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Newbie backup questions


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#1 Between3and20chars

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Posted 14 June 2017 - 05:26 AM

Hello everyone! Okay, so here's the situation. I want to make a backup of every single file on my computer. I have a 250 GB SSD with my OS files on it and a 1 TB hard drive where most of my games and stuff go. In practice, my SSD has about 100-120 GBs and my HDD currently has about 400 GBs full, and while the latter might go up to about 500-600 eventually, it's unlikely that it'll be filled up anytime soon. I'm wondering if I can cut costs and get a 1 TB drive for a backup for both drives, or if I have to get a 2 TB one.

 

So, my questions are:

 

Is a 1 TB external hard drive enough to make a full backup of both drives as it stands? (Essentially, is a backup bigger or smaller than the total size of the files that are being backed up?)

 

What kind of backup do I need if I want to be able to restore every single file in case my SSD or HDD fries? (Like - if I get a new SSD or HDD, I should be able to restore everything to it with my backup and the system should then start up with no additional problems and not a single file missing.) It seemed to me like a "system image" is what I need, but I want to make sure I understood things correctly.

 

Will the 1 TB drive be enough assuming the combined volume of data on my drives doesn't go above 700-800 GB?

 

Anything else I should know?

 

(I'm on Windows 7.)



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#2 RolandJS

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Posted 14 June 2017 - 07:37 PM

I think many usb external hard-drives are 1-3TB in size.  Any backup/restore/clone program, free or pay-for, will do the job very nicely creating full images of your OS partition (or SSD) and your other HD containing the remaining stuff.  I recommend creating both a usb and a DVD boot -- because my experience has been that sometimes either the usb or dvd boots and the other does not, go figure.


"Take care of thy backups and thy restores shall take care of thee."  -- Ben Franklin revisited.

http://collegecafe.fr.yuku.com/forums/45/Computer-Technologies/

Backup, backup, backup! -- Lady Fitzgerald (w7forums)

Clone or Image often! Backup... -- RockE (WSL)


#3 cmptrgy

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Posted 14 June 2017 - 08:30 PM

“Will the 1 TB drive be enough assuming the combined volume of data on my drives doesn't go above 700-800 GB?” I believe it is.

My friend has Win7 with a 1TB hard, he has 920 GB free space and uses a 250GB external hard drive for his system image backups. He has only 1 HDD.

 

“Anything else I should know?”

A system image backup will back up everything including data.

--- I recommend to save your data seperately also



#4 Guest_Aaron_Warrior_*

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Posted 14 June 2017 - 09:14 PM

Hmm well see now look.  "Backing up" your "whole" System Drive isn't going to get you back up and running if that SSD fails. There's a difference between "data backup" and "cloning".  Merely backing up your whole C:\Windows Directory isn't going to make a replacement HD boot, and even if you save all your "\Program Files" data, you are still going to have to install every single software you have right now.  Sure, the saved games will be "saved" somewhere, but your settings and everything that your software needs to run on your machine won't be there.  It will all have to be reinstalled again.

It's really important to understand the limits of data back up BEFORE you spend money and time.  Because if the SSD fails, you are still going to have a lot of time spent getting back up to speed.

 

In contrast a clone will save your life.  You can take a clone of that SSD, copy it (using the cloning software you used to make the clone) to a brand new SSD and that new SSD will be EXACTLY what you had before the 1st one failed.

 

So Cloning = GOOD, Data back-up = Meh.  It's better than nothing.

 

I vote for the 2 Tbyte solution.  HD's are dirty cheap. And extra Tbyte might be what, $30.00?  Spend the money, you tightwad.

I also vote against external USB drives. First they are ugly.  Meaning they just SIT THERE in the way of things, getting knocked around, dropped on the floor, unplugged, the plug gets pulled hard and breaks something internal to the external drive, the cat pukes on them, spilled coke and/or coffee, the power from the USB is unreliable and the constant drain could kill the USB port or the whole motherboard, and they are much more prone to failure than an internal HD safely stored inside the computer. Imagine what happens when it's in the middle of a major read-write operation and someone unplugs the USB cord?  BrrzzzzZZZTTTT!!!!  Bye-Bye 2 Tbyte HD. I'm just dropping a reality bomb here.  Reality is that external USB drives are an idea that sounds real good before you spend the money and they are that POS you wasted money on after it's too late to do anything about it.

