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  1. #1
    Plutonium Lounger
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    Backup Strategies

    Over the years, my modus operandi as a computer guy has been to try to provide advice and/or recommendations to computer users to try to make their use of computers more successful and possibly less stressful. One of those areas frequently has to do with the subject of backup! Many people, including here in The Lounge, aren't aware of the protection and convenience that can be afforded them by making "backups" of their computer drives or files. To that end, I would like to foster a thread where those of us who have ideas, opinions and strategies for backing up might be of some service to Loungers searching our archives for advice. If you are inclined to contribute to this thread, I would only ask that you provide YOUR ideas, software used, frequency, hardware used, etc. and resist the (possible) temptation to disagree with your fellow Loungers and their chosen strategy. The questions and followups could make this an interesting thread, or so I hope. I will start us off with my current thinking on the topic as soon as I make this post.

  2. #2
    Plutonium Lounger
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    Re: Backup Strategies

    As a "home" user, I backup my computer on a regular basis and here's what I do. Over the years, I've concluded that it's much faster and easier to restore one or more files, or an entire drive/partition than it is to re-install an operating system and many application programs. Restoration from backup can mean a matter of minutes as opposed to HOURS that might be spent re-installing the OS and application software.

    Because of today's attractive prices and seamless use by Windows XP, I currently have two external USB hard drives that I have dedicated as backup drives. I alternate my backups to these drives as you will see in the following paragraphs.

    Each night I use a program called BackupNow to make a backup of SELECTED files on my drive that tend to change on a daily basis. The software allows me to schedule this backup during the night while I'm asleep. I have created backup procedures to backup my daily email, bookmarks, documents, financial files and so on that change on a daily basis. The backup procedures alternate each night from one of the USB external drives to the other. In this manner, I always have at least TWO nightly backups to choose from, should I have a problem and need to restore one or more files.

    Once each week, I make an "image" backup of my entire hard drive using Acronis TrueImage. There are other imaging programs available which I've used in the past, but this product is serving me well in recent times. It has the capability to restore an entire partition or individual files in a very short time, either from within Windows or by booting from their "emergency" boot CD. As with my nightly backup, I alternate these image backups to the two USB hard drives. In this strategy, if an image should prove corrupt or otherwise unusable, I can select another from either one of the drives. I should mention that in this backup strategy, I make a full partition backup, rather than "incremental" backups because of the speed that the backup runs and the simplicity of not having to keep up with multiple incremental backup files. On my (current) 80 gig primary drive, a full-image backup takes approximately 15-20 minutes.

    Using this strategy, I maintain multiple nightly and weekly imaging backups on the two external drives, up to a point close to their capacity. When it becomes necessary to "make room" on a drive, I use Windows Explorer to delete the OLDEST backup in order to continue using that drive.

  3. #3
    Silver Lounger
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    Re: Backup Strategies

    BigAl,

    Here's my routine. I have an external USB 2.0 HDD that I use to store my backups on a dedicated partition. I backup the entire system, using Acronis True Image 9.0 weekly unless there is an upgrade for a major application or after "Patch Tuesday". I do a full backup and then 4 or 5 incremental backups after which I delete the backup files and start over with a full backup image, etc. I also backup updated files as needed by simply using the old "drag & drop" method to duplicate folders created on another partition on the same USB drive throughout the week. I could use True Image's "File Backup" feature, but I guess I'm so used to doing it the old way that I am reluctant to change. <img src=/S/evilgrin.gif border=0 alt=evilgrin width=15 height=15>

    Jeff
    Jeff
    simul iustus et peccator

  4. #4
    4 Star Lounger
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    Re: Backup Strategies Part I

    Big AL,

    Like you, I use <A target="_blank" HREF="http://www.ntius.com/default.asp?p=backupnow/bun_main">BackupNow
    Scott

  5. #5
    4 Star Lounger
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    Re: Backup Strategies Part II

    When I setup a computer, I also try to setup common configurations regardless of the OS I install:

