Any computer nerds out there? Question about backup software.

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Forum topic by SheriDi posted 03-09-2012 03:08 AM 1473 views 0 times favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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145 posts in 3272 days

03-09-2012 03:08 AM

After almost losing everything to one of those wonderful California fires, I bought 2 – 2Tb hard drives to store all my data on. I actually store the data on one drive and then back it up to the second drive. I use my C drive mostly for program installation. I don’ t back it up as I have all or most of the installation discs so I can re-install the programs easily.

My computer hiccupped the other day which got me to thinking what I would do if my C drive just decided to not boot. How would I boot my computer? And it also got me to thinking that there probably are some files on my C drive that I would really hate to lose. So I started researching back-up software, specifically Nova Backup and Acronis True Image which are both reasonably priced.

My question is – do I really need one of these programs? Besides a method for booting a computer with a bad C drive, what would they provide? Does Windows (Vista) allow one to create a boot disk?

While I was in the wood shop, computer technology raced by and left me in the sawdust, so I really don’t know which way to go. Any help would be appreciated.


-- A Veteran is someone who, at one point in their life, wrote a blank check payable to the United States of America for an amount up to and including their life. That is beyond honor

18 replies so far

View HorizontalMike's profile


7749 posts in 2883 days

#1 posted 03-09-2012 04:02 AM

Casper Backup by Future Solutions. This is cloning software. It clone every single bite of data. You can pull the bad HD, replace it with the backup and boot. I ran CasperXP for years and now have Casper7.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View lanwater's profile


3111 posts in 2903 days

#2 posted 03-09-2012 04:40 AM

I would go for the acronis.

I twill make a full image file on the second drive and incremental backups you specify on a schedule.

The advantage of a cloning type backup is that in the event you loose your C drive and replace with a new one, you can boot from your acronis CD and restore your image and all the incrementals to the new drive.

You should be up and running within a couple of hours.

It coulb be argued that some of the other backup software can do bare metal recovery. It is easier with acronis.

-- Abbas, Castro Valley, CA

View jdmaher's profile


427 posts in 2548 days

#3 posted 03-09-2012 11:06 AM

It’s all about the data.

Your original motivation to backup sounds like what we’d call “disaster recovery”. The problem I see is that all your data is “onsite” – so a fire would kill the original AND the backup. For that scenario, any of the “online” backup solutions might be a better choice – but limit yourself to “data only”.

To protect from hardware failure, a backup program IS usually recommended. It’s not a question of IF, it’s a question of WHEN. Normally, our approach is like yours – data only on the backup; backup and installation media OFFSITE; repair hardware or recover to a new (or spare) machine, rebuild operating system and reinstall apllications, then restore data. Just make sure the backup has ALL your data (e.g., “My Documents”).

Full image backups are generally designed for professional usage. They can be intimidating for the average user, and confusing and time-consuming to actually perform the “restore”.

We have not used cloning backup programs, but the idea has merit – provided you backup to a removable drive (i.e., an external USB drive), and keep the backup OFFSITE. That’s IF your operating system will allow you boot from an external drive.

Generally speaking, your approach is probably close, except you should keep a backup of your data and all your installation media OFFSITE. Here’s what I usually recommend.

If your computer fails, for any reason, have it professionally repaired where you bought it. They’ll probably wipe your machine, but return it to you the way you bought it (i.e., with the operating software). You then reinstall your separately purchased software from your OFFSITE intallation media. You then restore your data from your OFFSITE backup.

With this approach, you can generally use one of the “online” backup providers to do your OFFSITE data backup. Then you just need to store your installation media OFFSITE. And, of course, you’re relying on your computer seller to do the hardware repairs. For the average user, that should cover your needs.

Costs some money and planning, but so does any insurance. Only you can decide if its worth it.

Good luck!

-- Jim Maher, Illinois

View Jeff's profile


429 posts in 3163 days

#4 posted 03-09-2012 11:15 AM

I’m only a home PC user but I had a hard drive failure last year. Getting and re-installing all the software was a pain but relatively easy. The hard part was having to remember all the license numbers again. Some software makers were kind and when given them some basic information provided the license. Others were not so kind. I now have a 1TB Seagate external drive hooked up to a USB port. The backup software that came with it (Mimeo) runs in the background, continuously saving new versions of files and settings as I add or change them. It does slow the PC down somewhat but is tolerable.

View dbray45's profile


3320 posts in 2745 days

#5 posted 03-09-2012 12:32 PM

I do lthe large systems that include the servers, storage and the backups.

There are a lot of things that you can do and there are an infinite amount of ways that you can what you want. Here are the problems that you will face.

Data only backups don’t do a thing for the applications (programs). As time goes on your computer gets upgraded as do the programs on it. If you replace your computer at a point in time, I have had applications that will not run on systems from a fresh install. This is a serious problem.

Where I work, we do clone the entire disks and do cold backups (where all of the applications are shutdown) and put all of this to tape. In the event that the dies, we can install to a different computer and loose anything – up to 2 minutes before the failure or less. —This is an expensive, time consumming way to go.

