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    When planning to save the stuff that is in my Users folder, it's a no-brainer to save the contents of My Documents, My Music, My Pictures, and My Video. The idea being that if I have to do a restore/recovery on my computer and then the necessary program-reinstalls, I can then copy my personal files from my data DVDs back to the hard drive, and I'll be ready to work on my computer again.

    But do I need to do more? If I want to make my reinstalled programs behave exactly as they did before -- with options, preferences, look-and-feel, and other configurations being the same as they were before -- what AppData files should I have saved along with the "My Xxxx" files?

    Right now, the only thing I'm saving in AppData is the contents of folder Users>USERNAME>AppData>Local>Microsoft>Windows>The mes, in order to save my home-made desktop themes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas Richardson View Post
    .....If I want to make my reinstalled programs behave exactly as they did before -- with options, preferences, look-and-feel, and other configurations being the same as they were before -- what AppData files should I have saved along with the "My Xxxx" files?....
    On reinstalls, I end up using the entire contents of my AppData folder. There are a few apps that do not use the AppData folder, but most of those store the settings in their own folders.
    Gre

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    Super Moderator Deadeye81's Avatar
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    A great way to include all files, apps, and settings for recovery is to do an image backup. Making an image backup of your entire installation will enable you to restore your system to the state it was the moment you finished the image backup. You can do a full image backup and then follow up with incremental backups as well.

    Acronis True Image is a good paid program and Macrium Reflect Free is a great free image backup program. Both will handle 32 and 64 bit Windows XP, Vista, and Win 7. I have used both and have been very pleased with the results. I completely restored my XP install when things went sour, and did not have to reinstall XP, any apps, or change any settings.

    It is still a good idea to keep copies of user data, themes and Appdata as well, but if you want to avoid the hassle of reinstalling Windows and applications, image backups are the way to go.
    Deadeye81

    "We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give." Sir Winston Churchill

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gerald View Post
    A great way to include all files, apps, and settings for recovery is to do an image backup. Making an image backup of your entire installation will enable you to restore your system to the state it was the moment you finished the image backup. You can do a full image backup and then follow up with incremental backups as well.

    Acronis True Image is a good paid program and Macrium Reflect Free is a great free image backup program. Both will handle 32 and 64 bit Windows XP, Vista, and Win 7. I have used both and have been very pleased with the results. I completely restored my XP install when things went sour, and did not have to reinstall XP, any apps, or change any settings.

    It is still a good idea to keep copies of user data, themes and Appdata as well, but if you want to avoid the hassle of reinstalling Windows and applications, image backups are the way to go.
    Right now I have used up 46 Gb on my hard drive. If I backup all my HD's files uncompressed/unzipped to data DVDs, that means filling up eleven DVDs every week. If you mean I should do backup to an external HD, then I have to go to Fry's Electronics and buy one.

    Figure that whatever files I save in weekly backups, I will be saving for months and months (or for years and years) before I need to use that stuff and rebuild from a crash. So from a time-management standpoint, it's best to spend a little more time on that far-off recovery day and minimize the time that I spend on weekly backups.

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    Super Moderator Deadeye81's Avatar
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    You raise a good point! Permit me to share with you how I do my image backups. I do use an external USB 2.0 hard drive for backing up because it is much faster, I can begin the backup procedure at night without having to sit and swap out DVDs, and I end up with a great trouble free image backup when it is finished. Also, the price of external hard drives like the 250, 320 and 500 GB are very reasonable now. Plus, the software mentioned earlier will compress the files as they are being imaged so your image backup can be smaller than your source drive files.

    I have found the sweet spot for me personally when it comes to image backups. I do not do image backups to preserve data. I make a copy of any file every time I make changes to the file. I keep USB memory sticks available for that. I have saved all user files, appdata, and theme settings and I overwrite my copies only when I make changes to the original source files. As a result, I only make a new image backup on the ext. HD when I install a couple of programs or remove some programs I never plan to use again. I then delete the earlier image backup (if it is no larger than 30 GB, I keep it until the third backup is made.) So I do not make these image backups every week. Sometimes I have gone as long as 3 months before doing a fresh image backup. That way I don't spend all my time backing up, and when the inevitable happens, I do not have to reinstall Windows and all the software all over again. Now if I generated a lot of user data, such as in a commercial environment, I would leave my PC on at night and auto schedule incremental backups to cover things. We all have to find what works best for our own situation.

