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  1. #1
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    Backups for dummies

    I've reviewed the threads in this forum - especially those that discuss a particular backup program such as Macrum Reflect which I do have on my HP desktop (XP with all service packs) and on my Acer Aspire 5570z laptop (W7). The truth is I found using most of them to be complicated. So I gave up on all of them including the software that came with my Maxtor One Touch III mini which does not work with W7. All of the files I need to save are in one of two folders - documents or pictures. I wiped the software off of the Maxtor and set up two folders - one for the desktop HP and one for the Acer laptop. Inside of each folder I have subfolders for documents and pictures. Once a month my calendar reminds me to backup. I simply drag all of the files in Docs or Pics on the computers to the corresponding file on the Maxtor. Now, why this post.

    Is there a way I could automate that process with some sort of a batch file (not sure batch is the right word but I'm thinking like an autoexec.bat file).

    Is there something else I should have a copy of????

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    Quote Originally Posted by indianaguy View Post


    Is there something else I should have a copy of????
    indianaguy,

    Hello... Yes backing up only your personal stuff is an OK plan .... However there is a much better one ..Take it from someone who has done scores of "recoveries" You have said that you have Macrium Reflect ...Good start.... Just "slug it out" and learn how to use the program...It's not all that difficult, and provides a much better strategy. When something goes wrong ...and it will, with "Imaging" you can be back up and running in about 10 minutes.Your personal files and the entire OS.You can also create automated backups from within the Macrium program... If you are unsure of how to proceed, just ask and many on this forum will help you through the small learning curve. Regards Fred
    PlainFred

    None are so hopelessly enslaved as those who falsely believe they are free (J. W. Von Goethe)

  3. #3
    Plutonium Lounger Medico's Avatar
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    I have to agree with Fred. The time spent learning how to use your Imaging app is time WELL SPENT! I use Acronis True Image Home (both 2010 and 2011 versions) and both have saved my bacon dozens of times. I, like Fred, experiment with my OS, and sometimes an experiment goes awry. That's when, in less than 10 minutes, my whole OS is restored. When I Image, I choose to Image both my C Drive (OS and apps) and my D Drive (data) because I do not have huge amounts of data so it just makes sense for me. For huge data drives, incremental back up would most likely be better. Both the apps mentioned in this thread are capable of Imaging and incremental backups and much more.
    BACKUP...BACKUP...BACKUP
    Have a Great Day! Ted


    Sony Vaio Laptop, 2.53 GHz Duo Core Intel CPU, 8 GB RAM, 320 GB HD
    Win 8 Pro (64 Bit), IE 10 (64 Bit)


    Complete PC Specs: By Speccy

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    I completely agree with Fred & Ted. Imaging is not as hard as you might think, and is an invaluable tool for backup and recovery. However, I do want to emphasize the importance of a multi-tiered backup scheme. Images are great, until they fail due to corruption. Just having a file back is also great, until some or all of the files go corrupt. Putting them all on one backup drive is great until it also fails. I make regular images of my machines, and run robocopy scripts to backup my files on a separate backup. I also use more than one external drive. Ideally, you should also rotate on drive off site, in case the worst happens to your house. The approach may sound a bit paranoid, but the reality is that it is not a matter of if a failure will occur, but when it will. The multi-tiered scheme has saved me several times over the years, and its saves time and money for the companies I've worked for as well. Of course, only you can detemine how important your data is, and whether a scheme like this is worthwhile. Unitil I could procure several large drives, I had to rely on just file backup to a single small drive. It took a bit of time to build it up to where I felt comfortable. I'm still not rotating off site, as I have no convenient or trustworthy place to store the drive.

    Robocopy is command line utility built into Windows 7 (not XP or previous, you have to download it for older OSes). You can set it to synchronize your data folder with the backup drive. It can be a bit daunting to write the command at first, but once you understand the parameters, its easier. Once you do it and save it in a .bat file, it generally never needs to be changed unless you want to add or exclude something later. A basic backup can be done with the following command: robocopy /E /PURGE c:\myfiles x:\myfiles, x being your external drive. The E/ switch copies everything in the sub-directories below the MYFILES directory. /PURGE removes files and directories from the backup that no longer exist on the host. I also use the /XD switch to exclude 2 directories that contain non-critical files. Further, you can schedule the batch file to run from Task Scheduler. Here's a nice step by step walk-through of setting it up: http://www.sevenforums.com/tutorials/12444-task-scheduler-create-new-task.html.
    Chuck

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    Although I completely agree with the above posters on the advisability of imaging your system, in case of a massive FUBAR, the question at hand related to data backups. Another alternative (tho one I haven't tried) is Cobian Backup,
    http://www.educ.umu.se/~cobian/cobianbackup.htm
    which is mainly for automating file & folder backup copies. (No law says you couldn't use Cobian for data backup while learning to use Macrium, etc., for system imaging.)

    Zig

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    Appreciate all the comments. Looks like I'll be spending more time learning Mac Reflec. Thanks guys.

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    You ought to read Woody Leonhard's article in the latest newsletter - Don't pay for software you don't need.

    Joe

  8. #8
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    Off-Site Backup

    Have a good backup software and backing up solely to your own hard drive or to another computer in the same building is Ok. What if a fire, tornado, hurricane, flood, or earthquake visits your home or office? Or what if your computer and external hard drive gets stolen? That backup to your own hard drive or external is not going to do you one bit of good! Backing up to an external hard drive is good but Windows will not always tell you if it can be read back unless you manually do a verification. I replace hard drives all the time and many gave the owner no warning it was failing.

    I tell all my clients and friends to use an off-site backup service such as Carbonite or Mozy. In a total disaster you will have to reinstall your OS and programs, your important data (documents, photos, e-mail, etc.) will be easily restored. Carbonite will keep up to 3 months worth of old versions of the files in your backup. Carbonite and Mozy will work on Windows XP and up. Carbonite will also work on the Mac.

