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Backup Schedule for SSDs?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

Hey guys & gals,

 

I just picked up 3 more copies of Acronis 2017 and got to thinking: How often does a typical SSD need to be backed up, and what is the preferred method?

 

I've got a little SSD "problem," so this question is not aimed at any particular brand/type.  I have a wide range range from 960EVO to SanDisk Extreme Pro's to Mushkin Reactors and Crucial M200 as OS drives scattered across 7+ PCs.  But the majority are SATA3 - 6GB/s drives with the only outlier being the 960EVO M.2.  So this query is specific to the OS drive and its data/programs, with drive make/model/type being agnostic.

 

For instance, I've done whole images as a drive (waste of space, I know), image of system OS drive with its data only, then doing periodic "what's changed" on subsequent backups, etc., etc.

 

Side question: Can an .ISO image be used in lieu of a straight bare metal image for drive cloning?

 

Where possible, I try to use a decent quality 4+TB HDD's as targets, and using Windows to mirror that drive onto another identical one in a sort of software RAID 1, without it being an actual RAID array.  I like to reserve that chipset capability to play around with different arrangements.  I have MB's with chipsets ranging from Z77 to X99, with some FM2's, a B85 here, X58 there, thrown in the mix.

 

Basically, I'm just wondering if there is a consensus on the preferred method and periodicity?

post #2 of 9
Oh my, where to begin... You are definitely on the right track and are to be commended on wanting to back up your SSD but there are a few misconceptions to be cleared up first. Since your inquiry is for just the OS and programs, I'll start there.

1. RAID in itself is not a backup. I strongly recommend that you click on the top line in my signature to learn more of why RAID is not a backup. The author of the article, Sean Webster, is one of OCN's drive gurus who works with drives for a living and knows what he is talking about.

2. You seem to be confusing imaging and cloning (and I apologize if I'm wrong) so here is brief rundown on what they are. Imaging is similar to film photography. You use a camera to take a picture on film inside the camera. The film is then developed into a negative. You can then use the negative to make one or more prints of the picture. With imaging, the program you use will make an image of the drive or partition you specify (this is the equivalent of a photo negative). That image can then be used to recreate the drive or partition in the same state the drive or partition was in at the time the image was made.

There are basically three kinds of images: full images, incremental images, and differential images. A full image is just what the name suggests; a complete 'snapshot" of the drive or partition being imaged.

An incremental image reflects only the data that was added, changed, or deleted since the last previous full image and any incremental images were taken. You have to keep that original image and all incremental images together as a set to be able to fully restore the set.

A differential image is similar to an incremental image except it includes all changes since the last previous full image, even if other differential images exist. To be able to fully restore a differential image set, you have to have both the original full image in the set and the last differential image.

I do not recommend using incremental or differential imaging. If any image in the set gets lost or corrupted, you will be unable to make a full restore, if you can make one at all. Differential images are less likely to have problems since the set has fewer individual images but full images are still safer.

Imaging programs (I prefer a paid version of Macrium Reflect Free, although the free version of Macrium Reflect and Acronis are also good) will compress an image so full images do not take up all that much room and you can keep multiple images so you can restore back to a specific time. I keep eight weeks of images on hand but you will need to determine how much room you have to store images and how far back you want to keep.

Cloning is similar to image except it is a one step process of copying an entire drive or partition to another one. It's best suited for copying over all the contents of a drive or partition to another one, such as when you replace an older drive with a new one. Unlike imaging, you can have only one copy of a clone on a drive or partition so cloning is not a good way to backup a drive or partition.

Imaging and cloning are the only way to transfer and/or restore the OS and programs. Mere copying will not do that. However, both are an inefficient way to backup data. Folder/file syncing is much faster and efficient but that is for a later discussion since you want to concentrate on the OS and programs. I strongly recommend keeping the OS/programs on their own drive or partition and data on it's own drives or partitions.

The interval for how often one backs up anything will vary from person to person. For the OS and programs, I recommend making a full image before making any changes to the OS or program settings and before updating the OS or any programs. That way, if something should go horribly wrong, you can always restore your OS and programs to the state they were in before you made the change or update. Some people recommend making the image after making the changes or updates. Either way will work as long as you consistently do it the same way every time.

