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Questions about backing up a Windows 8.1 computer


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#1 SoXfused

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Posted 07 September 2014 - 04:40 PM

Hello,

 

I have two questions:

 

The first is, how exactly do you back up a computer?  I'm embarrassed to say that I've never known how to do this, but after my last computer crashed unexpectedly, I realized I need to learn how.  I have a HP Pavilion g7 that runs Windows 8.1.  What are the steps?

 

The second question is if it's OK to back up your computer using a USB flash drive or if it's better to use a USB hard drive.  Obviously the flash drive would be cheaper, but is it better to use a USB hard drive instead?

 

Thanks for your help!



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#2 rockysosua

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Posted 07 September 2014 - 05:12 PM

Some people use USB flash drives, but invariably, they have very little data, mostly MSC Office files like Word & Excel.

If you have a fair bit of data, then it's more economical to buy an external hard drive.

Bear in mind that the USB flash drive will copy your data a lot slower than an external hard drive.

 

As for backing up your data, it's as simple as right clicking on one of your folders, and hitting 'Copy" then open your backup drive and paste the folder in there.

Here are some folders that you're likely to want to copy.

Pictures, documents, downloads, favorites, videos, saved games & desktop.


All is well in Paradise.

#3 SoXfused

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Posted 08 September 2014 - 07:16 AM

Really?  It's as simple as that?  Wow, for some reason I thought there was some sort of complicated process you had to go through.  Well, thanks for your help!



#4 rp88

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Posted 08 September 2014 - 01:52 PM

Backup is in theory a very simple idea, data in multiple places is very hard to corrupt. In practise it is almost as simple, one does not need complex programs and utilities(these could help with making backups of an entire system for instant replacement but they are not needed for protecting personal files , documents, videos, images, music, zip archives, browser favourites,anything else you can find in a folder on your machine), or automated backup services but simply to copy the files that need protecting to another location. A usb is a good way to quickly backup files, and it is cheap. A cd-rw is also good for local backup. Other methods are to copy the files into storage on an online email account (gmail or equivalents) but not to install a "google drive for your pc" type program, or to give an encrypted usb or cd-rw backup to a relative or friend to look after (the further from you they live the better). The rule of thumb is "data copied to less than 3 separate places does not exist, but why chance it with that low a number. A usb harddrive may be more economical in £(or $) per megabyte but it is also more vulnerable, if it is a true hard-drive with a lever arm and spinning discs it is vulnerable to impacts and magnetic fields where a USB flash drive would be more survivable. I wrote a long article( rant?) on backing up extremely valuable data in the event of everything from mechanical failure to massive catastrophes here

http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/forums/t/546738/question-about-external-hard-drives/                  second post on the page. Just performing any one of those types f backup i discuss will leave your data orders of magnitude safer than the way it is know, sitting on one computer which could be damaged at any minute.

 

extra note: you should backup every file that yo have worked hard on, every file that took you more than a minute to find online, every file from the internet whose original source website might shut down, every file that cannot be replaced, every file you may need in future, every file you will need in future, every file you would not want to lose. This means every: word document, pdf, powerpoint,excel spreadsheet, txt file, publisher document, image, video, audio file, zip archive, installer for "mission critical" programs( if you kept the installer exe file from when you downloaded the program it is worth keeping, trying to backup an exe fie already in "c:\program files\ is pointless as those files are not installers), and you browser "favourites"/"bookmarks". Favourites and bookmarks are both stored in txt files hidden away under your browser's folder in c:\programfiles\ or  c:\users\(your name)\appdata\  . Chrome's bookmark data can be backed up by copying the file 

C:\Users\(your name)\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\bookmarks   (that file has no extension but it opens fine using notepad.).  to a usb stick or cd-rw.


Edited by rp88, 08 September 2014 - 02:02 PM.

Back on this site, for a while anyway, been so busy the last year.

My systems:2 laptops, intel i3 processors, windows 8.1 installed on the hard-drive and linux mint 17.3 MATE installed to USB

#5 GavinCarden

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Posted 09 September 2014 - 12:15 AM

 Might not be a bad idea to Sync your "Extremely Important" (Files that can never be replaced i.e. family photos) files with OneDrive. If i remeber right Microsoft is allowing 15GB of offsite storage. Its free easy and in the cloud. I personally do this in case of fire or natural disaster.


