Backing up to desktop hard drive

  dfb70uk 16:26 05 Jul 07

I am going to buy a separate independent Hard Drive.
Is it possible to back up two computers to this?,is that difficult? What software can I use other than Acronis, perferable free!
After my PC failed I had backed up data but it took all day to to put all the programs back I swore I would be better prepared next time.
I see the software with the unit Iam buying seems to to arranged to switch on with the PC. I would have thought to keep it off as much as possible waould give longer life and rather preclude using it for 2 PCs.
Anybodies thoughts welcome.

  johndrew 16:36 05 Jul 07

If the HDD is totally free (external caddy) and can be attached (USB/firewire) to either computer and has adequate space the answer is yes. Backing up two PCs is no harder than one; it just takes more time.

I use an external drive which I only attach when backing up. I see no reason to leave it connected continually unless you are using it continually.

My backup media of choice is Acronis. But the licence only covers installation on one PC so legally you should buy two - up to your conscience. I think most commercial software is for one installation. I am unable to suggest a free alternative as I have never used one; perhaps other will be able to help here.

  wee eddie 17:10 05 Jul 07

using the "Send to" facility

I believe that Windows has a Back-up facility buried somewhere deep in its workings

  Quiet Life 17:53 05 Jul 07

XXclone is free click here and will do what you want. You will have to have two partitions in your back up drive one for each computer. As XXclone eliminates what is already on the partition.
Are you talking about programs running at start up? If so if you go to start >run and type MSCONFIG then OK and you can stop the various programs that run at start up. You can safely untick them all but probably leave your anti virus.

  Batch 17:57 05 Jul 07

Assuming you wish to back up the whole installation, Acronis True Image or Norton Ghost are the preferred apps. Latest Norton Ghost is reckoned to be up to a par with True Image, although earlier Ghosts didn't rate so well.

I would not recommend a freebie (even if there is one). In backing up (and restoring) your system you need quality reliable supported software, otherwise there is absolutely no point. Many PCA members use True Image and "swear" by it. It isn't expensive. Have a look on Amazon. I use V8, (V10 is the current version), but I just saw V9 on Amazon for £10.55.

  Quiet Life 18:20 05 Jul 07

Batch I was badly let down by Acronis 7 when at the time to restore it would not recognise the external drive. A fault now but right but I turned to XXclone which is a free program and works well. When cloning to an external drive it is not possible to test your clone as Windows will not run from an external drive. However when cloning to an internal drive you can boot up from that and satisfy yourself that it is working OK.
There are many free programs such as Irfan, AVG etc that are reliable .

  Batch 10:10 06 Jul 07

As far as I can tell, one key difference between True Image (TI) and XXClone is that the latter only appears to support cloning of disks. TI also allows one to create a compressed image of a disk that is a single file - in fact that is the "default" option for backing-up, with cloning being targeted at installing a (replacement) new disk.

The TI compressed image approach has several advantages:

- being a single file it can readily be copied to other devices (e.g. other computers, DVDs etc.) for additional security.

- it is smaller. Not only is it compressed, but also it doesn't include the page file (which only contains transient data). Incremental backups are also supported (XXClone has a similar function - presumably by only replacing [in the copy] those elements that ave changed).

- it is not necessary for the file system (e.g. NTFS, FAT32) of the source and destination drives to be the same. Presumably XXClone requires identical file systems?

- the back-up device can be used to hold several images (e.g. several weekly back-ups).

One disadvantage of back-up images versus cloning is that you can't boot from them to test them. The only way to test is to do a restore.

  Batch 10:12 06 Jul 07

I've never tried booting from a USB device myself, but I was under the impression that recent PCs readily supported this (as I've seen discussions about booting from pen drives). So presumably one should be able to boot from a USB HDD?

  Quiet Life 14:33 06 Jul 07

Yes you can boot from a USB device but Windows will not run from such a device. Microsoft give this as a flat NO. However everything is possible and Windows can in fact be adapted to run from a USB device See click here
It is somewhat complicated and after spending many days on it I could not get it to work so in the end I purchased another internal drive. On my PC I can get a boot menu by pressing F1 at start and by selecting the cloned drive it becomes the C drive.
I use Laplink for backing up personal files to another drive and I only wanted to save the laborious chore of reinstalling the operating system and all the programs.
I do not have FAT 32 on any of the computers so I do not know if XXclone is limited in this way.
It does what I require and is free!

  Batch 17:51 06 Jul 07

I suppose I take a different approach. I keep several images of the system drive on a separate internal HDD. Each image is only around 1.8GB and so I can keep several (many if I really want to)around from different dates. I also keep copies of the images on another PC.

If I need to I can do a restore in about 4 minutes. Typically I do a restore when I think some new software has caused issues or if I think I might have a hint of malware (a lot quicker and more assured to do a restore than trying to eradicate some malware).

Also, if disaster happens and the system drive crashes, I can wack in another HDD (I have spare adequate spare ones to hand), boot from the Acronis Boot CD and restore. Again, just a matter of minutes really.

  dfb70uk 10:38 07 Jul 07

Well thank you everybody I am totally confused now(only joking,very comprehensive coverage of the subject).
Yes the Drive is in a caddy with a power supply and connected via USB2.
How do I partition the separate Hard Drive?
Acronis looks best as it does incremental backups where XXClone does a complete clone each time. The less time the Drive is run hopefully it will be long lasting.
Thanks again

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