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What's your favorite way to backup a PC and why?

By rthings ยท 18 replies
Apr 21, 2007
  1. I have a backup hard drive to use, and to date have just shuffled items important for backup over to that periodically, rather than having any formal auto-backup procedure.

    How do you do backup - what works for you and what doesn't? Any particular programs you like to use to do it, or even ways you store your files so that backup's easy? (I just do it manually now, not super-convinced the programs make it all that much easier, but might be persuaded.)

    (PC w/WinXPHome)
  2. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 12,428   +1,412

  3. Blakhart

    Blakhart TS Rookie Posts: 330

    I just use cds or dvds. Usualy of the rw type.
  4. kitty500cat

    kitty500cat TS Evangelist Posts: 1,391   +6

    If you're backing up the hard drives of all the computers on a network to a single computer, Acronis TrueImage works pretty well.

    If you're just backing up one computer, I agree with the link jobeard gave.

    Regards :)
  5. TheKolkster

    TheKolkster TS Rookie

    I move the data I want to keep to my secondary HD.
  6. rthings

    rthings TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Thanks - I've basically got a full backup, just of important files and folders, and then have been doing differential backups manually. And I try to keep good records of product keys and so on, and a backup of some install programs.

    It sounds like a lot of you do backup manually if it's for one PC, rather than entrusting the process to a program. I think manual has benefits... one of which is simply that you keep and end up with better familiarity as to what folders are where and are actually being backed up.

    I'm not 100% comfortable trusting early generations of backup and sync programs and settings. For instance, some PDA software that's default for my PDA will truncate records if you sync directly with a desktop program and the PDA's version gets selected... so you lose a chunk of your data (unless it's backed up elsewhere) in such a way that it's not obvious at first. I decided it wasn't worth it to do routine syncs of everything because of that. With backup software similarly, unless I was doing a whole swath of PCs on a network and disk images, etc., it's probably going to be easier to keep handling it manually vs. learning later 'oh yes, in that backup program there was an exception for this, and this, and this', y'know?
  7. Tedster

    Tedster Techspot old timer..... Posts: 5,746   +14

    I always back up using windows XP backup to a second hard disk. In addition I also use Norton GOback which tends to make things easier.
  8. NetCablesPlus

    NetCablesPlus TS Maniac Posts: 207

    I have a business that is bascially run off of one PC. I back it up to an external hard driver (connected bia USB) using Norton Ghost to clone the drive image of my business PC directly to the external hard drive. Have not yet had to do it, but I am told that should my hard drive fail, this will be the quickest way to get back in business.
  9. vetman667966

    vetman667966 TS Rookie

    After formatting the second drive to EXACTLY the same size partition as the first drive, I use Norton Ghost to do an image copy from one to two. Used it for years and it has ALWAYS worked. Naturally it requires doing a backup often ( I do at least one a week) but a backup of a 10gig (I set my XP OS up on a 10gig partition and formatted a second 250gig drive with a 10 gig partition) drive takes less than 8 minutes. A small price to pay for sleepin' well at night.
  10. NetCablesPlus

    NetCablesPlus TS Maniac Posts: 207

    Hey vetman667966, can you elaborate on why the partition in the back up drive needs to be the size as the original drive? I am not sure that my system is set up that way and may want to do so once I understand the issues. Thanks.
  11. nickc

    nickc TechSpot Paladin Posts: 921   +11

    well, since I am doing this as we speak I will answere. I have a large hard drive in a USB2 incloser on my main hard drive I only place Windows with antivirus an fire wall then on that drive all I have to worry about backing up is the e-mail, address book, and favorites out of fire fox then on a second hard drive I have any programs I use, need and any pic. or movies I want to keep. I then can drag anything I want to back up to the USB2 hard drive and I am backed up. It is actually pretty easy. the only thing that is taking longer this time is that I decided to format the drive before I back up again.
  12. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,545   +429

    I have a few computers on my network, so if its "important" (to me that means music/install programs) I usually keep those on 2 different computers. Basically my backup solution is 100% manual and I'm selective. I don't have normal documents on my computer that I use because I have no use for Office at home, I leave my work at work for the most part and that is all I use Office for. If I must I do have NeoOffice installed on my Powerbook.

