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Windows 7: Internal rack, outside enclosures or other solutions for backup ?

01 Aug 2017   #1
Clairvaux

Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit (OEM)
 
 
Internal rack, outside enclosures or other solutions for backup ?

I'm looking to upgrade my external backup solution. Currently, I have two 2,5", 500 GB, SATA 3 Gbps Western Digital Blue Scorpio disks in Icy Box metal enclosures, which I either connect via eSATA 3 Gbps, by sliding them in the associated, internal rack, or by external eSATA or USB 2.0 cable.

However, I have outgrown their capacity, and the contacts of the internal rack are not as reliable as they used to be.

I plan to replace them by two 1 TB Seagate Barracudas (2,5", SATA 6 Gbps).

Initially, I had planned to put them in new metal enclosures with a USB 3.0 or 3.1 interface, such as this one, and connect them alternatively by cable to my USB 3.0 port.

However, I am aghast at the buyers' reviews I've read. This type of enclosure seems to be poorly built and to fail regularly, whatever the brand. The micro-B USB 3.x female connectors, in particular, seem to be a weak point. Most vendors don't even mention the chipset they use to convert SATA into USB, and it seems this is a key factor for performance.

So I've turned my attention to internal racks with trays such as this one, or this one.

Does this type of equipment withstand daily swaps, or is it meant for occasional disk change only ? I image my PC every day on alternate disks. I understand that the SATA connector directly attached to the disk is mechanically stressed each time one slides the rack in, so isn't that detrimental to the connector's life ? Are you supposed to do that to your disks ? Wikipedia surprisingly says that SATA connectors are specified for 50 insertions only.

Also, what do you do with the tray-mounted disk when it's outside the rack ? The electronics and connector being exposed, I suppose it's very easy to zap the disk with static. I've seen precious few (and expensive) plastic boxes to that effect -- plus they are sized for naked drives.

Do you see a better option ? Budget is limited, and one disk at least has to be offline at all times, in order to protect against malware. Thank you.


My System SpecsSystem Spec
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02 Aug 2017   #2
Lady Fitzgerald

Win 7 Ultimate 64 bit
 
 

I would keep both backup drives offline ajnd connect them only when updating the backup. That way, if one of the backup drives decides to die (any drive, no matter its age or usage, is subject to sudden failure at any time), you will still have a clean. It would also be a good idea to keep on onsite and the other offsite and swap them out as frequently as practical (say, once a month).

I don't bother with enclosures for the backup drives for my desktop machine. I just use 2.5" bare drives (SSDs). I made an antistatic "egg crate" (actually, two of them) to keep them in, similar to the factory made 3.5" foam "egg crate" I used to use when I was still using 3.5" HDDs for backups.

Trays are a pain to deal with so I use trayless hot swap bays installed in my computer. I've found this one to be a good one although the cables for it are a bit rinkidink. SATA connectors are far more rugged than people think. Earlier this year, I retired several 3.5" HDDs that had had several hundred insertions and, other than looking a bit polished, the contacts on the HDD's connectors (essentially, extra thick PCB traces) showed no wear. The connector in the hot swap bay I had been using also showed little wear.

Static can be an issue with drives. You could just store them in antistatic bags when not in use. When handling HDDs, hold them by the edges and avoid touching the contacts. Making an antistatic "egg crate" like I did (actually, I made two) is another option. Silicone Forensics sells nice little transport cases for a reasonable price. I've used them in the past and they work very well.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
02 Aug 2017   #3
Clairvaux

Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit (OEM)
 
 

Hi, Lady Fitzgerald.

Star Tech seems indeed to have rather less flimsy products than others. Regarding this specific rack, there is one buyer on New Egg saying it does not work well with spinning hard drives, and only SSDs eject easily.

Silicone Forensics is a nice find, but they don't seem to ship routinely outside of the United States. Also, it's not clear those cases offer antistatic protection by themselves : the vendor doesn't say so, and one of the pictures has a drive put in an antistatic pouch before being inserted into the foam. Antistatic pouches are messy (not to mention expensive, and difficult to find). It's all right using one occasionally for shipment, but everyday ? For backups ? How is it that the industry has not yet invented a clean solution for that ?

One of my backup disks is always in the PC, because I believe a big part of the safety brought by backup lies in automation. If you need to do it manually, it's not foolproof. Also, some of my software are set to do an extra backup on this disk each time they save their database. Of course, theoretically, my offline disk could die all by itself at the same time my online disk would get encrypted by ransomware. My backup setup is not yet perfect by any means.

Why don't you like trays ? I've found surprisingly little advice on this issue of trays vs. trayless.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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02 Aug 2017   #4
Megahertz07

Windows 7 HP 64
 
 

3.5" 7200 RPM HDD are normally faster than 2.5" 5400 RPM. SSD's are about 6 times faster than a HDD but costs much more.
I have my backup HDD inside my computer and I connect the power cable only when doing the backup. It's the safest regarding handling, but, as Lady mentioned, if someone steal the computer, it will also take the backup.

