This is kind of a software question but it relates to storage I guess and I don't know where else to go.
I recently purchased an 1TB HP external drive that has backup capabilities.
Unfortunately, the backup capabilities were not as robust as I was expecting. The built in software only backs up certain file types. What I wanted was something that could do a complete system restore if my computer's hard disk suffered a sudden catastrophic failure.
I believe there may be software out there that can do that and put it on my external drive. Unfortunately I do not know what the best solution is. The closest thing I can find so far is Norton Ghost and I'm not even totally sure that will work. I don't really want to swallow the $70 cost though if there is a freeware or cheaperware version that does the same thing.
Anybody have any recommendations? If the software can backup multiple computers on the same drive that would be awesome too.
If you're using Windows 7 then the "System Image" backup that's offered under "Start -> All Programs -> Maintenance -> Backup and Restore" does what you're looking for. It allows you to plug in an external drive and make a copy of your OS and "System Reserved" partitions so you can restore after a drive failure. It can burn a recovery DVD that you use to boot the system from so that you can restore from your external drive even if you've replaced the failed OS drive with a fresh, empty disk.
I've tested the Windows 7 "System Image", using it to back up a running system on an HDD and restore it to an SSD - it worked perfectly.
It looks like Vista has a similar capability, but I haven't tested it and so I can't vouch for it.
I personally like Macrium Reflect. It's a free program (I think they have a full pay version too, but the free version is more than enough for me and I believe what you're looking for). If you google Macrium Reflect, you'll get their home page with download links (or go here: http://www.macrium.com/reflectfree.asp). Works on 32 & 64 bit OS's, including Windows 7.
I can tell you from experience (both planned and unplanned) that it works excellent. You set up the definitions first for what to back-up (you can select entire drives individually, or all drives). Then, you set-up when & how often you want it to run.
From there, just sit back and let it do it's work! You'll burn a CD to use if you ever need to use one of the images to recover. I've used this before when upgrading to a larger HD in my laptop and it made an exact image but on the larger drive. Then, I used it once for my parents when their PC got infected to the point where it was easier / faster to just restore with the last good image. Now, I run it on all of my PC's.
Give it a shot - for free, I think you'll be pleased with the results!
EDIT: Just saw your note about backing up multiple PC's on the same external drive; that's exactly what I do, I move my external WD from my desktop to laptop to store the images, and then delete as they get full.
April 23, 2010 12:44:29 PM
Nice! Thanks folks that's a lot to go on. Appreciate it!