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Cloning/backup setup with SSD and HDD in laptop?

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May 20, 2013 6:05:13 AM

Hi guys

I am planning on having a 250gb SSD in my Lenovo T510 laptop, as my primary drive with Windows 7 on and programs etc. I will also have a 750gb HDD in the ultrabay slot, and this will be used fo everything else, music, songs, pics, music production stuff etc.

I make music and DJ, so its very important everything is very stable and that i can back up fully, easily and regularly!

Currently I just have my 750gb HDD and I clone that onto another one exactly the same to backup.

Would I be able to get a 1TB portable USB hard drive and then somehow clone both the other hard drives in my laptop onto this. Also if the internal drives failed for any reason, could I make it so this USB hard drive could be bootable in the case of an emergency?

Is it possible to boot from an external USB hard drive?

I have used Acronis True image, but any other suggestions welcome as I have had problems occasonally with this

Thanks in advance :) 

Alex
a b D Laptop
a c 104 G Storage
May 20, 2013 8:31:56 AM

Hi Alex, & Welcome to Tom's Hardware!

Acronis is fine to back up both drives. Or you could use the built in Windows BackUp to backup on a schedule both the SSD and secondary HDD. If something happened to you system drive, you could using the Acronis DVD, or a made Recovery Disk, or the Windows Installation Disk, go to the Recovery environment and restore the image back to your SSD.

As for making the USB drive bootable, that's possibly but you would have to set it as Active and move it to 1st in the boot order. If you just used your BackUp image to clone back to the SSD, that's probably a better solution.

Another thing to consider is the size of the BackUp HDD. Since you probably will have your system set to Image the drives, then incrementally backup recent changes - multiple times - not just once, you should consider a larger drive (2TB, not bigger at this point in time) so you will have adequate BackUp space for more than 1 copy. The backup image process compresses the data so it won't take exactly the same space as the other drives, but a 2TB HDD would give you ample room.
May 20, 2013 1:25:30 PM

Hi John

thanks for the info.

I Have never used images before, i have only cloned a whole drive using Acronis.

So an image does still clone the whole drive, but compresses it? Is it as failsafe as cloning?

Hmm, was literally about to order a 1tb portable USB drive for backing up, but now youve go me thinking! So if I am using Windows backup utility it will take up more space from having multiple images? Does it not just add to an image, meaning that it can only ever total a maximum of both my hard drives?


Hope this makes sense, and thanks for the help

Alex
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a b D Laptop
a c 104 G Storage
May 20, 2013 2:30:08 PM

Hi Alex,

If you are comfortable with Acronis, that's the way to go. I only mentioned Windows BackUp since it is built in Win-7/8 OS.
With Acronis, you can set it up any way you want. When you Clone a drive, it makes a sector by sector copy of the whole drive. I think with Acronis you can choose the whole drive or just the used space. When you image a drive, it makes a compressed back of the whole drive which you can restore to that or a different drive. You get a TIB file. Then you choose if you want a full image every time, or Incrementally back up just the changed files, which is a much smaller file. Acronis does that. I don't know for sure how Acronis does it, but most Imaging programs will initially make a Full Image, then incrementally back up the changed files. Then when you restore it, Acronis copies the initial Image to the "restored drive", and then all the incremental files, so you have a fresh up to date restore. Some programs make a Full Image every 3-6 months, then increments from there.
When you set up a Schedule to back up with Acronis, it adds the incremental files to the secondary HDD, so slowly over time it will fill up.

I have one older Win-XP machine I use Acronis to Image the full system drive every week which is ~ 25GB, so every 6 months or so, it will complain of being "too full" and I delete 5 months of images manually.

Acronis is very flexible. You can Image more than 1 HDD (sequentially of course), and separate files, like your Outlook data files, if you want. Any you can store them anywhere you want, for example in one Partition on your BackUp drive, and use another Partition on that drive for something else. With Acronis, you can also look into an Image file and copy back just one folder or file if you want. So it's a great program.
May 20, 2013 2:38:05 PM

Hi John

thankyou for all that info, exactly what I needed. I think I will buy Acronis soon....just a couple more things...

So Acronis will make images from both my SSD and HDD and put them on my big 2tb HDD...or will I have to make two partitions on my 2tb HDD and then put images from each drive in my laptop onto the seperate partitions?

If for instance my internal hard drives both die randomly, but i have the images backed up onto my external USB drive, what would I do to get back up and running asap for a gig. Would I have to buy two identical drives to before and then could I put the images back on and be all back to normal?

Thankyou so much for your help

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a b D Laptop
a c 104 G Storage
May 20, 2013 4:58:25 PM
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robodelfy said:
Hi John

thankyou for all that info, exactly what I needed. I think I will buy Acronis soon....just a couple more things...

So Acronis will make images from both my SSD and HDD and put them on my big 2tb HDD...or will I have to make two partitions on my 2tb HDD and then put images from each drive in my laptop onto the seperate partitions?

If for instance my internal hard drives both die randomly, but i have the images backed up onto my external USB drive, what would I do to get back up and running asap for a gig. Would I have to buy two identical drives to before and then could I put the images back on and be all back to normal?

