Need help to determine my backup strategy


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d2racing911
d2racing911
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Hi everyone, I'm pretty new to the whole backup stuff and I would like to know which backup method I should use.

Full, incremental, differential and the new one that I don't know, the  incremental forever.

Right now, my situation is this :

My main PC has a couple of SSD and all my data is on a WD RED 4TB.

Right now, I have around 2 TB of data.

Pictures = 1 TB (I had around 10 Gb per month)
APP = 4-5 GB (not vary that much in size)
DOCUMENTS = 10-20 GB (maybe 500 Mb per month)
MUSIC 500 GB (don't move at all)
BACKUP IMG(Old acronis true image, fixed in time) = 500 GB

I have 2 external HDD(4 TB) that I sync with my WD RED 4TB with Syncback Pro every Sunday.

I have an external HDD(4TB)  at my parent's house that I sync every 3 months.

When I said I sync, I mean I use the mirror function from source to destination.

I have Backblaze Personal plan on my main PC.

Basically, I have a 3 2 1 backup strategy I guess?

My main concern is that I sync my stuff on external drives, at least I have Backblaze (1 year of versions, I paid for that extra feature) to go back in time.

In case of a virus or ransomware, I may be in trouble because I sync my stuff and everything gets lock at my place ?

So basically, I plan to buy an external HDD around 10-12 TB that will be used only by Macrium and I want some versioning and a real backup strategy.

With all my data, my pictures is my biggest concern, which profile should I use (the incremental forever) or something else.
 
I saw the schedule profile(grandfather,father and son) that use everything (full,incremental and diff). Is that too much ?

Thanks for your comments, I'm learning every day about backup and security in general.

Edited 24 February 2021 6:01 PM by d2racing911
jphughan
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Macrium has a nice YouTube animation of Incrementals Forever here that might help illustrate the concept.  I use this strategy myself, but I don't do it technically forever because at the moment, the repeated consolidations into the Full backup can cause fragmentation within the file, which can degrade the performance of future consolidations.  Early on, I found that a backup that might take an hour to create would later take an hour to be consolidated into the Full.  But after the Full had "absorbed" several dozen consolidations, a backup that took an hour to create might later take 8 hours to consolidate, which caused backups to run unacceptably long.  The only workaround at the moment is to manually create a new Full on occasion.  Or you can of course implement a setup that doesn't use Synthetic Fulls.  The closest variation is Incremental Merge, shown here.  In that case, instead of the oldest Incremental getting merged into the Full, the oldest two Incrementals get merged into each other, which avoids fragmentation of the Full but also keeps it "frozen in time" -- so in that case you generally want to create a new Full on some sort of regular basis.

In terms of which strategy you should use, given that you'll be buying a destination with substantially more capacity than your source data -- which is great -- then you'll be able to have multiple Fulls.  And there's certainly value to doing that, since if your Full ever becomes partially corrupted or unreadable, then all of your backups become useless if that's the only Full you have.  You're already mitigating that with other backups of course, but if you can store multiple Fulls, so much the better.  In terms of whether to use Differentials, one use case for that is if you want to be able to recover some storage by "thinning out" your backups as they age.  For example, let's say you might want to create a new backup every day, and retain backups going back 6 months.  That doesn't necessarily mean you want to retain DAILY backups going back 6 months.  You might instead decide that you only need daily backups going back a 2-4 weeks, and if you have to go back farther than that, you might be fine only having weekly backups still available to choose from, and even farther than that you might be content with only having a few monthly backups.  In general if you need to go back very far in time, the "granularity" required isn't as important.  If you have a three-tiered backup strategy with Fulls, Diffs, and Incs, you can achieve that type of setup.  If you only use (for example) Fulls and daily Incs, you can't do that.

Hopefully this gives you some food for thought. If you'd like some other suggestions, then let me know your thoughts on the above and how they align with what you're trying to achieve, and I may be able to make more specific suggestions based on that additional information.  Good luck! Smile

d2racing911
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So, right now I'm testing multiple backup strategies for my different files :

Right now, I scheduled a couple of tasks to backup these :
Pictures = 1 TB
APP = 4-5 GB
DOCUMENTS = 10-20 GB 
MUSIC 500 GB
BACKUP IMG500 GB

I have a full backup of each directory inside my big external drive in a separate directory. I created multiple task because I'm not sure how often I want to backup less important stuff.

