About twice a year, I update our list of top utilities — those essential tools for making computing smoother and easier.
One of the most important utilities for all PC users is their backup-and-restore tools. With complex setups, it’s often best to pay for a more sophisticated backup/restore application.
The ultimate utility: Backup and restore
On several occasions we’ve discussed Windows’ built-in backup and restore tools. If you have a relatively stable and simple setup, they’re reliable and fairly easy to use. But a recent incident forced me to look for alternatives.
The purchase of Windows Secrets by Penton required changing the domain that my work PC connected to. That’s a bit above my pay grade, so I asked for online technical help. Unfortunately, the conversion process went badly south, and I was left with a severely broken Windows.
I did, of course, have backups for the machine, stored on a Western Digital My Cloud network-attached device (more info). Sadly, the Windows rescue disc I’d created could not find either the NAS device or a directly-attached USB drive with the same backup files. Desperate to get my production machine working again, I purchased a copy of Acronis True Image (site). It’s an application we’ve recommended several times in the newsletter. Currently, it costs just U.S. $30 for one PC.
In my case, True Image lived up to its reputation. It easily found the stored Windows-created image files and restored the machine to working order. (I did have to spend some time adding missing Windows updates and recently installed software.) Because I keep the files used to publish Windows Secrets on Dropbox, that part of the restoration process went quickly and easily.
Eventually, it was decided that changing the PC’s domain was going to be too difficult, and I was sent a new ThinkPad. That’s great, but there was still the task of reinstalling applications and data. Using a product such as Laplink’s PCmover (more info) might have helped, but with a fresh installation of Win7, I decided it was best to do a clean install of my critical applications and utilities.