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How do you backup your PC?
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Privateer
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 16, 2008 9:18 pm    Post subject: How do you backup your PC? Reply with quote

Last week, my PCís hard drive failed and I lost all of my data. I had to have a brand new hard drive fitted and the Operating System installed from scratch. Iím in the process of installing all of the programs that I use. I am also investigating avenues for possible data recovery of my old hard drive. One of the most annoying things is that Iíve lost my Microsoft Outlook data (email, contact list, etc).

How would you recommend that I back up my laptop in the future? Apart from Outlook which uses different folders, I save everything to sub-folders hanging off the C:\DATA folder. Would an external USB connected hard drive and batch scripts do the job? Iíd like two sorts of back up done by the batch scripts:

1. Full back up: I.e. All of the separate little MS Outlook files that are placed all over the place and all data from C:\Data folder.

2. Partial backup: I.e. All of the separate little MS Outlook files that are placed all over the place and all data from C:\Data folder, with the exception of large subfolders like C:\Data\My Pictures, C:\Data\My Music, and C:\Data\Backup

The idea is that both Full and Partial backups contain MS Outlook and MS Word etc files but only the full backups contain the large and relatively static files like photographs, music, and backups.

If anybody has experience of using batch scripts for backups would they post up examples (especially include and exclude statements) here?

Should I back up anything else?

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Darren
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 16, 2008 9:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

At a minimum you want to invest in an external HDD and use backup software to copy your important files to it on a schedule. Vista comes with a backup utility that whilst basic is sufficient for most purposes.

I'll bet there are many users with irreplaceable family photos and other important data for which no other copies exist all sat on a PC with no backup.
Backups are one of those things few of us think about or practice until its too late. If you're not backing up then you need to be!
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aj2052
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 17, 2008 2:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am having the same problem, one program that seems to be well recommended is Good sync, and is available has as free trial,It appears to support both Sync and Backup for multiple computers, havnt had time to try yet but seems versatile.
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Mullet
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 17, 2008 3:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I feel for you. Been there, done that, ripped the hair out.

The solution is in two parts as I see it.

1. For the worse case scenario solution. I use Norton save and restore on my Vista. Its an evolution of Ghost if you are familiar.

Save a complete image snapsot of your entire system to external media, including OS, applications, drivers, configurations and files plus the all important boot disc. This goes way beyond the MS offering.

Everyone makes a backup image (or should) using the in built application before using the new laptop, this is just an extension of that process that can save many hours of re building.

I spent a fair bit of time doing this at the start when installing and configuring my system. Meaning if need be, I can restore my entire base configuration then add the data.

keep this base image safe, and make further images occasionally.

If doomsday happens, within a few hours my entire setup (plus incremental backups) can be restored from MY day one image.

2. Incremental data backup is the easy part.

For bomb proof Outlook backup, go to file and use the import export wizard to export contacts etc to file ( I prefer excel) which can then be imported again later if necessary or even swapped between PCs. Or emails can simply be dragged and dropped back and forth between Outlook and a new folder to any media.

For images, docs, favourites or I whatever, keep a copy on external HD. Good old copy and paste (my preference) or use the built in MS backup utility.

External HDs are cheap as owt these days.
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Darren
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 17, 2008 8:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

For me, it's the data that is crucial, especially business documentation, images and emails so I take a weekly snapshot using an imaging application and save the last four. I also have hourly incremental's which overwrite each other as space allows. I can easily restore a single file or folder from these if I delete by mistake or wish to revert to a previous version etc.

At the end of the day the solutions are many and various but the crucial factor is you MUST backup! If you don't AND you have data you can't live without then sure as eggs are eggs you will one day regret not doing so.
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PaulB2005
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 17, 2008 10:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Personally i use Acronis True Image on an (almost) daily basis to create an image of my PC which is stored on a second (D) hard drive in the PC.

I also backup my data from the C Drive to the D Drive using a program called EzBackItUp to run the backup. Once the files and folders are specified you can save it as a job and make a simple icon to double click to start the backup. The first run backs up everything, subsequent runs only backup new files and changed files, saving time. You can also tell it delete files from the backup that have been deleted from the source. No compression or password protection but then less to go wrong / lock you out of your files.

Works great with XP - doesn't work on some Vista PCs though.

Also have a backup set up to run the backup to a USB External Hard Drive which is normally kept in a safe place (not plugged into he PC all the time) and a second PC on my network. Oh and finally just to copy my work files onto a USB Pen Drive.
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Privateer
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 17, 2008 10:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi All,

Many thanks for your responses.

Mullet wrote:
I feel for you. Been there, done that, ripped the hair out.

It was a case of ďoh no, oh no, OH NOĒ as realisation dawned! Rolling Eyes

Mullet wrote:
External HDs are cheap as owt these days.

Exactly, I will get a USB external HD and back up the essential files. Thumbs Up

I appreciate about making an image backup of the entire hard drive, but for me itís the data that is irreplaceable not the applications. If it takes me a few days to get a new hard drive and then install the operating system then I donít mind too much as long as I have my data and the all important outlook files.

I will investigate the backup applications:
Arrow Good sync
Arrow Norton save and restore / Ghost
Arrow Acronis True Image
Arrow EZBack-it-up

However I was looking for a simple (I do subscribe to the KISS principle) solution of connecting a USB external hard drive to the PC, creating a new folder on the external hard drive for each new backup and then run a simple batch script that copies what I want from the PC to the external hard drive with no compression.

