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I only have Windows 7 Home Premium, not Professional, so the mirroring option isn't available in Computer Management. Are there any good alternatives?

It's possible RAID 1 is overkill for what I'm trying to do, so please do speak up if there's a non-RAID alternative that might work. I just want to be able to store away files every once in a while (once every couple of months or so), locally (not online), and have them duplicated, in case one drive fails. I wanted to use RAID 1 so I wouldn't have to drag-and-drop everything twice, nor have to make sure I've copied everything identically. Finally, ideally, the duplication would happen "as-it-copies," so I wouldn't have to worry about waiting for a second drive "syncing" up separately.

Thanks for any suggestions!


UPDATE

@MPuckey helped me reach a better wording for my problem:

I'm not looking for a fool-proof backup system. I'm looking for, essentially, an external hard drive, that is also resistant to a single-drive failure, and convenient to use.

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2 Answers 2

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Well, from what you've said...

I just want to be able to store away files every once in a while (once every couple of months or so), locally (not online), and have them duplicated, in case one drive fails

That sounds like back up to me.

But then..

I wanted to use RAID 1 so I wouldn't have to drag-and-drop everything twice, nor have to make sure I've copied everything identically. Finally, ideally, the duplication would happen "as-it-copies," so I wouldn't have to worry about waiting for a second drive "syncing" up separately.

RAID1, or RAID in general is not a back up solution, it is meant for redundancy as the name suggests, and should be only be used for helping keep up-time.

The idea of backups, being that you could restore from it at a later date if something 'bad' happened.

Sounds like to me you need some sort of automated backup. As much as it pains me. Why can't you simply use Windows Backup and have it on a regular schedule? So if anything was to happen you have your files/image to restore from?

It all depends what you're trying to get from this really. What are you trying to achieve from mirroring?

The two statements kind of contradict each other..

Matt

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I've read the "RAID-is-not-a-backup-solution" argument many times, but I don't agree. Yes, RAID-1's purpose is to help keep uptime, but one of its functions is to mirror multiple drives. I just want that RAID-1-like function, which is why I said I'm okay with non-RAID solutions. Why don't I use automated/scheduled backups? Because (1) I don't want to keep two 2TB hard drives attached to my laptop at all times, and (2) because I want to backup specific folders and files, which may be anywhere in my laptop, but in a specific, categorized place (determined case-by-case) in the backup drive. –  Andrew Cheong Dec 13 '12 at 22:27
    
Furthermore, when I drag-and-drop a file into that specific place on my backup drive, I want it to be replicated to a second backup drive (mirrored), without the inconvenience of having to drag-and-drop it again in the second drive, potentially making a mistake. Also, when I reorganize something on one backup drive (i.e. move a file to another folder), I want that reorganization to reflect on the other backup drive too. So, I'm not looking for a traditional set-it-up-and-forget-it backup solution. I'm looking for a local, mirrored storage solution, which I don't think Windows Backup can do. –  Andrew Cheong Dec 13 '12 at 22:32
    
I agree that Windows Backup will not do for you. By definition of backing up though, again any RAID function is not really a back up in the literal sense. Something messes up your current OS, it's the same on the mirrored disk so you cannot restore. Let's say you make a mistake and delete something, it's gone on your mirror. You drop your laptop, both drives could be dead. You have no backup to restore from... All dependent on your definition of back up I suppose and what exactly you are looking to do. What scenario are you looking for this mirror to do? What disks/hardware are we talking? –  user180103 Dec 13 '12 at 23:59
    
First, I apologize if I seemed defensive above, when you were only trying to be helpful. I guess, when I wrote this question, I avoided the word "backup" precisely to avoid the RAID-is-not-a-backup argument, haha. So, when you wrote that line, it kinda made me twitch. Irrational and unfair of me. Now that I've explained my situation though, I'll respond to your follow-up questions. First, I think you may be misunderstanding my setup. I have a laptop with an internal hard drive, where I keep the originals. I have a dual-HDD bay, which holds 2x identical 2TB drives, which I can connect to [...] –  Andrew Cheong Dec 14 '12 at 1:48
    
[...] my laptop via a USB 3.0 connection. Every once in a while, I like to make a copy of some files on my laptop, to both hard drives. The reason? I've had many external hard drives fail on me in the past. Learning from that, now, when one drive fails, I'd like to be able to "hot-swap" a new one in (okay, maybe it's not really "hot-swapping" in my case) and have the data reconstructed from the other pair. So, to answer your questions. (1) These drives are storage drives; there'll be no O/S. (2) Hm, I don't think I'm going to drop both backup drives and my laptop, but regardless, [...] –  Andrew Cheong Dec 14 '12 at 1:53

I got a second hard drive and was going to set up RAID on my machine, but figured it would be easier (and possibly safer) to just keep the other driver plugged in and use Robocopy to mirror the files between drives. Also, because it was Windows XP going from non-RAID to RAID was proving to be very difficult. I set up a scheduled task to copy the files off to the other drive every night. The advantage of this over RAID is that with RAID, when it's deleted from one drive, it's deleted from both instaneously. With the set-up I have, I have some time between deleting files where the file still exists on the other drive. There's also some time when the file doesn't exist on the other drive. But if I put something important I want mirrored on the drive, I just run the scheduled task right away so that it's copied before the day is over.

Robocopy also has a mirror option so that it will delete any files that don't exist on the source drive. This is useful if you re-organize or delete files on the source drive and want these changes mirrored on the backup drive. I actually have this set up as a seperate scheduled task with no schedule so I can run in on demand. Usually nothing get's deleted from the backup, it just copies all the new files, but when I've done a big re-organization, or I'm running out of space because too much old deleted stuff is still sitting around I can run the mirror command and delete everything that isn't on the original drive.

If you want to spend some money, there's the Synology disk station which you can connect to as a network drive. It handles all the RAID stuff internally so the computer that you are backing up from does not need to know about RAID. Synology has a lot of other products that do the same with more redundancy or more hard drive bays depending on how much money you want to spend.

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Thanks for the input! –  Andrew Cheong Dec 16 '12 at 7:49

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