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Author Topic: RAID1 / Mirror - Drive Back Up Strategy  (Read 262 times)

Remo Nonaz

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RAID1 / Mirror - Drive Back Up Strategy
« on: November 07, 2017, 01:56:58 PM »

The main storage disk, a 1.5TB drive, on my Windows 10 PC has been getting close to full and I have been thinking about exactly what to do before it actually gets over full and starts degrading. I have long thought that upgrading to a three or four terabyte drive in a RAID 1 / mirror would be the way to go. This would provide me with more than twice my current storage and provide a new level of redundancy that I do not now have. (Though I’ve suffered no disk failures.)

Recently, Newegg had a very attractive price on the Toshiba 3TB drive and, having a few extra bucks handy, I pulled the trigger on two of them. While I waited for the drives to arrive, I read though several articles on how to set up the RAID and made some notes on how to install and configure the drives.

By far, the easiest method would be to configure a mirror in Windows. This is a very simple procedure and assigns the two drives a common drive letter and writes to both drives. I did run into a small problem in that I set up my file type as NTFS when Microsoft is now offering BeFS, a more advanced method. Since I had not copied my files yes, I switched to BeFS. In doing this I accidentally started a resynchronization of the drives, which appears to take about seven hours to complete. I managed to stop the resynchronization and recreated the RAID successfully. With this completed, I proceeded to copy my main drive (and another smaller drive) to the RAID. This took about six hours to do and I let most of it happen overnight.

In the morning, the drive copy was complete, but for some reason the monitors had locked up. I was unable to get them cleared and had to restart the machine to correct the problem. Once running again, I noticed that the RAID drive was back in resynchronize mode. I let it run like that for about three hours while I was away, but upon returning it was only 57% done. I searched around the web to find out more about this mirror system and the resynchronization process. It seems that any disturbance to the system; power failure, forced shut down, momentary drive loss, possibly Windows upgrades, will start a resynchronization. These events do happen – probably at least one a week. I can’t live with a seven hour resynchronization every couple of days – heck, I never even leave the machine on for seven hours. I use it for an hour or two and then shut it down or put in sleep mode.

I searched around some more and found that BIOS based RAID configurations are less problematic that Microsoft’s offering and they don’t go through the resynchronization just because there has been a restart without an orderly shutdown… or so I read. I cannot get the BIOS based RAID to work on my machine. As soon as I set the basic RAID settings in the BIOS, the system wigs out and will not boot into Windows. I searched around the web again and found that in most cases, you must create the RAID before you load Windows, which would mean that to get this to work I would have to do a complete system rebuild. Sorry, not going to do that. So, I’ve abandoned the idea of a mirrored drive. (Yes, I know that a separate RAID card would probably be a better solution, but I don’t want to get into all that either.)

Now I’m looking at the idea of using EaseusTodo and placing the second 3TB drive in a removable drive bay that I have. This is essentially how I have been doing my backups for the past few years, though not in a very structured manner. Easeus offers some advanced tools for automatically running the backup based on time interval or system event. The time interval does not work so well for me because I leave the machine shut down when not in use. Running back up on an evet, such as upon startup, might work well. (Running backup on shutdown would be perfect but that feature is not supported in Windows 10.) Once the initial backup is run, additional backups are incremental, so they do not take very long. By using the removable drive bay I have the advantage of being able to store the backup drive somewhere other than with the computer.

My original play was to have the mirror and then use Easeus for additional backup of critical files. Now it looks like I’ll need to back up all the files with Easus and I won’t have fully redundant drive system. How do you solve this problem?  ???



 
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traderjay

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Re: RAID1 / Mirror - Drive Back Up Strategy
« Reply #1 on: November 07, 2017, 03:15:44 PM »

You need to re-evaluate your entire "backup" methodology. Raid 1 is not backup, its called duplication and you have zero redundancy when it comes to accidental file deletion or corruption. Backup is not simply to guard against HDD failures, but also "soft" errors that can be equally damaging.

Also, you need to tell us your system specification and the OS should not lock-up because you are doing heavy file transfer.
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Joe Towner

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Re: RAID1 / Mirror - Drive Back Up Strategy
« Reply #2 on: November 13, 2017, 08:48:53 PM »

Stop and verify your data is current & valid.