    After 18 to 24 months of this, if I lose my hard drive, I do a new, fresh install of the OS and reinstall the apps and user files. It does a system good to start fresh after that time.
    Deadeye81

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    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas Richardson View Post
    Right now I have used up 46 Gb on my hard drive. If I backup all my HD's files uncompressed/unzipped to data DVDs, that means filling up eleven DVDs every week.
    I have to get in Gerald's camp on this one. If it means buying an external USB drive, you should consider it, if possible. Backing up to that many DVDs (or CDs) has got to be a mountainous chore and very time consuming, regardless of how often you do it.

    Modern day imaging is fast and can be done unattended if you prefer with scheduling. Both Acronis' product and Shadow Protect which I happen to use, will let you restore individual files should that become necessary. I schedule (unattended) weekly full image backups and nightly incrementals which only take a minute or two or three while I sleep.

    Selected file backup is, without meaning offense, almost a waste of time, and perhaps money after the initial investment in one or more drives. As USB externals are easily unpluggable, they can be taken offsite if appropriate as well.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gerald View Post
    You raise a good point! Permit me to share with you how I do my image backups. I do use an external USB 2.0 hard drive for backing up because it is much faster, I can begin the backup procedure at night without having to sit and swap out DVDs, and I end up with a great trouble free image backup when it is finished. Also, the price of external hard drives like the 250, 320 and 500 GB are very reasonable now. Plus, the software mentioned earlier will compress the files as they are being imaged so your image backup can be smaller than your source drive files.

    I have found the sweet spot for me personally when it comes to image backups. I do not do image backups to preserve data. I make a copy of any file every time I make changes to the file. I keep USB memory sticks available for that. I have saved all user files, appdata, and theme settings and I overwrite my copies only when I make changes to the original source files. As a result, I only make a new image backup on the ext. HD when I install a couple of programs or remove some programs I never plan to use again. I then delete the earlier image backup (if it is no larger than 30 GB, I keep it until the third backup is made.) So I do not make these image backups every week. Sometimes I have gone as long as 3 months before doing a fresh image backup. That way I don't spend all my time backing up, and when the inevitable happens, I do not have to reinstall Windows and all the software all over again. Now if I generated a lot of user data, such as in a commercial environment, I would leave my PC on at night and auto schedule incremental backups to cover things. We all have to find what works best for our own situation.

    After 18 to 24 months of this, if I lose my hard drive, I do a new, fresh install of the OS and reinstall the apps and user files. It does a system good to start fresh after that time.
    ANATHEMA to the idea of file compression. That's my big problem with Windows Backup -- not only is the program buggy, but they insist on compressing tens of gigabytes' worth of files, and so their first backup took _hours_ (before it hung).

    Right now I do weekly backups onto three DVD-RWs, and then for the next six days I backup onto a CD-RW. But that's for what is in the various USERS "My Xxxx" folders; I haven't attempted to do hard-drive imaging since Windows Backup burned me.

    Question: Can you do hard-drive imaging with Nero?

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    5 Star Lounger PaulB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas Richardson View Post
    ANATHEMA to the idea of file compression. That's my big problem with Windows Backup -- not only is the program buggy, but they insist on compressing tens of gigabytes' worth of files, and so their first backup took _hours_ (before it hung).

    Right now I do weekly backups onto three DVD-RWs, and then for the next six days I backup onto a CD-RW. But that's for what is in the various USERS "My Xxxx" folders; I haven't attempted to do hard-drive imaging since Windows Backup burned me.
    If compression and timing are an issue, let me share some of my stats with you. I use ShadowProtect to take weekly images of two partitions. The system partition has about 40 GB of files, the data partition has about 120 GB of data. Using standard compression, ShadowProtect images the system partition to a 1 TB eSATA disk in 5 minutes and the data partition in about 35 minutes. I am planning to implement daily incrementals. Preliminary tests show that this can be done for both partitions in less than 10 minutes.

