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Backing Up my PC


Gardian

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Would appreciate some technical advice.

The only thing that scares me about someone breaking in to the house is the theft of our PC - there's nothing of significant value that wouldn't be covered by insurance. The loss of data and photographs however, would be catastrophic.

I used to backup quite regularly, but since the PC's 'mother board' got zapped by a lightning strike a couple of years ago, we now have a French version of Windows XP installed and I haven't been able to find the Microsoft 'backup & restore' facility. I've looked high and low. Consequently, I have (too infrequently, I confess) copied important files to CD-RW's, which is pretty tedious.

Can anybody recommend some reliable and preferably free software which would do the job, or perhaps point me in the right direction for the Microsoft backup facility?  Thanks in advance.

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Back up mission critical data and sentimentally important items to a memory stick, external hard drive or burn to CD or DVD.

Use some form of Mirror Image software to allow you an instant re-build of both your operating system, applications software and files: and if worried about some nasty little toe rag nicking your back-ups, then store off-site on a trusted online back-up resource, such as, See Here:

For free mirroring software then See Here:

Some banks offer online backup free or very affordably too: Barclays for example.

Online backup is a rapidly growing aspect of Disaster Recovery: since it saves data from destruction in the case of say fire or flood.

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Imaging is a great way to back up any machine, I've been doing for years, since Windows 95 in fact. Acronis is an excellent programme for the job and has been my tool of choice for a number of years. You should however understand that if your machine got lost/stolen/destroyed etc. you could not restore an image taken from it to another new or different machine.

What you can do though is 'mount' an image (geek speak for open) in Windows Explorer and then drag files out of it.

If you have Windows 7 then it has it's own imaging facility and similarly it's images can be mounted for reading.

Online backups are a good idea, providing your connection speed is up to it of course. Don't forget that upload speeds are usually only a fraction of downloads.

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I use this company to back up all my docs to http://mozy.com/

For about $5 a month, unlimited uploads, and of course, your files are available to download anywhere if anything happened if you're away.

It took about a month to upload everything to it, about 64gb in my case, but for me, this method is better than having an external hd or anything.

The other advantage is if anything happened in my home eg a fire, then the data is safe elsewhere on this companies servers.

Now most of my important stuff is backed up, every day or two, mozy automatically backs up any new or changed files for me. It's effortless now.
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Thanks very much to all for your constructive suggestions.

I must admit that I like the idea of the Acronis / Mozy solutions, which seem to provide a hands-off facility at a very affordable cost. I've had a quick look at both sites and will almost certainly proceed with one of them within the next day or so.

Of course, Mrs G now says that she told me all about this some time back, but my selective hearing facility was obviously in operation. Well, actually, it's permanently on! 

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One further little tip.

I build all our office machines with a minimum of Two Hard Disk Drives: as memory saturation accelerates apace (I note from our main wholesaler's offers this week I can now purchase a 1Tb HDD (SATA) for less than £40 + VAT!), HDD failure is quite common.

I always create two (minimum) partitions and load the OS (Operating System) onto the small primary disk partition: the second HDD is then used to internally back-up all critical folders and files.

If the second HDD is also partitioned and a mirror image copy of the OS loaded, it can be restored: and more critically, the PC can be booted from the second disk in cases of emergency.

As the OS files (particularly the registry) changes almost daily; and changes every time one loads new application software, then as a matter of housekeeping, update the second drive's mirror image.

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  • 1 month later...

Well, in the end I went for the external hard drive solution. 

I tried with Acronis, but when I was faced with 9 days worth of upload, I decided to give it a miss.

When in the UK at Christmas, I bought the above for £50 in PC World (plenty of capacity for me) and have just done the biz in a couple of hours. The only pain was the need to print out all 75 pages of the User Manual in order to have some idea of what I was doing, but it's there now.

A monthly 'refresh' will be fine for me + peace of mind. BTW, the hard drive will be kept in the car's glove box, rather than in the house.  Thanks all for the input. 

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Nothing to do with your original query Gardian, but a tip I read the other day.

Copy all your important documents such as passport, credit card info, etc. into an email and put it under draft emails (brouillons).  Then if ever you are away somewhere and they are stolen or lost, you can retrieve all the details.  Pretty good, hey.   [:)]

 

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[quote user="Gardian"]

the hard drive will be kept in the car's glove box, rather than in the house. 

[/quote]

Not the best place to put it unless it well wrapped in foam. Put it this way a light tap of your hand on the table is about 5g so bouncing around in the glove compartment for weeks and months is not the best place. Could you not find somewhere else which does not involve travel or alternatively buy a small 'fire proof' box, your be surprised how cheap they are these days plus you can store documents etc in them. Amazon sell them for between £20 to £60.

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[quote user="AnOther"]

[quote user="Gardian"]I tried with Acronis, but when I was faced with 9 days worth of upload, I decided to give it a miss.[/quote]I don't understand this statement, upload what to where ?

[/quote]

Well, I went for the free trial offer and downloaded the software. When I kicked off the upload to the remote server, it was giving me that sort of time as the estimated completion.

May well be that I was doing something wrong, but I was running out of time before leaving for the UK before Christmas, so 'abandoned ship' and just copied my absolutely vital stuff to CD.

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[quote user="Quillan"][quote user="Gardian"]

the hard drive will be kept in the car's glove box, rather than in the house. 

[/quote]

Not the best place to put it unless it well wrapped in foam. Put it this way a light tap of your hand on the table is about 5g so bouncing around in the glove compartment for weeks and months is not the best place. Could you not find somewhere else which does not involve travel or alternatively buy a small 'fire proof' box, your be surprised how cheap they are these days plus you can store documents etc in them. Amazon sell them for between £20 to £60.

[/quote]

Thanks Q - that makes good sense. 

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[quote user="Christine Animal"]

Copy all your important documents such as passport, credit card info, etc. into an email and put it under draft emails (brouillons).  Then if ever you are away somewhere and they are stolen or lost, you can retrieve all the details.  Pretty good, hey.   [:)]

[/quote]

Another good idea Christine. Thanks.

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[quote user="Gardian"][quote user="AnOther"]

[quote user="Gardian"]I tried with Acronis, but when I was faced with 9 days worth of upload, I decided to give it a miss.[/quote]I don't understand this statement, upload what to where ?

[/quote]

Well, I went for the free trial offer and downloaded the software. When I kicked off the upload to the remote server, it was giving me that sort of time as the estimated completion.

May well be that I was doing something wrong, but I was running out of time before leaving for the UK before Christmas, so 'abandoned ship' and just copied my absolutely vital stuff to CD.

[/quote]

It took well over a month to backup my hard drive to the remote server.

Now it's all up, it only takes a matter of minutes to upload any new files.

It's perfectly normal for it to take a long time the first time you upload.

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I have never used any trial version of Acronis but I'd be very surprised if the default location for a backup were online although having said that logically if your HD is one single partition (I always split mine into several from day one) and there is no other storage location available, such as a USB HD or CD/DVD, then there would be no other option as you cannot save an image to the same drive you are backing up.

Saving an image to an online location is only practical if you have a fast connection and not something I would recommend. Remember too that if you needed it to recover your machine with it could take a very long time to download again.

 

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