For data to be safe, it must exist in three places, such as on a drive in the computer, on an onsite back up drive, and on an offsite backup drive. The backup drives must be kept separate from the computer and not get connected to the computer except when making or updating a backup. This means you should never have your backup drive in the computer itself. I keep my onsite backup drives in a drawer away from the computer. My offsite backup drives are kept in my safe deposit box at my credit union (at a trusted neighbor's, friend's, or relative's house are other options).

Backup drives can be regular external drives or they can be internal type bare drives placed in an enclosure, or kept bare and inserted into a dock to connect them to the computer. I use a hot swap bay in my computer to plug my bare backup drives into when updating backups.

The type of drives doesn't really matter. You can backup HDDs to HDDs, SSDs to HDDs, SSDs to SSDs, and even HDDs to SSDs.

Are you thoroughly confused now? wink.gif
     
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post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 

@Lady Fitzgerald

First of all, I was actually thinking of you when I wrote this question, BECAUSE of your sig line(s)!  I've seen it before, since you are a prolific Big Bird, and I have seen many of your "eggs of knowledge" laid about, here and there.  I didn't want to thread-jack or PM you because I thought others could possibly weigh in and share their personal preferences, or actually learn something from one of your insightful posts.  So, in short, I appreciate your insightful and timely response. :thumb:

 

1. I totally get that re: RAID not being a backup.  To me, it represents a reason to back up more often because when RAIDs fail, it usually takes out all of those "eggs" I've placed in one basket.  Yes, I have been bitten by the RAID1 failure disaster scenario, and fortunately had a backup to rebuild things.  I've also read the treatise from Sean Webster before, and will probably have a second look at it now.  This major downside with RAID is another reason I mirror my target internal HDD when possible. 

 

I have a Netgear ReadyNAS Pro 2xxx, which uses a type of RAID1, and was lulled by the "perceived" safety of that data because 2 drives never fail at the same time, right?!?!  Well, they do when the lightning comes and your UPS is not so UPS'ey like you thought. And when both drives' boot sector gets corrupted, your data is locked away in a Linux format that Window$ can't read.  That failure gave me a crash course in Linux/Parted Magic since those ReadyNAS's are essentially Linux boxes.  RAID of any type is indeed NOT a backup.

 

2. I do understand the difference between imaging and cloning.  I think I just wrote a poorly-worded question.  But I appreciate your detailed explanation of differential and incremental, because the insight you give by example makes it much easier to understand.  So, my poorly written question yielded a better than expected answer from you.  Again, :thumb:

 

Your detailed answer on the difference between incremental, differential, and whole image really addresses the spirit of my question in a simplified and elegant way.  My takeaway is a complete image is the best, and a necessary first start anyway.  Differential would be preferred over Incremental, because only two backup files are need to reconstruct a system drive. I see its use-case in weekly backups.  And Incremental is the least desirable method for long term archives, since it requires all of those backups to re-assemble the whole shebang. But I can see its utility for daily local backups.

 

Yes, I do back up to a central location, and also have a rotation with the safe deposit box.

 

By your comments, I see that you did not recommend using Window$ backup, and that's fine with me.  I'm wondering why?  Does Macrium or Acronis produce .ISO files, or some other format?

 

Also, since you seem to treat SSDs and HDDs as just drives to be backed up, then is it safe to assume that there is nothing specific to SSDs in doing backups?  If not, then I should have posted this in another forum.

post #4 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by Haswelled View Post

@Lady Fitzgerald

First of all, I was actually thinking of you when I wrote this question, BECAUSE of your sig line(s)!  I've seen it before, since you are a prolific Big Bird, and I have seen many of your "eggs of knowledge" laid about, here and there.  I didn't want to thread-jack or PM you because I thought others could possibly weigh in and share their personal preferences, or actually learn something from one of your insightful posts.  So, in short, I appreciate your insightful and timely response. thumb.gif

1. I totally get that re: RAID not being a backup.  To me, it represents a reason to back up more often because when RAIDs fail, it usually takes out all of those "eggs" I've placed in one basket.  Yes, I have been bitten by the RAID1 failure disaster scenario, and fortunately had a backup to rebuild things.  I've also read the treatise from Sean Webster before, and will probably have a second look at it now.  This major downside with RAID is another reason I mirror my target internal HDD when possible. 