If I understand right, I could do something like this :
I have a full backup that I did today of everything, so I can experiment.

I could create a custom schedule to backup my pictures like this :
1 full backup a month (first Monday)
1 incremental each day
1 differential backup (weekly) on Sunday

Is that something that I could do?

Also, can I configure the number of full backup that I want to keep on the long run ? 6 months of full backup is more than enough

Also, is that possible to do that?
1 full backup a month(first Monday)
1 weekly backup on Sunday

That weekly backup should be a differential backup or an incremental backup? And with a config like that, I could keep the last 6 full backups and only 4 weekly at the time?

I'm asking about that weekly backup, because I upload pictures only on Sunday morning during my backup routine, so having a daily backup of everything is overkill or the backup will run super fast, since there's no change.

Speaking of daily backup, what happens if my PC is turned off, what happens to the schedule? Also, having multiple schedules, do I need to take care of the running time so that a task is finish before the next one ?

I have so many questions Tongue

Just let me know, it's pretty new to me all this, but I think I'm catching up already Tongue

Thanks for your support.

jphughan
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Happy to help!  The good news is that what you want to do is possible, and Reflect is designed to deal with some of the concerns you're raising.

Yes, you can create a Full backup schedule that runs on the first Monday of every month.  I'd recommend making sure you're using the Macrium Task Scheduler rather than Windows Task Scheduler for that though (check Edit Defaults > Schedule) because when I used that schedule under Windows Task Scheduler, it created an unwanted second backup each month on the day before it was supposed to.

Yes, you can also create a Differential schedule that runs once per week on Sunday.  But you may want to set that to Monday for reasons I'll get to in a moment.

And yes, you can certainly schedule an Incremental backup to occur on all other days.

Reflect has a useful design feature when it comes to scheduling.  If you have a schedule that means multiple backup types for the same job are scheduled to occur at the same time, then only the "highest order" backup will run.  So a Full takes priority over a Diff, which takes priority over an Inc.  So for example you could say, "Incremental every day at 6 PM" and "Differential every week on Sunday at 6 PM".  On Sundays, Reflect will only run the Differential and automatically skip the Incremental.  And this is why I said you might want to schedule your Differentials for Monday, the same day as your Fulls.  Because if you do that, then on any Monday that is the first Monday of the month, Reflect will run the Full and automatically skip the Differential AND the Incremental.

You do not have to worry about making sure backups finish before the next one is scheduled to start.  If a backup is already running when a second backup is scheduled, then the second backup will be queued and will begin as soon as the current backup completes.  So the second backup will start late, but it will still run normally otherwise.

If your PC is off when a scheduled backup is supposed to occur, then it is considered "missed".  There is an option to have Reflect run missed backups as soon as possible when the PC starts up again.  If you have that enabled, then a missed backup will run immediately, which may or may not be convenient.  If you keep that disabled, then those missed backups will simply be skipped and you'll get your next backup at the next scheduled time.  Note that even if you have the "Run missed backups asap" option enabled, you won't end up with back-to-back executions of the same job.  For example, if you have daily Incrementals scheduled, and you enabled "Run missed backups asap", and then turn off your PC for 4 days during the week, then Reflect isn't going to create 4 Incrementals in a row for the same job when you finally turn your PC back on.  That would be pointless.  It will only run one backup, and I believe it will be the "highest order" backup that was missed.  So for example if your PC was off long enough to cause you to miss an Incremental, then a Differential, and then two more Incrementals, I think only the Differential will run -- but I'm not 100% sure about that.  But by comparison, if you have multiple completely separate JOBS configured and all of them have that option enabled, then you will get one backup for each of those jobs to compensate for the backups that were missed.

In terms of retention, you can set the retention policy you want.  Reflect allows you to set separate retention policies for each backup type (Full, Diff, Inc) in terms of either how many backups to retain or how long to retain them.  If you want to use time-based retention, you can specify time in days or weeks.  So if you want 6 months, enter 24 weeks.  That's not precisely 6 months, but Reflect doesn't allow month-based retention, possibly because of complications from the fact that not all months have the same number of days.  And then you could say to keep your Differentials for only 4 weeks, and your Incrementals for 1-2 weeks (or whatever you wanted).  Just make sure that your Fulls have the longest retention period, then your Differentials, then your Incrementals.  It would not make sense to try to keep Fulls for 4 weeks and Differentials for 12 weeks, for example.  The Full would get deleted after 4 weeks, and that would cause any of its Differentials to be deleted as well, so you would never end up retaining Differentials for 12 weeks that way.