    Both work in the background backing up you files while you work. Easy to setup and restoring a file or files is a snap. You even get a free 15 day free trial. No credit card needed when signing up for the free trial.

  9. #9
    Lounge VIP bobprimak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoeP517 View Post
    You ought to read Woody Leonhard's article in the latest newsletter - Don't pay for software you don't need.

    Joe
    Fred Langa has a lead article this week in Windows Secrets Newsletter about Microsoft's own backup tools. They are set once, use many times tools, and they are about as simple to set up as anything third-party I've seen. Best of all, they are already built into Windows -- nothing to buy or install.
    -- Bob Primak --

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike-H View Post
    What if a fire, tornado, hurricane, flood, or earthquake visits your home or office?
    I would have other, more urgent problems than a computer system for a LOOONG time, I bet.
    Quote Originally Posted by Mike-H View Post
    Or what if your computer and external hard drive gets stolen?
    That one makes me seriously think about an on-line service, really.

  11. #11
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    eikelein:
    I read once (it may have even been here) about a husband who did what Mike-H proposes (offsite images/backups, in addition
    to those stored at home.) His wife was in the final stages of gaining her PhD, and all her important files including her draft thesis were on her computer. Long story, short . . .major fire, house burned down, everything lost; as far as wife's PhD info, everything of hers was recoverable from what had been stored off-site.

    If not recoverable, I bet she would have spent a LOOONG time getting back on track.

    People on this board have helped me with so many issues that I would never disparage someone else's suggestions.

    Use them, or not . . .your choice.

    Dick

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  13. #12
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    In two cases I have needed to recover and was unable to. I don't remember why on the first but the second was on a dual booted XP +Ubuntu setup. For some reason, I had the XP root on drive E:, not on drive C:. I had made an image or a full WIN Backup with ASR on an external HDD. I decided to do a reinstall and removed the Ubuntu at the same time. The reinstall then of course went to C: and I couldn't restore from the image of E: on the external drive.

    My only point is, everyone talks about the importance of backup and no one talks about the requirements for restore. (I'm still looking.)
    Paulbyr in NC

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zig View Post
    -snip-
    Another alternative (tho one I haven't tried) is Cobian Backup,
    http://www.educ.umu.se/~cobian/cobianbackup.htm
    which is mainly for automating file & folder backup copies. (No law says you couldn't use Cobian for data backup while learning to use Macrium, etc., for system imaging.)

    Zig
    As others have pointed out, there are two backup philosophies - imaging and data. I use Karen's Replicator (Google it) for data backups. Reasons:

    • I can set what to (and not to) backup
    • I can schedule backups
    • I can replicate file/ folder deletions
    • And, to me, most importantly, it doesn't bury the backup in a monolithic backup file, so if I need to find or retrieve something, I can do it from Windows Explorer.
    I did look at Cobian a while back (many years), and it may do all of that now, but it didn't then.

    And I do the multiple hard drive and rotate off-site thing too - I have lots of pictures (amateur photog), and I'm really paranoid about losing them!

  15. #14
    Gold Lounger
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    Quote Originally Posted by paulbyr View Post
    .

    My only point is, everyone talks about the importance of backup and no one talks about the requirements for restore. (I'm still looking.)
    paulbyr,
    Hello.... Sounds like a good idea ! Why not start a thread on "Restore" ...Many (I'm sure) will jump in with there strategies Regards Fred
    PlainFred

    None are so hopelessly enslaved as those who falsely believe they are free (J. W. Von Goethe)

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  17. #15
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    Adding my two cents here, I recommend the Dantz/Retrospect (now owned by Roxio) backup software package, in particular the version for a single home workstation/PC. I've used it for many years now with success in several worst case scenarios.

    I've learned the hard way not to trust any single backup/restore method or any single backup media. Thus, I now use 4 mostly independent software packages and multiple independent backup media, including some that are offline except when performing a backup. There is a saying "one is none, and two is one", and I'd extend that to something like "four is one, less than four is none". Analogously, I knew a 747 airline pilot who once said that the only reason he flew an airliner with only 4 engines was because they didn't make one with 5 engines. Same principle! In an aviation forum, he once recounted how he navigated a 747 flight from the US to Hawaii using an AM radio station as a navigation beacon - while in flight over the Pacific his airliner simultaneously lost all 3 redundant Inertial Navigation Systems on his 747 due to a software bug and the only thing left that he could use to find Honolulu was a high-power AM radio station located there.

    Thus, I make regular full hard drive image backups onto external backup hard drives using Windows image backups as well as Acronis Home 2011. I also make a daily incremental backup into "save sets" onto a separate hard drive, using Retrospect, and I make weekly Retrospect full hard drive backups onto a separate hard drive of each important internal hard drives. This way, I can easily access the ordinary Retrospect duplicate files if all I need is to recover a few files or folder trees, just by looking for the things in Windows File Explorer. If I need to replace a blown hard drive, I'll use this duplicate or perhaps one of the full image backups, depending on which hard drive is at issue. I don't personally trust RAID to prevent or reliably recover from many hardware or software failures, but others will of course disagree.

    One thing about image backups - few if any of them can reliably copy open files while they are in use for write operations by Windows. I believe the only safe way to copy such files is to boot from a special purpose boot CD or DVD and make a full copy the hard drive while Windows is not running and while the source drive is not otherwise in use. I've had image copies work that were made while Windows is running but I just don't fully trust such a process.

    "Only the Paranoid Survive." Andy Grove, former CEO of Intel:

    http://www.amazon.com/Only-Paranoid-.../dp/0385482582

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