Suggestions for Best Backup Policies???

By dgower2
Jun 3, 2005
  1. My objective is to have a current backup of my entire system (at all times) so when something happens, which is inevitable with computers and software, I can simply restore from the backup/image/swapped drive.

    I have an external 80 gig USB HDD that I can use, but it may be better to implement RAID. This is where all of your suggestions will come in. Backup Exec? Drive Image Pro? Ghost?

    I was using XP Pro's backup utility previously and it sort of sucks. I actually had to use it recently to restore my system and had a heck of a time finding everything as there were a ton of duplicate folders.

    Backup experts, here's your chance to show your experience and knowledge!

    Thanks in advance for your input.
  2. RealBlackStuff

    RealBlackStuff TS Rookie Posts: 6,503

    Drive Image, but ONLY if you can get a PRE-Symantec version (DI-6).
    The Symantec version (DI-7) FORCES you to install even more M$-crap, in the form of M$ .NET framework, otherwise it won't work.
    Another POS from the bloatware makers!

    Otherwise Acronis True Image.
  3. dgower2

    dgower2 TS Maniac Topic Starter Posts: 238


    Why imaging as opposed to backup software? Obviously I don't want to create a full image daily; does it let me do "differential/incremental" images?

  4. RealBlackStuff

    RealBlackStuff TS Rookie Posts: 6,503

  5. Vigilante

    Vigilante TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,666

    Depends on what you want to do when disaster strikes. If you want to just click "restore" on a bootable CD and have everything as I was last night, then a full image is the only way.

    Otherwise, if you are quick at reloading your programs etc... then use just a "backup" util to get just the files you want saved. Then if disaster strikes, you have to load everything manually, but will have your files.

    I know Ghost is one of the more popular ones out there, and many OEMs use it for their factory images, but I haven't used Drive Image or Acronis at all.

    Another thing you could think about doing is partitioning your hard drive with 2 partitions. Have your system (XP) partition and a 2nd (data) partition. Have a full image of the XP partition only ONCE, after all your programs and Windows updates are done. Then keep regular backups of you data partition.
    If this is done, if the XP partition crashes, you can reload it with the image and be pretty up to date. With all your data still in-tact, sitting on the other partition. If the whole drive craps out, then you can use both the image, and your data backups, to restore everything.
    The point being, it is probably faster to keep regular backups of just data, then to do the entire drive EVERY day. Cause you can get a virus in the morning, do your backup, have the virus kill your system at night, and they your backup is worthless with a virus already saved to it.
    But if you have a fresh install of XP with all programs and updates done, then create a bootable CD image of it, it assures quick restore and no bad files hanging around.

    Anyways, just some thoughts, that's all.
  6. dgower2

    dgower2 TS Maniac Topic Starter Posts: 238


    I think I'm going to try to find a second HDD (same model as my current) and implement RAID 1 or some combination of RAID levels.

    Think buying 2 new SATA drives would be better for this? My current drive is PATA.
  7. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,423   +77

    Why RAID? doesn't help

    Cant understand your inclination to go for a RAID setup - I think you are confused as to what it is. It just ensures that your system can virtually never be lost by a disk hardware failure. It does nothing whatever to save your bacon when files are lost, your system files are over-written or malware wrecks everything.....

    Look as previous posts - a complete backup or image is the only sensible solution.
  8. dgower2

    dgower2 TS Maniac Topic Starter Posts: 238

    Good Point

    I was narrowly thinking of just HDD failures - not lost/eaten files. But wait! Windows XP System Restore? Doesn't that cover lost/eaten files?

    My inclination was redundancy - I'm fully aware of what RAID is.
  9. Vigilante

    Vigilante TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,666

    System restore only covers "system" stuff. It won't restore a file that got deleted out of My Documents, or E-mail, stuff like that. It backs up system files and the registry.

    Yes a RAID 1 (mirror) would be one idea, that would help in the case of a single drive complete failure. But wouldn't help much if you got infested with viruses etc, cause the viruses will be mirrored to both drives. But at least the mirror process is transparant and you don't have to worry about "doing" anything yourself.

    Just make sure the motherboard or whatever you're using, has the RAID function of course. And it's best to have two identical drives.

    SATA is still quirky in my opinion, I'd almost recommend IDE, but I'm sure some would refute that argument.
  10. dgower2

    dgower2 TS Maniac Topic Starter Posts: 238

    AH, the Knowledge in Here...

    This is why I needed to create this post. After all this discussion, I think I'm going to implement RBS's original suggestion of Acronis Drive Image.

    Thanks everyone for all of your insight!

  11. Vigilante

    Vigilante TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,666

    Don't image the drive to often, as you will still run into the viruses problem. Maybe image weekly. And continue to backup just your data daily, if possible.
    It would be a shame to have a software problem and then restore an image that has the same problem within it.
  12. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,423   +77

    backup strategy is the main page for an excellent Windows explorer replacement called PowerDesk, which contains as part of itself a method of automatically duplicating any or all directories on a volume to another volume.

    You backup strategy would then be (a la Vigilante) a drive image occasionally, when you know all is well, and after a full virus/spyware search.

    Followed by daily running the package described above which duplicates your data directories to another partition (preferably on another HDD). This is very quick, and equivalent to an incremental backup. You have lots of options in addition to full duplication, and the package also contains loads of other invaluable features such as viewers for virtually every sort of file, filters for explorer panels etc etc. My best buy - I NEVER use explorer.
  13. Vigilante

    Vigilante TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,666

    Wow I haven't heard the name PowerDesk spoken for a LONG time! Is that a FULL shell replacement? Or just a replacement for the "explorer", as in, the file explorer?

    I've never had good luck replacing the XP shell, always causes problems for me. But sounds like a good idea anyway.
  14. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,423   +77

  15. dgower2

    dgower2 TS Maniac Topic Starter Posts: 238

    Thanks, but no thanks

    I really don't feel comfortable replacing such an integrated/foundational part of the OS. I certainly wouldn't pay for it either and it doesn't sound like free software.
  16. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,423   +77

    Why do you want it free?

    No it is not free, but to me it does a particular job wonderfully well and is worth many times it's cost as a consequence. I should make clear when we talk about a shell replacement we dont mean you unscrew part of Windows and throw it away, we mean you use it instead of the built-in bit, which does not do what you would like it to.
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