External Hard Drive vs. Online Backup

By StuCazz
Nov 15, 2007
  1. I'm curious to know which is a better, safer, reliable, secure way to backup data, external HD or Online. From what I've read, online may be a cheaper route, but you get what you pay for, and some data isn't worth taking the chance. If I purchase the HD, I have to buy software if I want automatic backups. So I need any input on what might be the better way, cause I just don't know.

    Thank you,
  2. nickc

    nickc TechSpot Paladin Posts: 923   +11

    Stu, I am going to say online, the thing about external hard drive an I am assuming u mean a USB hard drive is that get extremely hot and burn up the hard drive.
  3. Nodsu

    Nodsu TS Rookie Posts: 5,837   +6

    Any backup solution depends on your exact needs.. If you have 500GB of data, then uploading that every night is going to be an issue :p
  4. StuCazz

    StuCazz TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 45


    would the same apply if that external USB hd has its own power source.

  5. nickc

    nickc TechSpot Paladin Posts: 923   +11

    yes it does, they do get hot. I did buy a coolmax, 3.5" external enclosure model: HD-360B-U2 that claims to be the coolest one made. I have had it for a week now and i will admit it is a lot cooler than any I have had before.
  6. Samstoned

    Samstoned TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,018

    if worries about heat stand it on end and add a fan to cool it
    the better cases come with a fan
    buy sata case buy drive for same
    usb II only way to go large amounts of data
    if data is static can archive to DVD I do this all time
    if very important go magneto optical very expensive still
  7. StuCazz

    StuCazz TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 45

    A fan, more money. So online is not good, is that what I'm hearing?

    Thank you
  8. N3051M

    N3051M TS Evangelist Posts: 2,115

    pros and cons:
    online (i don't use this service, so i'm guessing a bit):
    -access from virtually anywhere (with an internet connection)
    -most places are secure and stuff
    -don't have to worry about data being lost or maintainance, since a good online company will make their own backups etc, especially for paying customers
    -good internet connection + fast = :)

    -need a good fast upload speed to backup to server
    -big files, as mentioned = long time. same applies to any sort of data transfer.. therefore maybe/maybe not feasable. if small files/total files then i guess its fine..
    -no instant access to it when you're offline.
    -bad/no internet connection/slow = :-/

    usb hdd:
    -in a location you/someone can access (instant access). also be able to access it without going online
    -plenty of software that will create scheduals for backup (even windows), and restore that backup
    -you can specify how big a drive you need, how people access it etc.
    -big files is no problem, due to a cabled connection (network/usb/firewire/esata) it loads faster in/out etc.

    -does get hot, but that can be resolved with air-con or a cooling implement to aid it. good hdd case design is always a bonus. same with having the drive not stored in a major heatspot
    -you do need to maintain and take good care of it, as well as having a contingincy plan incase your backup hdd starts to show signs of death.
    -if it has valuable data on it, you may want to use some encryption on it, or at least lock it up with a kensington lock/safe. (since its physical thing, it could get stolen or something bad)
    -need a home to stay on your desk/cupboard/store room/safe/etc.

    there's probably a lot more pro's and cons to it, just a few i can think of the top of my head. Like nodsu said, it depends what kind of data you're gonna be backing up. Say if its a whole image of a PC hdd, every 1-2 days, then obviously online's not gonna be much use to you.
  9. AlbertLionheart

    AlbertLionheart TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,026

    stucazz: after a lot of trying this and that I now have a NAS drive which will connect to the PC either by ethernet or USB cable, works a treat, has cooling, etc etc. You can download free backup software from Genie on (they even have on-line as well). You can upgrade the software to give you incremental backups if you want.
    A suitable drive is = sorry if you are not in the UK but you did not tell....
  10. StuCazz

    StuCazz TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 45

    Actually N3051M,

    you gave some good points, gives me stuff to consider. It might be a bit expensive for me to go the hdd/cooling fan (if needed) way, but thank you.

    AlbertLionheart, I'm not familiar with NAS drive? I'm in the un united states :)


  11. samjohnson

    samjohnson TS Maniac Posts: 238

    I just bought a WD external 60 gig drive not to long ago. Well it works pretty good for backing stuff up. It doesn't get hot either. If your just backing things up its not like you are going to have it plugged up for 24hrs.
  12. N3051M

    N3051M TS Evangelist Posts: 2,115

    NAS = network attached storage. a storage device that's connected to your network either direclty via a network cable or through a pc/device designed as a file server.

    i'd also recomend the external hdd route, as this thread is going to. Most if not all external hdds made by reputable brands (wd, seagate, maxtor, lacie, coolermaster cases etc) are well designed, and they all keep their cool without anything extra needed. I for one don't really see the heat problem as being that big of a deal. Common sense should be enough.

    Not unless you're gonna store that thing in the oven, seal the door and turn it on. :)

    edit: Oh yeh, they're not that particularly expensive these days. $150AU gets you a maxtor external hdd with 320gb space. That one, you'd probably find cheaper elsewhere too. Price comparison and feasibility study, it may be a lot cheaper than a subscription service to an online place charging $49US for 50gb/year.
  13. nickc

    nickc TechSpot Paladin Posts: 923   +11

    N3051M. as far as I am conserned u just showed how little experence u have with external drives. get a backup software turn on a usb harddrive at night go to bed because it takes time to back up several 100 gig of data get up the next morning and see how hot the drive is, it will burn u're hand.
  14. StuCazz

    StuCazz TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 45

    Hot or not, I think I'm going to try the external hdd route. I just found a 250 gig usb lacie drive for $99US and I can't pass up that deal.

    Thanks everyone for the input,
  15. N3051M

    N3051M TS Evangelist Posts: 2,115

    ok. just to clarify i don't doubt it goes hot. i have one inside a cheap $25 case, and that thing burns (on 24/7). Another one in a pocket case and that only gets warm after using it to record audio sessions on it. Also a coolermaster case'd one and that is used around the clock (media storage) and that only gets warm.

    but i'm refering to the operational use of it. the hdds themselves are designed to perform even up to that heat, so breaking down is not as likely to be caused from a heatstroke to it. And when a HDD is just sitting on your desk/next to the pc all the time, and you don't really move it around alot, it just sits there. unless you're putting/storing/transporting it somewhere, it doesn't get touched. My situation is just that. i don't move it around a great deal, so heat issue is not big for me. your experience may be backing up and then moving it around daily so your situation is different. Stucazz may have a different thing altogether, so we just give some options and let him decide.
  16. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,689   +395

    I'm also going to add that you shouldn't be terribly concerned with heat. There seems to be a huge focus on running everything cool around tech forums, but unless the temperatures are very hot (or very cold) you don't need to be concerned too much.

    Concerning a Google Report titled Failure Trends in a Large Disk Drive Population. (pdf)
  17. AlbertLionheart

    AlbertLionheart TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,026

    I suspect that because we are a community with contributors from all over the planet, some of us are more concerned with heat that others, In UK for instance, there is a school of thought that the external hard drive was invented as a form of hand warmer.
    Free Heat - that will impress a Scotsman!
    If ambient air temp is in excess of 22 Deg C, external hard drives need cooling and I will always buy caddies with built in fans.
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