Yes, I'm responding to my own post, but only to futher talk about the pains I have encountered...
...I have a 12-Gig drive in my laptop, which varies between 60-80% full, and I need a way to back my data up. That is a lot of data!! But digging through all the files, my personal data consists of 1.2 Gig...and of 400 Meg is an Outlook archive, 100 Meg is system personalization files, while the final 700 Meg are my personal documents that I have created or want to save.
Do I really need to be backing up 10 Gig of stuff when I'm truly only concerned with 1.2 Gig?
The best approach I have found so far for my laptop is to buy **ANOTHER** 12 Gig drive, the IBM MultiBay harddisk drive adapter, and Symantec's GHOST utility. I make an image file onto my backup-drive of my working drive. The 10 Gig of data becomes ~5 Gig compressed file...of which I can get two of these files on my backup-drive. Being that my laptop allows me to have two harddrives installed, transfer times are really quick.
Though this isn't bad, it still isn't really the right solution...I'm required to boot to DOS for the process and recovering a single file isn't easy. Though for doing a complete system renewal, the GHOST software is amazing!
I've looked at the tape backup software...Why can't these vendors allow for their software package to be used to create a compress file on a disk instead of requiring a tape drive? (** I'd love to see a tape device that fits in the multi-bay of my laptop!! No power or connection cables to carry!! A 2nd harddrive is cheap...a tape-drive isn't...)
I almost need a document archival system/process. Once I have completed a project (example: taxes using TurboTax), then I can archive this project off my harddrive, but should be able to get to it quickly. I think next year I'm going to use TurboTax on Iomega's ActiveDisk Technology (http://www.iomega.com/turbotax/index.html). No need to clutter my drive with a short-term application...plus my data is then all self-contained with the application (and even the version of the application that I used to create the file) for quick future reference.
I create a ton of documents (mostly in MS Word, sometimes in Adobe PageMaker) that use graphic files (PaintShop Pro), spreadsheets (MS Excel), diagrams (Visio), and drawings (Adobe Illustrator). These then get "finalized" as an Adobe Acrobat file. One single final document (of ~600K in size) can have nearly 10 Meg of supporting files that I need to keep track of...and archive when finalized. If a revision is needed in a year, I have all the pieces to do so.
SO...if my system crashes, I need a "restore". I can use GHOST to get me to a baseline (Operating System plus my core applications already installed), reinstall my purchased software from the original CD-ROMs, and retreive my archived projects from either CD-RW or ZIP.........
......but how do I perform a regular (daily/weekly/??) backup of my working data, including my system preferences (REG details, INI files, and all shortcuts?)
FINALLY.....why can't one company package up this multi-stage backup process in a shrink-wrapped application that is consumer easy?