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[ The PC Guide | System Care Guide | Backups and Disaster Recovery | Backup Methods, Devices and Media ]

In-Place Hard Disk Duplication

One backup solution that some people who have more than one hard disk use is to set up their system so that they use one hard disk for their programs and data, and the other one as a backup. They then copy the contents of the one hard disk to the other on a regular basis, using a file- or disk-copy tool.

This scheme is interesting and can be useful in some ways, although it has some severe limitations as well. Its advantages are that it is simple, and that it is automatable; you can set it up to do this on a nightly basis and know that everything on your hard disk will be duplicated automatically without you having to remember to do anything. This increases the chances that the backup will be done. The performance of the disk-to-disk copy will be very high, and the cost is pretty much reasonable.

The drawbacks of this sort of a scheme however are significant. First, it doesn't protect against very many of the risks to your data--it is not going to help much against theft, fire, sabotage, many types of viruses, and even some types of hardware failure. Second, you can only have a single backup, which makes the whole system very vulnerable--if you make a copy of the whole disk every night, what happens if you only notice a problem three days after it wipes out some of your data? Finally, the temptation is large to use the second drive for more data and discontinue the backup procedure when the first disk gets filled up,.

Overall, I don't recommend in-place hard drive duplication as a standalone backup procedure. It can be useful when supplemented by a removable backup system.

Note: This is not the same thing as mounting hard disks so that they are removable, as described here.

Next: Network Backup

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