I would buy a 5 1/4 removable dock for 3.5" HDD and a high performance 3.5" HDD.
StarTech.com Black Aluminum 5.25in SATA Hard Drive Mobile Rack Drawer-Newegg.com

Remember to configure Hot swap option on BIOS.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
02 Aug 2017   #5
Clairvaux

Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit (OEM)
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Megahertz07 View Post
I have my backup HDD inside my computer and I connect the power cable only when doing the backup.
I don't get it. How can you have your HDD inside your computer, and a separate power cable outside ?

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Megahertz07 View Post
If someone steal the computer, it will also take the backup.
Indeed, and that's one of the reasons I keep a backup apart from the computer. Hoping that if a breakup does occur, and my PC is nicked, the thieves won't bother looking elsewhere for a lowly disk drive. Although my boxy, desk-below PC is rather unsexy as far as thieves' "values" are concerned -- or so I'd like to think.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
02 Aug 2017   #6
Lady Fitzgerald

Win 7 Ultimate 64 bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Clairvaux View Post
Hi, Lady Fitzgerald.

Star Tech seems indeed to have rather less flimsy products than others. Regarding this specific rack, there is one buyer on New Egg saying it does not work well with spinning hard drives, and only SSDs eject easily.

Silicone Forensics is a nice find, but they don't seem to ship routinely outside of the United States. Also, it's not clear those cases offer antistatic protection by themselves : the vendor doesn't say so, and one of the pictures has a drive put in an antistatic pouch before being inserted into the foam. Antistatic pouches are messy (not to mention expensive, and difficult to find). It's all right using one occasionally for shipment, but everyday ? For backups ? How is it that the industry has not yet invented a clean solution for that ?

One of my backup disks is always in the PC, because I believe a big part of the safety brought by backup lies in automation. If you need to do it manually, it's not foolproof. Also, some of my software are set to do an extra backup on this disk each time they save their database. Of course, theoretically, my offline disk could die all by itself at the same time my online disk would get encrypted by ransomware. My backup setup is not yet perfect by any means.

Why don't you like trays ? I've found surprisingly little advice on this issue of trays vs. trayless.
I saw that same review. My SSDs insert and eject easily and the 9mm 2.5" HDDs I tried in it had no problems being inserted and ejected. I had even installed LCD screen protectors on the bottoms of the bays rather than have to put the protector sheets on any 2.5" HDDs I may want to insert (I kept some 2.5" HDDs for archival and experiments when I purged my HDDs).

The StarTech bay assembly seems to be plenty sturdy. I've haven't had any problems with it. In fact, the only problems I've ever had with StarTech products was the cable on a 2.5" dock went bad. It was easier to just buy another cable than to contact StarTech.

Another picture on the Silicon Forensic site shows a bare drive without the antistatic bag right after the picture of the drive with the antistatic bag.

It is a very bad idea to automate backups because it requires the backup drive to always be connected to the computer, exposing it to malware, etc. Manual backups aren't difficult to do if your computer is set up correctly and you are using the correct software for the job. You just have to discipline yourself to do it. You can always set up reminders in your computer. Making a habit of updating backups at a certain time of day, such as during certain TV shows (I do it during the news) also helps.

My feelings about trays are mostly personal. If one has to use one bay for more than one drive, then one has to get extra trays, which can be costly, assuming if you can even get them. Trays add more bulk to bare drives, taking up more room in storage. Open trays offer no real protection for a drive. Bare drives in trayless docks are just easier to deal with all the way around. Depending on the design, trays are ok for drives that are going to be pretty much permanently installed but, for drives that are going to be swapped out frequently, they are a pain in the...ah...neck.

You can contact Silicon Forensics to see if they will ship overseas at a rate you can afford. They have an email addy listed on their website.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
02 Aug 2017   #7
Lady Fitzgerald

Win 7 Ultimate 64 bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Clairvaux View Post
I don't get it. How can you have your HDD inside your computer, and a separate power cable outside ?...
He has the backup drive inside his case and just unplugs the internal PSU cable going to the drive. I personally feel that would be a pain in the neck to do in addition to it being unsafe.

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Clairvaux View Post
I...Indeed, and that's one of the reasons I keep a backup apart from the computer. Hoping that if a breakup does occur, and my PC is nicked, the thieves won't bother looking elsewhere for a lowly disk drive. Although my boxy, desk-below PC is rather unsexy as far as thieves' "values" are concerned -- or so I'd like to think.
For data to be reasonably safe, it needs to exist in three separate places, typically, on the computer, on an onsite backup, and on an offsite backup. If a drive is inside the computer, it is not a true backup, even if it is disabled except when updating backups. Backups need to both be kept separate from the computer and be connected only when updating the backup.