If you are worried that you will lose files like accounting, pictures, or other personal data, get a DVD burner for your computer if you don’t have one (BluRay recorders hold a whole lot more) and copy all of these files to DVD or BluRay disk and put them into a small lockable fire proof box (Walmart have them under $20.00). I would also keep the original installation disks and Operating System recovery didsks into this box. This is the least expensive and most accessable in the eventof a problem. As your data changes, do not throw these away, if you find that all of the data has been updated and the disk is no longer needed, run the disk through a shredder. I do this for my home but I use an external drive that I unplug and keep protected instead of DVDs and the like and use the included softwware to back up the disks. This costs a little more, a bigger headache but works for me.

Something that people don’t do but is required is to go back every now and then and make sure the data is readable and restorable. I had a customer that lost their primary disks and told me they needed help restoring from tape. Turnd out their tape drive had not worked for 2 years and their tapes had nothing on them. They closed their doors that afternoon.

-- David in Damascus, MD

View HorizontalMike's profile


7749 posts in 2883 days

#6 posted 03-09-2012 02:22 PM

Like Jeff, I have external backup HDs, a 300GB system and a 1TB data. After backing them up, I physically remove them in order to prevent damage from lightning (had that take out a PC in my observatory once). I find that a full clone is much easier to deal with and replace in the event of a failure. I have gone the clean install method before and as those above state, this is time consuming and clean installs do not have all the incremental updates that keeps things running.

I also have too much data to economically reduce to to DVDs because my astronomical images can be a stack of 150 or more of 7MB images that are reduced/processed at least three times resulting in three times more data. Having a full functional backup cloned HD is a god send for what I do with my hobbies and data.

I do admit that I really should store the backup off site, though that is easier said than done, unless you want to pay monthly for such services (and they do exist).

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View dbray45's profile


3320 posts in 2745 days

#7 posted 03-09-2012 02:31 PM

The new BluRay writers hold 25GB per disk. The writers are $100.00 but the disks are pricy.

A 1TB disk is less than $100.00 now.

-- David in Damascus, MD

View DS's profile


2895 posts in 2389 days

#8 posted 03-09-2012 05:34 PM

Our office uses a RAID controller in our server. It uses 3 HDD’s for reduncancy, though we use 4 HDDs with one as an offsite backup.
Every Friday, the offiste HDD is brought in and swapped with one of the RAID HDDs. That drive is then stored offsite until the next Friday. The RAID controller automatically syncronizes the drives and the offsite drive is the backup in case of a catastrophic event at the office.

-- "Hard work is not defined by the difficulty of the task as much as a person's desire to perform it.", DS251

View dbray45's profile


3320 posts in 2745 days

#9 posted 03-09-2012 05:41 PM

DS – that works. We ship our tapes out every week – the storage, my toys, so to speak – one has 144 drives 72 are 140GB the others are 300GB each and the other has 350 or so 450 GB drives – all RAID 5 configuration total have around 150TB that are usable. All are connected by 2 and 4GB fibre channel.

-- David in Damascus, MD

View SheriDi's profile


145 posts in 3272 days

#10 posted 03-09-2012 05:43 PM

Thanks for all the input. Sounds like I’ve got the hardware I need, now I just need a system that fits my needs.

-- A Veteran is someone who, at one point in their life, wrote a blank check payable to the United States of America for an amount up to and including their life. That is beyond honor

View dbray45's profile


3320 posts in 2745 days

#11 posted 03-09-2012 05:46 PM

Try different things and go with what you are comfortable with.

-- David in Damascus, MD

View Bertha's profile


13521 posts in 2662 days

#12 posted 03-09-2012 06:02 PM

Has anyone mentioned also configuring your drives RAID? I run raid then backup to a Hotswap. Drives are so cheap now that when the drive is full, I just pop in another through the hotswap bay. If you don’t mind someone else having your data (I can’t because of my profession), Acronis it is.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View Don W's profile

Don W

18686 posts in 2536 days

#13 posted 03-09-2012 06:14 PM

I have external drives and just use robocopy. Robocopy is a MS utility used to copy files. You’ll need to know some command line scripting, but its pretty easy and I could help with the syntax.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View SheriDi's profile


145 posts in 3272 days

#14 posted 03-09-2012 06:30 PM

I have heard of RAID but am not quite sure what that is.

-- A Veteran is someone who, at one point in their life, wrote a blank check payable to the United States of America for an amount up to and including their life. That is beyond honor

View dbray45's profile


3320 posts in 2745 days

#15 posted 03-09-2012 07:17 PM

There are several versions of RAID (0, 1, 1+0 or 10, 3, 5, 6) they all do different things. For home use, I would be more concerned about visuses and tojan horses ruining your data. I use RAID 5 and 6. RAID 0 is a stripe across drives, 1 is mirroring, 0+1, 10 or 1+0 is a stripe with mirrored drives, 3 is a stripe across 2 or more drives and a searate parity drive, 5 is a stripe with parity across 3 or more drives and the parity is intermingled, 6 is across 16 drives with dual sets of parity. RAID 1 and above require cache and some of the large systems, like the ones I have, can have upwards of a TB of cache.

If you are not running a business, I wouldn’t go there. I use the basic – an external drive with USB and use backup software to copy the files to this drive. I also use restore points when I install or update software.

It can get really involved and expensive. As a rule, the more involved to incorporate, the more the cost and maintenance.

-- David in Damascus, MD

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