You're welcome , I'll try to clarify some points you asked about here.
I'm not sure but there may be questions about cloning.
When you clone a HDD, you are making an exact copy of the Source HDD at the time that the clone process completes.
For example, I'm using identical HDD's on my Desktop PC, Seagate Barracuda 1 Tb drives. When I clone, I'll install the cloned PC in my Desktop PC. I have 2 Sata "Hot Swap" racks Kingwin KF-1000 installed in my Desktop PC tower. They are great time-savers when installing/removing HDD's on a Desktop PC.
Once the cloning process completes, I remove the newly-cloned HDD (usually referred to as the Target HDD), and put it away on my shelf until the next time I clone, usually for me in 2 weeks.
From the time I place the cloned HDD on the shelf until the next time I clone, I'll have a complete bootable spare HDD to recover from virtually all malicious issues as well as any HDD issues that may arise with my Source HDD.
Since the cloned HDD is a snapshot backup of the entire HDD performed at a specific point in time, any changes that have occurred since the clone was processed won't be backed up.
This is the reason that I'm also backing up my frequently-edited/updated items, twice-daily using "Acronis". This way, if I need to restore the complete HDD with my cloned HDD, I'll copy those items over to the replacement HDD and then I'll have an up to date replacement HDD.
This is the benefit of periodic cloning since it provides a complete physical HDD that is ready to plug-play and return the PC to normal operating status.
You mentioned cloning with a HDD on the desk. I think you may have misunderstood my earlier post although, interestingly, you can do that .
What I was referring to earlier, is that, after I have cloned my spare HDD, I'll store that HDD on the shelf/desk. It's not attached to the PC once the cloning process completes.
You can also clone a HDD using an external adapter, such as an "Enclosure" device. I have a Rosewill USB 2.0 Enclosure that I use to clone my Laptop 2.5 HDD. I like these Enclosures since you can attach both size Sata HDD's, 3.5 and 2.5 . Enclosures are mainly sold for the purpose of using them as external storage devices but they are also useful as a quick way to attach internal HDD's to PC's via the USB port.
There's also another way to have real-time HDD backup capability. The process is called "RAID", acronym for "redundant array of inexpensive disk".
Running a RAID array is a great way to recover from a failed HDD since the 2nd "mirror" HDD is copying everything from the Source HDD in real-time. However, the drawback to RAID setups is that if the PC is compromised by malicious items, those same items will be copied to the mirror HDD. I used to run a RAID 1 array in my Desktop PC but I discontinued it after I had a problem with it that was requiring too much time to identity and repair the issue. I also decided to discontinue RAID since it's not a good option for recovering from malicious content since that same content will be copied to the mirror HDD.
This may help, I'll explain my current Desktop PC HDD configuration:
I have a Desktop PC tower that has a 5-bay expandable capacity (for installing 2 Optical Drives, HDD's, etc).
- one Optical Drive
- 2 HDD's. One is my main "C" HDD, 1 Tb Seagate HDD, containing the OS (Win 7) and most of my personal data, ie "My Documents" folder, etc.
- My other HDD is a 500 Gb Seagate HDD. I keep my video files (DVD files, etc) and most of my photo files on this HDD. I recently moved those files from my "C" HDD for a couple of reasons:
- I'm using "Macrium" as my Imaging tool and it doesn't compress video/photo files efficiently. By relocating those files to another HDD, I reduced my Imaging time significantly. This also reduced my "C" HDD cloning time (using Acronis 2011) from 40-45 minutes to about 10 minutes.
- Generally speaking, with conventional HDD's, they operate faster when they aren't approaching storage capacity. By relocating those video and photo files to another HDD, this greatly reduced my storage amount on the "C" HDD, thus reducing my cloning and imaging process times.
There are many users at this forum that are going a step further, being more efficient, by dedicating their "C" HDD's to boot/OS drives and storing all of their personal data, and in some cases, programs, on another HDD. I haven't set up my PC's yet this way. I'll probably do that when I get the next PC.... Win 9, probably.
