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Backing Up HDD


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#1 jtphenom

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Posted 07 June 2011 - 05:15 PM

Hi folks,

I could not figure out which forum to ask this in, so I am asking it here. I apologize in advance if this is the wrong forum.

I kind of understand backup methods and solutions, but I would like a little clarification, please.

1. If I create a back-up image of my hard drive, and then lose my operating system completely (or if I have Home Edition and it gets knocked back to Starter Edition), and then I restore the back-up image, will I have everything back the way it was, software and all?

2. Same question for cloning. Now I realize that one would not normally use cloning to just back up their data. And I'm pretty sure that, with cloning, you get everything, file-for-file, bit-for-bit. Am I right?

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#2 Allan

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Posted 07 June 2011 - 05:17 PM

1) Yes
2) Yes

Disk Imaging software is, in my opinion, something everyone should use.

Disk Imaging software takes a "snapshot" of your drive as it exists at the time you create the image. You can then restore the entire image or any file(s) or folder(s) you choose. It is a virtually foolproof way of backing up your system and providing a safe haven in the event of a catastrophe that requires you to blow away your system partition and restore it to a previous state. It also allows you to "test" various software and be confident that you have a the ability to return to the prior state any time you choose.
I use Acronis True Image. It is the best of breed, but it isn't free. The best free alternative is Macrium Reflect.

1) I create an image of my system partition once a week to a second hard drive and keep the 2 or 3 most recent images. I also image my other partitions about once a month. I always enable "verify image" in the options. It takes a little longer, but insures a valid image.
2) I also create an image before performing any drive level function (ie, changing the size of a partition) or making any significant change to the OS (installing a service pack, upgrading IE, etc). Also sometimes before installing new software.
3) Images may be created on any medium (cd, dvd, external drive, etc). For obvious reasons they should not be stored on the same drive you are imaging. The best option is a second internal hd if you have one.
4) Images may be created "in the background" within the OS. If you need to restore the system partition, that will need to be done before the OS loads. You can start the process within the application in the OS and it will then tell you it needs to reboot to finish the process. Alternatively, you can boot to a "recovery disk" which you can create when you first install the software (or to the application disk itself if you have one). Other partitions can be restored without a reboot.

#3 jtphenom

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Posted 07 June 2011 - 05:33 PM

Thanks for your help, Allan! You said you like Acronis. Let me ask you a question about that while we're on the topic, if you don't mind.

I perform back-ups for my f-in-law. I want to do incremental backups most of the time. If the original back up has five parts, like the following for instance, when I go to do a manual incremental backup, which file should I choose to add that incremental backup to, or does it matter? If it does matter, and I've been doing it wrong, I'm gonna run over there real quick and give him a new full backup. hahaha

Example:

01012011full01
01012011full02
01012011full03
01012011full04

Now, I named the backup 01012011full, and Acronis added the 01-04, of course. So, again, when I do an incremental, does it matter which file I choose to base it off of?

#4 Allan

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Posted 07 June 2011 - 05:37 PM

I do full partition images and I save them to secondary hd's - it sounds as though you are saving them to cd's or dvd's. Candidly, I don't know if it matters. But I'd suggest investing in a second hd (internal or external) - they really aren't expensive - and you can't beat them for security, ease, and backups.

#5 jtphenom

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Posted 07 June 2011 - 05:55 PM

No I'm using an external HDD. I guess Acronis is just splitting it into several image files. :)

#6 Allan

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Posted 07 June 2011 - 05:59 PM

I've never seen that - and I've been using True Image for many years. It should all be in one .tib file. I'm logging off of the evening now, but you might want to check your option settings.

#7 jtphenom

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Posted 07 June 2011 - 09:56 PM

OK thanks, Allan. I'll check it out.

#8 jtphenom

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Posted 08 June 2011 - 08:54 PM

I tried Macrium Reflect today. It's a neat little program, but it appears that there is no way to do incremental or differential back-ups. Do you know if there are any free back-up programs that do that?

#9 RedDawn

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Posted 08 June 2011 - 10:17 PM

Hi jtphenom,

Either Keriver 1-Click Restore Free or Paragon Backup & Recovery (Advanced) Free Edition may be what you're after.

Tip: When trialling imaging software, always be sure create a bootable recovery CD/DVD (each program will have its own), and then make sure you can boot to it.

#10 jtphenom

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Posted 09 June 2011 - 06:12 AM

RedDawn, thanks. I know Paragon has differential but no incremental. Don't know about the other one (yet).




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