Posted 29 May 2007 - 08:24 AM
First, if the hard drive is dying, then you've gotta assume that it's gonna die sooner rather than later. To maximize the life left in it, don't use the computer any more than is absolutely essential. Each use increases the chance that it's gonna die abruptly on you. And recovering data from a dead hard drive is much, much more difficult (and sometimes expensive) than recovering from a disk that hasn't died (FWIW - a completely dead drive can usually be recovered for around $1600 US by a professional data recovery service).
Then, it depends on how you want to back it up - you can copy it to another hard drive (either internal or external), you can copy it to CD's, you can copy it to a USB flash drive, you can copy to a storage facility online, you can copy it across the network to another computer, or you can copy it to another computer with a crossover cable.
The first step is finding out how much you have to backup and what your system can write to (CD, DVD, DVD DL, etc). Also, do you have a spare hard drive laying around? Maybe you can copy to that.
If you want to copy the data to another hard drive and use it as a boot drive, you'll have to partition the drive into 2 (or more) partitions. The first partition will be for the OS that you're going to install - and the other will be for the data backup. Not difficult, but complicated to do - this will ensure that installing the OS doesn't wipe your data out.
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