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    Backing up the family PCs

    We currently have 3 PC's in the house: 1 desktop (for wife, both kids, and myself to use), 1 laptop for my wife when she was in grad school, and 1 laptop for me to do professional work and such when kids are doing homework on the desktop.

    After having a hard drive crash and discovering that my DVD backups were worthless, I've decided to get an external hard drive to do backups on all three. I am wondering, should i partition it three ways, one partition for each set up backup files, images, etc. per PC, or will the Win 7 backup software make it easy for me to keep all three straight in the same partition?

    Any and all input from the experts here (real or self-declared () will be greatly appreciated.

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    Super Moderator RetiredGeek's Avatar
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    Hawkeye,

    I'd just setup a separate folder for each set of backups or just use a naming convention such as DTYYYYMMDD, LT1YYYYMMDD, LT2YYYYMMDD. A lot depends on the Backup/Imaging software you are using and what it allows you to do in the way of placing your backups/images. For instance, I use Acronis True Image and I use a separate folder for each machine and a file name of YYYYMMDD and that keeps everything easy to find and reference. YMMV.
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    I'll echo what RetiredGeek says. With the addition that you shouldn't rely on one backup. Get a second drive and rotate them.
    Chuck

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    Quote Originally Posted by kyhawkeye View Post

    I am wondering, should i partition it three ways, one partition for each set up backup files, images, etc. per PC, or will the Win 7 backup software make it easy for me to keep all three straight in the same partition?

    Any and all input from the experts here (self-declared ) will be greatly appreciated.
    hawkeye,
    Hello... OK, I'm "Declaring" First let me say that your on the right track (wanting to do "Image" backups ) "Windows Backup " is OK but it pales in comparison to a Free program in several ways. As i have stated in other threads about "Backups". I find Windows Backup to be both "Clunky" and "Clumsy". Do youself a big favor and forget Windows and download and install "Macrium Reflect Free" Macrium Reflect Free Make sure that you read the "help" and "burn" the "Linux Recovery Disk" If your curious about my statements just do a search on this forum about Macrium... Or post back with your questions and many will be able to help you get it all sorted out. Regards Fred
    Last edited by Just Plain Fred; 2011-07-18 at 15:19.
    PlainFred

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    Super Moderator CLiNT's Avatar
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    ...To add to the above, I would also want ensure that my backups are easily accessed and restored from a bootable disk of whatever imaging program you choose.
    Once you are done backing up each of your computers, use the bootdisk and actually test each computer to ensure that you are able to access your backups.
    You may even want to restore one of the backups to authenticate the procedure.

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    Plutonium Lounger Medico's Avatar
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    I would also recommend either Acronis or Macrium and make one addition. The time it takes to restore from a Image is directly proportional to how long it's been since the Image was created. For example if your Image is 6 months old, how long do you think it will take to reinstall all updates and new apps after restoring the Image. My recommendation is to create a new Image whenever you make a change to your PC's. That way your Images are always Up To Date so the restoration will take less than 10 minutes.

    Doing a search for either Macrium or Acronis will bring up many discussions on these 2 fine apps including Step by Step instructions for both.
    BACKUP...BACKUP...BACKUP
    Have a Great Day! Ted


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    I've had bad luck with Acronis 2010 (and others have with 2011), tho those who use them in manual (i.e., unscheduled, clean up your own messes after yourself) seem happy. Macrium seems especially robust, and a new edition is just out, but I haven't yet shelled out for the paid edition (they do have a "4 for the price of 2" family option). Another newer contender is EASEUS ToDo Backup Free v.2.5.1, which seems to offer free full & incremental scheduled image & file backups with automatic deletion after a set number of files. I'm beginning to try it out, but would like to hear other's opinions.

    Zig

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    Thanks for the great feedback and advice, everyone!

    RetiredGeek: I was debating with partitions vs. folders and wasn't sure what current software was capable of on an external disk like that, esp. with it being three different machines being used (one with Xp, the other 2 with Win 7 Home Premium). I'd perfer the ease of folders.

    Doc Brown: My personal budget doesn't allow for a second one yet. Will keep that in mind as soon as I am able.

    Fred: Yes, I did a quick search in the forum and have seen your 'Clunky' review mentioned. I will look seriously at both programs everyone has listed as well as Win 7's options and see which works best for me. Why the "Linux Recover Disk" if my PC's are all Win-based, if I may ask?