I donít want to deal with reloading a full back up and then four or five incremental backups in order to get the data, I just want to be able to specify a full (everything) backup or a partial (everything, except the large and relatively static files like photographs, music, and backups). So in reality I would only have to restore from the latest Full backup and the even later (if there is one) Partial backup to have a the best restore, obviously depending on how old and out-of-date the original backups are.

If batch script can do the above then excellent, if one of the above programs will do the above then even better.

Regards,
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Darren
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 17, 2008 11:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Privateer wrote:
However I was looking for a simple (I do subscribe to the KISS principle) solution of connecting a USB external hard drive to the PC, creating a new folder on the external hard drive for each new backup and then run a simple batch script that copies what I want from the PC to the external hard drive with no compression.

The Windows backup util will do that for you? On the issue of the disk that failed, is it a hardware issue i.e will it spin up or a software issue, won't boot, can't read from it etc?
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PaulB2005
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 17, 2008 11:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I am also investigating avenues for possible data recovery of my old hard drive. One of the most annoying things is that Iíve lost my Microsoft Outlook data (email, contact list, etc).


Company called OnTrack might be able to recover data from dead drives.

Quote:
...the Operating System installed from scratch. Iím in the process of installing all of the programs that I use.


Acronis True Image would have allowed you to install a new hard drive and then restore the last image to it in what they call a Bare Metal Restore (you don't even format the drive). Once restored your PC is back to how it was on the day it was last imaged, files, drivers, programs, registry, the lot. I store the images on a second hard drive and don't use incremental images, preferring to make an entirely new image each time, keeping just the last 2 or 3. Usually run it whilst having dinner, walking dog, or watching TV. Images are stored on a second internal hard drive. Also the Images are "mountable" so you can double click an image and navigate through it to recover a file you deleted today but you know is in an image you took yesterday.

Finally with True Image you can schedule the backups to run automatically and choose to backup the entire PC, specific data, application settings or email folders and settings.

BTW there is a trial on the Acronis website here

ETA - Just realised you have a laptop. You'd have to run ATI backups to an external USB drive which maybe slow.
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Mullet
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 17, 2008 12:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Darren wrote:

The Windows backup util will do that for you?


Set up a schedule targeted to an external HD will probably be enough for 99.9%.

Coupled with the PC/Laptop restore discs we made ASAP after purchase.
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Oldboy
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 17, 2008 12:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Privateer wrote:
If batch script can do the above then excellent, if one of the above programs will do the above then even better.
If you are using XP then the Command that could be used in a Batch File would be xcopy.

I don't know if it is available in Vista.

It would be along the lines of:

xcopy c:data\*.* destination folder /o /h /e /c /k /y

xcopy /?, from a Command Prompt, will show what the switches do, plus a few others.
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 17, 2008 1:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Privateer,

Any of the products suggested above should handle the task.

I would just add 2 important things for you to remember:
1) You should set up the process so that it operates automatically and regularly. Otherwise, unless you are superhuman, you WILL forget to trigger it manually yourself nearly as often as you should
2) Do not overwrite a backup until you have first created a fresh one.

The products I relied upon myself until quite recently were Acronis True Image for backup, plus Allway Sync and Robocopy for mirroring data to other PCs or media servers. I have recently built myself a Windows Home Server (you can also buy them off-the-shelf with Server software pre-installed) which does a superb job of backing up and restoring all of the desktop and laptop computers we have in our house. I still use Allway Sync and Robocopy. I suspect Home Server may be overkill for you though.

Oldboy,

XCOPY is still provided with Vista, but it has been superceded by RoboCopy (a free download from Microsoft).
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PaulB2005
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 17, 2008 4:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
You should set up the process so that it operates automatically and regularly.


Number of bad things with automatic backups esp with external drives, as it means having the drive plugged in all the time.

1) The danger of assumption. Users will assume a backup has run just because they set it. Even if it has run users assume the backup ran correctly. Will you be there at 3 am to hear the external drive making clunking noises as a warning to impending failure during your nightly backup? Do you know where the logs are? Do you know how to read them? What happens, if like one of my clients, 6 months later you go to recover something from the backup only to discover the backup stopped running 3 months ago?

2) You will reduce the effective life of your hard drive.

3) If the hard drive is plugged in all the time then any viruses that hit the PC could also hit the external drive. Also if another user goes to format a drive they could format the wrong drive.

4) If your are burgled you would probably loose the backup drive and the laptop. Same if there was a fire.

Best to use a backup drive only when backing up. Put the drive somewhere safe but easy enough to get at it. Small safes can be had for as little as £30. Pick a time to do the backup and do it.
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Mullet
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 17, 2008 10:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

PaulB2005 wrote:

1) The danger of assumption....Even if it has run users assume the backup ran correctly.

3) If the hard drive is plugged in all the time then any viruses that hit the PC could also hit the external drive.


1) Good backup software will have a verify function. IIRC even the Windows offering does this.

3) This hits the nail on the head.

Suggestions so far have concentrated upon hardware failure. Malicious corruption due to virus and malware must be given equal consideration.
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 17, 2008 11:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

PaulB2005 wrote:

1) The danger of assumption. Users will assume a backup has run just because they set it...
.
4) If your are burgled you would probably loose the backup drive and the laptop. Same if there was a fire.


1)Agreed. My preference is for scheduled automated backups, but someone should remember to check occasionally that they are still running. If you leave people to run the backups themselves they will usually either forget for months or years on end, or just not bother because they are in a hurry to do something else.

4) Whatever media you use for backups you should rotate and preferably keep at least one copy in another location. My own off-site copy is on an external hard drive.
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