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Windows 7: External storage with redundancy suggestions?

06 Jul 2011   #1

Win XP Home SP3 / Win7 Ultimate dual boot
External storage with redundancy suggestions?

I am looking for external storage solutions for the backing up of data etc.

I previously used a USB2.0 WD MyBook, but have had several problems with it, culminating in a total loss of almost everything at the weekend.

So when I get a new storage device, I think I would like some redundancy to save future headaches. Probably a RAID1 mirror setup.

I don't have USB3.0 on the computer, but I do have the choice of USB2.0, Firewire, ESATA or the option of an ethernet based device.

I guess I need between 500Gb and 1Tb total (so 1 to 2 TB RAID1 mirrored).

So any suggestions would be welcome.

Many thanks,

PS Although I know many people are quite happy with WD, after my own bad experience I wouldn't get another one

My System SpecsSystem Spec
06 Jul 2011   #2
Microsoft MVP

Windows 7 Ult. x64

Hi Bob,

It sounds to me that your ideal solution is to get a home NAS (Network Attached Storage) with RAID1 capability. Essentially a NAS is a very small "computer" that has its own hard disks. Depending on the choice, these can be configured as RAID0, RAID1 or RAID5. Usually, you map the NAS drive to your PC and access the NAS just like you would any external drive. The usual connection is either USB or ethernet.

In your case, you want something fairly simple that has RAID1 capability, and luckily they are quite common now. Here is one example from

Synology Diskstation DS211J 2-Bay Gigabit Ethernet Network Attached Storage Enclosure [DS211J]

With a NAS solution, you need:

1 x NAS enclosure
2 x good reliable hard disks

NAS' usually come with some additional capability like the ability to be configured as an HTP server etc. You don't have to utilise any of this if you don't want to. The most important features should be:

1. Hot-swappable disks
- if one disk dies you can simply replace one disk, and
2. Auto RAID rebuild
- if you do need to swap one disk, then the RAID is rebuilt automatically when you hot-swap the disk

I've been using a NAS for RAID1 storage for a while now, and feel secure that I have good redundant backups.

Good luck and let us know how you get on.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
06 Jul 2011   #3

Windows 7 Enterprise X64/Windows 10 Enterprise X64/Windows 10 Pro X64/Linux Mint

I would go with eSATA, it has always been faster for me. You may want to look through this thread about external devices. There are some good suggestions there.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

06 Jul 2011   #4

Windows 7 Ultimate x64

Of your connection choices, eSATA is the best one as it's going to give you fastest performance. It should be nearly identical to the speed of a SATA hard drive connected inside your machine.

You mention that the external storage will be used for backups, right? In this case, I don't suggest the use of RAID1 (Mirror). The reason is pretty simple, but with a MIRROR configuration, if you do something dumb on accident (like delete some files), or accidentally have a security incident (virus infecting files), with a RAID1 mirror both the source and the destination are wiped out at the exact same time. Thus it's not much of a backup really. Also, a RAID 1 mirror won't give you any protection whatsoever in the event that your machine is stolen, or your house burned to the ground. Both drives would most likely be taken or destroyed at the same time. Finally, it can be tough sometimes taking 1 drive from a mirror set, putting it into another computer and actually getting the data off the drive. Therefore, what good is having the data if you cannot read it/retrieve it/use it.

So, my suggestion would be something like this.

1). Install a second physical hard drive into your computer and store your data on it, as well as backup images of your C drive (use something like Acronis True Image or Macrium Relect Free to make those images).

2). Store your data in a folder like D:\data (with a bunch of subfolders underneath it). Store your images in a folder called D:\images with possible sub folders (if you like).

3). Then, purchase an external hard disk, or at least the same capacity as that second internal hard disk (or bigger) and at frequent intervals, use something like robocopy (comes with Windows 7) to synchronize the data on the D drive with the external drive.

4). Keep the external hard drive off site somewhere (at work, at a friends house, etc). This way in your house is destroyed, or computer is stolen, you can retrieve your data from another location. And with this method of backups, the actual data files are not compressed, not in a backup file that requires any software to mount, and not difficult to retrieve from any other computer.

The syntax for robocopy is simple and could be put into a batch file and run whenever you choose. With robocopy, it only copies files that have changed since you last run the synchronize, so the first copy takes the longest time, but the rest are all just the they are extremely fast.

C:\windows\system32\robocopy.exe C:\data E:\backups\data /E /MIR
C:\windows\system32\robocopy.exe C:\images E:\backups\images /E /MIR

The /E copies all subdirectories including empty ones.

The /MIR says to mirror the source to the destination. So, if you deleted a file on C:\data and then run this job, it will then delete the copy on E:\backups\data.

Here is a quick video that I did for another member a while back on using robocopy

And here is a followup video on how to schedule this this robocopy job to run;
My System SpecsSystem Spec
06 Jul 2011   #5
Microsoft MVP

Vista, Windows7, Mint Mate, Zorin, Windows 8

1. eSata is definitely the way to go
2. Buy an external enclosure like this one and a bunch of cheap internal disks. Then you can vary.
3. Make frequent images of your system and data: Imaging with free Macrium
My System SpecsSystem Spec

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