    Clint: Would creating a universally bootable thumbdrive work in that scenario or should I create a custom CD-ROm/DVD for each PC?

    Ted: I was planning on doing the images no less than with every backup (monthly currently is the plan) or once a week to make sure I was up to date. Is that frequent enough or are you referring to after every new install, MS/Win update or Flash Player upgrade, etc. as well?
    Last edited by kyhawkeye; 2011-07-18 at 21:25.

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    Plutonium Lounger Medico's Avatar
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    Ted: I was planning on doing the images no less than with every backup (monthly currently is the plan) or once a week to make sure I was up to date. Is that frequent enough or are you referring to after every new install, MS/Win update or Flash Player upgrade, etc. as well?
    I do my new Images whenever I make a change, either with an update, adding or removing apps, anything like that. Some do once per week, but I figure if no changes took place then no new Image is needed. I do backups of data separately to 2 other Pc's, my wifes laptop and our desktop (used only for these backups now) and sense my data is contained in a separate partition on both our laptops, I feel very safe with this Imaging/backup scheme. The data backups do occur more often than Images.

    I guess the final answer would be you do an Image as often as you think necessary to cut down on the restoration time frame if that becomes necessary. The more updates, upgrades, app changes, etc that occur between Images, the longer the restoration will take to allow all these changes to be reinstalled.
    Last edited by Medico; 2011-07-19 at 00:20.
    BACKUP...BACKUP...BACKUP
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    Super Moderator CLiNT's Avatar
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    Clint: Would creating a universally bootable thumbdrive work in that scenario or should I create a custom CD-ROm/DVD for each PC?
    Good question, I think to some extent it would depend on the software you are using, but generally the boot disk should be limited to allowing you to access the
    application's proprietary imaging file(s). Aviod anything with a lot of excess bling or fluff and keep your regimen simple but fully functional.
    I would make a single bootable USB stick and also a bootable CD/DVD disk, but only one of each should be necessary.

    Also, watch out for some of these programs, some of them tend to give you way more options than you actually need. If your new to drive imaging, you'll want to keep it simple and functional until you can informedly make up your own mind as to what you actually want in terms of extras and options.
    Last edited by CLiNT; 2011-07-18 at 22:56.

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    Thanks, gentlemen! That gives me the information I need to move forward.

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    Super Moderator RetiredGeek's Avatar
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    Why the "Linux Recover Disk" if my PC's are all Win-based, if I may ask?
    The reason for a "Linux Boot Disk" is if your machine won't boot you can boot from the CD and run the Recovery program and you don't need to know Linux as it will boot right into the program so you never really see Linux. Why Linux and not Windows? Simple it's much easier to create a Linux boot disk that a Windows PE boot disk.
    May the Forces of good computing be with you!

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    I figured there was a logical reason behind it. I figured I'd ask since others in addition to myself would wonder why...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zig View Post
    I've had bad luck with Acronis 2010 (and others have with 2011), tho those who use them in manual (i.e., unscheduled, clean up your own messes after yourself) seem happy. Macrium seems especially robust, and a new edition is just out, but I haven't yet shelled out for the paid edition (they do have a "4 for the price of 2" family option). Another newer contender is EASEUS ToDo Backup Free v.2.5.1, which seems to offer free full & incremental scheduled image & file backups with automatic deletion after a set number of files. I'm beginning to try it out, but would like to hear other's opinions.

    Zig
    For Zig's info I stopped using Acronis after it let me down (in different situations) twice, and started using Easeus, which I've now been using for 18 months or so. I've had to use it to recover a disk twice (both times after Microsoft Updates, specifically Win 7 SP1, trashed my system) and both times it performed perfectly. The only negative is that twice on checking backups (I always do this after making an image copy) it has shown a fault, but a subsequent re-backup checked as ok. So for my money (or not, as it's free) I can from experience recommend Easeus. I also use the separate folder system (and two external hard drives) for backing up, and take, and check, image backups regularly. Takes time, but has saved hours of frustration when things don't go to plan (like SP1)

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    On the recovery disk to use, I think you just need to use one that suits whatever software you will use for the backup. If you use Windows backup, use Windows / create rescue disk option to create a boot disk that will allow you access to all you need to do in case things go wrong.

    If you go to a specific imaging software, it will have a way to create a boot disk too. In all cases I know, the boot disk is always linux based (except, of course, for the Windows 7 own rescue disk).

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