External HDD for backup.

esox

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My old laptop died, i bought a new one.
`No bootable device` and `Media fail` were a couple of the faults i got when i tried to start it.
Although the old harddrive seems a bit ill i have been lucky and managed to get all my files off it by using it with a docking station.
It`s been a very laborious process as i think one of the probs with the old HDD is that it does not seem to run at full speed and opening of files/folders/directories on the drive is very slow?

I didn`t have a backup regime and this experience has prompted me to.
I have bought a new 500GB (internal type) harddrive which i intend to use with the docking station again and make regular backups from my new laptop.

My question is, do i have to `prepare` the new HDD in any way to accept all my backup files or will i simply copy them over onto the new HDD in the same way that i would a memory stick for instance?

Thanks.
 

gaz_l

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The drive will need to be formatted for the computer to be able to see it (assuming it is brand new and blank). Different operating systems (Windows, Mac, Linux etc.) use different formatting regimes by default, but many can read lots of differently formatted disks. If you’re using Windows, NTFS is your best bet as a format type - when you connect the new disk to your PC for the first time it will ask what you want to do. It’s a one time thing, then the disk will be assigned a drive letter (D: for example), and then you’ll be able to copy to and read from it like a stick. It’s not tricky. HTH.

Cheers,

Gaz
 

190

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1 backup copy of your data is good but 2 or more copies are better. At least consider an extra backup of any critical data perhaps in the cloud.
 

markjay

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The drive will need to be formatted for the computer to be able to see it (assuming it is brand new and blank). Different operating systems (Windows, Mac, Linux etc.) use different formatting regimes by default, but many can read lots of differently formatted disks. If you’re using Windows, NTFS is your best bet as a format type - when you connect the new disk to your PC for the first time it will ask what you want to do. It’s a one time thing, then the disk will be assigned a drive letter (D: for example), and then you’ll be able to copy to and read from it like a stick. It’s not tricky. HTH.

Cheers,

Gaz
This is correct, but that said, many external HDDs will come formatted for Windows and can be used straight out of the box, no formatting needed.
 

gaz_l

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This is correct, but that said, many external HDDs will come formatted for Windows and can be used straight out of the box, no formatting needed.
True, but from the OP’s post I read this as being a bare drive (which rarely come formatted, IME) as opposed to an external HDD. Not wishing to muddy the waters..

Cheers,

Gaz
 

Flyinspanner

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Rather than a HDD, wouldn’t a solid state drive be better (nothing moving to fail) I’ve got a 1TB we use to back up the PC.
 

st13phil

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It’s a fallacy that solid state drives don’t fail because they have no moving parts. They have a finite life based upon number of writes / rewrites. Their real benefit is access speed, which is not really critical for a backup device.

As already suggested, an off-premises cloud backup of critical files plus a local backup to an external drive (or better, a NAS with mirroring) is about as much resilience as a home user would need. And rather than just copying files manually, a good imaging / backup product such as Macrium Reflect can make it possible to access multiple versions of files that have changed over time and also to keep a full image of a disk that can be easily restored to a replacement if it should fail completely.
 

artyman

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I've been using AOMEI Backupper Standard 3.2 for Windows since 2016, done monthly to one of my USB drives
 
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esox

esox

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Hmmm, i think a cloud backup would be worth thinking about, a quick search reeveals £42 for a lifetime one-off subscription.
Is that about right?
 

daveenty

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Hmmm, i think a cloud backup would be worth thinking about, a quick search reeveals £42 for a lifetime one-off subscription.
Is that about right?
Have a look at Microsoft One Drive, I've been using it for an awful long time now and I believe it's still free?

Let's face it, you should only need to back up the stuff which changes regularly, the OS can be re-installed easily enough.

@st13phil mentions Macrium Reflect up there^^ somewhere. I use a similar programme, Sync Back Free, which does an automated back up of any files which have been altered or added overnight. Set it and forget it basically...
 

st13phil

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Let's face it, you should only need to back up the stuff which changes regularly, the OS can be re-installed easily enough.
I agree in principal, but re-installing and patching the OS, then reinstalling (and perhaps customising) lots of application software can be very time consuming so I prefer to have a maintained full disk image from which to restore. Also (unless you're very unlucky) a full image with daily incrementals gives you a chance of a complete system restore to a prior point in time should you be unfortunate enough to suffer a virus or malware attack.

OneDrive is still free for the basic 5GB offering, but costs £1.99/mth on subscription for 100GB. Alternatively, if you subscribe to Microsoft 365 Personal (formerly Office 365 Personal) you get 1TB of OneDrive cloud storage thrown in (the Microsoft 365 Family subscription gives you 6TB of OneDrive storage).
 

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SSD's certainly can fail. We have had quite a few fail at work including my own office computer and I have a home laptop in which the SSD failed in 3 years of heavy use. Looking after 500 computers at school I would say they fail at least as often as mechanical drives.

From what I've experienced they fail in a very strange way with odd problems perhaps requiring the machine to be re-imaged which will initially appear to have worked but soon after they will get to a state where they will read but not write. There is software you can download to test how much life they have left.

My own preference is to re-image a machine every 12 months just to get the performance back, so rather than back up what has eventually become a slow operating system, I keep file backups separate from the system image. Installing a fresh win 10 from a USB drive is so fast these days it's not the hardship it once was.
 

John

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I wish.
I've not seen any failures in 4 years from any SSDs and I look after 600 workstations but I've no doubt they do as nothing is infallible.

They are a hell of a lot quicker for a system drive but not totally necessary for a backup or secondary drive - particularly if you want capacity. I bought a 1TB WD recently as a second drive for one of our PCs as it was a good £70 cheaper than the SSDs I was looking at and that £70 would have been wasted!

Mechanicals are still a good option and modern mechnicals are way better, more reliable, quieter etc. than their ancestors.

My advice to the OP would be to at least backup the data which is valuable and choose the cloud for at least one option as well as your external drive. I use OneDrive and we have the 1TB subscription now and get 3 or 5 copies of Office in there for not a huge amount of cash per month.

I personally prefer to rebuild my own machine from scratch but I don't have much software to install and fart around with.

If you do I would consider imaging the whole PC.

As for the external drive - I would plug it in and see what you get and this will determine if it is ready-formatted or you need to do so. It's not tricky in any case.
 

markjay

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HDDs are slowly being phased out by SSDs which are faster and fail less (but yes they do fail).

That said, at current the cost ratio per GB between HDD and SSD is roughly 1 to 10.

So if you need lots and lots of space, and speed isn't a major concern, such as when backing-up data, then a mirrored (or RAID5/6) NAS with HDDs isn't bad choice.

The advice would be to opt for 7200rpm drives (as opposed to 5400), and enterprise-grade or storage-grade (as opposed to desktop drives) with higher MTBF. These drives will typically come with 5 years warranty as standard.

(When it comes to high end storage it is a different story, there HDD is still king while SSD is mostly used for specific applications such as sequel, but the drivers are 10k or 15k rpm hybrid SAS with SSD cache).
 

fabes

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As Phil suggests, I opted for family 365 with the cloud storage.
It was an overnight sync the first time, but all 5 PC now have current and updated software, plus anywhere access.
it (seems) good value
 

Benzowner

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I use a Western Digital 1TB My Passport about £60 does a full system backup and then backs up new stuff every 20 minutes or so.
 

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