Hot swapping hard drives


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jdlech
jdlech
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Not sure where to put this, so I put it in the general category.
I have Reflect 7.1 home (64bit) and Windows 10.
I have a 6TB drive, and several smaller drives 1-2TB each.  The big drive is just data - no boot or OS.  I want to use the smaller drives to back up the bigger one.  But I only have 1 sata port available for this.  So I need to "hot swap" hard drives the same as one would span multiple CDs or DVDs.
I'm not all that worried about scheduling.
How can I get a Reflect backup to span hot swapped hard drives?

I'm currently doing this with a simple file and folder copy using file manager - which is quite tedious.  But I know that hot swapping hard drives is safe on my system.

jphughan
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I don't believe Reflect supports spanning when it's targeting anything other than optical media, although even if it did, that's a very risky strategy because it means a successful restore could potentially depend on all of several disks functioning correctly rather than just one -- stated differently, each additional disk you span across increases your risk of failure.  A quick check on Amazon right now indicates that a 6TB drive can be had for $169.  I would argue that that's a small price to pay to back up that amount of data if said data has any real value to you, not to mention reducing your risk factor.

Edited 10 June 2018 2:36 PM by jphughan
jdlech
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The same could be said of optical media.  The more disks, the greater the risk.
A 6TB drive costs 3.5 cents per meg while a number of 2TB drives cost as little as 2¢ per meg.  In fact, I recently found a 3TB drive for just 1.8¢/meg.
Aside from that, I have all these smaller drives - just sitting in a cabinet wrapped in anti-static bags. So the cost is zero.
But I don't need more drives yet.  I can back everything up onto the drives I already have.  I just want Reflect to span hard drives.
And besides, if all I wanted to do was clone a drive, I wouldn't even need Reflect.  There's freeware for that.
I want to span hard drives because it's cheap and only a few simple swaps.  Ever try backing up 5Tb onto opticals? 

There is the option of getting a separate controller card that can turn JBODs into a single partition.  But then, that's just throwing more money at the problem.
Maybe it's something Macrium could look into - an option to span hot swapped hard drives.
Thanks for your quick response, though.

PS.  Oddly enough, I used to do this very thing about 20 years ago using PKZIP for DOS.  But back then, I would backup an 80Mb drive onto a bunch of cheap 10 and 20Mb drives.  It was far more reliable than tape or floppy.

jphughan
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jdlech - 10 June 2018 3:00 PM
The same could be said of optical media.  The more disks, the greater the risk.
A 6TB drive costs 3.5 cents per meg while a number of 2TB drives cost as little as 2¢ per meg.  In fact, I recently found a 3TB drive for just 1.8¢/meg.
Aside from that, I have all these smaller drives - just sitting in a cabinet wrapped in anti-static bags. So the cost is zero.
But I don't need more drives yet.  I can back everything up onto the drives I already have.  I just want Reflect to span hard drives.
And besides, if all I wanted to do was clone a drive, I wouldn't even need Reflect.  There's freeware for that.
I want to span hard drives because it's cheap and only a few simple swaps.  Ever try backing up 5Tb onto opticals? 

There is the option of getting a separate controller card that can turn JBODs into a single partition.  But then, that's just throwing more money at the problem.
Maybe it's something Macrium could look into - an option to span hot swapped hard drives.
Thanks for your quick response, though.

PS.  Oddly enough, I used to do this very thing about 20 years ago using PKZIP for DOS.  But back then, I would backup an 80Mb drive onto a bunch of cheap 10 and 20Mb drives.  It was far more reliable than tape or floppy.

Re optical media, that's true, but optical media also doesn't have any moving parts or complex electronics that can fail like hard drives and SSDs, and high-quality optical media stored properly will last quite a long time.

For freeware cloning, Reflect Free is one such option, fyi, although you wouldn't get the benefit of Rapid Delta Clone though.  But I also didn't realize we were talking about a cloning scenario.  I thought you were trying to capture disk images, in which case even if you had 6TB of data, typically compression would allow you to store at least 1 Full and a few Diff/Inc backups on a 6TB destination.

Anyhow, if this is something you really want, you might consider putting it in the Wish List section, but I personally wouldn't hold my breath.  I understand that technically you can back up everything you want with what you already have, but I can't say I agree with the underlying rationale that increasing your risk on 6TB worth of data is worth saving yourself $169 or even deliberately buying multiple smaller drives to save 1.5 cents per MB.  Best of luck, though.

Edited 10 June 2018 3:08 PM by jphughan
jdlech
jdlech
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There's really not a whole lot of risk involved in a bunch of hard drives sitting in a cabinet (IMHO).  And who hasn't found themselves with a bunch of unused hard drives lying around?
I trust a half dozen drives sitting in a cabinet a lot more than I trust a big drive in constant use.  But you made a very good point.  The space efficiency of a spanned disk backup comes with a greatly higher risk.  With simple file copies, if one drive goes bad, you lose only that which was on that drive.  While a spanned backup is more space efficient, one bad drive ruins the whole backup.  So you're really convinced me to stick with a simple file copy to fill all the drives instead of trying to span disks.  If anything, I might compress the files using zip, rar or W10 bitlocker.

