How To Backup Data with SSD [RAID 1 / Disk Mirroring]

If we compare the technology of computers we have today with the technology we had 25 years ago, we will observe a major leap of progress. With the improvements come more demands, that’s what we observe in computer and the related technologies. Digital work which used to fit on a floppy two decades ago now is always hungry for more capacious storage device. Some PC games of today occupy tens of gigabytes of disk space. And so is true for digital videos. A single full high definition video captured via movie camera can be hundreds of GBs large. Yes, that’s where we are heading now.



Solid State Drive (SSD) technology is now slowly replacing primitive hard drive technology. HDD technology is not outdated and there is not a chance of getting obsolete in near future as it still offers much more capacity in much lesser price. But when we compare two different technologies with respect to reliability and data integrity, SSD is always the winner. With the research in the field of this technology, newer SSDs are getting better, more useful and also capacious.

In this article, I shall explain easy and trustworthy techniques utilizing which you can secure your digital life. Your data won’t be vulnerable to loss if you manage to create a fairly good backup system of your own. I will explain, how you can use solid state drives for making proper and safe back up of the digital files you own.

[Note that these methods are for beginners who want to backup data at home or office. There are more advanced techniques as well that are used by data centers. The methods and techniques described here are also valid for backing up data with hard drives.]

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With Portable SSDs:
Portable solid state drives are best for securing your digital files from losing them and they will also be an arm away from corruption due to a malware attack because these can be disconnected from computer easily and completely. These portable solid state drives utilize the power of USB ports to power themselves and connect to the computer for data transfer.

All you need to do is buy high quality portable SSD and not just one, at least two of them as we all know that two is always better than one. Make exact copies of all of your data which you want to be safe on both of them. This way, if for some reason, one SSD fails or you lose it, you can always recover your data from the other one.

[You can also make your own portable SSD very easily using an ordinary SATA SSD. You need to buy USB Enclosure (2.5 inch notebook hard drive USB adapter also works) for that purpose. Preferably buy USB 3.0 supportive USB Enclosure as it will offer much higher read and write speed which is appropriate for a solid state drive. Insert you SSD in that and that’s it. You have made your own personal portable solid state drive]

Some real life benefits which you will get through this technique are:

1- Separation of data from the running system. It won’t get affected by viruses or other malicious attacks.
2- SSD can last much longer than your expectations because it won’t be running inside the computer.
3- You have good home level backup system.



With Internal SSDs:
Method 1: (Simple but non-professional)
Backing up the data with internal solid state drives is also safe when you make some proper setup for it. If you want to utilize this mean, I shall recommend to connect at least two separate SSDs inside the computer which must be running as secondary drives. This way, these won’t be used by the operating system and therefore won’t wear out faster over time. Make exact copy of all of your required data on all of them manually and make sure that you encrypt and lock them afterwards. Locking the drives will cut the saved data off from running software on computer and therefore, malicious attacks would be futile to impact upon the data in any way. You may use third party software for locking disk drives or encrypting them, or you can use built in technology of operating system like “BitLocker Drive Encryption” as in case of Windows OS. It’s all your choice.

Method 2: RAID 1 or Disk Mirroring (Professional)
Another way of securing your data is by creating a RAID of your storage drives. RAID is a technology which is used by professionals to keep the data safe from accidental loss like in case of hardware failure. Depending upon the type of RAID, the data is automatically backed up on two or more than two storage devices resulting in unmatched protection and integrity of data. Data centers and servers owned by big and small corporations always utilize the RAID technology. You can also create a RAID at your home. Newer and better motherboards have the facility in the BIOS to easily create a desired type of RAID. But same is also possible from within the operating system. All popular operating systems including Linux, Mac OS and Windows support creating RAID very easily.

Here, I have explained how to create a “mirrored volume” (RAID 1) of your internal SATA SSDs using Microsoft Windows. The method works extremely well with Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 8, Windows 7 and older Windows Vista. The “Mirrored Volume” is a a type of combined volume or RAID of two or more than two solid state drives which when created will make an exact copy of entire data on all of the connected SSDs separately. So, you will get rid of the hassle of manually copying data on all of them. Your computer will automatically perform this task for you.

The benefits which you will get through Mirroring the SSDs include:

1- Exact copy of all of your saved data is made on all of the mirrored SSDs.
2- Good data reliability. If one SSD fails, your exact data can always be recovered from the other SSD.
3- Its saves your time and reduce the work of copying the data.
4- Mirrored volume can always be broken down to separate volumes without losing any saved data.

Follow these easy steps:

(i) Make sure you buy equal size SSDs. This is the first and the necessary step. Also make sure that your computer motherboard has the RAID controller. Connect your solid state drives inside the computer. Launch the Windows OS on your computer and launch “Computer Management”. You can locate it using Windows built-in search feature or follow these steps:

Start > This PC > Right click on it > Manage (or More > Manage) > Computer Management > Storage > Disk Management.

There you will find the drives of all of your connected SSDs.

[If you are using Windows 10 or Windows 8.1, the “Computer” icon of Windows 7 and previous versions has been renamed as “This PC” by Microsoft. The method of creating mirrored volume is just the same on all these operating systems.]

(ii) Right click on the drives of SSDs which you want to include in the Mirrored Volume. Choose “Delete Volume” to delete the partition(s) and get rid of any hidden data on them. Do this for all the SSDs which you want to include in the mirrored volume. Now, right click on any SSD disk which you want to be mirrored, choose “New Mirrored Volume” from the list and follow the easy mirrored volume creating wizard.

[Make sure that you select all the disks from the wizard which you want to add to the mirrored volume, assign the desired “Drive letter”, choose NTFS file system with default allocation unit size, and also choose the “quick format” option from the wizard. Later, if a message appears asking that the operation will convert the selected disks to dynamic disks, just accept that and proceed.]

 
(Click images to enlarge)

(iii) That’s it. You have successfully created a mirrored volume of solid state drives (SSDs). Now, you can relax and backup whatever you want because your computer will automatically make exact copies of your entire data on each of them.

Extra Notes: (How to break mirrored volume?)
You can break the already created mirrored volume without losing or affecting any saved data. For that purpose go to the “Computer Management” (as described in (i) above) and select the mirrored volume. Right click on it and choose “Break Mirrored Volume”. That’s it. Mirrored solid state drives will get separated to individual disks.




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