Best hard drive for backup

LOL, if my house burns down, I’d have a lot more to worry about than whether my music files are saved in a gazillion different places.

Get real, folks. It’s a “first world” problem!


@Dougie thanks!

@ChrisSU You are talking about a strategy and I do agree on that point, but I was simply considering Dougie’s NAS configuration. Won’t you consider Raid 1 as a backup by the way? After all disks are redundant in this configuration.

In the context of a home environment, RAID is of less importance than multiple backups.

We run three NASs, two are “working” - one for general day to day usage (I suppose you could call it “short term”), and one split into virtual drives for Photos, flacs, iTunes etc (more “long term”). It just sits there and occasionally has new stuff added. As it happens, both have twin drives, mirrored (more for historical reasons than anything).

The third NAS (a single HDD of sufficient size) does a daily (incremental) backup of the other two NASs and the D: drives (data drives) on both mine and my wife’s PCs.

OK so NAS3 sits alongside the other two in the server room (aka study/fifth bedroom in estate agent parlance) Not ideal, but if the house burns down then we’re fooked anyway.

I backup the music files on my NAS (Western Digital Reds) to Google Drive. Being in the cloud means I don’t need to worry about reliability and it means I can access my music anywhere.

Question for anyone and perhaps @suzywong and @ChrisSU, who iirc both have Synology.
Any reason for choosing S over Qnap?
Context - I have long had QNAP 4-bay, which needs to be put into semi-retirement as a backup in a different building. Two disks (individually) have failed over time and I am about to update the remaining two, one at a time. Seagate drives, but > 10 years old by date(s) on unit.
IIUC Qnap have had issues over time with cyber attacks. Can of course happen to all os units, but I am unaware if Qnap had / has a specific weakness.
Advice has tended towards sticking with the product known, with which backup would interact maybe more seamlessly.
Is there a clear choice for a particular make?
I would likely be willing to buy 2 new NAS units, one as a back up, same or change?

No particular reason for me, I chose a Synology to run a Unitiserve backup because I knew it was tried and tested, and I think slightly cheaper than QNAP but it was a toss-up between the two.

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I tossed a coin :laughing: .

When I was looking to replace an old malfunctioning LG NAS, I looked at both QNAP & Synology

Hardware performance wise, maybe the QNAP just shaded it.
Software & Apps wise, maybe the Synology just shaded it.

And therefore having bought Synology for NAS1, it was logical to go the same way for 2 & 3.

First: RAID is not a backup. It’s a redundant storage, which increases availability in case of HW (disk) failures.
It does not provide protection against faulty usage (e.g. deleting things by mistake), file system problems, or malicious attacks (like encryption malware). For that, you need an “offline” backup.

Second: if you look at a dedicated, external drive for backups, there’s usually these areas to consider:

  • Size - in your case, the 2 TB primary system is already given.
  • Reliability. (Let’s assume here, backup drives will be plugged in occasionally - from daily to monthly - as opposed to archiving volumes.)
  • Speed - what speed do you need / can achieve? (E.g. if a primary device only has USB 2.0 speed, it really does not matter.)
    And speed for initial/incremental backups is often not that important - you usually run those as background jobs. (Unless you wait in front of the device, until you can unplug the drive again.)
    Speed for restore can be very important, depending on how urgently you need something operational again. (But may not that critical for a music collection.)
  • Compatibility - usually, USB drives with a common filesystem (NTFS, exFat) will do nicely here these days.
  • Convenience.

The typical options are:

  • 2.5" HDDs - very nice backup devices, small, compact, usually reliable. Up to 5 TB size. Not that noisy. Work with USB-provided power. (Though I did have failures the last years. With a small fleet of such devices.)
    Note, that no new/larger drives are being developed any more - the usage in laptops has been basically replaced with SSDs, so the market is shrinking very much, so no new investments into this category are being made.
  • 3.5" HDDs - a bit faster than the 2.5", much larger capacity. (More than 20 TB.) Need dedicated (ans possibly proprietary) power-supplies.
  • SSDs - very quick (depending on drive type and USB connection; via USB you won’t utilize modern drives to their potential, but then also the other source/target needs to provide sustained high-speed (e.g. 1 GByte/s) to really make use of this). Silent. Usually USB-powered. New/little used drives have good data retention times. If you only incrementally perform backups to them (music libraries usually don’t change completely from backup to backup), they’ll last quite a while. Still much more expansive for large volumes (see 3.5" drives), but for 1-2 TByte quite okay.
  • USB sticks, SD cards, … - I wouldn’t usually rely on those for backups, due to reliability. Especially for anything cheap.

If you want to be more safe with your data, do (at least) 2 backups, with 2 drives. (And possibly store one “elsewhere”, which you only connect now and then. I agree music library recovery after a burnt down house may be 1st world problem, but there can be significant money or time spent on them, so the cost for a 2nd backup drive is not that high. Or include the media into the general IT backup.)

Figure of speech but flood risk for me is real!

As Richard says, HDDs are probably better for backup than SSDs (for now). Backblaze has just begun testing SSD reliability but it will be a while before their data can be compared to HDDs.

Hi all, all of the advise has been greatly appreciated, I have just received a HDD drive from WD, the model I believe is called a My Passport and it’s a 5 TB. Surprised how small the drive is, it took a little over an hour to backup 5,200 items. Just checked the drive and all looks well. Just hope now I don’t need it for some considerable time :blush:.

I recommend you have two backups personally. Just in case…

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A word of warning over WD’s services. A friend of mine had a WD Home store product and he backed up to WD’s cloud. Something broke in the NAS (not the drive which should be reliable) and it was then that he realised that he had allowed the end of life notifications from WD to pass through his inbox without doing anything else to provide backup.

WD were unwilling or unable to provide access to his backup and just suggested a data recovery company which could take the unit away and try to recover the data from the WD unit itself. The quoted cost was around £1000 just to look at it and quote him for the recovery. He didn’t have the money available to pay that and lost everything.

Personally I will never trust WD again.

I would agree that WD network drives are poor. I tried one a few years ago and it was unreliable as well as having support problems. I don’t think there would be any such problem with a simple portable HDD like the one Dougie has bought, though, and there is no need to use any potentially flaky WD software to run a backup to it.