So, here's my cloning procedure:
- Attach my shelf clone HDD, before cloning, to my Desktop PC via my Enclosure adapter.
- Open "Disk Management" Console in Windows. That can be accessed via the Start Button\Computer, etc... or from the Control Panel\Administrative Tools. You can launch the Console faster from the "Run" dialog screen <win>r and then enter diskmgmt.msc in the dialog field.
- From the Console, I then delete the partitions on the cloned HDD. This isn't necessary prior to cloning but I like to do this to eliminate the possibility of cloning in reverse, from the cloning software's user interface dialog screens. By deleting the partitions on the Target HDD (the one that I'm preparing to clone), that HDD will appear as "unallocated" in the cloning software's setup dialog screens. It's a fast way for me to distinguish between my Source and Target HDD's before starting the cloning process.
With Acronis, the setup is automatic if the Target HDD is unallocated, since the software recognizes this and logically selects the Source and Target HDD's automatically.
- Load my Acronis bootable CD into my Optical Drive. Wait a minute or so to allow the CD to be mounted (recognized in Windows).
- Shut down my PC.
- Remove my 500 Gb HDD, my video/photo storage HDD, from my 2nd hot-swap rack.
- Install my Target HDD, the previously cloned HDD that's been stored on the shelf after the last time I cloned, in the same rack.
- Boot up the PC. When my PC displays the "POST" screen (BIOS screen), I'll tap my F8 key continuously until I see a "boot priority" menu appear. This menu is accessable from PC's differently, depending on the PC manufacturer. For example, with my Toshiba Laptop PC, it's the F12 key. With my Mom's HP Desktop PC, it's the <esc> key.
- From the Boot Priority Menu, select the Optical Drive as the first boot device.
- The PC will then continue the boot sequence, this time booting from my Acronis CD.
- Once Acronis loads into memory, I'll select the "clone disk" option from the Tools & Utilities Menu.
- Begin the cloning process. After it begins, I'll check a box to "shut down the PC when completed". Most cloning and imaging software programs provide similar dialogs.
- After the cloning process completes and the PC is shut down, I'll remove the newly-cloned HDD from the 2nd rack and re-install my video/photo HDD in its place.
- Turn on the PC. Boots up as normal, resume PC activities.
If I want to verify that the newly-cloned HDD works ok, I'll sometimes do so by:
- Instead of removing the cloned HDD, I'll leave it in the same slot but remove my Source ("C") HDD from my 1st rack.
- Turn on the PC.. It will boot up on the cloned HDD. I'll verify that it booted up ok and usually do a quick check, launch the browser, e-mail, etc.
- Shut down the PC, Remove the cloned HDD. Re-install my video/photo HDD. Re-install the Source ("C") HDD.
- Turn on the PC. Boot up and resume PC activities.
I verify cloned HDD's only occasionally since, after 3 years of periodic cloning, I've yet to encounter any problems with cloned HDD's booting into Windows and running normally.
Imaging essentially accomplishes the same result but the process is different than cloning. Imaging will process a complete backup of the entire HDD but it's processed in the form of a file, usually compressed from the original size of the HDD. This file can be stored externally on a USB HDD, for example. Imaging's big advantage is that you can store redundant multiple Images elsewhere, without requiring a replacement internal HDD.
The reason I mentioned "incremental" and "differential" backups earlier is that those are ways that you can maintain more up to date HDD backups with the Imaging process.
Incremental imaging will backup all content that's been changed, or new, since the last imaging process performed on a HDD.
Differential imaging will backup all content that's been changed, or new, since the last full imaging backup.
These are sometimes referred to as "chain" backups, since they are being stored as multiple files but all associated to the "parent" image.
I'm currently not using chain imaging since it's not required with the way that I backup my HDD but it's a popular and efficient way to schedule image backups on PC's.
