Just my 2¢, but a comprehensive backup solution is needed. There's lot's of discussion about this on the web (and most of it is more than you need). But, I'll talk about it anyway (feel free to fall asleep during the lecture! :0)
1) Ordinary backups - There are several reasons for backing up your stuff. The most obvious is to save your stuff (data, files, etc). To do that, you'll need a piece of software to do this.
The software that comes with Microsoft is fine for this purpose (although I don't use it because of accessibility problems). That way you can restore your backup set when you need to.
I prefer software that will backup my important stuff in a format that I can easily get at. Since the amount of data isn't very large (a couple of gB at most) I use SyncBack SE to copy the files to another disk on a daily basis. The benefit here is that I've got immediate access to all of my files, and the software does the backup automatically so I don't have to worry about it
2) Registry backup - this can be done either using Regedit.exe, or by using a free software tool like ERUNT. Combine ERUNT with the use of Windows' Task Scheduler and you can have multiple versions of your registry backed up for emergency use.
3) System Restore - a nice tool (but I don't use it) - and, given a little bit of knowledge, you can customize it to backup whatever you need it to. The drawback, in my opinion, is that it sometimes fails - leaving you without your system backup
4) Disk Images - a very nice thing that copies your entire hard drive along with how it's setup. With this, you can restore the image to your hard drive and be back up and running within 20 minutes - even after a complete crash of the software (doesn't fix hardware crashes). The drawback here is size - the images are very large, so you can't afford to save too many copies of it. I make an image once I've finished installing all my essential applications and save that one - then I update a second one every week for changes that I've made since the last image.
5) Data Surety - the methods above will fix most any software problem that you'll encounter (and will enable you to recover from hardware failures more easily).
But, what do you do if the building floods? Or if it burns down? Or if there's an earthquake that swallows your computer whole?
That's where some of the other solutions come in.
a) The first is off-site backups. This ensures that if the building that holds your computer is wiped off the map - your data will still be saved in another place. I use pcAnywhere to copy the data from my wife's office to our home computers for this method. That way, if her office is destroyed, we've still got the data to start over with.
b ) Since we live on the coast, we've also got to consider regional disasters (like hurricanes, tsunami's, mass flooding, earthquakes, etc). Now, it's not a real big threat here in CT, but could be in LA, or Los Angeles, CA. This calls for an out-of-region backup solution - in my case, I would have to arrange for a place to do this out of the region in case of my entire area being flattened.
c) And it can go on and on - to cope with National disasters, disasters in our section of the globe (hemispheric disasters), even global disasters - but most of this is beyond our needs. Yet, there are still solutions available for this.
FWIW - I'm going to use this post as another of my "tips" please feel free to contribute other ideas/viewpoints on backup strategies to it
Edited by usasma, 02 December 2005 - 12:46 PM.