Best routine backup solution?

My dad sent me a message asking for advice on backing up his system. It made me realize that I really no idea what the best solution is. He lives alone, so I would want to implement something relatively easy for him to do on a semi-routine basis. He is most concerned about maintaining his e-mails in outlook (of which he has many stored locally in separate folders). However, he also has pictures, word documents, etc. that would need to be backed up.

The simplest solution would probably be an off-site company like Carbonite. However, I assume that something like that would be invasive and I would want to keep his PC as clean as possible.

If we got an external hard drive, can anyone recommend software that would be able to clone/back up his hard drive?

Any pros and cons of either method?

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More about best routine backup solution
  1. I use Active@ Disk Image, dead easy to use whether creating a disk-image or restoring it to the hard drive, and it's a lot quicker to restore that way than having to re-install Windows followed by all your applications (yawn):

    It's not free but I can only recommend what I use and trust, and that's it.

    If you want a free one, look here:
    (scroll down to see the applications and verdicts).
  2. the easy way for dad would be to buy a removable drive try for the 5.25 bay. and then drop a new hard drive in the bay. if the drive goes bad all you do is power down the pc..slide the try out and swap it. if dad replaces his pc then it a few min work sliding it out of one pc into the other. wd usb drives if the usb controller inside the case goes bad or your dad drops or knocks over the drive the data can be lost. some of the newer wd usb have anti copy protection built into the board and drive. (if the board does go bad you cant copy the data off the working hard drive.). a little more money would be a mini nas. plug it into your dad home network and add a few drives to it for storage. your better off buying a back up software that smart. ones that a small biz would use. these back up programs dont just the drive from bit to bit. they also will only back up or append files that change. the good ones will have recovery boot disk or usb stick. some of them will also back up to the cloud now or online back up. if the back up image is small in size your dad should also use a usb stick once a year and then put that stick in a fire proof safe or in his safety deposit box if he has one. for the pc itself make sure the phone and ethernet cables have anti spike from lighting protection on them. also a good ups will save a pc if there a lighting hit or a brown out. also have your dad or you clean out his pc once a year and have your dad run hd tune once a year and read the drive smart info..most newer hard drive do give you a chance to replace the hard drive before they crap out. also with your dad make sure his anti virus is up to date and his web browser. the biggest data killer for your dad would be a virus.
  3. What OS version?

    If you want to keep it simple.. why not use the inbuilt windows backup? its sort of OK in Vista and good in Win7 and is set up to easily help with backup on routine stuff like docs and email..
    You could backup local and then use some simple sync tool to keep that backup replicated to somswhere like skydrive (which has its own sync options i think).

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