But today's drive capacities are outstripping optical media.  Even bluray disks (which write slow as molasses) are not big enough anymore.  5TB/46.57GB per DLbluray disk is 107 disks.  And as HDD capacities increase, this will only get worse.
This is not the first time this has happened either.  Drive capacity outstripped floppies too - pushing people to optical or old HDDs for backups.  Opticals were barely able to keep pace for a good long time.  But now we're running into the same problem again.  And we really don't have much alternative for home backups yet.   
It's one thing to burn a video to disk for archival purposes, but it's entirely different to burn TBs of data at a time.
I've had my share of backup/restore troubles over the years.  Mostly with floppies and network backups (the greatest network backup in the world is useless if you can't access the network, lol - which is why I abandoned Norton Ghost years ago)  But also with burning whole stacks of coasters.
Quite frankly, cheap hard drives have served me well over the years - second only to optical disks - once successfully burned.  The worst was floppies - I am so glad we don't have floppies anymore.
I have tried using a USB to SATA bridge with limited success.  Maybe it's my computer, but USB 2 and 3 was unstable, while usb 1 was stable, but too slow.

So in a way, you have answered my question, and very well, I might add.  I'll continue to use file manager to backup data onto hot swapped older HDDs.  But I think my next data backup will use some simple compression - something easily obtained like W10 bitlocker or any of a thousand available zip or rar programs.  It's important to note that this is NOT my boot or OS drive. 

jphughan
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“I trust a half dozen drives sitting in a cabinet a lot more than I trust a big drive in constant use.” I agree, but the more critical distinction there is the use, not the size/quantity of drives. It’s not clear to me why the usage pattern would change based on the number of drives in your case — basically, why not a big drive in a cabinet? If you were intending to run a single backup job that would span multiple smaller disks or fit on one bigger disk, then drives are coming out of the cabinet and being put to use at the same interval. The fact that in the spanned disk scenario all but ONE of the drives sit unused in a cabinet is irrelevant, because all it takes is for the in-use disk to fail and then all of the data on those cabineted drives becomes worthless. It’s certainly true that in the spanned scenario, the usage/wear is spread out over multiple disks rather than concentrated on one, but that to me doesn’t offset the extra risk of the cross-disk dependency.

If it were me, I would have two 6TB disks that I used in rotation to mitigate the risk of destination disk failure, or for that matter corrupted backup files if each destination only had enough capacity for one backup set. That would additionally create the option to store the unused disk off-site to mitigate against threats like theft and natural disaster.

But for as long as you intend to stick with multiple smaller disks, I agree that breaking up source data into multiple backup jobs each of which fits on a single disk is the way to go. Good luck!
jdlech
jdlech
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When I wrote "sitting in a cabinet", I actually meant sitting in a desk, unpowered, inside anti-static sleeves.  My desk has a hutch with a cabinet in which I store my spare HDDs and stacks of optical disks.  That's where I keep all my backups.  Sorry for any confusion.
I'm not really big on remote physical storage.  I've been playing with computers since the 80s and never once needed it (knocks on wood).  Maybe a locked, fireproof box tucked away somewhere might be prudent.
As for the other 'why not', I already have these older HDDs, so I don't have to buy any more.  I have a 2TB and 3 1TB drives.  All just sitting around doing nothing.  If I don't use them for backups, I won't have a use for them at all.  I've already thrown out a bunch of smaller capacity HDDs in the past few years - a bunch of old PATA drives, and a few old SATA drives that were 250Gb or less.  I tried selling them on Ebay, but nobody wanted them.  I hate tossing things simply because they're old, but in the case of HDDs, there comes a point where they're just not worth keeping.  Kinda like keeping some old 5.25" floppies in a drawer - what's the point?  Helluva problem to have.
But those TB drives are still good for something.... backup everything to them and then tuck them away somewhere.  Pull them out ever few months and make a new backup.  They'll last for years.  Or until they're too small to be worth using at all.
Back in the late 80s, I marveled at the thought of a terrabyte drive.  Now I've got a half dozen 1.8TB USB drives no bigger than my pinky nail.  Gave a bunch out for Xmas, people love them.  And I use one to backup my boot drive/OS.  Funny thing is, it's so small I could lose it in a heartbeat..  Someday, before I die, maybe I'll see a PetaByte drive.  My point is; tomorrows tech will always present us with the same problem - what do we do with all this yesterday's tech lying around?  I like to turn my old HDDs into backup media.  It solves that one question I've always had: what do I do with all these old HDDs lying around?

jdlech
jdlech
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OK, final post.
I bought an 8 port sata controller and intend to hook up my various backup drives to it.  They'll be residing in my computer, so no remote location.  I might think of something for that later.
But I also ordered a simple push button switch to install in the front of my case.  I ordered a power cable to go from my power supply to all 4 drives.  The positive 12v line powering the HDDs will be rerouted through the switch.  So the only time the 4 backup drives are powered is when I hit that switch.  This will be about once every 2 or 3 of months as the data on that drive does not change very fast.  So the vast majority of the time, they are just sitting there, unenergized, quite safe.   No idle spinning, no heat generation, no power consumption, no wear and tear, They should last longer than their usefulness.  And since the controller claims to be hot swap compatible, powering the HDDs on and off won't cause any problems.
RAID, spanning disks, and even combining them into a single virtual drive will all be avoided.  It's all JBOD to minimize the loss from drive failure.
The only problem is that they're sitting in my computer case, so no protection from fire, flood, theft, etc..  Just drive failure protection.
Since it will be a simple file copy, I can use windows compression on all the disks.  I don't even care about transfer rates.

Thanks for all your advice - you really helped me think this through.

GO

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