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Windows 7: Is my backup and archive strategy too complicated?

14 Mar 2012   #1

Windows 7 Ultimate
Is my backup and archive strategy too complicated?

I recently set up my first NAS using an old compute and FreeNAS to free up my main computer ( a netbook but I'm building a pc in a couple of weeks, so I'll need to back up both ). This led me to rethink how I'm doing backups, as the USB attached drive I used to backup to is now in the NAS server.

My current strategy:
  • Media files - use synctoy manually once a week to echo files to another HD
  • Document - no backup, but they are synced to dropbox. I don't know how to get my data off of DropBox if my hard drive dies.
  • Programs/OS - Acronis system image. I do this 1st of each month
I want to add to this an online archive as well. I have tons of electronic documents that are important to have available to reference, but I don't need very often. I have so many folders of these that Windows Explorer stalls then I open a directory.
Getting rid of them will make it easier to find what I need without wading through a bunch of "noise" documents.

I want to simplify this strategy, but I can't think of a way how. In fact I think my document backup strategy is pretty weak.

Would this be better?
  • Create archive folder on NAS that mirrors my top level directory structure and move files there manually. Think: Finance->Taxes->TaxReturn2008 . After I complete a tax return, I may have to reference it (actually I've been doing that a lot, lately ) but I don't need to carry it around every on my netbook.
  • Sync everything to the NAS with synctoy or Freefilesync as my backup solution.
  • Store Acrtonis sytem images on the NAS. Maybe keep 2-3
Now I have 3 things going to my NAS, so it needs extra storage and to be rock solid. But what about offsite backups of everything? Is it worth the extra work? Or maybe I should get a portable hard drive and copy the backup/archive files to it once a month, like right after the OS/Program imaging. It would be about 300gb for everything, I think.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
15 Mar 2012   #2

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Home Premium SP1, 64-bit

Here is my method and a few comments. Maybe you can get some ideas from it.

I use an ordinary internal hard drive for backup, rather than NAS, and currently back up over 400 GB of data. Over 95% of it is MP3 or video.

I'm not sure why you are using a different strategy for media files versus documents.

Generally, I divide items to be backed up into two categories: Windows/OS (aka C partition) and data (aka D partition). I treat all data as equally valuable and make no distinction between media files, Word, Excel, jpegs, etc. Data is data and if it is data it's worth backing up. If it isn't worth backing up, why even keep the original?

I use an imaging application to backup the OS and then treat that resulting image file as another piece of data and back it up as well, just as if it was a Word file. I make an image every month or so and keep an old one and the most recent two months--3 total, each backed up. I use Macrium and EaseUS, alternating.

I'd use Synctoy or a similar "file by file" application to back up all data. I happen to use Second Copy.

I have 6 automated backup "profiles" set up in my backup program, named as follows:

Video (source is my data drive video folder)
MP3 (source is my data drive MP3 folder)
Data (everything on my data drive that is not MP3 or Video)
Email (source is my C drive)
Bookmarks (source is my C drive)
USB 8 GB thumb drive (source is most valuable text files on data drive; destination is 8 GB thumb drive; this profile duplicates certain items contained in the "Data" profile above)

I run these manually with a pushbutton at will. The first 3 usually run daily. Email and bookmarks maybe monthly. The USB 8 GB profile every couple of months.

I could easily combine the first 3 into a single profile called "all data" or something like that, but I keep it this way purely out of habit.

My backup drive's folder structure looks pretty much the same as the folder structure on my data drive.

I think the offsite idea is worthwhile although I don't do it myself. My thumb drive backup is my "can't live without" stuff and the thumb drive could of course be stored offsite.

I can't get myself to trust the "cloud" or any online method.

I don't see rarely-viewed files as a problem and I don't isolate them or treat them any differently. The first backup of tens of thousands of files takes a long time, but all later backups rarely take more than a minute since only new or modified files need to be backed up on the second or later passes.

Three or four times a year, I also do a plain old manual "drag and drop" copy of my data drive to my internal backup drive and then delete the previous drag and drop. This has bailed me out on a few occasions.

Three or four times a year, I also connect an old 640 GB hard drive to my PC through an eSATA dock. I then copy my entire D drive to this hard drive and could easily store it off site.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Is my backup and archive strategy too complicated?

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