    The nice thing is I do not have to stick around while this is being done and I don't have to worry that I may have forgotten to back up any given file or folder as I back up everything.
    Regards,
    PaulB

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    Quote Originally Posted by PaulB View Post
    If compression and timing are an issue, let me share some of my stats with you. I use ShadowProtect to take weekly images of two partitions. The system partition has about 40 GB of files, the data partition has about 120 GB of data. Using standard compression, ShadowProtect images the system partition to a 1 TB eSATA disk in 5 minutes and the data partition in about 35 minutes. I am planning to implement daily incrementals. Preliminary tests show that this can be done for both partitions in less than 10 minutes.

    The nice thing is I do not have to stick around while this is being done and I don't have to worry that I may have forgotten to back up any given file or folder as I back up everything.
    Let me throw out this question to Gerald and to Bigaldoc, and to you, PaulB--

    Based on your own experience, how long would it take to do a from-scratch (not incremental) backup of 46 Gb onto an external HD? I'm thinking that maybe I want to do a full backup, then do incremental backups for the next two months, then wipe everything off the external HD and start over. But that plan isn't workable if it means that on that first day, I'm idling my computer for a long time.

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    Super Moderator Deadeye81's Avatar
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    I have no idea about Nero. You could search their website to investigate its capabilities.

    Using Acronis I have done a full backup of 45 GB and it took between 3 and 4 hours, but I always configure it to verify the integrity of the backup as part of the process, which extends the time needed quite a bit. You could eliminate the verification process and it would reduce the time considerably, and I have never yet received a report of a corrupted backup. I have Acronis True Image 2009, and had to restore my XP drive once since purchasing Acronis and maintaining image backups. Acronis restored the entire drive contents, programs, settings, everything, and in about 30 minutes I had my system back fully functional and that was around a year ago.

    I found the free Macrium Reflect to be faster in performing a full image backup. I believe it only took around 90 minutes the last time I used it. I have not upgraded to Acronis 2010 because Macrium satisfies my needs.

    The key for me is that whenever I do a full backup or an incremental (which I do not often do) I schedule it for a time during the day that I know I will not be using the computer, or I schedule it at night while I am asleep. Therefore the time it requires has never been an issue to me.
    Deadeye81

    "We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give." Sir Winston Churchill

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    Gold Lounger Rebel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas Richardson View Post
    Let me throw out this question to Gerald and to Bigaldoc, and to you, PaulB--

    Based on your own experience, how long would it take to do a from-scratch (not incremental) backup of 46 Gb onto an external HD? I'm thinking that maybe I want to do a full backup, then do incremental backups for the next two months, then wipe everything off the external HD and start over. But that plan isn't workable if it means that on that first day, I'm idling my computer for a long time.
    Thomas,

    Using ShadowProtect, I just completed a full backup of my Windows 7 drive (133 GB) to an external Seagate FreeAgent 500GB USB2 drive. The backup - WITHOUT verifying - took 77 minutes. Using SP's "normal compression", my throughput while backing up averaged 28.5 MB per second and the size of the output (backup) file was approximately 95GB. Based on those figures, 46GB would take approximately 27 minutes on MY system.

    There are other variables to take into consideration however such as the processor speed of your computer, speed of the external drive, IO throttling, performing other tasks while the backup is running, etc. I don't know about Acronis (I abandoned it several versions ago), but ShadowProtect allows variable IO throttling to achieve either optimum performance and throughput for the backup, optimum speed for performing other simultaneous tasks, or a balance between the two. Obviously, once the initial full backup has completed, incrementals (if scheduled) take a matter of seconds and have a minimal impact on system performance.

    Hope this helps.

