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Windows 7: Using Win 7 Software RAID1 (Mirror) With Laptop

02 Sep 2014   #1
StrongEagle

Win 7 Pro 64 bit
 
 
Using Win 7 Software RAID1 (Mirror) With Laptop

I have decided that I would like to mirror my laptop hard drive to a USB 3.0 external disk. I have read how to set it up, so no issues there.

90 percent of the time, my laptop sits in a docking station to which the external drive is attached, so there will be no issues with immediate mirroring of the disk(s) while I am working.

However, about 10 percent of the time I take the laptop elsewhere and use it. In this case, there will be no mirror disk attached.

Also, from time to time, I take my laptop out of the docking station to connect it to my TV to stream movies. Sometimes I undock, othertimes, I just remove the laptop.

My questions:

a) Is there anything special that needs to be done prior to removing the laptop when the disks are mirrored?

b) Are there negative consequences in simply removing the laptop from the dock without doing an undock when disks are mirrored?

c) When the laptop is reconnected to the dock, does the mirroring function automatically sync the drives?

Laptop in question is Toshiba R830 with Toshiba's dock station. Have never had an issue in simply removing the laptop from the dock station, even with 3 USB drives connected. Win 7 Pro, x64.

TIA.


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05 Sep 2014   #2
StrongEagle

Win 7 Pro 64 bit
 
 

I reckon I'll just set it up and then see what happens when I disconnect the mirrored volume. I'll let you know what happens.
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05 Sep 2014   #3
DeaconFrost

Windows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1
 
 

For the purpose you want, mirroring and setting up arrays aren't relevant. If you want to set up a way to keep your data backed up, look into sync software, like SyncToy or FreeFileSync. You pick a location A and then a destination B. Anytime there's a change to A, it makes the same change in B.

My wife does a lot of digital photography, so I use SyncToy to keep her photos backed up to our NAS unit at home. Anytime she adds or edits photos, SyncToy will send the changes to the NAS.
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05 Sep 2014   #4
LMiller7

Windows 7 Pro 64 bit
 
 

It is important to understand what RAID 1 is and what it is not. It's purpose is to maintain access to your data in the event of a drive failure. Drive replacement can then be deferred until a more convenient time. This is a big deal on a busy server, not so much on a laptop or desktop.

RAID does not protect your data. RAID in any form is not a backup solution. It only proved protection from drive failure and even that cannot be relied on. For other causes of data loss it offers no protection at all. For all data of any importance at least one backup copy is essential, 2 or backup copies if the data is of particular importance.

If you think RAID 1 is for you go ahead, just be sure you are doing it for the right reasons.
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05 Sep 2014   #5
StrongEagle

Win 7 Pro 64 bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by DeaconFrost View Post
For the purpose you want, mirroring and setting up arrays aren't relevant. If you want to set up a way to keep your data backed up, look into sync software, like SyncToy or FreeFileSync. You pick a location A and then a destination B. Anytime there's a change to A, it makes the same change in B.

My wife does a lot of digital photography, so I use SyncToy to keep her photos backed up to our NAS unit at home. Anytime she adds or edits photos, SyncToy will send the changes to the NAS.
Thank you for the information. I learned something new today.

If I use the "echo" option this effectively mirrrors all folders (can I use C: as the 'left' folder?) but will not backup the boot tracks. yes?
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05 Sep 2014   #6
DeaconFrost

Windows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1
 
 

Yep, always remember...RAID is not a backup.

As for your other question, my personal preference is to not both backing up system files, but only the user-created data that can't be replaced. If a hard drive fails, in my wife's example above, I can always replace the driver and re-install her OS and software. The photos can't be replaced, so as long as I have them backed up, I don't worry. This also means less data to back up, so you'd get a lot more usage out of your external drive.
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05 Sep 2014   #7
StrongEagle

Win 7 Pro 64 bit
 
 

Thank you for the information. Yes, I understand what RAID1 is. I'm not particularly interested in recovery of other sources of data loss such as me deleting an email or wanted file. I keep critical "work in progress" files sync'ed to my Google drive.

I also backup periodically with Acronis (not a fan, BTW, but I bought it) but even with a clean backup plus incrementals, it requires keeping a boot disk, then reimaging a new disk from scratch in order to bring my PC back to where it was.

The majority of my disk data is static... videos, pics, and slathers of business documents, too much to also store in the cloud because of additional costs. It strikes me that Win 7 software mirroring is the easiest way to get back up and running, in my original configuration, should a drive fail.

As I noted, my laptop stays in a docking station at least 90 percent of the time. I just want to know what happens within the Win 7 mirroring software when I boot up the laptop and there is no external mirror disk attached. And then, when I do boot up back in the docking station with mirror disk attached, what happens.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
05 Sep 2014   #8
StrongEagle

Win 7 Pro 64 bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by DeaconFrost View Post
Yep, always remember...RAID is not a backup.

As for your other question, my personal preference is to not both backing up system files, but only the user-created data that can't be replaced. If a hard drive fails, in my wife's example above, I can always replace the driver and re-install her OS and software. The photos can't be replaced, so as long as I have them backed up, I don't worry. This also means less data to back up, so you'd get a lot more usage out of your external drive.
I've had two major drive fails over the last six years, usually while traveling on the road. While I agree that the user generated data is the irreplaceable part, it is a seriously large pain to have to reconstruct a several year old PC from the ground up. I see a mirror as a good way to be able to stay alive while traveling.

For example, I re-install the OS... but it now has multiple updates that have to be made since my 'legal' OS version was burned dogs years ago. Then come multiple software installs. And when I'm done, I've lost all the useful preferences I used to have... dictionary and spelling preferences... bookmarks... you name it.

As I noted in another post, I do back up periodically and keep critical data sync'ed to my Google drive. I just want a quick way to recover should I experience a failure.

Thanks for your response(s). They are helpful.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
05 Sep 2014   #9
DeaconFrost

Windows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1
 
 

I can't say for sure, but I believe with software mirroring (not a fan of software doing the job of hardware), once the mirror is broken, it would need to be recreated and resynced each time. It's most definitely not the method you want to use for how you want to save your data.
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05 Sep 2014   #10
3D Jed

Windows 7 pro x64 SP1
 
 

I also use MS SyncToy to back up data to a NAS, but you need to understand about the different options. With synchronize, renames + deletes on either side are repeated (ie you can accidently lose data). With contribute, new files + renames are copied L > R, with no deletions. It's a bit like Dropbox - delete a file in your pc Dropbox folder and it's deleted from the server.
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