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Whats the best realistic backup?

So now I'm pretty happy with my system (but looking into a new processor haha) and need to start backing it up. Currently my entire system is about 1.25TB in total, capacity not actually used and I'm trying to find out what type of backup I should do. I was thinking about maybe doing a RAID 5 Unraid VM NAS similar to linustechtips but with a Core i3-6100 that might not be plausible. Then I was thinking of just buying a WD Black 5TB and throwing that in my build and setting it up as a backup through windows 10 included software but I dont know how safe that really is. Would that still be susceptible to viruses if my main system got one? Or should I just bite the bullet and build a stand alone RAID 5 NAS for storage and backups?

Also if I built a stand alone NAS could I allocate part of that for photo storage and still have those photos and other systems in the house be backed up to that as well?
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More about whats realistic backup
  1. RAID is not backup. Raid is to guard against HD failure, does nothing for virus for example.

    Ask yourself what exactly are you backing up. Irreplaceable stuff? then you should backup to something off line that you can unplug when done backing up, it takes a little more hassle to plug/un-plug but once unplugged it's absolutely safe unless your house goes up in flames, and for that you can even have a family member keep it for you.

    If what are you backing up is replaceable but just an hassle to re-build then a NAS is a very convenient method from which you can restore quickly wo having to plug/un-plug anything.

    A separate but in the same subject is what I call DISASTER RECOVERY, or restore to a "known" working OS, akin to Microsoft's restore checkpoint but even more reliable. This involves placing your OS+Apps (no data) on C: and making periodic image backup of C: in the event of (A)Virus, (B)System acting funny, BSOD etc, just restore this image, takes 15 minutes and you are back in business, guaranteed, no spending time running viruscan and panicking.
  2. A NAS, whether FreeNAS, Unraid, or commercial appliance all work the same. They are just file systems that you can access on your network. Any host on your network can (with appropriate logins, etc) access the volumes. Photos, backup, whatever. The differences between NAS implementations is how much "under the hood" work you want to (have to) do to get it to work.
  3. jsmithepa said:
    RAID is not backup. Raid is to guard against HD failure, does nothing for virus for example.

    Ask yourself what exactly are you backing up. Irreplaceable stuff? then you should backup to something off line that you can unplug when done backing up, it takes a little more hassle to plug/un-plug but once unplugged it's absolutely safe unless your house goes up in flames, and for that you can even have a family member keep it for you.

    If what are you backing up is replaceable but just an hassle to re-build then a NAS is a very convenient method from which you can restore quickly wo having to plug/un-plug anything.

    A separate but in the same subject is what I call DISASTER RECOVERY, or restore to a "known" working OS, akin to Microsoft's restore checkpoint but even more reliable. This involves placing your OS+Apps (no data) on C: and making periodic image backup of C: in the event of (A)Virus, (B)System acting funny, BSOD etc, just restore this image, takes 15 minutes and you are back in business, guaranteed, no spending time running viruscan and panicking.


    I second that. I have 10+ years of pictures on DVD-RAM in a safe AND cloud backup. If you want something saved for life, use multiple sources.

    And as said RAID provides redundancy but should not be considered a BACKUP! So many times I have people calling in complaining their raid 5 failed, it is NOT a backup! Catastrophic failure can still happen! Make backups! Use clouds!
  4. Best answer
    Ideally, a backup will be offline and off-site. Offline means you do the backup, then disconnect the drive/device. That way something like a virus or ransomware or a lightning strike cannot take out your backup. Off-site means a burglar or fire or flood cannot destroy your backup.

    A NAS is good for convenience (local) backups. But if your data is important, you'll want another backup, or a combination of backups. I backup my NAS monthly to an external drive (actually an array of drives in a RAID enclosure since my NAS is 12 TB). My 5 TB of SLR photos are backed up to Amazon Photos (which gives me unlimited photo storage with my Prime account). And important non-Photo files I backup (after encrypting) to Box, which gave me 100 GB of free cloud storage as part of a promo a long time ago.

    Other decent cloud backup services include Google Drive (15GB free, unlimited backup of photos 2048x2048 or smaller, unlimited videos shorter than 15 min though they may changed that to 1080p or lower res of any length). Microsoft OneDrive (1 TB of cloud storage if you subscribe to Office 365).

    For the local backup, you want to do differential or incremental backups. Incremental is preferred. Your first backup is a complete backup. The next backup, only files which have changed from the initial backup are backed up again. For the third backup, with differential backups files which have changed from the initial backup are backed up again. With incremental backups, files which have changed from the previous incremental backup are backed up again. Every month or two, you make a new complete backup and start the process again. Since not many files change on a day-to-day basis, differential or incremental backups will allow you to make daily updates to your backups which only take up a few MB of space and take only a few minutes.

    Macrium Reflect, EaseUS ToDo, and Paragon Backup and Recovery are the common free backup programs I frequently see mentioned. If you're a Unix type, you can use rsync (what I use on the NAS). Another intriguing option is FreeNAS combined with snapshots. FreeNAS offers redundancy like RAID 5. Snapshots let you bypass the reason why RAID is not a backup, since it lets you keep older copies of files around (acts kinda like an in-situ incremental backup). On OS X, Time Machine works the same way.
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