I have a Netgear ReadyNAS Pro 2xxx, which uses a type of RAID1, and was lulled by the "perceived" safety of that data because 2 drives never fail at the same time, right?!?!  Well, they do when the lightning comes and your UPS is not so UPS'ey like you thought. And when both drives' boot sector gets corrupted, your data is locked away in a Linux format that Window$ can't read.  That failure gave me a crash course in Linux/Parted Magic since those ReadyNAS's are essentially Linux boxes.  RAID of any type is indeed NOT a backup.

2. I do understand the difference between imaging and cloning.  I think I just wrote a poorly-worded question.  But I appreciate your detailed explanation of differential and incremental, because the insight you give by example makes it much easier to understand.  So, my poorly written question yielded a better than expected answer from you.  Again, thumb.gif

Your detailed answer on the difference between incremental, differential, and whole image really addresses the spirit of my question in a simplified and elegant way.  My takeaway is a complete image is the best, and a necessary first start anyway.  Differential would be preferred over Incremental, because only two backup files are need to reconstruct a system drive. I see its use-case in weekly backups.  And Incremental is the least desirable method for long term archives, since it requires all of those backups to re-assemble the whole shebang. But I can see its utility for daily local backups.

Yes, I do back up to a central location, and also have a rotation with the safe deposit box.

By your comments, I see that you did not recommend using Window$ backup, and that's fine with me.  I'm wondering why?  Does Macrium or Acronis produce .ISO files, or some other format?

Also, since you seem to treat SSDs and HDDs as just drives to be backed up, then is it safe to assume that there is nothing specific to SSDs in doing backups?  If not, then I should have posted this in another forum.

I've never used Windows backup. However, I've seen far more posts about people having problems with it than for any other imaging program. Most people will recommend using an imaging program other than Windows, with Macrium Reflect, which is what I use, seeming to be the most popular (this isn't to say that Acronis isn't also good). I used Norton Ghost with XP, which worked well, but by the time I switched to Win 7 (I was a bit late to the party due to hardware compatibility issues that had to be dealt with first), it was a mere ghost of its former self (sorry, couldn't resist the bad pun redface.gif ) and there had been plenty of time for people to report on Win 7's backup problems.

I can't speak for Acronis (and I'm too lazy to look it up) but Macrium Reflect uses .mrimg files for images (which are proprietary to Macrium Reflect). I just tried mounting one to see if I could do so like a .iso but my computer just sat there and laughed at me so, apparently, it isn't a .iso. You can mount (in other words, browse) .mrimg files from Macrium Reflect although I've never needed to do so. I have used Macrium Reflect's rescue media to restore images to the boot SSD in my computer many times without a problem.

For the purpose of backups, computers make no distinction between SSDs and HHDs since it's the data itself that is being addressed. The only real difference is backups from SSDs to SSDs are much faster (I went all SSDs late last year and I'm already spoiled putrid).

As far a frequency of backups goes, daily may be overkill, depending on how much actual data is stored on the drive/partition you are imaging. If the drive or partition you are imaging has only System files (i.e. OS and programs), the only actual data may be what is in your User folder. I moved my data folders—Documents, Music, Pictures—from my User folder to a data drive (E: in my case) so the only remaining data is in my App Data folder. The only data that I need to keep up to date that is stored in App Data are my virtual sticky notes from 7 Sticky Notes—I have that program set to automatically backup the notes to my E:drive twice daily—and my calendar gadget—which I backup manually to my E: drive whenever I make a critical calendar entry (it takes less than half a minute) so the only time I need to make an image is after manually running my security scans (which I do weekly) and before I make any changes or updates to the OS and/or programs.
     
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post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lady Fitzgerald View Post


I've never used Windows backup. However, I've seen far more posts about people having problems with it than for any other imaging program. Most people will recommend using an imaging program other than Windows, with Macrium Reflect, which is what I use, seeming to be the most popular (this isn't to say that Acronis isn't also good). I used Norton Ghost with XP, which worked well, but by the time I switched to Win 7 (I was a bit late to the party due to hardware compatibility issues that had to be dealt with first), it was a mere ghost of its former self (sorry, couldn't resist the bad pun redface.gif ) and there had been plenty of time for people to report on Win 7's backup problems.

I can't speak for Acronis (and I'm too lazy to look it up) but Macrium Reflect uses .mrimg files for images (which are proprietary to Macrium Reflect). I just tried mounting one to see if I could do so like a .iso but my computer just sat there and laughed at me so, apparently, it isn't a .iso. You can mount (in other words, browse) .mrimg files from Macrium Reflect although I've never needed to do so. I have used Macrium Reflect's rescue media to restore images to the boot SSD in my computer many times without a problem.

