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Thread: How much space do I need for backup?

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    Member Needs New Keyboard Array Spider's Avatar
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    Default How much space do I need for backup?

    Tried to back up my computer. Stupid program stopped backing up due to
    "not enough space."

    How about that for helpful messages! Okay it explains why it stopped, but not how to solve the problem. Yes, get a bigger flashdrive. But how big? How much space does a computer backup take? You'd think they'd have some way of determining how much space I need and tell me, but I can't see anything.

    Anyone have a clue? Yes, it will depend on how much data is being backed up, but how can I determine that?

    All helpful suggestions welcome.

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    Hi Frederick, thats funny because the same thing just happened to me yesterday.
    If your computer is set up the same way as mine, with a 2 hard drives, empying the recycle bin won't help.
    What I did was I deleted alot of back up files (and they were huge) from last year. This solved my problem immediately.


    oops, I just read the rest of your post.....

    Depending upon how many weeks/months of backups you want, you may consider going to costco and purchasing some type of portable hard drive. They USB into all the modern computers and can be selected when doing a manual (and possibly an auto) backup, but I have never tried this method as I have 2 drive in my laptop.

    Sorry, I thought I was helping in my 1st paragraph, but ended up possibly confusing everyone hehe.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spider View Post

    All helpful suggestions welcome.
    How do you qualify helpful

    One thing I would suggest is putting a second hard drive in your computer. The cost is less than $100. Copy important folders from one disk to the other. It makes it fast and easy to backup. It won't protect you from lightning strikes, theft, fire etc., but it does make frequent backups easy.

    Second suggestion, an external hard drive. I have a 320 G one I paid about $60 for if I remember correctly. It is powered over the usb port so no power connections and is about the size of a cell phone. Its slow though, because of the usb connection.

    When I used windows (several years ago now), I did a disk image of my main disk using Norton Ghost and saved it on disc 2. Back then my wife managed to get a lot of virus's on her computer. With a disk image, you can bring your computer back to a prior date. A couple of clicks and about 15 minutes.

    As to what size flash drive if you want to continue that way, From past backups you must be able to see about how much it compresses the data. After that its just using that same ratio on the new backup. Easier to just get a bigger storage medium though.

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    Post Impressionist Array vangogh's Avatar
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    It really depends on how big the hard drive(s) you're backing up is (are). My laptop currently has a 250GB hard drive, which I've filled up with about 150GB of data. I have a 1TB drive that everything gets backed up to. I use Time Machine which comes included with OSX. Time Machine backs up every hour or so, but it should only be backing up changes after the initial backup. It creates hourly snapshots of what's on my computer.

    At the moment the backup drive has 625GB of space remaining. At some point it will fill up, but when it does it lets me know and asks if it's ok to delete some of the older snapshots. So a year from now I may not be able to get back something I delete today, but realistically that's not a big deal. If it's that important I won't delete it. What I'll always have is a lot of snapshots of what's on my computer going back a few months.

    As for how much space again it depends on your needs. Obviously it should be at least as large as the hard drive you're backing up, though I'd suggest at least twice as large. Disk space is very inexpensive when you consider how much you get. It also depends on the type of backup you do. I described Time Machine above, because the way it works I really needed something more than the amount I'm backing up. 4 times the size of my full drive and about 6.5 times the space I currently use.

    Not too long ago I purchased a 500GB external drive just to store images. The price was about $100. I'm thinking I'll do similar to store music and perhaps video as well. I'm not yet sure what the best way to back up each of those drives will be, but my guess is I'll purchase similarly sized drives for each and periodically backup whatever I add to them. Those drives probably only need to be the same size since they won't need the snapshot thing. Another option though it to get another very large drive, maybe 2TB or even 4TB and backup all the smaller drives there. Either way I'll be backing things up 1:1 as far as the space goes.

    It really comes down to how much space you need and how your system backs up and again disk space isn't particularly expensive.
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    Thanks for mentioning time machine VG. I wasn't aware of that type of backup although its need is obvious. It turns out that there is a Linux equivalent that was in my repository called back in time. Just installed it. Its free! Great way for backing up.

