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Windows 7: Hard drive decisions

11 Oct 2015   #11
ignatzatsonic

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Home Premium SP1, 64-bit
 
 

see comments in bold

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by mercurius View Post

So to sum up, I should get 2 x 4TB drives (one internal and one external) and format them for GPT.


No. If you intend to use a dock, you would get two ordinary internal drives. The docking station accepts an internal drive, albeit that the docking station itself is an external unit.
  1. the dock station you provided the link to makes the HDD look a bit exposed. Is it possible to get enclosed units to put the HDD in- and, if so, do you recommend any?

    The premise of docks is that the drive is exposed. That's the advantage--you can quickly insert any traditional internal drive into the dock. An "enclosed" docking station would effectively be an external drive that wouldn't give you the freedom to insert the drive of your choice.

  2. if I format them for GPT will the computer recognise them as 4Tb drives?

    It certainly should as long as you don't have an antique motherboard.

  3. do they need USB 3 drives, as most of mine look like USB 2?

USB 3.0 docks should be fully compatible with a USB 2.0 port.

Some docks may have limitations regarding drive capacity---a given dock might be OK with a 2 TB drive, but balk if you tried to use a 4 TB drive with it. You need to confirm your dock choice will in fact work correctly with a 4 TB drive if you intend to use a 4 TB drive with it.


I have a full back up drive that is not backing up my C drive with any incremental additional data created. Any suggestions as to a simple approach to sorting this out?

The simplest approach is to:

1: Use something like Macrium instead of Windows backup.

2: Keep your operating system (Windows) and applications on the C partition and keep your data on some other partition or drive.

3: Make periodic (weekly or monthly?) image backups of C and any other partition marked as a system partition in Windows Disk Management. That other partition is typically called "System Reserved". Do full backups, don't bother with incremental backups.

4: Do what you have to do to familiarize yourself with the image restoration process. Pretend that your C drive has failed, and walk yourself through what you would do. Don't wait until you have a catastrophe to decide it's time to learn about restoration.

5: Back up your data separately with a non-imaging application, of which there are many. Probably at least daily.




My System SpecsSystem Spec
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11 Oct 2015   #12
Lady Fitzgerald

Win 7 Ultimate 64 bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by mercurius View Post
...Thank you very much once again for all of this.

So to sum up, I should get 2 x 4TB drives (one internal and one external) and format them for GPT. Can I just ask again some follow ups:
  1. the dock station you provided the link to makes the HDD look a bit exposed. Is it possible to get enclosed units to put the HDD in- and, if so, do you recommend any?
  2. if I format them for GPT will the computer recognise them as 4Tb drives?
  3. do they need USB 3 drives, as most of mine look like USB 2?
I realise now that my back up strategy is also rubbish I am doing a back up using Windows 7 which is taking an image of my C drive, but I haven't created a boot disk to be able to use the image in the event of a crash. Also Windows 7 fills the back up drive for my C drive and doesn't overwrite it when the disk is full, so unless I check now and again (which to be honest I often forget to do) I have a full back up drive that is not backing up my C drive with any incremental additional data created. Any suggestions as to a simple approach to sorting this out?
No worries. We'll just send you a bill at the end of the month (just kidding).

1. It doesn't hurt to have the drive exposed in a dock; in fact, it generally will run a bit cooler. The only other alternatives I know of would be an enclosure, like this one, but you would have to get one for each backup HDD. You will be getting a USB cable and a wallwart power supply with each enclosure but, with only two to four backup drives, that may not be that big of an issue for you (and it never hurts to have spares).

2. Yes.

3. You can use either. USB 3.0 is backwards with USB 2.0. You usually can use a USB 3.0 device in a USB 2.0 port and vice versa. HDDs haven't saturated USB 2.0 speeds yet so, technically, the drive would run at the same speed in either port. However, a lot of USB 2.0 ports don't run at full USB 2.0 speeds so you might get slightly faster speeds using USB 3.0 but it wouldn't be enough to write home about.

I wouldn't say your backup strategy is rubbish simply because you do have one, which beats the holy, hairy heck out of what most people have, which is none. It can be improved a bit, though (everything can be improved if you throw enough money at it ). I recommend putting the OS (Win 7, in this case) and the programs on their own partition, which is always C:. That way, you can backup the C: partition separately from your data. The rest of the drive can be another partition that you put data on. For most people, 75-100GB will be plenty large for the C: partition. This is pretty much what I do with my notebooks since they have room for only one drive (I replace the HDDs with SSDs but that's a topic for another thread). My desktop has a 128GB SSD for my programs and OS so I don't need to do any partitioning. Although I encourage people to put their C: drive on an SSD, you will be spending a fair amount of change getting your backup scheme set up so you can worry about that later.

I also recommend having at least two backup drives for each drive in your computer but, if cash is tight, one per drive still is better than nothing.

Rather than using Windows Backup, I would suggest using Macrium Reflect Free (here is a good tutorial on how to use Macrium Reflect) to image just your C: partition (after you separate your OS and programs from your data). This way, you can store multiple images in much less space.

For backing up data, I suggest using a folder/file syncing program, such as FreeFileSync or SyncToy. For doing backups, you set the folder/file syncing program to mirror. In this mode, it will compare the source drive with the destination drive (your backup drive) to see what has changed, then it will copy the necessary files from the source drive to the destination drive and delete unneeded files from the destination drives, essentially leaving you an exact copy of the source drive. If backup space is limited, you can also choose to just backup essential folders. This is a much faster way to update backups since only new and changed files are being dealt with instead of the entire drive. A nice optional feature of FreeFileSync is called versioning. This will direct deleted files to a versioning folder or file so, if something gets accidentally deleted or corrupted, you can retrieve the earlier version.

For now, let's get you set up for hardware and, once that is in place, we can worry about updating your backup scheme.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
11 Oct 2015   #13
Lady Fitzgerald

Win 7 Ultimate 64 bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by ignatzatsonic View Post
see comments in bold

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by mercurius View Post

So to sum up, I should get 2 x 4TB drives (one internal and one external) and format them for GPT.


No. If you intend to use a dock, you would get two ordinary internal drives. The docking station accepts an internal drive, albeit that the docking station itself is an external unit...
Thanks for clarifying that point. I totally spaced on it (and we cross posted).

Btw, I have used 2TB and 4TB WD Blacks and Greens in the dock I linked. Seagates often require a download to make them compatible with that dock. I don't recommend Seagates, anyway.
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