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'[EE] Backups'
2006\09\15@125038 by William Chops Westfield

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On Sep 15, 2006, at 6:33 AM, William Couture wrote:

> I've found over the years that media is cheap compared to lost
> files/time.  Burning a 2nd and even 3rd copy and storing them
> in separate places is cheap insurance.
>
The state of backup software seems to really suck.  Perhaps it's
been too busy keeping up with the mere size of storage, but...
Twenty-five years ago, I used a mainframe that included amoung
its features the ability to manage the "online" status of files.
It would gradually move all files to (multiple) tapes, and eventually
(or at user command) delete the file contents of long-unaccessed
files to conserve disk space.  This left behind a directory entry
that said the file was offline, and the result was that should
your software try to read such an offline file, a message would
pop up on the operator console saying something like "please
mount tape XXXX or tape YYYY to retrieve offline file."

Grr.  I don't think I need the "offline" status, what with offline
storage being more expensive than online storage these days, but
the concept of keeping track of where backups are seems to be an
idea that was lost before its time.  I would like a backup utility
that I can tell "for files of class 'picture' I want to keep two
CD/DVD backups, one external disk backup and one network backup.
For files of class 'document' I want that plus a flash-drive copy.
For files of class 'application', one external disk copy is ok."
(and so on.)  And then (lacking file systems with appropriate
fields), I want a database that says "the photos you took in Jan
2005 are on CD 1234, DVD 5679, Disk 'PICBACKUP', and hosts
billw-linux, wife-computer, and kid-computer."

Ah well, another thing to do after I retire, I guess...

BillW

2006\09\15@133301 by Tony Smith

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{Quote hidden}

I realised one day that's sort of the point of the 'My Documents' folder in
Windows.  Just backup that one.  Still doesn't stop me putting stuff where I
feel like it though.  Doesn't solve all of your problems of course, like
older versions of Windows that used to hide the Outlook data file (in the
apps data dir), and current apps that store data in the \Progams dir.

I saw a banner ad for Xdrive the other day.  Remember them?  Feeling lucky?

Tony

2006\09\15@142938 by Gerhard Fiedler

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Tony Smith wrote:

> I realised one day that's sort of the point of the 'My Documents' folder in
> Windows.  Just backup that one.  Still doesn't stop me putting stuff where I
> feel like it though.  Doesn't solve all of your problems of course, like
> older versions of Windows that used to hide the Outlook data file (in the
> apps data dir), and current apps that store data in the \Progams dir.

FWIW, back up at least the home directory for all the users (usually
C:\Documents and Settings). That gets you data like your Outlook file and
other data that applications store in their app directories (whether All
Users or your user). The individual users' My Documents folders are in
there too (by default).

FWIW, unison is a nice mirroring app, and so is MirrorFolder
http://www.techsoftpl.com/backup/index.htm. MirrorFolder can mirror
(realtime) a life WinXP system drive so that the mirror is bootable. Has
advantages compared to both Windows dynamic disk and hardware RAID1.

Gerhard

2006\09\15@143529 by Gerhard Fiedler

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William ChopsWestfield wrote:

> I would like a backup utility that I can tell "for files of class
> 'picture' I want to keep two CD/DVD backups, one external disk backup
> and one network backup. For files of class 'document' I want that plus a
> flash-drive copy. For files of class 'application', one external disk
> copy is ok."

I'd like that too :)  I think one problem with that is how to classify the
files.

> And then (lacking file systems with appropriate fields), I want a
> database that says "the photos you took in Jan 2005 are on CD 1234, DVD
> 5679, Disk 'PICBACKUP', and hosts billw-linux, wife-computer, and
> kid-computer."

I think the real solution for that is a file system that is more of a
database, and that includes not only active hardware but also everything
that could be somehow connected to or loaded in the computer. But that then
requires the proper maintenance any extensive database requires. Without
that, you're back to something like "crap in, crap out" or however that
saying goes :)

Gerhard

2006\09\16@002558 by Tony Smith

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> Tony Smith wrote:
>
> > I realised one day that's sort of the point of the 'My Documents'
> > folder in Windows.  Just backup that one.  Still doesn't stop me
> > putting stuff where I feel like it though.  Doesn't solve
> all of your
> > problems of course, like older versions of Windows that
> used to hide
> > the Outlook data file (in the apps data dir), and current
> apps that store data in the \Progams dir.
>
> FWIW, back up at least the home directory for all the users
> (usually C:\Documents and Settings). That gets you data like
> your Outlook file and other data that applications store in
> their app directories (whether All Users or your user). The
> individual users' My Documents folders are in there too (by default).