    Actually, as I'm writing this, I'm also performing a Verify on the just completed image, and I'm noticing absolutely no performance issues.
    John
    A Child's Mind, Once Stretched by Imagination...
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    5 Star Lounger PaulB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas Richardson View Post
    Let me throw out this question to Gerald and to Bigaldoc, and to you, PaulB--

    Based on your own experience, how long would it take to do a from-scratch (not incremental) backup of 46 Gb onto an external HD? I'm thinking that maybe I want to do a full backup, then do incremental backups for the next two months, then wipe everything off the external HD and start over. But that plan isn't workable if it means that on that first day, I'm idling my computer for a long time.
    I just completed a full backup of my system. The C (system) disk (37.3 GB of data) took 4 minutes 57 seconds at an average of 74 MB/s. The D (data) disk (118.7 GB of data) took 40 minutes 35 seconds at an average of 49.9 MB/s. The difference in average I/O I attribute to the types of data on each partition. The difference between my stats and Rebel's I attribute to the performance characteristics of eSATA disks vs. USB 2.0 disks. I used standard compression, no verification.

    Strange: Post #7 in this thread shows it was edited by a 'Gerald' (This post has been edited by Gerald: 2010-01-19 08:22). My post (#8) shows it was edited by 'Gerald' at the same time!!?? Who is 'Gerald'?


    [attachment=87843:Capture.PNG]
    Regards,
    PaulB

  13. #13
    Lounge VIP bobprimak's Avatar
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    To reduce the size and time required time to back up my 100-Gb internal hard drive to a USB 2.0 backup drive with Acronis True Image, I have partitioned my internal drive. Using Partition Magic or Partition Commander (or the Acronis Disk Director Program), the C:Windows partition of Windows XP Professional needs only 40 Gb or so for the OS and the prograams in a typical installation. So allow 50-60 Gb, just to allow for defragmenting. (Vista and Windows 7, especially the 64-bit versions, take up much more disk space and take longer to back up.) Thus, I only back up about 13-16 Gb of used disk space each time I make an Acronis Full Image Backup. And I do not use a backup program for my Data Partition. I just use Windows Copy/Paste to a Data Partition on the external drive. Thus, I only recopy data files which have changed each week.

    Using these methods, Acronis takes 20 minutes to make a 10 Gb backup archive, using Normal Compression. That's a Full Backup of C:Windows. Only the C:Windows partition ever needs to be restored, unless there's a catastrophic hard drive failure. In that case, my 15Gb of data can be restored from where I keep them on the external drive as a second operation if necessary. I once restored my Windows Partition from a backup archive, and the whole process took about 45 minutes, start to finish, using the Acronis Rescue Media, since Windows would not boot.

    My point is that with careful planning and execution, there's no need to back up every bit and byte on your internal drive in order to get a full restore in the event of disaster or virus infections. Time and effort are saved by separating your data from your OS and Programs, using partitioning methods. Just remember to make your first backup of Windows BEFORE shrinking the C:Windows partition, as this operation can destroy data. Full Image Backups can be restored to a partition whose size does not match the original partition -- this is NOT true of so-called Ghost clones of the entire hard drive! And partitioning an external drive, to give your backup program its own dedicated space for backup archives, is a good idea in my experience. If any software comes with the external hard drive, delete it by formatting the drive to NTFS partitions. My opinion of pre-bundled backup and hard drive packages is that they cause more problems than they prevent.

    So, as to the time involved, it is trivial -- much shorter than a typical antivirus deep scan. And external hard drives are very reliable, but I have used Windows copy/paste to copy the Acronis Archives and data backups to a second external drive -- this takes about ten minutes per archive, plus about a half-hour to select and copy important data files each week. A year's worth of backup archives (for Windows XP, done monthly) can easily fit on a 500 Gb hard drive, which costs $50 to $100 at any of my local computer stores. True Image Home 2010, with full support and interim updates, costs $69.00 direct from Acronis. (Support and updates are sold separately from the program now.) The program without support or updates costs $39.00 direct.

    I hope some of this information will help make folks more efficient and less hesitant about doing regular system and data backups. It really is in your better interests to get comfortable doing this.

    Note about times -- I don't have a modern, dual-core computer. So my backups are nowhere near as fast in raw speed as PaulB's backups. So for me, efficiency in what to back up and keeping backups as small as possible is critical to success.