I'm of the opinion you're making this really really complicated.  A single drive, and a separate drive that you backup to is going to be safer than a RAID1 setup that's been restarted/resync'ed a few times.  I don't trust the data on the 3tb drives due to the fun you're having.

Do you have everything still on the 1.5tb drive?  My recommendation is to snag a live cd with GParted or pony up for a copy of Acronis TrueImage and their live CD.  What you want to do is 'clone' your 1.5tb to a single 3tb drive, growing the partition as part of the copy.  Turn off RAID in the BIOS - it's evil and will not provide you with what you want.  Once this process is done, turn off the pc, pull out the 1.5tb drive, swap the sata cable to the 3tb drive and boot.  Does the computer act stable?  You should be able to fully use it.  After a day or two, I'd power off again, and install the second 3tb drive.  When it comes up, format it and setup it up to backup to the second 3tb drive.  If you want options on the Windows side of different software, others can throw in here.

-Joe
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traderjay

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Re: RAID1 / Mirror - Drive Back Up Strategy
« Reply #3 on: November 13, 2017, 11:18:36 PM »

Stop and verify your data is current & valid.

I'm of the opinion you're making this really really complicated.  A single drive, and a separate drive that you backup to is going to be safer than a RAID1 setup that's been restarted/resync'ed a few times.  I don't trust the data on the 3tb drives due to the fun you're having.

Do you have everything still on the 1.5tb drive?  My recommendation is to snag a live cd with GParted or pony up for a copy of Acronis TrueImage and their live CD.  What you want to do is 'clone' your 1.5tb to a single 3tb drive, growing the partition as part of the copy.  Turn off RAID in the BIOS - it's evil and will not provide you with what you want.  Once this process is done, turn off the pc, pull out the 1.5tb drive, swap the sata cable to the 3tb drive and boot.  Does the computer act stable?  You should be able to fully use it.  After a day or two, I'd power off again, and install the second 3tb drive.  When it comes up, format it and setup it up to backup to the second 3tb drive.  If you want options on the Windows side of different software, others can throw in here.

-Joe

Hence I asked for the full system spec. I suspect there is something seriously wrong with his system.
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Remo Nonaz

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Re: RAID1 / Mirror - Drive Back Up Strategy
« Reply #4 on: November 14, 2017, 10:54:10 AM »

Joe:

Your suggestion is pretty close to what I've done. I installed one of the two 3TB drives and copied all of the data on the 1.5TB and the 1.0TB drives I had to it. This used up about 1.8TB of the new drive. I then ran a complete backup to the other 3.0TB drive that I purchased using EaseusTodo. That drive can be inserted into a removable drive bay that I have for regular incremental backups and then stored in a safe location. I also now have the old 1.5TB, 1.0TB drives and a 2.0TB drive that I was formerly using for EaseusTodo. I've not erased any of these extra drives yet so I have them as backup as well. I won't erase them until I really need to and I'm very confident of my backup situation.

At this point, I'm well backed up. Going forward I'll only have the backup on the 3TB drive and I may want to enhance that arrangement. I guess I'm mostly disappointed that I haven't actually changed or improved my backup strategy. I've just increased my drive capacity from 1.5Tb + 1.0TB to 3.0TB - not a very significant improvement for all my trouble.  :-\

BTW, this machine has a 3rd gen i7 with 16GB of RAM and is running an up-to-date version of Windows 10. It is extremely reliable and the screen freezing during the large copies with RAID enabled is about the only issue I have seen in nearly a year. I have no doubt that the RAID had something to do with it and it did not happen again after turning RAID off.
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traderjay

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Re: RAID1 / Mirror - Drive Back Up Strategy
« Reply #5 on: November 14, 2017, 12:20:51 PM »

Why don't you use windows 10's own backup feature? It works pretty well w/o the overhead of EASUS.
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Remo Nonaz

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Re: RAID1 / Mirror - Drive Back Up Strategy
« Reply #6 on: November 14, 2017, 12:41:33 PM »

I guess because I've never used it and have used Easeus since back in W7. If it automatically updates in real time, it might be better. I'll look into it.
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