For the purpose of backups, computers make no distinction between SSDs and HHDs since it's the data itself that is being addressed. The only real difference is backups from SSDs to SSDs are much faster (I went all SSDs late last year and I'm already spoiled putrid).

As far a frequency of backups goes, daily may be overkill, depending on how much actual data is stored on the drive/partition you are imaging. If the drive or partition you are imaging has only System files (i.e. OS and programs), the only actual data may be what is in your User folder. I moved my data folders—Documents, Music, Pictures—from my User folder to a data drive (E: in my case) so the only remaining data is in my App Data folder. The only data that I need to keep up to date that is stored in App Data are my virtual sticky notes from 7 Sticky Notes—I have that program set to automatically backup the notes to my E:drive twice daily—and my calendar gadget—which I backup manually to my E: drive whenever I make a critical calendar entry (it takes less than half a minute) so the only time I need to make an image is after manually running my security scans (which I do weekly) and before I make any changes or updates to the OS and/or programs.

 

Lady, in the spirit of good humor, you are a 7 foot tall, feathered, egg laying, mean kicking, and a bit odd looking target for more puns than I can think of in one scull-worth of thinking. :rolleyes: I am finding your backup eggsperience to be quite helpful, so thank you for that!

 

I work from home, so I must be my own "IT Dept."  So, I'm mostly worried about my work PC's, for which my East Coast employers would likely fire me if I have another Window$ 10 meltdown.  Am I the only one noticing that nothing from M$ is ever free?  It's spindly tentacles are interweaving themselves into every aspect of my life.  They could end my career in a microsecond.  I HATE W10!!!  But, NOOOO. You can't have your pudding(new hardware/drivers/etc.) until you eat your W10 mystery meat.  It has literally cost me thousands of dollars already.  This is why I'm being super weird about backups all of a sudden.  In fact, when done writing this, I'm going to go do both of those machines for a full image.  BTW, I forgot to mention, I have put removable drive bays in every computer that will take one.  It dictates my parts list for new builds now.  And older builds get one shoved in it's pie-hole whether it likes it or not.  I've got a 6 bay 2.5" one in my i7-4790K and another just like it for the i7-6850K/X99 I'm getting ready to assemble.  And that is on top of the equally mandatory 3.5" bays for HDDs.  I've got three 2 x 2.5" ones, a 4 x 2.5", and a bunch of 3 or 4 3.5" ones looking for hosts.  I've even moved an entire build to a new case just to fit them.  So, I'm on the same wavelength with you there.

post #6 of 9
I want to hear more about how Windows 10 has cost you thousands of dollars and could end you career in a microsecond!!
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post #7 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by spinFX View Post

I want to hear more about how Windows 10 has cost you thousands of dollars and could end you career in a microsecond!!
Me as well!
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post #8 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by Haswelled View Post

...Lady, in the spirit of good humor, you are a 7 foot tall, feathered, egg laying, mean kicking, and a bit odd looking target for more puns than I can think of in one scull-worth of thinking. rolleyes.gif I am finding your backup eggsperience to be quite helpful, so thank you for that!...

I am NOT a 7 foot tall, feathered, egg laying, mean kicking, and a bit odd looking target for more puns than you can think of in one scull-worth of thinking. I'm only 5'7" tall! tongue.gif
     
