Backing up my computer?

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Backing up my computer?

Postby bcsst26 » Wed Nov 11, 2009 9:33 am

So I realized today that my pc is getting old probably about 8 years now. I am running XP. Anyways I have pictures and music already backed up. I just want to back up everything else in case something happens. It is still running fine but who knows. Anyways I know there is programs, files and who knows what else that I would love to have on a new pc if needed. Any recommendations on programs, ways, etc on doing this. The cheaper the better. The easier the better. I have a dvd burner and nero if that helps. Also how hard would it be to get this stuff running on a new computer? Thanks in advance.
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Re: Backing up my computer?

Postby Frank Delicious » Wed Nov 11, 2009 9:43 am

I would just ghost your hard drive. Here is a link on how it works and links to freeware to get you up and running

http://www.directron.com/ghosting.html
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Re: Backing up my computer?

Postby Dogma » Wed Nov 11, 2009 10:39 am

For backups, I like to use an external USB hard drive. Western Digital makes Passport models that are under $100. They're very handy for all kinds of backup and file transfer duties and they hold tons of stuff.

Windows XP has a backup utility built into it. Look under Start > Programs > Accessories > System tools > Backup. It has a wizard that will lead you through backing up your stuff. If you're afraid you may miss something, just choose the "backup all information on this computer" option. If you get a new computer that has Windows Vista or Windows 7 then Microsoft has a tool to convert those XP backups so they can be read by the new OS.

Be aware that any backup you make is only going to be useful for data. Your programs cannot be backed up unless, as Frank suggested, you ghost the drive. However that is only useful if you are putting everything back on the exact same computer, not a new one. If your goal is to be able to quickly restore your existing PC in the event of, for example, a hard drive failure, then ghosting is the way to go. But if you get a new PC you will have to reinstall your programs. This cannot be done from a backup of your old drive, it has to be done from the original installation CDs or downloads, just like when you installed them the first time. Once the programs are installed they will be able to read the data you imported from your backups. If your PC is 8 years old I'm guessing you will need to replace it sometime soon.
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Re: Backing up my computer?

Postby stoneman » Wed Nov 11, 2009 9:30 pm

GFI has a really good (well, it works and it's free) backup application you can download. I just backup to a secondary hard drive that way...set it to auto-run and forget about it.
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Re: Backing up my computer?

Postby black udder » Wed Nov 11, 2009 10:50 pm

ghosting really only has value if you're going to restore a machine near the ghosting date. Otherwise, most of us add so much stuff between ghosting that it's too old of an image to really care about restoring. It's not bad, but it's a one time thing. you can't update a ghost image incrementally.

The easiest option is to have another drive and just do incremental backups on a daily basis. EZ Backup is a free windows backup utility and there are others a well. you can get a pretty good backup program for <$50 for a single/home user.

As was said before, you're really only saving/protecting your data. The programs will need to be installed again to put the info into the registry.

Some things to consider about ghosting. It's a one time snap shot of your drive. If you restore it, you have to restore it to a drive the same size. It's a bit by bit copy of the drive, so if you're thinking of wiping, reformatting and putting the image back for a "fresh" install, it's not gonna happen - you'd have the image you had with any warts in tact. Typically, ghosting is used in situations like when you're going to work on your pc and you want a backup "just in case" or small business solutions where they ghost the drive every night and send the image off site. Most of the time, it's easier to just do incremental backups though. Also, even if you have the same sized drive - say, you want to take the image out and put it into a new pc, you'd have all old drivers for the OS, so the drive wouldn't boot.

With incremental backups, you just need to know where your files are that you want to save. You'll pay more for programs that do the thinking for you. Typically, you'd want to backup all your My xx folders and then go into the application data folder where you'll find some program files that you might want to take with you/back up. Stuff like iTunes configuration files. Of course, if you jump to Windows 7 all that's out the window because they save in different places.
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Re: Backing up my computer?

Postby tgm » Thu Nov 12, 2009 11:26 am

Multiple copies is also important, of whatever you consider "really" important. Since your typical backup drive is only one drive it provides no protection from failure. If you wipe your current system (or don't have access to it for some reason) and only have the backup to restore from "if" something goes wrong with your backup, which it can, then you're stuck. It's a pain to have a second backup, but if you think about how important it is, I highly recommend it. Rotating your backup drive is a good practice to get into, so your data is duplicated in case of disaster, theft, etc.

There are a few sync tools out there too that allow you to manage the files across PC's or sync to multiple devices, which makes the process easier. Or you can use online storage services too, which often have redundancy built in to the offering (but I would still keep a local backup).
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Re: Backing up my computer?

Postby bcsst26 » Thu Nov 12, 2009 11:43 am

Thanks guys. That is a great run down options.
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