Thankyou so much for your help



There is a lot in Acronis, the 2013 version has a 213 page user manual! You can download it to take a look if needed. One way to separate out HDD backups, is to use the same partition, but put them in separate folders, and in your schedule for backup, you direct the system drive C to go into, say, the System BackUp folder, and the secondary drive to be saved into, say, Secondary BackUp folder.
Then each of the backups are separate, but in each folder they are listed by date.
I only mentioned having 2 partitions on a big HDD, say two 1TB partitions. Don't have to. You could use the first partition for images, and the other for data storage. Or even leave it as unallocated space, so if you needed more space on the first partition, just expand it into the empty space, using Disk Managment.

If the worse happened and you had a HDD failure, you use the Acronis DVD disk, which has a recovery program on it (I think Linux) which you would boot from. You can then Image the backup over to a new HHD or SSD (doesn't have to be the same, just as big as or larger than the bad one).

It can be confusing, but helpful to remember that Cloning is mainly for transferring a complete HDD sector by sector, to another Drive, while BackUp Imaging is used for safety bakups of your drives.

And then there's always the "cloud" to store backups. It's available in Acronis, but I've read some folks have had trouble with it earlier this year, so it's premature to trust your drive image to a "cloud somewhere".
May 21, 2013 2:16:28 AM

Thankyou John

Youve cleared a lot of things up for me that I just didnt understand before!

That sounds perfect, just having two folders on the USB drive, one for each internal drive.

You say I could partition the drive into two 1tb sections, one possibly for data storage and one for backups. i dont need any extra space for data storage though, and I'd imagine I will ony have about 750gb of stuff on both my internal hard drives. Do you still think i need a 2 tb external drive? Im actually finding it hard to find a2tb drive fo a good price, I need it to be one of the small bus powered portable ones. there are a fai few 1.5tb ones, maybe that would be the best option. I guess I just dont know how much space all these images will end up taking up. I always assumed it would never be more than the total of all the other drives! :) 
a b D Laptop
a c 104 G Storage
May 21, 2013 8:31:55 AM

Well, it depends how much data you have on the 750GB HDD, and how many times you were planning to image it. It is better to have 2 or more backup copies stored, in case one of them is bad or not complete. Then you can delete an older one any time, and add a fresh one, without being vulnerable without any backup during that process.

So if you imaged, say 500GB of data X 2 (acronis compressed), it could take up 600GB of backup space, plus the small incremental files. The SSD might have 150GB of data, imaged (compressed) to 100 GB x 2 or 200GB of data, plus incremental backups.
So you could get by with a 1 TB drive, or the 1.5 TB drive.

It sounds like your data is important, so I wouldn't skimp on safety. Most of the drives are spec'd at >100,000 hrs MTBF, which sounds like a lot of time, but stats show about 3% of drives fail per year.

For the 1TB or 1.5 TB drive, one MBR partition would be fine. I always partition my drives with at least some unallocated space at the end, so you can contract or expand the first partition if needed, or add another partition and adjust it's size in the unallocated space. And if never needed, just expand the first partition to take all the space.
May 21, 2013 10:37:54 AM

Thankyou john

youve been a great help!

I think i will go with the 1.5tb drive and buy acronis, and then get to grips with a backup plan!

Is there any need for me to have more than just the single partition on my drive for backing up? Do you have multiple partitions for any reason on a backup drive like Im talking about?

Right, thats the last of my silly questions I promise!
a b D Laptop
a c 104 G Storage
May 21, 2013 12:26:27 PM

robodelfy said:
Thankyou john

youve been a great help!

I think i will go with the 1.5tb drive and buy acronis, and then get to grips with a backup plan!

Is there any need for me to have more than just the single partition on my drive for backing up? Do you have multiple partitions for any reason on a backup drive like Im talking about?

Right, thats the last of my silly questions I promise!


Hi Alex,
I usually leave unallocated space at the end of a large HDD, because it leaves options open for later use. You might consider havin one large MBR partition, say ~1.25 TB, and leave the other 250 MB "unallocated". You do that after you initialize the drive at the time of partitioning. It will ask you if you want to use the whole drive or for a specific partition size. The "unallocated" section has no partition or formatting. But that way, using Disk Management in Win-7, you can create a second partition there, or contract or expand the first partition any time you want. It's possible but much more involved to do that later with out that unallocated space available later. Doesn't have to be very big. Expanding a partition into unallocated space is safe, contracting a partition where there are files possibly located in the space you need is much less data safe. It's not a big deal, but you have those flexible options is you leave yourself a little unallocated space at the end of the drive.

May 21, 2013 12:35:58 PM

yep that makes sense!

Cheers for everything john, your a beauty!
a b D Laptop
a c 104 G Storage
May 21, 2013 3:43:48 PM

robodelfy said:
yep that makes sense!

Cheers for everything john, your a beauty!


Enjoy the new drive and setting up Acronis. Lots of features in it, and after getting it all set up the way you want, with a schedule, storing your data exactly where you want, you will be an expert in Acronis True Image.

May 21, 2013 3:51:03 PM

Cheers :) 
!