My opinion (FWIW) is to do a scheduled clone of the SSD to the 2 Tbyte maybe on one partition, and a scheduled backup (with compression even maybe) from the data drive on the other partition (on the 2 Tbyte drive)  Also think about if you have any software installed to your "data" drive, because it might not be recognized as "installed" if you have to replace the system drive.  I think as a general rule it's a bad idea to store data on System Drives, and it's a bad idea to install software on Data Drives. Different things should be kept separated, with clear lines between them.  There's too much data mixing going on in the current year.


Edited by Aaron_Warrior, 14 June 2017 - 09:17 PM.


#5 RolandJS

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Posted 15 June 2017 - 09:53 AM

Let me add to my earlier post:

Onto at least one (if not two) usb external platter-driven pancake sized hard-drive(s)

-- full imaging of your OS partition on a routine basis, bi-monthly is probably enough

-- full imaging of your Data partition on a routine basis, twice-weekly, weekly, depending upon how often data folders and files change

Cloning is ok, however, such ties up one whole backup hard-drive, allowing no full images or anything else.

At home, at work, using two usb ext HDs, I make routine OS and data partition full image backups, rotating two backup / restore programs.  Rarely does a logical error temporarily knock out a backup drive, forcing a format.  That's why I use two usb ext HDs.


Edited by RolandJS, 15 June 2017 - 09:54 AM.

"Take care of thy backups and thy restores shall take care of thee."  -- Ben Franklin revisited.

http://collegecafe.fr.yuku.com/forums/45/Computer-Technologies/

Backup, backup, backup! -- Lady Fitzgerald (w7forums)

Clone or Image often! Backup... -- RockE (WSL)


#6 Guest_Aaron_Warrior_*

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Posted 15 June 2017 - 12:57 PM

Cloning is ok, however, such ties up one whole backup hard-drive, allowing no full images or anything else.

This would be valid if it were 100% true, but I don't think it is.  First, I'm not really sure I'm "right" here, this is more exploratory and experimental, but what I THINK is true is...

 

First I think there's different types of clone "outputs".  I think Roland is thinking of a 1 to 1 correlation between "source" hard drive cloned to "target" hard drive.  So in that context, he's partly right in the sense that a clone of a 500 Gbyte "source" HD completely occupies 500 Gbyte of the "target" HD's space.  In the normal space-time continuum, that might be a conversation stopper right there.

 

However I know two things that disrupt that space-time continuum.

First, there's "logical cloning" as performed by at least one software called "XXclone", which can clone an image of one target hard drive of one size (500 Gbyte) to a target hard drive of a difference size (250 Gbyte, or 1,000 Gbyte). As long as there is space on the target for the actual data, logical cloning can adjust the size of the cloned image to fit the target.  This is different than sector-by-sector cloning, which is what Roland is referring to. And the best part is that the resized cloned image is fully-bootable immediately.  Like magic.

 

Second, Roland also assumes that the cloning software's "target" is always a hard drive, and I'm not sure that's true.  From what I've read online, some cloning software outputs image files (like an .ISO) which are standalone files that do not require the entirety of space of a whole hard drive or partition.  So for example you MIGHT be able to clone a 250 Gbyte hard drive, with 90 Gbytes of data, into a logical clone image file of 90 Gbytes in size.  Or at least a 250 Gbyte clone image file if logical cloning is not an option for a software that outputs image files.

 

Finally I think I've read about "incremental cloning" where the standalone base file might be large (250 Gbytes), but successive incremental clones of the source hard drive only record that data that has changed (deleted, added, or modified) resulting in much smaller image files.

 

I'm mostly posting this because I DON'T KNOW for certain any of this, but I want to and my primary purpose is to provoke an informative conversation where everyone, myself in particular, can learn something new, and possibly useful.


Edited by Aaron_Warrior, 15 June 2017 - 12:59 PM.


#7 jwoods301

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Posted 16 June 2017 - 01:36 AM

The terms "cloning" and "imaging" are often used interchangeably, but they are different, and done for different reasons...

 

https://www.windowscentral.com/hard-drive-imaging-vs-cloning-whats-difference

 

I do full disk image backups of 2 different computers using a 1 TB external hard drive, so you can backup as many drives and systems as space will allow.

 

Depending on the compression used for the backups (which is determined before you backup) will determine the size of the backup itself.

