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The 7 - Internet & Computers - Backing up your data: CD-RWs, flash drives, or external hard drives? Register and log in to post!
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Lap cheong
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#1 Posted on 6.10.05 1329.43
Reposted on: 6.10.12 1329.45
Anyone here care to share their suggestions/experiences/preferences with backing up their computer files? I've been pretty comfortably with just burning everything to CDs up to this point, although now I hear stories about how those things may only be reliable for just a few years before they deteriorate (instead of the "lifetime guarantee" that the manufacturers have claimed) ... So I'm starting to lean more towards purchasing one of those little flash-drive thingies that you can wear on a keychain or whatnot (although all the ones I've seen thus far can hold no more than 250 MB), or perhaps springing for an external portable hard drive (something like this) ...

Any advice would be greatly appreciated ...

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#2 Posted on 6.10.05 1417.54
Reposted on: 6.10.12 1418.21
In my pocket, right at this very moment, I have a Cruzer Micro flash drive with 512MB capacity, and it's currently backing up most of my computer's hard drive, which may or may not be wiped next time I see it. The flash drive has been pretty handy.

I love flash drives a lot more than CD-R/RWs. I've had problems with burning/ripping from CDs, and haven't had any with flash drives. All machines post-Windows 98 come loaded with the drivers for flash drives, so getting them to work on different computers isn't an issue - it's basically a floppy disk. And obviously, they're a lot more reusable than a burnt CD.

Downsides: The access time can be slow for large transfers (at least if you don't have a USB 2.0 port). Having a thumb sized drive makes you realize how easily you might lose your thumb if it wasn't attached to your body; these things can disappear (best to keep the chain on it for that reason alone). These can be more expensive; I think I saw the one I have for about $50 on Amazon, and that's marked down a lot - which also affects size (if you can fit everything you need in 512MB, it's fine, but you probably don't want to be buying multiple ones over CDs.)

If you're the sort who needs to go back and see how things are configured and how files were saved three months ago, six months ago and a year ago, I think you're still better off going with CDs. If you don't keep older backups, and just want to keep one continual updated set of documents/files if/when your hard drive crashes, I think a flash drive is better.

I don't know much about external hard drives, except I was thinking about getting one. My guess is, for back up purposes, it might not be much of a better idea, because I'd guess an external hard drive might break down just the same way an internal one does. But if you have large files you need to keep a backup off, or if you just want to kepe them seperate from everything else, I think it could work.
Guru Zim
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#3 Posted on 6.10.05 1520.11
Reposted on: 6.10.12 1520.29
I'd go with a DVD burner and pick up some RW discs for it. You can buy 5 of them for about $20 now, and then just cycle through them. You probably don't have more than 4.7 gb of files that you really need to keep around if you aren't counting things like mp3 or pictures that you would archive once (or twice if you are paranoid) and then store.

If you do have stuff to archive forever (music, pictures, etc) then just pick up a 20 pack of +R or -R discs and either use the backup utility with the drive or do it the long way and build a few DVDs to store in your vault. I prefer to do it by hand so that one bad disc doens't ruin everything - just what was on that disc. A 100 gb drive can usually be done in under 25 discs which is a crappy Saturday but you'll feel a lot better about it if you ever lose everything later.
Boudin rouge
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#4 Posted on 6.10.05 1654.17
Reposted on: 6.10.12 1654.54
I have an external hard drive, it's the tops. It just sits there next to my tower, plugged into a USB drive, and I turn it on when I need to use it. It's no more complicated than that. But I've also done CD/DVD backups and used flash drives, and I don't think one way is any better than the others.

I use the external drive not just for backup, but because I have an annoying habit of downloading things that I never get around to watching. Like the dozens of episodes of Arrested Development and Homicide: Life on the Street that are on it at the moment.
Lap cheong
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#5 Posted on 10.10.05 0841.23
Reposted on: 10.10.12 0841.44
That's funny, Kim Komando just covered this very topic:

Q. What is the best way to archive data for 10-plus years? I am told
that writeable CDs will disintegrate internally in a few years or if
they get too warm. Also, the state of the art changes so rapidly that
in 10 years the means to read something archived today may not
exist. What suggestions do you have?
- Louis in Waco, TX, listening on KLBJ 590 AM

A. A lot of people are facing this question, Louis. There are no simple

The people who manufacture hard drives and recordable CDs claim nearly
endless lives for their goods. However, we have had several hard drive
failures in the office recently. One is really bad because the person who
was using it never made a backup! Okay, it was my husband's computer!

And all of us have had problems with CDs and DVDs, both the recordable
and rewriteable varieties. Personally, I think recordable (one-time)
media are more reliable than rewriteable, but I wouldn't bet on either!

If you are archiving data that will be removed from the computer, I
suggest you use at least two media. For instance, you could use a CD or
DVD, a tape, a Zip drive from Iomega, or a small Flash drive. You also
could back up to an online service, although they are expensive.

The second part of your question also is a valid concern. Things change
very rapidly in the computer world.

I have known situations where people had important documents on 5.25-
inch floppies. When did you last see such a drive? Finding a computer
with one today is nearly impossible. Ten years ago, they were still
around, as were the disks.

If I were archiving important data, I believe I would use a flash drive.
These are very common and relatively inexpensive. They have no moving
parts, so they are less likely to break. And the technology is very
modern. I would also use a recordable CD or DVD. I would keep both in a
cool dark place.

Furthermore, I would re-do the backup every few years. I wouldn't trust
anything in computerdom for 10 years.
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