    1. <LI>Temp directory for internet downloads (C:TempDownload). I use this for ALL profiles internet browsers unless there is a security issue (which is usually for the Administrator's account, then I use a C:TempAdmin subdirectory and change security options so nobody else has access).
      <LI>Common Data Files (C:Files):
      1. <LI>Outlook (C:FilesOutlookProfile 1, C:FilesOutlookProfile 2, C:FilesOutlookProfile 3, ETC).
        <LI>MS Office Files (C:FilesMSOffice) or (C:FilesExcel), etc.
        <LI>Application/Drive updates (C:FilesDownload UpdatesZoneLabs.Com, C:FilesDownload UpdatesMB Drivers, etc)
        <LI>Media Files (C:FilesDocuments, C:FilesMusic..., C:FilesPictures..., etc)
      <LI>I put "Links in the MS Common "My Documents", "Music", etc subdirectories to appropriate C:Files... subdirectories.
      <LI>I re-configure applications (Ex Outlook, MS Office, etc) to open in the C:Files... subdirectories.
    I know this takes a little time. But in the long rung, it reduces the time to backup all of the data files (although some have to stay in MS designated places). I started this pratice as a "DOS Head" and just kept it up. I also believe ( <span style="background-color: #FFFF00; color: #000000; font-weight: bold">foolishly and optimistically</span hi> ) that I fool some of the viruses since I do not keep the Majority of my data and configuration files in "Normal" places on the computer.

    Finally, I use an External Dual Layer DVD Recorder for all backups. The exception is for incremental backups and Full Data backups I use an external HDD. At a computer show I was able to pickup several external HDD cases for <$10 each. As IDE HDD became cheaper, I would purchase one and put in an External HDD case for less than a comercial external HDD (example, a local PC Outfit selling system pulls had 120GB HDD for $45 - thus I had an External USB HDD for less than $55 total).

    Please notice I Prefaced this with "TRY". Although I am FAIRLY good with my main home computer, I tend to slack a bit with the "IAD's" and computer's I am using as a print server. I am a FIRM believer on backup and advanced preparation. If you don't take the time to protect yourself, you can run into problems later (this has recently bit me on a family computer I am currently working on - See <!post=Post: 588354,588354>Post: 588354<!/post>)

    Sorry for the long posts.
    Scott

  6. #6
    Plutonium Lounger
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    Re: Backup Strategies

    Al,

    I have one PC on which I store all user data. All the other PCs in the house have My Documents redirected to a share on this PC. They all use Windows XP Offline Folders to make sure that they can still access the data even if the "server" PC is down. This gives my first level of data backup. This works even for the laptop that one of my kids only brings into the house once every few weeks.

    I have a scheduled task that "synchronises" the offline files on one desktop PC every night, to make sure that I definitely have a second copy of every file.

    The server PC has a very large disk used to store image backups of boot disks, some PCs (mainly laptops) are backed up to this manually on an "as required" basis, others are backed up every week. The automated backups are created using DriveImage 7, configured to retain 3 images and overwrite the oldest.

    One other PC also has a large hard drive used to store image backups. The server PC backs up up its data disk to this every night, retaining images from the previous 3 nightly backups, 3 weekly backups and 3 monthly backups. The main PC also creates an image of its boot disk across the network every week (retaining the previous 3 images).

    I create a DVD with a copy of all the data about once a month and store this in someone else's house.

    I make sure that each system does a test restore, booted from the DriveImage recovery CD, at least once, and preferably once a year.

    StuartR

  7. #7
    5 Star Lounger
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    Re: Backup Strategies

    i burn cd's of important data every once in a while (3-6 months) and keep my <img src=/S/crossfingers.gif border=0 alt=crossfingers width=17 height=16>

    its not the smartest thing to do, but i do plan on setting up back ups when i build my next system which is about 1-2 CD's away <img src=/S/laugh.gif border=0 alt=laugh width=15 height=15> I'm just waiting on vista and quad cores.
    <img src=/w3timages/blueline.gif width=33% height=2>
    <big>John</big>

  8. #8
    5 Star Lounger
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    Re: Backup Strategies

    That's what I do, too. Since my PC has never crashed (or at least, never lost any data in a crash) I'm not too worried.
    Waggers
    If at first you do succeed, you&#39;ve probably missed something.