 

All files are uniquely named so that I know which system it belongs to.

 

Not only should frequent full disk images be done, but volatile data (such as personal data) should be backed up in a separate daily process.

 

Other considerations are multiple copies of backups and offline storage.

 

See the The Computer Backup Rule of Three article -

 

https://www.hanselman.com/blog/TheComputerBackupRuleOfThree.aspx


Edited by jwoods301, 16 June 2017 - 01:41 AM.


#8 cmptrgy

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Posted 16 June 2017 - 10:24 AM

@woods301: +1



#9 jwoods301

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Posted 16 June 2017 - 02:04 PM

@woods301: +1

 

Good to see you cmptrgy...familiar name from the WindowsSecrets days.



#10 cmptrgy

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Posted 16 June 2017 - 04:13 PM

Thanks. I'm the same guy, better educated today because of these knowledgeable forums.



#11 RolandJS

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Posted 18 June 2017 - 06:00 AM

For me, cloning means 1 to 1, unless recent changes have been made and proven, usually a cloning operation eliminates any existing MFT contents just before doing its 1 to 1, regardless of size-to-size, etc.  I have not seen cloning software that starts out any differently -- others will update me   :)

For us purists, there is a difference between cloning and full imaging just as there is a difference between replication and backing up.  We avoid some problems by not merging or interchanging our understanding and usage of cloning and full imaging just as we avoid some problems by not merging or interchanging our understanding and usage of replication and backing up.


Edited by RolandJS, 18 June 2017 - 06:01 AM.

"Take care of thy backups and thy restores shall take care of thee."  -- Ben Franklin revisited.

http://collegecafe.fr.yuku.com/forums/45/Computer-Technologies/

Backup, backup, backup! -- Lady Fitzgerald (w7forums)

Clone or Image often! Backup... -- RockE (WSL)


#12 Guest_Aaron_Warrior_*

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Posted 19 June 2017 - 02:02 AM

For me, cloning means 1 to 1, unless recent changes have been made and proven, usually a cloning operation eliminates any existing MFT contents just before doing its 1 to 1, regardless of size-to-size, etc.  I have not seen cloning software that starts out any differently -- others will update me   :)

For us purists, there is a difference between cloning and full imaging just as there is a difference between replication and backing up.  We avoid some problems by not merging or interchanging our understanding and usage of cloning and full imaging just as we avoid some problems by not merging or interchanging our understanding and usage of replication and backing up.

I read the article and the general idea I got was also that cloning was HD to HD, with "imaging" having an intermediary stop of "image file" that can be stored and then used at a later date to recreate a HD. Still some details such as what if the image file came from a 250 Gbyte HD and you want to (not even sure what word to use here so I'll just say "clone") that image to a 500 Gbyte HD.  Do you have to size a 250 Gbyte partition?  Can you do "logical cloning" (xxclone style) using image files.  What's the technically correct word for "transferring" and image file to a HD?  I had too many questions and didn't want to clog the thread, but since you opened the door now I did it.



#13 jwoods301

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Posted 19 June 2017 - 02:41 AM

The Windows Central article in post #7 explains that cloning is drive to drive.

 

Folks often misuse the word when they actually mean imaging.

 

They are different and used for different reasons.



#14 RolandJS

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Posted 07 July 2017 - 07:02 AM

Between3and20Chars, I just realized I might have misunderstood something in your opening post that is very important:

Do I understand correctly that you have your OS on what is commonly called "c drive" i.e. C partition, and your installed games and their respective data files on what is commonly called "d drive" D partition?  If that is correct -- I amend my advice:

In order to fully restore your very cool computer to pristine working condition, you will have to restore both C and D partitions together, after having earlier made full images of C and D together.  In this situation, a clone of the entire hard-drive, made a bi-monthly basis, might be all you need to do.  If monies are available, I recommend rotating two external hard-drives.

** Be aware that you have to make your backups when the computer is working as well as you like it to be working; you want to make either clones or full images before something or some things go wrong. **


"Take care of thy backups and thy restores shall take care of thee."  -- Ben Franklin revisited.

http://collegecafe.fr.yuku.com/forums/45/Computer-Technologies/

Backup, backup, backup! -- Lady Fitzgerald (w7forums)

Clone or Image often! Backup... -- RockE (WSL)





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