I don't have SSD's but with regards to HDD backups, I used to run a RAID 1 array but discontinued it for a couple of reasons, one having to do with the overall concept of having a reliable backup HDD that's ready to use when needed.
- With a RAID 1 array, the advantage is that you'll have a real-time HDD backup in case one of the HDD's fails.
- The disadvantage of RAID 1 is that everything is mirrored, including malicious intrusions, bad download's, user errors, etc.
I discontinued my RAID 1 array operation for this reason since I wanted a backup HDD available to recover from those issues.
The other reason I discontinued RAID 1 is that I was having an intermittent memory issue that required me to rebuild/restart the RAID array occasionally. In my case, it wasn't worth the maintenance involved.
Although I have "spinner" HDD's, I backup the HDD's on both of my Win 7 PC's regularly with cloning and occasional Imaging.
The backup HDD isn't a real-time replacement HDD but I can roll back the PC's within a few minutes in the event of malicious intrusions or other situations where booting up on the spare HDD is faster than uninstalling downloads or recovering from a mistake.
Good posts from the other members here about Cloning and Imaging. There are (imo) advantages to both approaches for full-HDD backups:
Cloning is copying the Source HDD onto the Target HDD in a bit-by-bit copying process, including the OS, Master Boot Code, etc.
My take on this, Cloning provides the fastest way for me to recover from situations mentioned earlier. Cloning does require having another HDD for the Target HDD.
Imaging's advantages are that you're accomplishing the same thing as Cloning in that you'll have a full-HDD recovery method but the process is different than Cloning.
Since Imaging creates a complete HDD backup in the form of a file (usually compressed to save storage space), you can create multiple Image files to store on an external HDD, like a portable USB HDD or a HDD in an Enclosure.
Recovering with an Image file requires processing the Image back onto a Target HDD. The end result is the same as installing a spare cloned HDD but the Image-restoration process will usually require a longer period of time to complete the Restoration.
Foe example, I use an external USB HDD to store full-HDD Images of my Desktop PC, Laptop, and my Mom's Desktop PC.
There are several good freeware Cloning & Imaging tools available. "EaseUS" was mentioned. I use "Macrium Reflect" for most of my Imaging backups and "Acronis" 2011 (paid) version for my Cloning backups.
I also have "Clonezilla" as a 3rd backup tool.
kokomodrums mentioned one of the most important points in my opinion, which is to verify your full-HDD backup methodology.
Whichever plan you choose, I'd recommend also, to occasionally test the backup procedure, either by booting up on a newly-cloned HDD, or to a "test-Restore" process using an available Image file onto an available Target HDD.
I probably "overdo" my HDD-backup routines, but I have a couple of spare HDD's on the shelf. I use both to Clone every 2 weeks, alternating between the 2 HDD's.
I have 2 HDD's so that I can occasionally test-Restore an Image onto the 2nd spare HDD. I also use the 2nd HDD to test various HDD tools, disk-wiping bootable tools, etc.
I don't Image as frequently since with my Desktop PC in particular, the Cloning process is faster than Imaging. I usually Image my PC's once every 6-8 weeks.