazon (and they threw in a drobo share - which at the time was going for around 200 on its own, so i got lucky for about £300 and picked up a v2 drobo about 2 years ago)

so what i do is use the v1 mainly as primary, and install games and programs and demos on it etc too,
and then i manually synch/mirror it onto my v2 drobo (using synchback/pro)
then for extra important stuff, i backit up to mozy.com encrypted etc)

(if your extra important stuff isnt too big, you might be able to use their 2GB free offer or similar) and then even with the monthly payment its only about £3 per month or 5$ etc.

ive been hearing more about crashplan latley - havent tried it yet but might also be an option for you

(also why the 12GB of ram on your pc? are you a games player and 3d graphics renderer?) :slight_smile:

hey paul, i’ve always wondered why do you use your slower drobo as the main on and the faster drobo as the backup?

sorry docchris i didnt see this till now…

its a good question :slight_smile:
a while back i posted a post somewhere about how to swap drive letters around, after backing up my v1 onto the v2,
i got some answers but i had also started using part of the v2 for other proccessing and compression stuff (eg like raw wavs on it into compresses format targeting the v1 or other stuff etc and then it got a bit complex to swap stuff around…;

by then i had also configured my synchback semi automatic mirroring profiles up etc and wasnt 100% sure how to swap it all without mucking something up, so i sort of kept it as it was LOL :slight_smile:

i’ll probably have to revisit it at some point but probably after the “WD10EADS into WD15EADS” upgrade project :slight_smile:


Completely forgot about this thread. Thanks for the suggestions.

My problem is that I use the Drobo S for a file server with multiple private user folders. I know it would take me a huge amount of time to split my files into irreplaceable and replaceable, and I don’t think I can convince the other three users to do so.

I still haven’t backed up since starting this thread. Need to figure something out. There used to be unlimited cloud services, but they seem mostly gone now (probably because of too many people like me :stuck_out_tongue: )[hr]

I’m actually up to 16GB now, and considering getting another 16Gb.

At first it was just a “because I can” kind of thing. I found it amazing that RAM had become so cheap, so I figured I’d just get “enough to never have to worry about RAM” (kind of the same rationale behind having 12TB - well 6TB after Double Disk Redundancy is figured in - of storage space)

I quickly found that I no longer needed a swap file and disabled it. I like not having windows ever swap anything.

Then I started playing with virtual machines and ramdisks.

Editing large RAW images from my camera in Photoshop and Capture NX2 also uses a notable amount of RAM.

I do play games (I’ve recently become addicted to Red Orchestra 2), but the games rarely use more than a couple of gigabytes of RAM, and when they do it is uncommon for them to be 64bit, so much over 4GB has not been useful for that.

Someone above talked about Crashplan.com, and I’d like to give you my experiences so far.

I have been using that for a while to deal with the “irreplaceable” data, and some of the “really painful to replicate” data. I signed up for the Family Unlimited plan, which is unlimited backup for 2-10 computers, including all your drives (not just the internal) for $120 per year. I have 140G of photos up there already, and I’m 2/3 of the way through putting 140G of lossless CD rips up there. You can back up from the same interface to another folder/drive on the same computer, another computer on your local network, another computer across the Internet (say you put a drive at your friend’s house), and to their cloud. The backups are encrypted with your password, or a separate key that’s known only to you. It keeps old versions of files, and does incremental backups of only changes.

I keep my photos on an external drive, and have that back up to the Drobo and to their cloud. The music is stored on the Drobo and is going to their cloud as I type. I am trying to figure out where to put another drive in a friend’s house or at work so I can back up both the photos and music to somewhere a bit more local that I can restore from in a reasonable amount of time. Each computer also backs up the user directories to the cloud at all times.

I am very impressed with the service so far, and $120/year is well worth it. There are lower cost options if you only need to back up one machine.

Interesting scenario Matt!

Here’s what I have…

My WHS2011 machine is my file server.
I have Drive Bender installed (as WHS2011 doesn’t have Drive Extender from WHSv1), to merge multiple physical volumes into single logical volumes.

My movies storage is a pair of Drobo v2 units. They’re simply merged. Nothing really special there.

My files storage is a pair of Drobo S units (one’s gen 1, the other is gen 2, but both are connected via USB 2, so matters not). Drive Bender mirrors the “important” folders between the two units (particularly, user folders, important documents and purchases).

The entirety of my “files” storage is just short of 3 TB, so I have a 3 TB external drive that I use for backing up that data.

I also have the “really-really important files” on cloud.

Soon I’ll exceed 3 TB and I’ll have to decide whether to split backups, wait for 4 TB drives, or do something RAID-ish…

I’m impressed by your 16 GB of RAM. My dual-quad-core desktop currently has 8 GB, but I’ve been chewing up RAM with some of my side projects, so I’ve been dreaming of an upgrade…

hey bhiga - have you looekd at Flexraid?

ive currently got a synology ds4211+ totally full of 3tb disks and a a second with with 4 x 3tb disks in it

im considering dumping them and replacing them with four HP microservers each with 4 x 3tb internals and one usb using flexraid[hr]
hey bhiga - have you looekd at Flexraid?

ive currently got a synology ds4211+ totally full of 3tb disks and a a second with with 4 x 3tb disks in it

im considering dumping them and replacing them with four HP microservers each with 4 x 3tb internals and one usb using flexraid

Flexraid looks quite nice… Drive Bender has some of its functionality (it duplicates based on real files, sitting “above” NTFS), but I think for a large system Flexraid is probably the way to go. If I rebuild, might go that route… or if I end up with a blade like my wife keeps advocating (yeah, yeah, I’m crazy for denying the wife a server closet and blade, right??)

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