Need a drive for backup

I have been informed that at work we only have compact disk backup at the end of the tax year... now obviously this is less than ideal for such sensitive and important data and as such I have decided that it would be a good idea to get a hard drive for backing up data daily and take home with me at the end of each day.

I understand that there are a plethora of external hard drives, as well as hard drive docking stations for using internal drives as external ones or moving data etc.

The question I'm asking is what drive and strategy do you guys recommend to use for this daily backup purpose?

I've been looking at HGST because from all the data I've seen they're simply the best in terms of reliability, but that's not to say I won't buy seagate or wd or toshiba... I'm also a bit wary of buying Hitachi/HGST because I understand that Amazon has been particularly dodgy when it comes to selling "new" versions of those drives as per a recent thread on these forums.

Additional important stuff:

  • Budget is about $100 but can be more or less (I get to report it as a business expense anyway so not that big a deal)

  • Capacity isn't too big an issue as the files aren't particularly large (though they are very important so reliability is the main concern here) I'd like to get at least 1TB because there's not really any reason to go less with how cheap they are nowadays imo.

Any help is greatly appreciated. Also, don't bother posting statistics or discussing reliability etc with other members as that's not the point of this thread, I just want some guidance as to what I should get and how I should go about achieving the aforementioned goal.

Would a basic flash drive not work? They're small and cheap.

I mean overall a cloud solution would probably be best, because whatever can go wrong will go wrong.


depending on the amount of data I would use a dvd/bluray/cd solution that's has checksum data stored elsewhere. this will have a longer storage life + storing checksum data elsewhere like a external drive will allow you to verify the data when it is needed

Bluray would have the longest life of the 3 at 100+ years storage

Yes I know a cloud solution would be good... but there is no cloud, just other people's computers... and I deal with highly sensitive personal information

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If you're concerned about the privacy of cloud services (And you're right to be so concerned), why not consider encrypting the data?

I'm not talking about any namby pamby symmetric CBC nonsense, I mean full paranoia PGP 4096 bit asymmetric crypto.

If you set a reasonable passphrase and back that up securely, you can throw all the data at the Cloud and theoretically not even the feds can crack it.

Unless they start waterboarding you.

And then you're screwed anyway.

If you're really wanting to back them up physically, I'd advise you use not just one storage unit.

Two cheap hard disks from two different manufacturers.

Or do all three.

Edit: At least you must encrypt the backups, regardless of how you do it. If you're not worried about nation states, which I assume you aren't, veracrypt or similar is fine.

I second Dje4321 idea about utilizing a bluray and checksum data if you want to stick with that disc based solution.

If the files are not that big, why not get two smaller drives so you have a level of redundancy for your backup.

Also understanding from you that this data is very sensitive, are there no restrictions on removing the data from site and taking it home? Encryption levels, sign out process, etc.

If you do not want to use the cloud, why not utilize the other computers in your office - say store an encrypted copy in a hidden folder with tight permissions on two different desktops in the office. Especially on sensitive machines (like those preparing the taxes) which should already be encrypted.


First, you need to know what you are actually dealing with. Do you want a solution for nightly backups? Or are you actually planing on this to be more of an archive? Because that would fundamentally change the requirements. Do you need disaster recovery? Are there any laws on data protection in your country? If this is really sensitive data (which you already kinda confirmed) that you are dealing with, you might need multiple media to backup the data.

If all of this is not the case and you just want to do nightly backups you can virtually get the cheapest 3,5" 1TB HDD and enclosure off of amazon. If (and even if just parts of) the above said applies, you might need a little more than just an 1TB HDD of amazon.

The size of the data may be a limiting factor, or it may not be. That can be your exercise. But grab yourself a couple of external drives, create a directory structure year -> month -> week -> day. Swap them out weekly. Keep as much data as the drives can hold.

This may leave you in the lurch, however. Depending on the size, you may not be able to stuff a year's worth of daily backups on those drives. Say you get to August and you need to start deleting backups from January. When you hit November and find that you need to restore data from February, you're SOL. But such is usually the downside with these sorts of cheap backup solutions.

Side tangent. You say you get to report the cost of the drive as a business expense, which suggests you're either the business owner, or at the very least a decision maker within the business. But I have to ask, just to be sure. Do you have the right to take this data home with you? I have to ask because this forum is populated with people who hold a wide range of positions within IT (or even aren't in IT at all). It would absolutely suck if you were some well-meaning IT grunt who had the access to take the data off site, but not the authority.

Also, since it's sensitive data, I'd highly recommend encrypting the external drives. VeraCrypt is my recommendation.

If you're not so inclined on using a physical drive, can I offer a cloud solution?

rclone + ACD (Or another service such as gdrive)

rclone is rsync for cloud services (also can be used locally) and it works really fucking well, and it's able to encrypt your files before sending them off to the cloud. I personally use this and love it. I've automated my backups through using systemd timers although you can run it when you want rather than having it backup every hour like myself.

If I ever lose a file locally, I can retrieve whole directories and files through rclone from the remote host, but this is because I use rclone copy rather than sync. Copy will copy changes and new files to the remote directory, but won't remove any files from the remote drive even if I decide to remove them locally. You can still remove them from the remote using rclone though.

Edit: To give you a better example of how I use this myself.
Monthly, my music and documentary folder is backed up to my gdrive unecrypted. Hourly, my documents directory is encrypted and backed up to my gdrive. This folder contains my password database, scripts I run on my system, and other important files. Weekly my important photos folder, which contains all the photos that I deem important such as family etc is encrypted and backed up.

I can access these files anytime and anywhere, but I'll need my password and salt for anything encrypted, which is fine for me.

A guide from a reddit user can be found here. He goes over how to use it with ACD, but everything still applies to google drive, or whatever you choose.

  • $60 a year for unlimited Amazon Cloud Drive (ACD) storage.
  • $100 a year for 1TB Google Drive storage.
    ACD is reliable, safe, and the speeds are FAST.
    Gdrive is better for smaller storage needs.

Okay, so as far as capacity is concerned, 2 and a bit years is taking up ~55GB. So I doubt that's a limiting factor, as technically speaking we only need to keep 3 years on file (but since it's so small we keep it indefinitely).

Oh I'm no IT grunt, hence why I'm asking the experts here. What I am is a 50% owner of the business. And I will certainly look into encryption for this data just to be safe. (I live out in the middle of nowhere so the risk anyone would go after the physical drive itself is quite low, but certainly going to encrypt it just in case because a 1% chance is too high for my liking)