Raid 0 backup question for new 64-bit Dell

By demodude ยท 9 replies
Dec 1, 2008
  1. Hello guys! Hope this isn't too rediculous of a question but here goes...

    I'm waiting for a new Dell xps420 with a raid 0 (2x 500GB) set up and I'm afraid I may have made a big mistake. My question is- For back up security, can I just set it up to back up my whole system to an external hard drive? I'd like to back it up whenever necesarry. I like to keep all of my important files on an external anyway, that way if my computer ever got scorched or crashed I'd be OK once I got my system back up. I actually have two externals, one I use to back up the other just in case. I'm not quite sure how I could make this work with the new system being 64bit Vista. I've been reading about people having a hard time backing up a raid 0 system with vista and now I wish I had done a little more research. Time was a factor though as my current system is 6 years old and its on its last leg. I need it to be a reliable backup. Also, can I reboot from a disk with raid 0? I will be using my system for some work/ college and for all around general use. Please let me know when you can. Here's the specs of the new system:

    - Intel Core2 processor Q8200 (2.33Ghz 1333FSB) w/Quad Core Tech and 4MB cache 375W Power Supply
    - 8GB DDR2 SDRAM at 800MHz - 4X2GB
    - ATI Radeon HD3870 512MB GDDR4
    - Video ready option w/o monitor HMGA 16A
    - Serial ATA II RAID 0 With Dual500GB Hard Drives
    - Dell Resource DVD with Application Backup
    - Dell Dock Consumer
    - Microsoft Windows Vista SP1 Home Premium 64-Bit Edition English
    - Vista, PC-Restore, Dim/Insp
    - 16X DVD+R/RW
    - Microsoft Office 2007 Home and Student Edition
    - Windows Vista Premium System
  2. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 11,138   +985

    Issues: Backup System vs User Data option.

    The User Data option has many advantages:
    PRO:including faster to complete and less media (ie: backup storage) required.
    CON:the system would need to be made operational (maybe a full install) and all the applications reinstalled too.

    System level backups is a farce in my opinion, as most people ASSUME that it is
    a trivial matter to 'just restore the backup' and everything will be fine -- WRONG!
    The prerequisite to restore is a running system -- and now you're in a catch-22;
    you need the system but you're trying to restore the system.

    Two products give the ability to properly restore a system-level backup,
    Acronis and Ghost. Each allows a boot from CD and then a restore of the backup
    over the HD and 'hopefully' creating a bootable HD in the process.

    The object of backups is to reduce the lost of data, which means you need to
    periodically perform the backup task -- creating multiple backup files.
    Clearly, backing up the entire HD is very wasteful in time and media.

    My plan would be to take a system image (using Acronis or Ghost) once a year
    and then use User Data option to capture the important stuff more frequently.
  3. gguerra

    gguerra TS Guru Posts: 319

    I use acronis (don't know about ghost). Yes it gives you the ability to restore system level data, but if your system is raid 0 the boot cd may not recognize your raid setup. If you can place the raid 0 as native (in the bios) you may be able to to a "bare metal restore" of your system drive. The best way to tell is run windows setup (xp or vista) and see if it will recognize the drives. You could just forget about raid and get a normal type disk (not raid) and the restore should work. Acronis will however recognize you USB external drive. I have a similar setup with a file server (Windows Server 2003) which is a raid 0 or 1 design (dont remember). I think that if I ever have to restore it I will have to reinstall the OS, and acronis then do the bare metal restore from a USB drive. (Haven't tried it yet) but I would like to know if it will work. It is best to create a restore partition on the same drive for the image of your system drive this way you don't even need the USB drive or need it just for redundancy. In this way you will not need a boot cd or a USB drive for a system level restore.
    Example with a 500 gb drive
    Drive C = approx 100gb (OS and applications as well as all your documents)
    Drive D = 300gb (Data drive for all the files you can afford to lose)
    Drive E = approx 100gb Restore partition to store the image of drive C.. This image should also be backed up to USB drive and backups can be done periodically to keep your image up to date. You can backup the entire C drive as long as you do differential or incremental backups. This will reduce time and space requirements. I use differential and periodically delete the older backups as I dont need them (only need the newest)

    Of course you can adjust the sizes of the paritions to meet your needs.

    This is how I would do it, your needs may be different
  4. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 11,138   +985

    hum; try that again -- if the physical drive dies, you lose the restore partition with it :(

    Backups (of any kind) need to be stored on a different media device than the source :)
  5. gguerra

    gguerra TS Guru Posts: 319

    If you will read my post correctly I state to ALSO backup to USB drive for redundancy. Acronis has a nice schedule feature which will do this automatically for you. As for time and space do a differential backup which takes MUCH less time and will only marginally increase space requirements. You then delete older backups as they are not needed.. All you would do is leave the original (full) backup and them leave the newest differential backup. This applies to the system (C: drive).You can do this monthly or however you like. In addition you could do a weekly backup of (My documents, desktop, email etc) also as a differential backup. And what I meant in the statement you quoted (jobeard) is you dont need a USB to restore IF your hard drive is still physically good,.
  6. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 11,138   +985

    yes i read correctly, just differ re the redundancy of backups and the effectiveness
    of differential backups over a Windows OS disk with so much maintenance being applied.

    it's never black vs white -- lots of gray tones in systems management :)
  7. gguerra

    gguerra TS Guru Posts: 319

    Just a last thought I would mention. I do this sort of thing here at my company for about 35 workstations and 3 file servers.. We use a N.A.S. box (network attached storage). When I first place a system on line and everything is fine and up to date I do a full backup of the C drive. to the NAS. I then setup weekly differential backups of all important data, documents, email etc.. This requires very little time and overhead. I set it up for fridays around noon time when everybody leaves for lunch. We have two NAS boxes which I swap every monday and place one in our fireproof safe. If a hard drive crashes (which it has in the past), I replace the drive, restore the original backup and then the weekly backup. This is not entirely foolproof as many updates and new applications could have been installed on the system drive, BUT it minimally intrudes on people's work flow. and keeps their personal data safe. I could do a differential backup on the entire system drive instead of the user data, haven't tried this yet to see how long and how much space it would take up.. Anyway, no need to stay on this topic, just thought I would offer my experiences.
  8. demodude

    demodude TS Rookie Topic Starter

    So the Best/Simplest backup for this system is...

    Thanks for the ideas guys. If I'm reading you right jobeard, it seems I could use Ghost or Acronis to make an image of my system whenever I need it to, then just use "user data" to back up my most important files whenever I get done working. Is that correct? I'm taking it that user data is part of Ghost- no? Just so you guys know I'm trying to plan for worst case using raid 0. So I'm trying to prepare for a drive failing physically or a monster virus that just dessimates my HD's and I have to start from scratch. Also gguerra, I'm not sure about partitioning my drives. Never done that before and I'm not quite sure if it would work for me especially if one drive dies on me. Let me know what you got on this fellas- thanks...
  9. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 11,138   +985

    there are many ways to get user data -- just be sure to use the differential method of taking the backup :)
    Even a simple replication technique would work (except it doesn't provide versioning nor differential techniques
    good idea; better still, just abandon raid-0 on the boot drive! Even MS doesn't recommend that option
  10. demodude

    demodude TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Backup info appreciated

    Thank you fellas for the insight! Jobeard, I think I'd like to give the raid 0 a try. If it goes down the toilet- oh well, I guess I'll seperate the drives and start over. My new system just came in today, can't wait to get everyting up and running. I've heard all the crazy reviews about vista, I'm willing to give it a try and learn about it. Wish me luck fellas- I'm saddling up :D!!
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