That's basically what I do now.  Copy that dir to a server or lan drive.
Similar to what Bill said, it would be nice to be able to automatically
classify files, ie, this is data, this isn't.  It's a pain having to figure
out where programs hide their data.

I'm guilty of that as well, where's the best place to put a programs data?
In the same directory, of course!  I wonder if Russell ever got the APPEND
command to work...

I also use Ghost to clone my drive.  If this drive fails, I can just swap it
out and carry on.

Tony

2006\09\16@142118 by Gerhard Fiedler

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Tony Smith wrote:

> It's a pain having to figure out where programs hide their data.

Yes. Badly written apps, about a dozen "best" strategies for where to put
data fighting each other, "Microsoft standards are silly" and other
contributors :)

Gerhard

2006\09\17@093555 by Howard Winter

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Bill,

On Fri, 15 Sep 2006 09:50:36 -0700, William "Chops" Westfield wrote:

>
> The state of backup software seems to really suck.  

Indeed - considering the maturity of the market, the widespread need for and importance of it, it's little short of scandalous that there is so little
decent backup software available.

> Perhaps it's
> been too busy keeping up with the mere size of storage, but...

That's the annoying thing - I used to have some really good stuff which worked the way I wanted, but over time size of disk became a limitation, and
eventually I couldn't use it any more.

> Twenty-five years ago, I used a mainframe that included amoung
> its features the ability to manage the "online" status of files.
> It would gradually move all files to (multiple) tapes, and eventually
> (or at user command) delete the file contents of long-unaccessed
> files to conserve disk space.  This left behind a directory entry
> that said the file was offline, and the result was that should
> your software try to read such an offline file, a message would
> pop up on the operator console saying something like "please
> mount tape XXXX or tape YYYY to retrieve offline file."

Ten years ago or so there used to be backup software called Palindrome, and it was excellent.  It ran on Netware servers and did pretty much what
you say above - it knew where all the versions of every file were saved, and allowed you to specify when files should be archived (based on how
recently they were written and read) and then the file was replaced by a place-keeper which dealt with anyone trying to access it.  Sadly the firm
was bought up by Seagate and it quietly disappeared in favour of their vastly inferior, terribly basic stuff (Backup Exec, I think it was called).  Tragic!

> Grr.  I don't think I need the "offline" status, what with offline
> storage being more expensive than online storage these days, but
> the concept of keeping track of where backups are seems to be an
> idea that was lost before its time.

I can only assume that the people writing backup software these days have never had to actually use any, or work out backup strategies.

>  I would like a backup utility
> that I can tell "for files of class 'picture' I want to keep two
> CD/DVD backups, one external disk backup and one network backup.
> For files of class 'document' I want that plus a flash-drive copy.
> For files of class 'application', one external disk copy is ok."
> (and so on.)  And then (lacking file systems with appropriate
> fields), I want a database that says "the photos you took in Jan
> 2005 are on CD 1234, DVD 5679, Disk 'PICBACKUP', and hosts
> billw-linux, wife-computer, and kid-computer."

Palindrome could do that sort of thing.  But it took a lot to set it up, so most people went for a blanket set of rules such as "back up every changed
file every day, keep 3 copies of any stable file on separate media, if any file hasn't been updated or read for 3 months archive it".  That covers it
pretty well in most cases!

It looks to me that there is a gap in the market...

Cheers,




Howard Winter
St.Albans, England


2006\09\17@094543 by Howard Winter

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Tony,

On Sat, 16 Sep 2006 03:33:06 +1000, Tony Smith wrote:

> I realised one day that's sort of the point of the 'My Documents' folder in
> Windows.  Just backup that one.

Only works if you follow the one-partition model that MS expects.  If you separate the operating system, applications software, and data, this won't
work.  And it completely misses new or updated software installations.  I prefer to make full backups once a week, and daily incrementals of
changed/new files.