  9. #9
    5 Star Lounger
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    Re: Backup Strategies

    OK, here's how I handle backups. First some background...

    Hardware resources:
    2 x 250GB internal SATA drives (in non-RAID format)

    Drive 1:
    C: System (50GB - WXP Pro operating system and all application software)
    D: Data (50GB - all data files)
    E: AudioVideo (82GB - Music and video files)
    F: WorkArea (50GB miscellaneous work files, audio / video work in progress)

    Drive 2:
    G: Paging (10GB - paging file and MSO Cache)
    H: Backup01 (111GB - backups of certain DATA folders)
    I: Backup02 (111GB - backups of video files and video work in progress)

    2 x 160GB IDE drives housed in external USB/Firewire enclosures.

    Drive 3: 1 logical partition with four folders representing each of the Drive 1 logical partitions.

    Drive 4: 1 logical partition with four folders representing each of the Drive 1 logical partitions.

    2 Optical DVD read / write units

    Software employed:
    OutBack Plus (OBP)
    True Image
    XCOPY batch commands

    Backup strategy:

    OutBack Plus

    At 5:15 everyday, OBP is scheduled to backup all:
    - Outlook files,
    - IE Data ,
    - certain Window files,
    - "My Documents" Data,
    - "My Desktop" Items
    This entire process takes about 2-3 minutes and the resulting single backup file is stored on Drive D:. OBP has a restore feature that can restore an entire backup file or selective files.

    XCOPY

    I have nine XCOPY batch files that I may or may not run on a daily basis. Each of the nine batch files is dedicated to a specific folder on Drive D: (Data files). The XCOPY batch file contains switches that compares the file data on Drive D: to corresponding backup information on Drive H: (Backup01). If the switch(es) sense that newer data is on Drive D: it will copy the changed files to the backup drive. I have not tried to schedule these processes but invoke them manually, if needed, before I shut down every night. If I have knowingly added many files to the Data drive during the day, then I will invoke that specific XCOPY batch file before the evening's shutdown. The format of the XCOPY batch file was gleaned from a Woody's tip a few years ago.

    Acronis' True Image

    I use True Image to create image files of the 4 logical drives C:, D:, E: and F: as needed. The image output file(s) are stored on one of the 2 external drives. I can store a fair number of images on each of the external drives and will swap the two externals as one becomes full, deleting image file(s) as needed to free up space.

    For example, Drive C: gets "imaged" at least weekly... sooner if I have installed new software applications.

    Drive D: (Data) gets imaged at least weekly... sooner if again there has been significant additions during the week.

    Drive E: (Audio/Video) does not change often and only gets backed up when I add significant files to the drive... perhaps monthly

    Drive F: (Work) is seldom backed up... perhaps bi-monthly or more often if I have a fair amount of work in progress.

    My usage of True Image is always with full images... I never employ incremental or differential backups. I find that the time to create full images is such that it doesn't warrant the playing with incremental or differentials when restores are need.

    Use of DVD writers

    On an as-needed basis, usually bi-monthly, I will burn all data files to DVDs.

    Documention

    I use a "running" Word document recording information on a daily basis regarding backups and any events such as installing new software, upgrades, hardware or software problems. I start a new Word document every time I rebuild a system from scratch. This logging process allows me to go back in history to determine if I had problems and more importantly, what I did to resolve the issue(s).

    Hope this long winded missile helps to add filler to your Backup Strategy article BigAl <img src=/S/smile.gif border=0 alt=smile width=15 height=15>

    Cheers,

    Bob
    Regards,
    Bob

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