Advice on urgent laptop backup, & backup/archiving generally?

  polymath 20:38 16 Oct 14

I have 2 computers, and no backups as yet. I want to back up everything in the laptop straight away, before opening up the lid to try a quick fix for a screen problem before it gets worse (especially if I need to see the screen to do the backup!). I've also been wanting to set up a proper backup/archiving routine for both computers, which I'll do as soon as I've tried the laptop fix. Any thoughts & suggestions much appreciated! I'm trying to see the big picture first (e.g.which storage device to use for what). I can always then look up whatever details I need (by searching this forum, to start with).

My setup (more detail at bottom of post); 1 desktop (320GB HD) and 1 small laptop (160GB HD). Both on wireless LAN (shared only for getting internet to spouse's tablet, & for the occasional trusted visitor). So far I have 3 (unused) external hard discs; 500GB, USB2/eSATA/wired or wireless network (mains powered). 160GB, USB2 (mains powered). 80GB, USB2 (USB powered). A few USB sticks (4 to 16GB). Neither computer has an eSATA connection that I can find (so looks like it's USB for me).

I use the notebook for web & email, and some light writing, editing & image stuff. Ideally, an incremental backup of data every day or so would be good for that, plus the ability to restore OS, settings etc). The desktop's used less frequently, for heavier-duty writing & image work, including a copy of all my digital photos so far, in original large files (the 4 years' worth is about 10GB), added to about once a week. (I also (apart from the camera cards themselves) keep a copy of them on a USB stick). There's a moderate collection of audio files in the desktop, but not much video (just the occasional bit from my camera). I don't store passwords etc on either computer (I use an encrypted USB stick, plus a printout in a safe place).

I gather a disk image of both computers is a good idea, and 2-3 generations of incremental backups of work? Does the space needed for a disk image differ from the disk size of the original? I can afford another reasonably-priced storage device(s) if necessary, and software doesn't have to be free if it's not too expensive (& preferably a one-off payment). I don't feel the backups have to be automated (could easily make it a habit instead). Thank you already for ploughing through this!

Desktop, Packard Bell Ixtreme X2711; notebook Packard Bell Easynote BU45-P-073. Both Vista (preinstalled) SP2 (and bought in 2007). External hard discs; Targa Databox NDAS 500 eSATA & Western Digital Essential USB Hard Drive (160GB), both Vista-compatible out of the box. And a Packard Bell Store & Save 2500, 80GB (XP is the latest OS its leaflet mentions, though bundled with the Vista desktop; I might be able to find a Vista download for it).

  wee eddie 23:12 16 Oct 14

Buy an Enclosure 》without turning the Lappy on, remove it's Hard Drive 》put it in the Enclosure 》plug the Enclosure into your PC》plug the WD Hard Drive into the PC 》Use the WD's built in Backup Software to copy the Enclosure onto the WD Drive.

Take the Hard Drive out of the Enclosure 》 Put it back into the Lappy and get on with whatever you plan to do

  Fruit Bat /\0/\ 15:03 17 Oct 14

I use Macrium Reflect (free) to take an image of my drives weekly to an external drive.

Windows (what version do you have) has a built in back up system for files

If I'm doing anything important I back up the file to the external straight away.

  john bunyan 15:15 17 Oct 14

I have my PC's partitioned into C: with OS, programmes etc and F: for data. Like *Fruit Bat /\0/* I use Macrium reflect to make images of the C drive on a separate HD(s). I do a full image, not a incremental one. I keep the latest 2 and on doing a 3rd, delete the oldest. Don't forget to scan for viruses, malware, and maybe defrag before backing up.. For my data partition I use Freefilesynch (Quicker than an image if you set it in mirror image mode), the first time you synch takes a long time but later ones only change the new, modified, or deleted files.

  polymath 17:29 18 Oct 14

Sorry - I've only just realised there are replies here (came back to apologise for asking so many questions at once!). Must have forgotten to tick Subscribe.

Wee Eddie; thanks for that. I'm quite comfortable opening up desktops, but I imagine notebooks are less forgiving, and would rather have a backup before opening it up. (At least, while I can still see the screen; the lid seems have settled at opening 45° before blacking out).

Fruit Bat and John Bunyon; thanks for the pointers. I'll get Macrium this evening, and do a full image on the WD drive to start with (I wasn't sure before if exactly the same size disk would do it). Then I'll try the screen fix, and then (if I still have a laptop after that!) get the whole backup strategy going. The computers only came with 1 HD each (C:) (which I haven't partitioned), but I have fairly clear-cut data folders that shouldn't be too much trouble to separate out for whatever incremental destination.

  wee eddie 18:22 18 Oct 14

In which case 》plug in the WD 》Turn the Lappy on 》Use the WD's built in Backup Software

  polymath 14:23 20 Oct 14

Thanks Eddie. There's been been having a small delay trying to ascertain if the WD disk will work (but that's another topic click here ). Meanwhile, it looks as if I might as well start with a laptop (& desktop) clone on the Targa one, and make further clones on the new HDD I've realised I need to buy for that. (With the Targa the software comes on a CD, and there's a clear user manual).

Meanwhile, the question's been answered, so I'll mark it resolved. So the usual dilemma of which answer to tick...

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