Insuring against system disk failure

  johnincrete 09:52 14 Jan 12

I have been advised to ensure that my 9-year-old system disk is properly backed up so that, if it should fail, I can install a new disk and restore to it. I regularly do a System backup to an external disk using Acronis. I am confused to say the least and can't find an answer on the Acronis web site (it is heavily biased towards selling its new version)

If my system disk does fail, how do I restart with an empty replacement prior to restoring from the backup?

Windows XP was pre-installed by Dell and I don't have a Windows disk. Acronis assures me that I'm fully protected.

I have a second disk which has lots of unused space on which most of my data is stored (also backed up to the external disk).

  johndrew 10:35 14 Jan 12

You start the PC from the Acronis Emergency Disk which you can make from the ATI installed or from the CD you purchased with ATI on it in the package.

Your Emergency CD MUST be the same or later version as that you used for the backup or it is unlikely to recognise the image.

Your backup should be on an external/different drive to that you boot from. When you boot from the CD you should choose the 'Full' option as it should then provide full access to peripherals.

To make things easier for yourself the replacement system drive should be pre-formatted to that of the original (normally NTFS these days); most are at the point of purchase.

Acronis Support are correct in what they say, but seem to expect anyone using their product to have total knowledge of all functions; this is a shame as most of us don't.

  robin_x 11:18 14 Jan 12

Make sure you are making Image Backups (not file and folder backups)

An Image contains all the partitions on the drive. So it includes the Operating system, HDD Boot sector (known as MBR) and other hidden stuff.

An Acronis Help Page

Note that while it mentions sector-by-sector copying, which includes empty parts of the drive, you usually don't need that unless it fails to make the backup.

Making regular Images is highly recommended. These are especially useful if your system refuses to boot or you are infected by Malware.

Burn and keep two copies of the Boot/Recovery CD.

  robin_x 11:21 14 Jan 12

If you make regular Images, delete older ones when you start running out of space of course.

  john bunyan 12:36 14 Jan 12

As an additional back up, I make an ATI clone on another (removable) drive from time to time as well as weekly images on an external HD. That way I think I have a bit of extra security. To keep up to date with data, I regularly (daily) synch my data partition to yet another drive using Freefilesynch. If you implimented the clone or image,that may be a few weeks old, by having the data synched daily or more, you can quickly be fully up to date if the HD fails.

  Peter 19:29 14 Jan 12


If you follow john bunyan's advice, but buy a replacement drive for your laptop now and put it in an external caddy you can keep it up to date as a clone.

Should your present internal drive fail, you will be able to replace it with the one from caddy.

You will need to make sure that you buy the correct physical size drive, correct drive type - PATA (EIDE) or SATA - and that your laptop will accept the new drive should you decide to increase the capacity.



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