Dual hard drives - is it worthwhile?

  Non Welsh Local 14:24 26 Feb 04

I recently had a problem with my pc, it wouldn't boot up and just kept restarting. I had to run the repair console to fix it and this worked well.
However, a friend advises the best course of action now is to have a second hard drive and have my operating system and files on there as well. This seems to make sense to me as I guess it'll be a complete back up. Any draw-backs to this and ultimately is it worthwhile having 2 or more hard drives? Note I am using XP home as the operating system and would install this on the second drive also. Thanks for any advice.

  Jester2K 14:27 26 Feb 04

Can't see the point without knowing exactly what was proposed!

Was it a RAID setup that was proposed?

  BrianW 14:41 26 Feb 04

I have been running two hard drives, each set up with the operating systems + key programme files as a safety net for some years. First with W98se and latterly with XP home.

On the larger (main HDD) I have a segment devoted exclusivey to data. This is all backed up to an external 80GB HDD which I also use as an archive.

Critical data is also backed up to CD-ROM.

Why the paranoia - I had a major systems crash some years ago and lost a load of important data. It took months to recover and to get my system working as I wanted.

No such fears any more. If one hard drive goes down, I go to BIOS, reset the second drive as first boot option and am back on line without problems.

If you do follow this route, ensure that you back up fequently, that means both programmes and data.

  Non Welsh Local 14:44 26 Feb 04

Basically the proposal was to have 2 hard drives so I could boot off either and have them set up as 2 independant systems so in the event of a problem with one, the other would still be fully functional. The reason I'm now asking this is that I don't know whether this is a worthwhile idea and if it is then are there any potential problems with doing this. To clarify further I'm just looking for an independant back-up system and this seems to be a solution but I'm hoping for some advice before ordering another hard drive.

  Jester2K 14:50 26 Feb 04

How do you keep HDD 2 mirrored with HDD 1 or am i missing something here?

  woodchip 15:10 26 Feb 04

Yes it's a very good IDEA, but you are better using something like Drive Image and create a Exact Image on to the second disc so you can put this back in about 5 minutes

  Newuser2147 15:14 26 Feb 04

You would probably be better off using something like Norton Ghost to take an Image of your boot partition which you kept on your second hard drive. In the event of needing to recover, just boot off the Ghost disk or Floppy and restore the image over the original boot partition - or even to a new disk if necessary.

  Taran 15:31 26 Feb 04

I always use twin hard drives in my desktop machines and external hard drives or network shares to back my laptops up to.

I've no time for RAID at all on domestic desktop systems so I'm not going to get into that argument.

Twin drives are very useful for data backups though. Having said that, if your motherboard spikes and goes up in a puff of smoke, anything attached to it can become damaged, including your 'spare' backup drive.

Multiboot systems are a curiosity and some people find them useful. I keep one multioboot for Windows 98, 98SE and ME just to give me a working platform for testing/diagnostics. All of my other Windows systems either run Windows XP Pro, XP Home or 2000 Pro.

Where twin hard drives come into their own is in very, very fast access to backup data or Ghost/Drive image backups of your entire system.

Ghost or Drive Image can back up everything all at once - your operating system, application programs and personal files are stored in a 'snapshot' and this is one area where a twin hard drive system comes into its own.

You can ghost your system to CDs or DVDs but the access times on hard drives are so much faster that creating and, more importantly, recovering your system using a Ghost/Drive Image backup from one hard disk to another flies along. This is what I use mine for.

The safest backup system in one not attached to your PC though. The most cost effective solution is to invest in a drive imaging program and store your recovery disk CD set offsite.

Twin drives are nice to have but are ot necessarily the cheapest or even the most appropriate solution to everyone.

The problem with Ghost or Drive image is that you have to keep remembering to back up at intervals; much the same as any other form of manual backup. By setting your two discs in a RAID 1 array, everything you do on your first disc is mirrored on the second - if one disc fails you have not lost any data, and it is a simple matter to replace the failed drive.
Having used RAID for sometime now, I no longer have to worry about backing up, it is done automatically every time I use the computer.
RAID was originally developed for servers, but increasingly I am now setting them up on domestic machines.

  JerryJay 16:40 26 Feb 04

For ease back up, get an external harddisk such as Maxtor onetouch, 250GB cost under £200 click here

  JerryJay 16:42 26 Feb 04

Get Raid if your pc is operation critical, basically you have two identical drives and identical stuff on them.

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