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CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
i7-5930K Haswell-e Asus X99-E WS/USB 3.1 Visiontek Radeon 7870 2GB with 6 miniDisplayports G-Skill Ripjaws 64GB (8x8GB) DDR4 2133 
Hard DriveHard DriveCoolingOS
Samsung 850 EVO 4TB SSDs Samsung 950 Pro 512GB m.2 SSD boot drive Noctua NH-D15S Cpu cooler Win 7 Ultimate 
PowerCaseMouseMouse Pad
Corsair AX760 Scratch built. Currently under construction at ... Logitech M525 El Cheapo Allsop hard plastic 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsGraphics
i7-3930k ASUS P9X79 WS MSI R7850 Twin Frozr 2GD5/OC Radeon HD 7850 2GB... Monoprice 1x2 powered HDMI Splitter 
RAMHard DriveHard DriveHard Drive
Kingston HyperX 32GB (8 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDR... 128GB Samsung 840 Pro SSD 4TB Samsung 850 EVO SSD 4TB Samsung 850 EVO SSD 
Hard DriveHard DriveOptical DriveCooling
4TB Samsung 850 EVO SSD 4TB Samsung 850 EVO SSD LG 12X BD-ROM 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-ROM SATA Inter... COOLER MASTER GeminII S524 120mm Long Life Slee... 
OSMonitorMonitorKeyboard
Windows 7 Ultimate 3 x Asus VG248QE Vizio VO320E 32" TV Logitech G510s 
PowerCaseMouseAudio
Corsair HX750W Antec Two Hundred v2 Logitech M525 with Unifying Receiving Corsair SP2500 2.1 Speakers 
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ASUS Xonar Essence STX Virtual 7.1 Channels 24-... LSI 9211-8i HBA card HooToo® HT-CR001 3.5" PCI-E to USB 3.0 Multi-in... StarTech HSB220SAT25B 2 Drive 2.5in Trayless Ho... 
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post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sean Webster View Post


Me as well!

It is a really long story and I don't want to bore you guys with the typical "Country Music Song Tail of Woe" details.  Yes, it involves a woman.  And yes, it involves a dog with a cat to boot. Yes, it involves changing all my passwords.  ALL I CAN SAY IS, YOU ASKED FOR IT.

 

I upgraded multiple PCs, including the one I was using for almost all of my work, to W10 because that's what all the cool kids at my last job were doing.  I have a multi-user copy of Office 365.  W10 really does not like for you to NOT log on and into your Micro$oft user account when you have such an arrangement.  They want to know all about what you're doing with their super special "free" OS.  So, I have these two PCs using the same account.  One is a laptop, the other is the PC in question.  PC in question gets a new GTX-1070 installed, that comes with a "free" game from Micro$oft.  I've learned from past mistakes that you better redeem those codes or they will expire.  Funny thing is, I don't really game because I don't have the time because I've been living as a migrant Gypsy Contract worker for the past two years.  So, this PC in question, with all of my work, all of a sudden needs to be logged into my M$ account to retrieve said "free" gamecode.  I did not realize this at the time, but I had been running local for a long, long time on that machine.  Once I log in and download the game, the next reboot later things are all kinds of effed-up and oddly similar to my laptop.

 

The moment of "oh, crap" sets in.  I forgot about Sync.  I forgot about the GeForced-down-our-throats-Experience, or whatever they call that crap.  I go into panic mode as one monitor goes black.  After talking to 7 people on 4 continents, with various levels of English skills, IN ONE FREAKING WEEK I follow the file permissions rabbit into its ever-deepening hole before I realized I'm really hosed.  TWO MONITORS GO BLACK AND I ONLY HAVE TWO!!!!  I think, restore time, right?  By then, my oldest restore point was past the point of restoring to a state of non-buggery because I did not allow enough room for more restore points.  Game over: New build time.  The only good thing was that I still had everything on a solid 1TB 850 PRO.  (Yes, Samsung won my trust back after the 840 EVO mess)

 

The Lesson:  W10 is a leap into the world of identity chaos.  TURN OFF SYNC!!!!  Unless of course, you live in a simple world with one PC.  Now I have 5 M$ identities to prevent such buggery from happening again.  Oh, yeah, I forgot:  BACK UPS!!!!!

 

All of this cost me 4 weeks of work at $2K a pop, just to rebuild things to where I could work.  Thankfully, I had this spanky i7-4790K on a very rare MSI Z97-GD65 bristling with 32GB DDR3-2133, two GTX980 Poseidon's stuffed into a Corsair ??200(I forget, it's a mid tower, sorta nice) case that I haven't had the time to play even one single game on just sitting on my dining room table for the past two years, but ready to go for CAD work.  The 4 weeks of non-work does not a happy employer make.  Especially when they're paying you to figure out your own problem, which to them sounds like a load of BS.  So, I requested a pay adjustment to make that right, but the bad mojo lingers.  Now I no longer trust W10 with my livelihood.  I put together another PC running W7 PRO with another i7-4790(non-K)/B85 with old GTX-780 Poseidon beater (in my world that means gamed on for a total of 20 hours) in the garage lab for real work.

 

That was the short version.  Wanna hear the long one?

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