How to setup a backup hard drive?

OK so I have a 1.5TB drive that I have been using for about 2 years now. Its almost full, so I just bought a new 2TB drive. What I would like to do is copy ALL the data on the 1.5TB drive over to the new 2TB drive, then format the 1.5TB and use it as a selective backup drive to back up some of the more important data that was copied to the 2TB drive. Once the data is backed up on the 1.5TB drive I would also like to compress the backup that way I'll still have some room for storage on that drive. So couple questions on doing that:

1. Whats the best way to go about doing this? Is there some good software(free) I should use? OR should I just drag and drop everything onto the 2TB drive and delete the unwanted data from the 1.5TB drive and use like 7zip to compress the stuff I want to keep backed up? Is there a more efficient way to do this? I do NOT want any kind of automatic system for backing stuff up, I would like to be able to pick and choose what files are backed up and which are not.

2. Whats the best way to copy the files to the new drive? Should I just CTRL+A all 1.3TB of data and copy it over? I realize thats quite a bit of data to copy at one time, Whats the risk of corrupting the files/loosing video quality? Also, would it be a good idea to make an MD5 checksum for all the files and then verify all the files once they are copied (to ensure no corruption) or am I being overly cautious here?

3. Whats the average life expectancy for hard drives nowadays? I am using HD Tune Pro to check on my drives about once a month, and so far nothing seems to be failing, but the 1.5TB drive and my 320GB drive are about 2-3 years old and I am wondering how much longer I can expect to use them before I need to start looking at replacements?

Thanks in advance for the help
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More about setup backup hard drive
  1. Do a Google search for "Free Cloning programs". Acronis isn't free but is excellent for transferring everything to a new hard drive. It also allows you to backup the new HD once everything is installed.

    Life expectancy varies greatly so I doubt that anyone can give you an average lifespan (HD brand, frequency of computer use, heat, etc.).
  2. thanks for the response i will look into that. Anyone else want to share an opinion?
  3. If your OS is on this drive, then you can't just drag/drop all the files on the new drive. You will need to clone it. Clonezilla is free.

    As for backing up individual files. I think windows backup can do this and it's built into windows. Acronis True Image Home is very good, but not free.
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