Edited 24 February 2021 10:03 PM by jphughan
capair45
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In your first post you mention you're pretty new to all this backup stuff.  That being the case, I'll throw this into the soup.

If you’re unable to boot your computer, you can start your PC using Macrium Reflect rescue media (e.g. USB stick). It contains a scaled down version of Windows (WinRE or WinPE) and a full version of Macrium Reflect. There is a rescue media builder wizard within the application. After installing Reflect, the very first task should be creating and testing rescue media.  I use a SanDisk USB flash drive.

Once rescue media is created, you should test it to insure that it boots the computer and can see all the internal, external, and disks that are used to store the images you will create.

When updates (patches) of Reflect are released, it is usually not necessary to update your rescue media. The release notes (Under the HELP menu) will tell you if you should consider doing so (look for information in red text).  If you do choose to update your rescue media, be sure to test it again as mentioned earlier.

Depending on the size of your rescue media, other files can be stored on it (e.g. MR Installer, License key text file, etc.). They will not interfere with rebooting your machine into the rescue environment and will not be removed if you update the media to a newer Reflect version.

Also, consider using at least a 2-disk rotation, keeping at least 1 of those disks disconnected from the computer and only attach it for a backup. Keep this disk in a safe location when not in use (home safe, off site, etc.). Rotate this disk through the imaging process regularly then disconnect it and store it safely away.



Windows 10 Home (21H1)  Build 19043.1288
Macrium Reflect 8.0.6161
Windows Defender
Malwarebytes Premium 4.4.8


d2racing911
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Yeah, I did the create the USB stick, and I will check for updates too.

I think I'm gonna have 2 USB sticks in case of a hardware crash on those little USB stick.

I'm gonna test it later tonight.

About the rotation, I already have this :

1x WD PASSPORT 5TB (in my office) (sync every week)
1x WD PASSPORT 4TB (in my office) (sync every week)
1x WD PASSPORT 4TB (parents house) (sync every 3 months)
1x WD PASSPORT 3TB (safe) ((sync every 2 months)
1x WD PASSPORT 2TB (in my backpack 24/7). ((sync every month)
1x WD Element 14 TB on my desk.

1x Onedrive 1TB for free because of the school
150 GB of free storage on Dropbox
Backblaze Personnal Plan + 1 year of versions

To sync all that, I manage a couples of Syncback profile and it's not that bad, but  because of those portables disk, I don't have enough space to have multiple versions. It's my main reason why I use backblaze as my last line of defence in case of a fire or something else.

I'm starting with one 14 TB but when I have the extra cash, maybe I will add a second one or I will buy a Synology DS920+.

Copying stuff between the 2x 14 TB using the disk image feature from Macrium is a good idea too  Tongue I'm taking notes Tongue

Thanks for the tips Tongue
Edited 25 February 2021 2:58 AM by d2racing911
d2racing911
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jphughan - 24 February 2021 10:01 PM
Happy to help!  The good news is that what you want to do is possible, and Reflect is designed to deal with some of the concerns you're raising.

Yes, you can create a Full backup schedule that runs on the first Monday of every month.  I'd recommend making sure you're using the Macrium Task Scheduler rather than Windows Task Scheduler for that though (check Edit Defaults > Schedule) because when I used that schedule under Windows Task Scheduler, it created an unwanted second backup each month on the day before it was supposed to.

Yes, you can also create a Differential schedule that runs once per week on Sunday.  But you may want to set that to Monday for reasons I'll get to in a moment.

And yes, you can certainly schedule an Incremental backup to occur on all other days.

Reflect has a useful design feature when it comes to scheduling.  If you have a schedule that means multiple backup types for the same job are scheduled to occur at the same time, then only the "highest order" backup will run.  So a Full takes priority over a Diff, which takes priority over an Inc.  So for example you could say, "Incremental every day at 6 PM" and "Differential every week on Sunday at 6 PM".  On Sundays, Reflect will only run the Differential and automatically skip the Incremental.  And this is why I said you might want to schedule your Differentials for Monday, the same day as your Fulls.  Because if you do that, then on any Monday that is the first Monday of the month, Reflect will run the Full and automatically skip the Differential AND the Incremental.

