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Easiest backup solution

Last response: in Storage
February 16, 2009 3:17:08 AM

I have built a new computer with two drives. First is a 300gb raptor drive. Second is a WD 1tb. The goal is to use the 300gb for the OS and document files and then to backup to the 1tb disk weekly. In the past I used a program called Acronis which makes an exact copy of a drive and makes is bootable in the event the main drive goes down.

It has been a few years and I'm wondering if there is a better solution or program to achieve this. Basically if the main drive goes down, I want to be able to boot from the backup drive. Also though, the backup drive has some programs installed on it. I've never partitioned a drive so Im not sure if that can be done after the fact. Suggestions?

More about : easiest backup solution

February 17, 2009 1:12:57 AM

a c 180 G Storage
February 18, 2009 1:58:32 AM

For backup, I would suggest an external drive. A backup attached to a PC does not protect you from loss from viruses, operator error and such. The backup does not need to be as large as the source, because backup data will be compresssed. I think your current approach is a good one, only do it to an external drive.
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a b G Storage
February 18, 2009 3:07:44 AM

I agree with geofelt. Use an external drive. An external drive doesn't cost much more than its bare equivalent. Making it bootable adds an unnecesary complication.

And I recommend spending the few extra dollars to get a USB/eSATA drive if you have an unused SATA port on your motherboard.
February 19, 2009 3:36:35 PM

So go through this with me. I have most of my files on C drive and currently my documents, etc is also on C drive.

With what I think you are saying, I shouldn't make the backup drive bootable? Just backup the essential files? And then what? I would have to reinstall everything from scratch before I can utilize those essential backup files?

I don't know. I guess I pictured something better. Like my C drive goes down, I then switch over to my backup drive and it starts working from there seamlessly. This gives me time to replace the C drive with a new drive. Once that is complete, I can either copy the D drive back to C or I can reinstall the programs onto C and use the D drive to retrieve the data files.

For most, it may not be a big concern but down time (or lack of it) is important to me since I am running my business from this computer. It's not a large business but it's an online travel business with 200 or so travel sites on the drive and that are edited daily as necessary.
February 19, 2009 3:39:34 PM

Anyone have any experience with online backup services? Where I think my information is backed up to their servers as I type and can be retrieved if my system goes down? Not sure of the details though.
a c 180 G Storage
February 19, 2009 8:34:44 PM

What are you trying to protect against?
How much time could you afford to spend in recovery?

One option is to get a second 300gb drive and use raid-1.
It protects only against a failing drive by simultaneously writing data to both the primary and the mirror drive.
The value of raid-1 for protecting data is that you can recover from a hard drive failure quickly.
It is for servers that can't afford any down time.
Recovery from a hard drive failure is just moments.
Fortunately hard drives do not fail often.
Mean time to failure is claimed to be on the order of 1,000,000 hours.(100 years)
Raid-1 does not protect you from other types of losses such as viruses,
software errors,raid controller failure, operator error, or fire...etc.
For that, you need EXTERNAL backup.
If you have external backup, and can afford some recovery time, then you don't need raid-1.

If you could afford 30 minutes or so for recovery, then you could take an image copy of the c drive using acronis true image. This is best done to an external drive, but an internal drive would give partial protection. Periodically, you run the program to copy any data that has changed since the last run.

In the event of needing recovery, you boot from the acronis dvd, and direct it to reload the image copy. You then tell it to reapply the changes that it has accumulated.

It is my understanding that the remote protection services do something like this except to a remote server. It is a plus because you are protected from a local fire or theft. It is a minus because of cost and the slowness of the internet.

Of course, you could do both raid-1 and external backup.
February 20, 2009 3:44:43 PM

I was looking at Acronis which is what I used with my XP setup but I have heard some less then favorable comments about Acronis and Vista 64-bit. I have wrote to there sales support on their website and am awaiting a response.
a c 180 G Storage
February 20, 2009 7:16:05 PM

johnstac said:
I was looking at Acronis which is what I used with my XP setup but I have heard some less then favorable comments about Acronis and Vista 64-bit. I have wrote to there sales support on their website and am awaiting a response.

I have not had any problems with acronis true image 11 on vista 64. I only used it to clone the os drives, though.
February 22, 2009 8:04:18 AM


I use a very small program named Snapshot Disk Imaging to backup important hard drive partitions to images. It's even that small (250K I think) that if you would give me your email adress I could mail it to you. Other good things about it are that it works in both Windows and DOS, it accepts command lines from the prompt, it requires no installation, it uses compression and offers a function to mount images as a virtual hard drive so you can get files out of it if you need them. Take a look at the website for more info.
If you can get along with Windows NT Command Shell Scripting, you can write a script with the right instructions for snapshot and the backup can be made just by activating the script. The program has a GUI too so making a backup shouldn't be a problem. To restore a backup of a partition containing the OS, you will need to get into DOS and run it with the right commands from there. If you're not used to this, it might seem a little bit confusing, but once you get it, you should be fine. Again, go to the website for a full list with all the commands. Also here you could write a script to automate things.