Another good one is clonezila. This is a free live CD which you burn and then boot from. It will make an image of your hard drive onto the external drive, backing up all files. You will not be able to browse the backup, but if your computer ever crashes you will be able to restore the computer to exactly the same state as when you last backed it up.
Another option is to make a CLONE of your hard drive, not really a "backup" in the usual sense. A clone is a complete and exact copy of your entire disk. However, unlike good backup software, you cannot easily update a clone to reflect recent changes. Your only choice is to completely re-make the clone which takes time and really should NOT be done in the background while you're doing other tasks.
Geofelt suggested this when he / she said "Acronis True Image". As an alternative to the free trial Geofelt mentioned, go to the WD website and download / install their free package called Acronis True Image WD Edition. It is a free version of Acronis, customized and limited on one important way. It will only make a clone TO a WD disk. So, making a clone to your WD external will work. BUT if you ever have to recover and must try to clone BACK to your main internal HDD, that would only work IF that drive also is by WD. If that is NOT your case, get the Acronis free trial version that is not limited in that way.
Using cloning software in place of backup software has another problem you should recognize. In the event of main HDD failure, you may not have an OS to boot to. Somehow you need to be able to boot the machine and run the cloning software to completely restore your HDD. You have to figure how to do that. This is not so very different from regular Backup systems, but it's still an issue you should plan.
I have been pleased with the acronis true image retail package.
I used it to clone my hard drive to a SSD.
Under windows it locks your system before cloning so you get a consistent image, then releases the lock. When you boot with the new image, everything is back to normal.
The value of the retail package is that it comes with a CD that is bootable. You can boot from the CD to do all the utilities like backup/restore or clone.
If you have a windows-7 install or upgrade dvd, then you can boot from that dvd and use the backup/restore facility to recover your hard drive. I suspect that a W7 OEM dvd will do this also.
I would like to point out that the issue that paperdoc brings up in his last paragraph does not apply to clonezilla, because it is built on the linux kernel and so includes its own operating system which loads to ram.
None of you are answering my question. I am using a wd3200me that's the WD Passport. I just want to copy everthing from my c frive over to it. and then reload windows. Does anyone have a direct answer?
You need to be a bit more clear about what you want to do.
If you mean by "reload" windows, do you mean reinstall a new clean OS?
If so, there is a windows migration tool that will export your data and settings to the external drive.
After windows is reinstalled, you can then import them.
In this scenario, you will need to reinstall any programs that have registry entries, and that will be almost everything.
If you mean "reload" in the sense that you want to restore things to the way they were when you copied everything, then you can use the
backup or cloning methods descrived earlier.
Yes, that's it. I want to reinstall a new clean OS after I have migrated everthing over to my passport. How do I use the windows migration tool. note. I currently cannot access the internet on the laptop I will be doing this on and I am using windows XP median edition. thanks geofelt