    One smart? Thing I did was take my music and install programs and tossed them on a hard drive that is outside any system. Sure I'd still lose everything if a fire burned down my place, but the data isn't THAT important. I'm sure I'd have much bigger things to worry about if my apt burned down.

    Right now if I have a catastrophic system failure, I can reinstall Windows and I have all my program installs either on CD or on another hard drive somewhere, so that can all be restored within a couple hours. Sure Ghost would be faster, but this doesn't happen often enough for me to need Ghost, and with Ghost I'd end up wasting more storage space than I do now.

    The best backup solution IMO is backing up only what you can't afford to lose and leaving the rest.
  13. Tedster

    Tedster Techspot old timer..... Posts: 5,746   +14

    Regardless of the method, noobs should heed and ALWAYS back up......
  14. vetman667966

    vetman667966 TS Rookie

    A little analogy:
    First, Ghost creates a true, bit by bit image of your source drive, not a copy.

    If you image your "C" drive (let's say it is a quart) onto your backup drive (let's say it's a gallon because you are using the wrong size bucket), the gallon container has a lot of zeroes, or whatever in it, in addition to your data, and then you image the gallon bucket back to the quart bucket, first of all it will overflow, you'll have a lot of unnecessary data (whatever that data may be), and it's just not an ideal condition. You can use a Ghost.exe command with a -o modifier, for overide, but again, you will overflowing your quart container, with questionable results. XP, especailly, allows reformatting a secondary drive very easily.
    Conversely, if the source drive is larger than the destination, you will have a lot of little bits and bytes with nowhere to go.

    Just remember to back up any important info from this backup drive before doing any reformatting with the XP (or whatever formatting tool).

    XP's Restore works very well if you just install a program that doesn't do well and you want to restore to a previous state; usually a restore point immediately before you installed that program. But when the feces hits the rotating, oscillatiing air mover, an "image" will get you back to where everything worked. So if both your source and destination drives are the same, it becomes a very simple solution.
  15. Phantasm66

    Phantasm66 TS Rookie Posts: 4,909   +8

    I backup my data to a removable USB2 hard disk (well, actually to 2 disks) and my ultra important stuff goes onto a USB2 flash drive as well. I used to also backup the OS with drive image, but since I have now upgraded to Vista, I'll be using the built in feature that does much the same thing.
  16. vetman667966

    vetman667966 TS Rookie

    Afraid to even think about Vista just yet. Good luck
  17. Samstoned

    Samstoned TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,009

    acronis true image 9 with universal install
    or seagate diswizard to a spare drive
    then put it away every so often redo
    as mentioned the archived on dvd
    I'm goofy so I use autoplay to make menu's and burn away
  18. mikescorpio81

    mikescorpio81 TS Rookie Posts: 292

    Acronis with universal restore is by far the best way to back-up, and I use it alot on large sites to clone servers each night.
    I'd go as far as saying it is much better than Veritas (or Symantec as it's now known). I hate tape drives these days ...

    But those are an expensive way of backing-up data. I personally use SyncBack SE and syncronise my data with a 2nd USB HDD. Works a treat and I've had to restore my data countless times. Sync'ing rather than copying is great as it is much less time consuming than overwriting existing data. get a full week's work of back-ups (if you do it nightly) and swap the HDD with another HDD.

    Or if you want a real cheap and robust copier, download Windows Resources Tool Kit and play with the cmd line "robocopy". It's like xcopy on steriods (sync option too)!
  19. NetCablesPlus

    NetCablesPlus TS Maniac Posts: 207

    Thanks for the explanation!
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