Tell me about HD Enclosures (and backing up things)

So recently I’ve been thinking of getting a HD enclosure to backup my photos. The $toMB ratio isn’t too bad compared to burning DVDs, there’s the convenience factor and DVDs just seem more fragile generally. Does that sound right? If I leave a hard drive for say, 5 years and then plug it back in, would the data be intact?

Also, are there any must-have enclosure/external HD features, ie power button, fans, power mangement etc, with an eye towards HD longevity?

Unless you really like the idea of buying an enclosure and hard drive separately, or you’re planning on using some exotic RAID config, take a good long look at the prepackaged, warrantied, solutions for sale out there. There are a lot of external storage solutions currently available.

I recommend newegg for both price and selection.

Also, if you’re looking for long term, high-capacity, non-volatile backups, perhaps BD-ROM would be worth your while?

Ehhh…I’ll disagree with that, mostly because when I put mine together I 1) wanted a fan; and 2) didn’t like the idea of being charged $20 so that somebody else could turn four screws for me, so I bought an enclosure and a hard drive and had no problems. Your hard drive will still be warrantied.

The first question to answer, though, is whether you want to do this with a NAS or just a detachable external hard drive. If you just want to back up one machine and you don’t need it continually available, there’s no reason you wouldn’t be able to just drop a reasonably sized hard drive in an enclosure and get some good free backup software.

As far as long-term goes, I think we had a thread on that a while ago, but I know a guy who just did this breakdown and you should be fine for using a hard drive. According to the guy at HP that he personally knows who deals with this stuff all the time, you should be able to put the damn thing in a closet for a few years and it won’t pickle on you.

Another vote for DIY. I’d much rather choose the exact hard drive and the exact enclosure than trust someone else to package them for me.

I have the Rosewill RX82-U at home and love it. Built-in fan, easily hotswapped drives, and it looks pretty sleek. I have about three or four drives that I use, so swapping is a big plus. The only thing that would make it perfect is if I could find a SATA-powered hard drive cooler that I could slip into one of the slots for the ultimate in drive chillery.

Thanks guys. Bluray is still a bit too expensive for me to consider at the momet. As much as I’d like a NAS I’m thinking of a cheap enclosure like this:

How does this work? The expensive enclosures has power management/power buttons, for dinky ones like this, does the hard drive keep running the whole time it’s plugged in? If I remove the usb/power, do the hard drives shut down properly? Is it worth it to shell out for a more expensive one? (longer HD life?) If so, any recommendations?

If your PC has an eSATA port, I definitely would recommend getting an enclosure with an eSATA port rather than just USB 2.0. 480Mbps may not sound that slow, but if you’re trying copy / backup an entire drive at once, trust me - it really is.

If you’re interested in a NAS, the D-Link DNS-321 is a little over $100 (there’s also a $30 rebate), holds two drives, and supports RAID 0 & 1.

Ultimate peace of mind is a NAS that comes out of the box with two mirrored drives, and all your best stuff uploaded to a private folder on flickr.

You should power it up every few months, or the liquid in the drive’s bearing can dry out, screwing the drive.

Not so much, according to the storage analyst that my friend and I consulted (if he’s around here, maybe he’ll chime in). Most physical hardware issues like this…just aren’t any more; at least not in significant numbers. Granted, when your drive is the one out of a thousand that fails, it seems a lot more significant. Percentage-wise, though, this shouldn’t be an issue.

Cheap is good. Buy two enclosures, preferably eSATA, and either alternate between them or use a RAID1 array. Don’t expect them to work for long-term storage.

Alternatively, sign up for Amazon S3 and store your backups in the cloud. They charge $0.15/GB per month for storage and $0.03/GB for transfer. So if you wanted to backup, say, 50GB of important docs, family photos, etc, it would cost you $1.50 to upload and $7.50/month for storage and be accessible anywhere. There are a bunch of backup tools that support it too. And you don’t need to worry about fires, tornados, paying for power, hard disk failure, etc. And you get mega geek cred for doing it.

The initial upload will be a bitch on an asynchronous cable modem, though.

Who told you that?

His Islam hating friends were talking to him again.

If it’s true, why would it NOT dry out when you power it up?

I’m a pretty big fan of the antec mx-1. If you want a single drive enclosure that’s quiet, supports, esata + usb, consider it. It’s about $40.

What software do people recommend for backing things up? I just ordered a pair of TB drives and a D-Link 321 and have 3 laptops and 2 PCs I’d like to serve.

I use SyncBack. Simple, robust, and works like a charm.

I read it in an article in a German PC magazine. It was an article in the vein of “how safe is your data?”, and they compared hard drives to USB sticks, Zip drives and, IIRC, tapes. They wrote what I parroted above.

Does anyone know of a (simple, non-Linux) rsync type solution? I’d like to keep files synced, with some level of versioning, between three computers.

For drive imaging, I use True Image: works fine, though I’ve never tried restoring a bootable drive with it. EDIT: for syncing folders, check this thread.

Anyone have advice for a Media Style HD enclosure or HD?

I’m not looking yet for a media center PC, but if I could get a media player with HDMI out that I could hook up to my TV with either a decent sized HD that I could load on, or network connection so I could access any files on my computers that would be perfect.

One I was eying was this LaCie -

But there must be other options out there!

buy a wdtv and hook up a usb hd to it?