my experience with attempting large data backups at home

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I’m the kind of DIY guy who likes to solve problems without re-inventing the wheel.  This is a problem in that category.

I have a “music server” for home and abroad that consists of two 8 TB discs in an 4-bay USB-3 enclosure, connected by USB-3 cable to a dedicated i7 mini-computer.  There are approximately 12 TB of music files on those two discs.

So the problem can be stated “How do I back-up that large amount of data so that if one or both of those discs crash, which they will, I will not lose all my music files?”

Step One.  Check the internet for solutions.  That was an exercise in frustration.  There were questions about large data back-ups but many were old and most pertained to business purposes where budgets would be much larger.  I found no solutions that were applicable to my situation, which is the main reason I am writing this blog post: to share my experience and solution.

Step Two:  I purchased two 8 TB hard drives identical to the ones I am backing up.  I first tried to use a hard drive dock that had worked very well previously for 4 TB backups, but for whatever reason (overheating?), this just crashed the computer and the drive itself was very hot to the touch.  I suspect that drive overheating without a fan was the culprit.  I considered buying a dock with a fan because that is a relatively inexpensive option, but the only model out there was one I had had bad luck with in the past.

Step Three:  I purchased an identical 4 bay enclosure to the one I use for the server and set the drives inside.  I then formatted both drives.  I had already figured out from previous experiments that Acronis True Image does the best software job for me.  So I configured Acronis to backup one of the drives on the server to one of the drives in the backup box.  Eight hours later or so, I had completed my first backup of the server.  A day later, I backed-up the second server hard drive, and for the first time in months, I felt like my data was somewhat secure.  I can now turn off the back-up drives to save power between back-ups.  Otherwise I could have just added two more drives as back-up to the server box; unfortunately they would have been spinning unnecessarily most of the time which is costly in terms of electricity.

Bottom line:  For large data backups, just model the source of the data as the backup for the data.  It’s expensive but not nearly as expensive as losing all your data.

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