Cheers,


Howard Winter
St.Albans, England


2006\09\17@110551 by Tony Smith

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> > I realised one day that's sort of the point of the 'My Documents'
> > folder in Windows.  Just backup that one.
>
> Only works if you follow the one-partition model that MS
> expects.  If you separate the operating system, applications
> software, and data, this won't work.  And it completely
> misses new or updated software installations.  I prefer to
> make full backups once a week, and daily incrementals of
> changed/new files.
>
> Cheers,
> Howard Winter


But apart from you, myself and most of the PicList, that strategy would
work.  Multi-partitions makes it easier.

I'm happy to treat the OS & apps as one (I've got lots of images for various
combos, eg XP & Office 2000, etc), and separate the data.  Fixing family PCs
would be so much easier, copy the My Docs folder, image the drive and copy
it back.  Just like at work!

Falls over when apps put data in odd places.  Eg to personalise Excel, you
need to create a Personal.xls file, and store it in the XLStart folder.
Problem is this folder is under Program Files, not Application Data like it
should be, so unless you remember, you lose it.  

You can set where you want the 'special folders' to go, so C:\ is the OS,
D:\ can be Program Files, E:\ is My Docs and so on.  XP makes it easy
(TweakUI?), but some dodgy apps hard-code the paths.

I can replace the OS & Apps fairly easily (if a bit tedious), usually all
it's doing is making the backups bigger than what it should be.  Like I
said, I do a 'data' backup, and a 'full' backup (Ghost) every so often.

Good thread, since Ghost is starting to annoy me these days.  Sometimes
refuses to do image to disk copies (yes, it'll fit), and what's this virtual
drive crap?  Wot, RTFM?

Tony

2006\09\17@114043 by Carey Fisher

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William Chops Westfield wrote:
> The state of backup software seems to really suck.  
>  
...
> BillW
>  
In case anyone cares, here's my strategy:

I have two (different brand) external USB connected hard drives
connected to my vital PC.  I have Ghost set up to make backups to each one:
Drive F gets a "base" backup once a week with incrementals every day.  
These all happen at 3AM.  The other drive (G) gets a full image backup
once a week (on a different day than the first "base backup" and at 2AM.

Each drive can hold 6 backups of my hard drive so I have Ghost set up to
delete the oldest backup when it needs room for the next backup.

I also have a UPS and surge suppressor on the main machine.

I do have remote access to the machine and I used to leave the machine
logged on to my account.  But someone (something?) managed to get into
the machine one day and mess with some stuff.  No problem, I simply did
a full restore of the most recent backup (by the way - Ghost worked fine
for the restore).  Now I keep the machine logged out, I can still get in
remotely because the remote access stuff runs as a service but I've
changed my account to a hardened password and done some other stuff to
prevent breakins.

I've had to restore twice and both times I just did a full restore from
one of the external USB drives using Ghost and after about an hour,
everything was running perfectly.

I also manually backup the other computers on my LAN to one or the other
of the USB drives when the urge strikes.

Carey


2006\09\17@162441 by William Chops Westfield

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On Sep 17, 2006, at 6:35 AM, Howard Winter wrote:

> Ten years ago or so there used to be backup software called
> Palindrome, and it was excellent.  It ran on Netware servers
> and did pretty much what you say above ...

Yeah, I remember when I was working on the Netware code in the
cisco routers reading enough of the Novell manuals to be impressed
with the number of mainframe ideas they had incorporated.  Sadly,
I guess the customers were just as clueless about useless history
as the micro software vendors.  You'd think the unix community
would have done better, though.

> I realised one day that's sort of the point of the 'My Documents'
> folder in Windows.  Just backup that one.
>
Yes, and it's too bad that that came so late in the evolution of
windows that it is often ignored.  MacOSX with it's actual user
home directories is a bit better. But it's not like they're new
concepts (on the other hand, I wish unix had gotten a big more
standardized with the directory names underneath the user home
directories...)

Still, even within a home directory, there are separate classes of
documents.  Photos are a good example.  They're not work I can
recreate (at great expense) if they are destroyed.  If they are
destroyed, they're gone forever.  On the other hand, they don't
get edited very often, so they probably don't need backed up every
week...  Then there are the applications that can usually be
reinstalled from original CDs if need be, although that's a pain.
The biggest problem with "content aware" backups like I was thinking
of is that it becomes quite difficult to "restore everything" in the
case of a catastrophic drive failure...

BillW

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