You do not have to worry about making sure backups finish before the next one is scheduled to start.  If a backup is already running when a second backup is scheduled, then the second backup will be queued and will begin as soon as the current backup completes.  So the second backup will start late, but it will still run normally otherwise.

If your PC is off when a scheduled backup is supposed to occur, then it is considered "missed".  There is an option to have Reflect run missed backups as soon as possible when the PC starts up again.  If you have that enabled, then a missed backup will run immediately, which may or may not be convenient.  If you keep that disabled, then those missed backups will simply be skipped and you'll get your next backup at the next scheduled time.  Note that even if you have the "Run missed backups asap" option enabled, you won't end up with back-to-back executions of the same job.  For example, if you have daily Incrementals scheduled, and you enabled "Run missed backups asap", and then turn off your PC for 4 days during the week, then Reflect isn't going to create 4 Incrementals in a row for the same job when you finally turn your PC back on.  That would be pointless.  It will only run one backup, and I believe it will be the "highest order" backup that was missed.  So for example if your PC was off long enough to cause you to miss an Incremental, then a Differential, and then two more Incrementals, I think only the Differential will run -- but I'm not 100% sure about that.  But by comparison, if you have multiple completely separate JOBS configured and all of them have that option enabled, then you will get one backup for each of those jobs to compensate for the backups that were missed.

In terms of retention, you can set the retention policy you want.  Reflect allows you to set separate retention policies for each backup type (Full, Diff, Inc) in terms of either how many backups to retain or how long to retain them.  If you want to use time-based retention, you can specify time in days or weeks.  So if you want 6 months, enter 24 weeks.  That's not precisely 6 months, but Reflect doesn't allow month-based retention, possibly because of complications from the fact that not all months have the same number of days.  And then you could say to keep your Differentials for only 4 weeks, and your Incrementals for 1-2 weeks (or whatever you wanted).  Just make sure that your Fulls have the longest retention period, then your Differentials, then your Incrementals.  It would not make sense to try to keep Fulls for 4 weeks and Differentials for 12 weeks, for example.  The Full would get deleted after 4 weeks, and that would cause any of its Differentials to be deleted as well, so you would never end up retaining Differentials for 12 weeks that way.

I learned so much with all that informations. The scheduler, the little trick for the priority of backups at the same time and the trick for the retention. On a side note, I had to read your reply a couple of times just to be sure that I understand everything Tongue
jphughan
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Ha!  Well you asked a lot of great questions, so there was quite a bit to answer.  And if you're new to this, then it's pretty normal for it to take a little time and extra readings to sink in.  But it's great that you're asking these questions now, and especially that you've got such a well-layered overall backup solution.  Good luck with your setup.  I wouldn't be too surprised if you had some additional questions as you started experimenting a bit, and if so, don't hesitate to ask! Smile

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d2racing911 - 25 February 2021 2:57 AM
Yeah, I did the create the USB stick, and I will check for updates too.

I think I'm gonna have 2 USB sticks in case of a hardware crash on those little USB stick.

I'm gonna test it later tonight.


Having 2 USB rescue media sticks is a great idea!  I do the same thing myself.  I keep one stick with the Western Digital external HD that is attached all the time to my desktop and another stick with a second HD that is locked away in a safe except for when I remove it for a weekly backup.  Speed and space are not that big of an issue for me so I only do FULL images.


Windows 10 Home (21H1)  Build 19043.1288
Macrium Reflect 8.0.6161
Windows Defender
Malwarebytes Premium 4.4.8


dbminter
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I also keep 2 Rescue Media (3 if you count the boot menu option.) but I only have 1 USB; the other is a BD-RE.  I like to have redundant fallback options, so I also have an optical disc I can boot from should the other 2 methods prove unusable.


@capair45

I also do mostly Full's.  The only others I do are Incrementals and they're only done in two cases:

1.) between Daily backups before and after new software/software updates are installed or changes to software/Windows are made. 

2.) Incrementals are done manually on my data partitions as new files are added to them.

GO

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