The only thing that you may want to keep in mind about chain backups is that, if one backup in the chain is corrupt or otherwise rendered unretrievable, the complete chain won't be recoverable in the event that a restoration is attempted.
While that scenario is rare, it's something that you may want to consider when planning your HDD backup plan.
Your question about multiple HDD's connected on the same PC, and if they're vulnerable to malicious intrusions... that answer is "yes", unfortunately. This is how "Cryptolocker" and its variants, operate. It can encrypt certain file types on your other HDD's, rendering them useless, unless the PC user pays a ransom fee to obtain the "key" from the cyber criminals to unlock the files.
This is why it's recommended to have a backup plan in place that maintains multiple copies, one or more of which is stored on an external device that's only connected to the PC during the actual backup processes.
Routers, this is an area that I'm not familiar with but perhaps I can help a little here.
Most Routers, perhaps all, should be "plug-and-play". My 'net provider is Verizon FIOS and I've replaced Routers with no problems.
One thing that's important is to change the Router password once it's installed. This is usually easy but I would ask your provider for assistance if needed.
My Router is accessed by entering 192.168.1.1 into the browser address bar. I think that works universally to access all Routers but I'm not certain about it.
About your question with Acronis products, referencing the comparison link ealier:
I haven't looked at Acronis products since 2011 when I bought mine, but I looked at this briefly and here's what I see when comparing the "True Image" and "Backup" products:
- True Image provides a virus scanning feature that operates in conjunction with backup-restoration processes. I'm not sure how efficient that feature is in real-life recovery scenarios, but it's available with this product.
I have the "True Image" 2011 product.
- "Backup and Recovery" product doesn't have the virus-scanning feature. This product seems to be geared more toward the business buyer vs home PC users. It allows system administrators to remotely schedule backups. When I looked at the comparison checkmark chart at that site, I noticed that this feature is also checked for the "True Image" product but in the detailed product description section, it's not.
If you're interested in Acronis, you'll be ok with the "True Image" product.
Cloning, I also didn't see that word mentioned in this listing but both products include disk cloning. Since I'm not familiar with the current product versions (2014), I went to one my old forums, the Acronis Forum, and looked around for a while. From reading the member posts about the 2014 products, cloning is included.
I did notice that these software products often omit the "clone" word when reading their published product descriptions. They'll usually refer to cloning as "backup entire HDD" or "copy HDD", etc.
My bottom line advice about this topic is that you always want to have multiple backup approaches. In other words, don't rely on only one aspect, like cloning or full-HDD Imaging alone.
For those items that you referred to earlier, editing/updating/creating files in that 7-10 day time period, those items should be backed up independently of cloning or full-HDD Imaging.
If you decide on going with the chain Imaging plan, that's one advantage since it will backup everything that's new or been changed since the last image processed.
I imagine that you have several of those "can't-lose" items/folders, etc. I have the same, and this is why I have those items backed up in several locations.
For example, I have a Laptop PC that basically serves as a backup PC in case my Desktop PC goes south.
I have both PC's connected via the Windows "Homegroup" network, from my Router. This allows me to copy those items to my Laptop from my Desktop PC.
I'll also plug in my Flash Stick once a day or so, and copy the same items to that stick. In addition, I have that disconnected USB HDD I mentioned earlier, which I copy to that HDD.
My Acronis Scheduler is backing up those items twice-daily automatically to my continuously-connected USB HDD.
Bottom line advice about cloning: If your PC's (Desktop's) have bay-expansion capability and you decide to install a couple of the "hot-swap" racks that I linked earlier, this rule is important:
Don't boot up the PC with 2 identical HDD's installed in SATA (or IDE) ports.
This could result in "disk signature conflicts" and can cause problems. You can connect a cloned HDD in Windows once the HDD has booted up and is running Windows. You don't want Windows to "see" 2 identically-connected (internally with SATA or IDE) HDD's when booting into Windows.