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    Post Impressionist Array vangogh's Avatar
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    Sounds similar. I think I've read about it before too. Time Machine is great. You connect it to the drive and then it takes care of everything else. My drive is on my network so everything happens wirelessly. Funny, I just looked up and it's backing up right now.

    What I like is being able to go back a few days and get an older version of a file if I need it. That's come in handy a few times. For example not long ago my feedreader had a hiccup and it's database file became corrupt. All my feeds were gone. I went back a couple hours in Time Machine and grabbed a file that wasn't corrupt and everything was back to normal. Similar things have happened with other programs on occasion.

    Another thought is backing up the cloud. You can get a few GB of space free from a lot of places and a lot more space if you're willing to pay. It'll cost more than buying your own drives, but there's something to be said for having a backup off premises. I'm not sure that's a solution for me, but I know some people like backing up that way.

    I'll probably just keep buying more and more hard drives. That 500GB one fits easily in a coat pocket. I've been reading the price of Flash storage is expected to drop considerably next year so before too long we'll be able to carry around TB drives in our pockets. Flash drives are fast too. My MacBook Air has one and it's considerably faster than drives with spinning parts. I can envision a time when we all carry around a few Flash thumb drives each with a few TB of space. You plug it in to your USB drive and in short time have a complete backup that you can carry around with you.

    And the best part with Flash drives is no moving parts means no moving parts to fail.
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    I think that the problem both of us have with the off prem backup is the lack of control of whoever has your backup. Dan in a post a while back liked the service he uses and it makes sense. I've spent the last month doing a bunch of php scripts to streamline further my ordering/ quoting/ tracking unpaid orders etc. I have at least 40 hours of programming time into them. The thing is script files are small. When I get through with this post I'm going to upload them to a web site for off prem backup. Those here with web sites could do the same thing as long as there important files aren't that big.

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    Member Needs New Keyboard Array Steve B's Avatar
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    You should consider off-site/automatic backup with something like Mozy. It costs about $5 per month - it happens automatically every single day, it never runs out of space, and you WILL be covered in the event of a fire or flood.
    Steve B

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    If you are backing up your entire computer, you can find out how much space that is by going to "Computer" ( or in XP I think it's "My Computer") and highlighting your hard drive ( it may be "C" or "OS(C)" ) and it should tell you how much space you have left and how much you have used. Obviously how much you have used is what you are trying to back up. Be sure that you calculate from the actual, size.
    For instance my computer has 1TB, but the recovery partition takes 11.4GB, so I would subtract "Free Space" from "Total size" to determine how much I have used.

    If you are just backing up files, you can do the same thing with individual files and do the math.

    You want to get a drive that has at least 15% or more space than the amount you are trying to back up. For instance if you are backing up 100GB, don't just get a 100GB drive. And account for extra space for any future additions to that back up that you may want to add so you don't have to keep up with multiple drives.

    Personally, I would use an external hard drive and set it to back up automatically at defined periods, not a flash drive. That's just my personal opinion. I'm just not ready to back everything up on something that I could loose. Either way, storage is cheap.

    I'm also not crazy about having your only back up be a 3rd party company that can only be accessed online. I have crazy doomsday fantasies of having no internet and not being able to access any online backups. My computer is a self contained device that can work independently whether or not the internet is functioning, so I see no reason to keep it's tools, parts, programs and backups somewhere else in the world, when I can just as easily just put them in my safe.
    That's just me.
    Last edited by Harold Mansfield; 05-13-2011 at 04:36 PM.
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    If you are only back up a folder, such as "My Documents" then in Windows XP or Vista (Windows 7 may be slightly different):
    • Right click the "Start" button in the lower left corner of your screen
    • Left click "Explore"
    • Highlight the folder you want (e.g., "My Documents") and right click on the folder
    • Left click on "Properties"
    • Left click the "General" tab


    You can see exactly how large that folder is (including subfolders).

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