Which Backup Device is the Right One?
Over the last few years, various backup devices have become an inexpensive option for many computer users. There is quite a selection of device types to choose from, all with varying capabilities. When choosing a backup device, decide first exactly what your needs are, allow for growth and then select a backup media and device that will fulfill all of your needs, your “overall backup strategy”.
Choosing the Right Backup Medium
There are many hardware and media type options available for backing up the data on your computer. Here are a few guidelines you can use when purchasing a unit, and some questions you should ask:
- How much data has to be backed up? Backup units vary greatly in capacity and speed.
- Can the backup tapes be read by machines other than mine? If this is a necessity, than you will want to select a tape device that uses tapes “identical” to those in use by the other computers.
- Can I use a second hard drive for my backups? Of course you can, as long as you safeguard that drive after the backup. One way to do that is by using a removable drive tray to hold that drive. See our components department for examples.
- How expensive is the backup media? If you decide to use tape media, you’ll need more than one cartridge to implement a reliable backup strategy. These tapes vary widely depending on the make and model of the tape drive, the tape capacity and the quality of the media. Hard drives today average between $125 to $300.
You have many choices when you decide to back up your data. As noted above, tape drives are the most common, but other options are available depending on your specific needs and budget. Here are some additional suggestions:
- Tape drives. These are the most common backup choice, and they come in a wide variety of makes, sizes, and prices. Many tape drives offer high capacity and good speed and are often the least expensive way for most users to back up gigabytes of data.
- Removable storage. These devices are being used more and more in certain applications. They are fast, reliable, and easy to use and install. Unfortunately, most do not have the capacity of tape drives.
- Compact disc (CD) writers. These devices have also been dropping in price and have begun to be used as backup devices. The media is cheap (around $1-$3 for a CD) but they have limited storage (around 650 megs). One advantage of this medium is that many more machines usually have CD drives than have tape devices, which gives you more options when you want to restore data. With today’s CD-RW technology that allows you to record and erase compact discs, make this entirely feasible and provides you with the ability to find other creative uses for the drive.
- Hard Drives in removable tray. The prices of large capacity hard drives have been dropping tremendously over the last two or three years. You can purchase large 60 Gigabyte for under $250.00.
- Network drives. This is a great solution provided that you have access to network resources that have the capacity to handle the size of your backup files. Most networks resources are backed up on to a server, and offer you exceptional safety for your data. The downside of saving your backups to the network is that you might not have enough storage space to perform a full backup. If you are connected to a network, check with your system administrator to ensure that you have the resources available on the network to handle your backup (.QIC) files as well as to schedule a time for your backup that won’t tie up the network during peak usage periods.
- Floppy disk. We recommend that you only use this method only as a last resort. Floppy disks is an extremely unreliable media for backups.
Installing and Configuring a Tape Drive
To install a tape drive, follow these steps:
- Carefully read the setup directions that come with your tape drive for specific instructions on installing your device.
- Turn off your computer and install your tape drive while explicitly following the manufacturers directions that came with the drive.
- Turn on your computer and start Windows 98.
- If your backup device is Plug and Play compliant, the Windows 98 operating system will detect it and install the proper drivers. If Windows 98 does not detect your tape device at startup, click Start, then select Settings, Control Panel, Add New Hardware. The Add New Hardware Wizard will take you through the steps necessary for detecting and installing the drivers and software for your tape drive.
Microsoft Backup save files in QIC format. QIC stands for Quarter-Inch Cartridge, which is a popular type of standardized tape cartridge used for tape backups. Microsoft Backup can be used with tape units that adhere to the following standards: QIC-40 low density, QIC-80 high density, and QIC-117. Even if you back up your files directly to disk instead of to tape, the file will still be saved in QIC format. Before purchasing a backup unit, always check to make sure that it is on the Windows 98 hardware compatibility list (HCL).
Microsoft Backup supports parallel, IDE/ATAPI, and SCSI backup devices. These devices range from external units that easily connect to your parallel port to internal devices that require varying degrees of knowledge for installation. Before you buy a tape drive, make sure you have the interface required to connect it. The following vendors are supported by Windows 98: Conner, Exabyte, HP/Colorado, Iomega, Micro Solutions, Seagate, Tandberg, WangDAT, and Wangtek.
How to format and Erase Tapes
You usually have to format a new tape before you can use it to perform a backup.
To format or erase a tape, follow these steps:
- Insert the tape into your tape drive.
- Select Tools, Media, Format. The program displays a message warning you that formatting will erase any data on the tape and may take up to 30 minutes to complete.
Note:Most better tape drives will also test the integrity of the actual tape media.
Not all media needs to be formatted. Some non-QIC formats are formatted automatically during the backup process.
Okay, now we’re ready start Backing Up Your Files
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This page updated: 8/15/2000