You would be surprised where thieves will look. HDDs and SSDs bring a fair amount of money on the street for just the drive only (the data inside could be a delightful and potentially profitable bonus) and a thief would cheerfully nick one if s/he find one. Believe me, your desk is not immune to "search and seizure" by ol' Light Fingers Louie when he is looking for "five fingered discounts". Also, when you have only one backup and it's kept somewhere in the house, what happens if the house is destroyed by fire or some other disaster? You pucker up and kiss your data bye bye (followed by wailing and gnashing of teeth). Those are among the reasons for having an offsite backup as well as an offsite backup.

Offsite backups can be stored in a variety of places, such as at a trusted friend's, neighbor's, or relative's home, in a locked deck or locker at work or school, or in a safe deposit box at a bank or credit union (I use the latter). The further from home, the better but, of course, you don't want to get ridiculous, such as keeping it 100 miles away.

I have four data SSDs in my computer in addition to the boot SSD. For efficient backups, it's best to keep your OS and programs on a separate drive or partition and you data on another drive or partition.

I can image and verify the image on the boot SSD with Macrium Reflect the 80GB in a little under 15 minutes. It takes only a minute to start the process, then I can walk away or continue to use the computer while Macrium Reflect is quietly churning away. I only make an image after I make a change to the boot drive, such as changing a setting, updating the OS, or updating a program.

I update data as needed, such as after adding or changing data on the computer. If data been added or changed on only one drive, that's all that needs backing up. I use a folder/file syncing program (FreeFileSync that takes very little time to update a backup unless a lot of data has been added or changed.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
02 Aug 2017   #8
Clairvaux

Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit (OEM)
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Lady Fitzgerald View Post
He has the backup drive inside his case and just unplugs the internal PSU cable going to the drive. I personally feel that would be a pain in the neck to do in addition to it being unsafe.
Totally unreasonable, if true. Also, this means you need to have an open case at all times, and the case on your desk.
Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Lady Fitzgerald View Post
For data to be reasonably safe, it needs to exist in three separate places, typically, on the computer, on an onsite backup, and on an offsite backup.
Absolutely.
Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Lady Fitzgerald View Post
HDDs and SSDs bring a fair amount of money on the street for just the drive only.
Not where I live... "A what ? A hard disk ? Are you insulting my mother ?" . Except, maybe, if it was an external, self-contained disk, which looks like an electronics item. Anyway, it's a moot point, since anything can be stolen inside a house, if a thief has access.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
02 Aug 2017   #9
Clairvaux

Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit (OEM)
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Lady Fitzgerald View Post
I had even installed LCD screen protectors on the bottoms of the bays rather than have to put the protector sheets on any 2.5" HDDs I may want to insert. (I kept some 2.5" HDDs for archival and experiments when I purged my HDDs).
What are those protector sheets ? Something you're supposed to put on the drive before inserting it into the rack ?
Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Lady Fitzgerald View Post
I saw that same review. My SSDs insert and eject easily and the 9mm 2.5" HDDs I tried in it had no problems being inserted and ejected.
Some people report problems with 7 mm drives (like Seagate Barracudas) ; not only in racks, but also in some external enclosures. There is one particular product by Orico, very attractive, all metal, with a nice eject lever... which totally misses 7 mm drives, and then you need to dismantle the contraption, because you can't get your fingers in it.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
02 Aug 2017   #10
Lady Fitzgerald

Win 7 Ultimate 64 bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Clairvaux View Post
What are those protector sheets ? Something you're supposed to put on the drive before inserting it into the rack ?...
The dual hot swap bay I linked comes with two self adhesive plastic sheets that are intended to be applied to the PCB of HDDs to ensure the PSBs do not short to the metal bottom of each hot swap bay. I feel that is a bass ackwards approach and I feel it would have made more since to have such a sheet permanently attached to the bottom of the each bay instead. To accomplish that, I used some el cheapo clear plastic LCD screen protector sheets on those metal bottoms.

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Clairvaux View Post
...Some people report problems with 7 mm drives (like Seagate Barracudas) ; not only in racks, but also in some external enclosures. There is one particular product by Orico, very attractive, all metal, with a nice eject lever... which totally misses 7 mm drives, and then you need to dismantle the contraption, because you can't get your fingers in it.
I've had no problems inserting and ejecting 7mm and 9mm drives in the StarTech dual hot swap bay I linked.

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Clairvaux View Post
Totally unreasonable, if true. Also, this means you need to have an open case at all times, and the case on your desk...
Actually, you do not need to leave the case open at all times to be able to connect and disconnect an HDD. Just remove the side of the case, then put it back on. Granted, having the case on the desk would make it a lot easier (cases on the floor are a bad idea because they tend to suck in more dust when down there).

Also, several companies, such as Orico, make switches for turning drives on and off but they come in banks of four or six switches.

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Clairvaux View Post
...Not where I live... "A what ? A hard disk ? Are you insulting my mother ?" . Except, maybe, if it was an external, self-contained disk, which looks like an electronics item. Anyway, it's a moot point, since anything can be stolen inside a house, if a thief has access.
You would be surprised at how knowledgeable all but the most amateur and stupid thieves are of the street value of a bare HDD.
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 Internal rack, outside enclosures or other solutions for backup ?




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