Basic 'Back-up' advice please.

  Furkin 11:57 25 Apr 11

DESKTOP (rebuilt) Asus M4A78 + Phenom IIx2 Black CPU. 4Gb ram. W7-SP1 + IE8. C:\ = Samsung 1Tb. E:\ = Seagate 1Tb. I've just installed the Seagate hdd for back-up purposes. I've never done this before so am seeking basic advice please.

I am currently creating my first back-up, which posed a couple of questions:

1) The default schedule is weekly. Is this adequate ? 2) If I develop a problem on my C: drive one day, which I am unaware of, how do I know it isn't transferred to the back-up folder, thereby giving me two versions of one problem ?

Any other advice welcome. cheers

  robin_x 13:05 25 Apr 11

It is quite complex to think of a perfect strategy and programs to use.

What partitions do you have on first drive?

My Setup as Example: I have

SYSTEM (unlabelled) 200MB Boot partition

C: 135GB (W7 64 Home)

D: 13GB (Recovery incl W7, drivers and bloat)


F: 5GB Pagefile

G: 80GB Data and Apps

H: 500MB Logfile type maintenance partiton (seems not used)

[Pagefile does not give me any benefit as a partition above, except some image backup programs back it up if on C:. You would get a performance increase by having your Pagefile on 2nd 1TB internal drive)

My 2nd drive is external USB. I have copied SYSTEM (Boot)and Recovery since these are essential in event of disaster. The rest of my ext drive is just one partition.

I have made a clean Image file of SYSTEM, C: and Recovery which also automatically includes the boot MBR. (I also have a clean copy of my 2nd drive MBR which is mostly 'not used' but is useful to overwrite a 2nd hand HDD with corrupted or used MBR)

The MBR tells my computer to boot SYSTEM, which then boots C:

I have a set of 3 x Recovery DVDs, Windows 7 Startup Repair CD and an Image Boot CD.

All the above guarantees that system is fully recoverable back to Factory or My clean image settings, should disaster strike.

Weekly, bi-weekly or sometimes daily if I have tinkered too much, I make extra system Images of C: and G: (Data/apps)

But I only have room for two full ones and half a one. (500G external)

I have to be careful not to image my system with malware or in non-working state without realising. Multiple Images are essential since they are often corrupted anyway (regardless of which app you use)

Movies are all kept on external drive and not backed up. they take too much space and are replaceable.

Home movies, Music, photos, docs, I keep on main drive and are backed up (within the Images I made above)

Also copies of important install CD/DVDs (Office, Windows retail, recovery DVDs etc)

Bookmarks/Favourites/email/some docs, I prefer to Backup (not Image) almost daily.

I also make lots of restore points. But regularly delete old ones. always keep two. Restore points often fail.

I don't use Acronis True image but it is widely recommended and gives lots of features for it's £20+ that the free ones don't.

However the Free image ones are fine. Seagate Disc Wizard

Macrium Reflect Free

EASEUS Todo Backup

Paragon Backup and Recovery Free

For backups, not Images. Allway Sync is often recommended along with others. But I don't know them. I use Mozbackup for Firefox bookmarks and Thunderbird email.

I think that's about it. I am sure others will chip in.

Conratulations for thinking about it instead of posting 'Lost all my Photos' or 'PC won't boot'

:-) Have fun

Download links

  Diemmess 17:15 25 Apr 11

Q1.....Answer: How often depends on you. Important data perhaps much more often than the system itself.

Q2..... How do you know if the backup has a problem?

Answer you don't, but if you backup regularly and keep three dates, maybe a special one from when it was in very good form, you are unlikely to have a problem. Merely delete the eldest version.

It is no use being dogmatic about these factors, you have to suit your needs and not follow slavishly any one person's ideas. So with that in mind I use Acronis to image C: drive. Because I dont want to make that process a lengthy one I try to keep it lean with only the OS and applications on C:

All data goes on D: or another external HD sometimes both if I want to play safe

  Diemmess 17:18 25 Apr 11

From last post

...............Sorry, wrong button!! Data is copied in a simple batch file software EZBackitup (a freebie download)

  mooly 18:25 25 Apr 11

I too use Acronis. It's so quick and easy. I start a new weekly incremental backup off and keep these on the D partition.

Should any problem arise or I just want to try stuff and generally mess it all up then a reinstall is only a couple of clicks and 25 minutes away. A reinstall to a date/time less than 24 hours ago is always available.

I also copy documents/pics etc to a USB flash drive as well and have now started copying the Acronis images over to a small USB 400gb HDD.

And further to that I have a pristine install of the OS and Windows updates as an Aconis image so I can if I want rebuild the whole system with new applications etc. I load that up every few months and bring it up to date. Its windows only, nothing else... very useful.

  Furkin 10:41 30 Apr 11

Thanks folks, Lots of info there. At present, neither hdd is partitioned. C:\ was partitioned at the beginning. One partion just containing clean OS. We had a few probs during the rebuild/install etc & the partions were then removed - prob by re formatting. You might guess that I didn't carry out the setting-up of the machine, & never formatted my smaller previous hdd's.

Since writing I have used the W7 Back-up prog to make a complete copy to the E:\ drive.

It makes sence to partion both drives whilst they are almost empty.

Does this make sence: For back-up purposes - have two partions on E:\ (xx & yy). Have a weekly 'auto' back-up system in place - to drive xx. Then if all is well, make a manual copy to yy ? Then if the 'auto' back-up does happen to copy a problem, I still have yy to fall back on.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Can I still make a copy of the clean OS in a small partion on both drives ? Or would I actually need that if I am doing a full system copy (x 2) ?

Do I take it that the Back-up prog in W7 is not very good ?

Thank you so much for taking the time to help.

  robin_x 11:29 30 Apr 11

My clean W7 System Image (bloatware removed) was something like 21 or 23GB. You don't actually need to keep it if you make later images.

But if you have space it is a guaranteed known working file. Later images may be full of your stuff that hasn't installed/uninstalled correctly or God Forbid, malware.

Note: Images are not the same as backups but the terminology is often interchanged.

Images are stored in a folder called WindowsImageBackup. It is overwritten every time, so you have to rename it to keep copies. Backups are in a folder with 'YourComputerName'

Both W7 Image and Backup systems (in Control Panel\System and Security\Backup and Restore) work to some degree of course, but I ma not impressed overall and don't use them any more.

Note: W7 images (VHD files) can be mounted in Disk Management if you just want to get at some files/folders. Need to unlock the folder permissions first.


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