Edited by GavinCarden, 09 September 2014 - 12:15 AM.


#6 rp88

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Posted 09 September 2014 - 08:14 AM

Syncing is a bad idea, better to have totally separate backups. The problem with syncing is that although it might protect from fire/flood/theft/natural disaster it will not protect the files if you accidentally delete one, because the synced backup will delete the one you have just deleted and syncing will not protect from viruses as if a virus modifies the precious file then the synced copy will receive the same modification. A file stored on a cd-rw, a usb stick or within an email account dos not get any real-tiem information from the original on your hard drive so if the original is damaged the copy is totally unaffected. Family photos are not the sort of files that you constantly edit, so syncing is pretty pointless. If a file is being constantly edited you either backup a new version of it every few days by the methods i've mentioned or you take a risk and sync it, or both, both is fine and quite safe.

 

Whenever syncing is mentioned it reminds me of an often repeated story i first heard years ago, some journalist had an apple device hacked. Because it was dangerously over-connected to all his other apple devices and services the files the hackers deleted were lost not only from his device but also from his other devices and his apple online backup account. He somehow contacted the hackers and agreed not to have them arrested if they explained what they had done, it turned out there was a big flaw in apple's online account security mechanisms. That should be a reminder why backups should be totally unconnected to other devices, if the poor journalist had all his files copied to usb and cd-rw or in a non-apple email account as attachments they would not have been destroyed.


Edited by rp88, 09 September 2014 - 08:17 AM.

Back on this site, for a while anyway, been so busy the last year.

My systems:2 laptops, intel i3 processors, windows 8.1 installed on the hard-drive and linux mint 17.3 MATE installed to USB

#7 GavinCarden

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Posted 09 September 2014 - 08:25 AM

OK My bad Sync was the wrong word. RP is correct  you should not "Sync" how ever backing up to an off site location is never a bad idea so long as you control the location.



#8 armycyco

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Posted 09 September 2014 - 09:50 AM

Depends on the manufacture of your computer. if its a toshiba, like, one of mines, u can either do a "refresh your pc without affecting your files" or Remove everything and reinstall Windows" or Advanced setup". i personally save folder to folder to a external hard drive, minus all installed programs. 

my alienware on the other hand, i save folder to folder to my external, just documents, music, movies, downloads, and so on. but i always write down the list of programs installed, but i always make sure i uninstall my office program and antivirus program, so it registers that its been removed so i can reinstall it after, or its a pain in ass todo it, and would have to contact them to have it removed due to reformat.



#9 cmptrgy

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Posted 09 September 2014 - 10:16 AM

There should be 2 elements involved

Backing up your computer

--- Backing up your computer is imaging or cloning your entire system which is very beneficial to do

Backing up your data

--- Backing up your data has been what's mostly been discussed so far

I'm off to my veteran's meeting so I don't have time to expand on those points but I'm sure others will have excellent recommendations



#10 rockysosua

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Posted 09 September 2014 - 11:21 AM

Really?  It's as simple as that?  Wow, for some reason I thought there was some sort of complicated process you had to go through.  Well, thanks for your help!

Yup, it really is, although you might not know it when the techies get talking about the zillion ways that this and that can be done.

You made your question clear. You had lost your data once before and you don't want to lose it again.

Copying and pasting those 7 main user folders is all there is to it. It's easy, fast and effective.


All is well in Paradise.

#11 cmptrgy

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Posted 09 September 2014 - 04:03 PM

I thought you were interested in "The first is, how exactly do you back up a computer"?

The information on backing up your data is great but backing up your computer is another story

Do you have the means to recover your computer if it crashes?



#12 Allan

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Posted 09 September 2014 - 04:08 PM

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.


#13 rockysosua

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Posted 09 September 2014 - 04:33 PM

I should make it clear that I'm a techie too and I sure wasn't trying to denigrate the suggestions.

I was just trying to keep it simple K.I.S.S.

I have a shop and deal with lots of people face to face and I've learned to adapt to the person.

If I see that the person has zero knowledge, I don't try to give them more than one tiny thing to do.

Once that is done, I might try taking them one step farther.

I'm not saying my way is better. I'm only saying that's what works for me.


All is well in Paradise.




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