    PaulB -- the differences in I/O speeds are partly due to the data structures. OS and Programs structures often consist of fewer files, but each file is larger, than typical non-media data files. More folders = slower I/O rates, as new folders must be created and entered into the File System on the target drive before actual data transfers can occur. e-SATA does have a faster throughput than USB 2, but this is trivial compared with the problem of re-creating the File Structures on the target drive.
    -- Bob Primak --

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    Quote Originally Posted by bobprimak View Post
    To reduce the size and time required time to back up my 100-Gb internal hard drive to a USB 2.0 backup drive with Acronis True Image, I have partitioned my internal drive. Using Partition Magic or Partition Commander (or the Acronis Disk Director Program), the C:Windows partition of Windows XP Professional needs only 40 Gb or so for the OS and the prograams in a typical installation. So allow 50-60 Gb, just to allow for defragmenting. (Vista and Windows 7, especially the 64-bit versions, take up much more disk space and take longer to back up.) Thus, I only back up about 13-16 Gb of used disk space each time I make an Acronis Full Image Backup. And I do not use a backup program for my Data Partition. I just use Windows Copy/Paste to a Data Partition on the external drive. Thus, I only recopy data files which have changed each week.

    Using these methods, Acronis takes 20 minutes to make a 10 Gb backup archive, using Normal Compression. That's a Full Backup of C:Windows. Only the C:Windows partition ever needs to be restored, unless there's a catastrophic hard drive failure. In that case, my 15Gb of data can be restored from where I keep them on the external drive as a second operation if necessary. I once restored my Windows Partition from a backup archive, and the whole process took about 45 minutes, start to finish, using the Acronis Rescue Media, since Windows would not boot.

    My point is that with careful planning and execution, there's no need to back up every bit and byte on your internal drive in order to get a full restore in the event of disaster or virus infections. Time and effort are saved by separating your data from your OS and Programs, using partitioning methods. Just remember to make your first backup of Windows BEFORE shrinking the C:Windows partition, as this operation can destroy data. Full Image Backups can be restored to a partition whose size does not match the original partition -- this is NOT true of so-called Ghost clones of the entire hard drive! And partitioning an external drive, to give your backup program its own dedicated space for backup archives, is a good idea in my experience. If any software comes with the external hard drive, delete it by formatting the drive to NTFS partitions. My opinion of pre-bundled backup and hard drive packages is that they cause more problems than they prevent.

    So, as to the time involved, it is trivial -- much shorter than a typical antivirus deep scan. And external hard drives are very reliable, but I have used Windows copy/paste to copy the Acronis Archives and data backups to a second external drive -- this takes about ten minutes per archive, plus about a half-hour to select and copy important data files each week. A year's worth of backup archives (for Windows XP, done monthly) can easily fit on a 500 Gb hard drive, which costs $50 to $100 at any of my local computer stores. True Image Home 2010, with full support and interim updates, costs $69.00 direct from Acronis. (Support and updates are sold separately from the program now.) The program without support or updates costs $39.00 direct.

    I hope some of this information will help make folks more efficient and less hesitant about doing regular system and data backups. It really is in your better interests to get comfortable doing this.

    Note about times -- I don't have a modern, dual-core computer. So my backups are nowhere near as fast in raw speed as PaulB's backups. So for me, efficiency in what to back up and keeping backups as small as possible is critical to success.

    PaulB -- the differences in I/O speeds are partly due to the data structures. OS and Programs structures often consist of fewer files, but each file is larger, than typical non-media data files. More folders = slower I/O rates, as new folders must be created and entered into the File System on the target drive before actual data transfers can occur. e-SATA does have a faster throughput than USB 2, but this is trivial compared with the problem of re-creating the File Structures on the target drive.
    Bob, I like your idea, but I have two problems with it:

    1) My two-month-old computer already comes with a D drive, FACTORY_IMAGE.
    2) As I said, I've already had this computer for two months. How do I partition it now?

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    Plutonium Lounger Medico's Avatar
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    Any good partitioning program, I use Partition Wizard to do partitioning from within windows, and it's FREE. The built in Win 7 partition app works to create partitions as well, but is not nearly as powerful as a third party app such as Partition Wizard.
    BACKUP...BACKUP...BACKUP
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