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Have you ever had to use any of your file backups?

by Marc Bennett CNET staff/forum admin / October 26, 2006 3:11 AM PDT

Have you ever had to use any of your file backups?

Yes, to restore my operating system to its original state. (Please note how many times.)
Yes, to restore my operating system to an earlier date. (Please note how many times.)
Yes, but only to restore specific files. (Please note what types of files.)
No, but I make backups just in case.
I don't make backups.

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Many times...
by John.Wilkinson / October 26, 2006 5:04 AM PDT

On my primary systems it's usually just to restore individual files that become corrupt or accidentally deleted. However, on my test rigs I have to restore using a Ghost backup at least once a week for various reasons, almost always stemming from installing alpha/beta software.

John

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A couple times
by bknowledge / October 26, 2006 6:52 AM PDT

Once I had to reset my system to the default factory settings because of corrupted files/beta programs and documents that were accidentally deleted. My system came with a hidden section on the HD for system restores and I also backup to DVD, better safe than sorry.

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True, but in my opinion, OEM setups are a waste of time
by robnan / October 29, 2006 8:37 PM PST
In reply to: A couple times

OEM's come with junk, junk and more junk. As soon as you get a new computer you should format it, consolidate all the nitsy-bitsy "backup and recovery" partitions into one, reinstall your OS and only install what you need. Then back up files onto CD's when you need to. Don't bother backing up your operating system, what's the point in being all sentimental about an OS?

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Manufactor makes the difference!!
by bknowledge / October 30, 2006 2:24 AM PST

This is true for some systems especially Dell but that's why I like eMachine. Their systems hard drives only has two partitions, one main & one recovery. The programs included are mostly full versions and useful except of course the antivirus, firewall and dialup internet which are 30day trials which I uninstall.
I backup everything because it's less of a headache and saves time down the line.

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Ashamed to say..
by mkcjrc / October 26, 2006 8:39 PM PDT

Ashamed to say, but how do you back up your operating system? It sounds like something I should do.

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Interested in your response you got on backing up System
by helenw4 / October 26, 2006 9:25 PM PDT
In reply to: Ashamed to say..

I am also interested in how to backup my system. So you are not alone. If you received any responses, would appreciate it, if you would share it with me.
Thank you kindly,

Helen.

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do not be ashamed to say that man...
by lassean1 / October 26, 2006 9:29 PM PDT
In reply to: Ashamed to say..

It is important to make a ghost image of your Os. I have had to use it many times after accidentally deleting a ntldr file or something. Without the proper help from a pro, you will not be able to restore the ntldr file. this is done in Dos. So you may have to rely on the OS "ghost" copy. I say "ghost" cause that is what it is just an image of your existing OS. You pick the software...Norton's "ghost" or I like to use Nero it is very easy I did it on my very first time. also When I tested it out. I made sure that I would not miss a single file on that partition. Basically backing up the back up. If this sounds like jibberish probably is.

What I am saying is get an external HD...Back up all important data files on that. PICS, Bills, Music, stuff you find important in life... Then hopefully you have at least 2 or 3 partitions on the your Hard disk drive. then back up stuff you can live without but you may want to have it at a later time...After basically you have stripped down the OS try re installing the ghost image over what you have now on your OS that you want to test.

BTW you want to make a full copy of your OS before you start moving any files and stuff around...This will ensure you that the reinstalled image of your OS will be the one you wanted and fully intact. I hope this helps man. It is early in the morning here in Las Vegas the city that truly never sleeps.

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There is no need to back up your OS
by robnan / October 29, 2006 8:33 PM PST
In reply to: Ashamed to say..

Backing up your OS in my opinion is a complete waste of time, power and Gigabytes. Do what I do: Copy the Windows Pre-Installation state files onto the Root of the Hard Disk and use them if ever in a disaster state.

It's only really your files that are important, and backing them up is simple. Yeah, okay, there's the big hype about Backup Programs but it is much easier simply to copy files using Windows Explorer onto a DVD/CD or Backup Drive. On my main system I hardly install any software, except what I need and have the Windows Installation files in the root of the drive. On my test/secondary system I do not, but it has an internal CD Drive so recovering would be much the same.

Backup is essential because, only files that are not backed up are lost when hardware/software fails.

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I use Roxio Go Back
by tourist97 / October 26, 2006 9:51 PM PDT

Roxio Go Back is now owned by Symantec, I believe. I have been using it for a while and have had to restore my system to a previous date or time about 10 times. I have also used it to restore a single file, but only once or twice. I use a USB external drive and backup my whole hard drive (C: drive) twice a week.

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I use Acronis True Image, too, for backups
by tourist97 / October 26, 2006 10:15 PM PDT
In reply to: I use Roxio Go Back

I use Go Back, which runs in the background and essentially stores each change made to the hard drive, so that the drive can be restored to a previous point in time down to the minute. Go Back, however, will only store a few days worth of data. Of course, the operating system must be up and running to restore the drive to a previous point in time. I have restored my hard drive to a previous point in time about ten times.

I also use Acronis True Image to backup the whole C: drive to an external USB drive, so that I can restore the whole C: drive, if the hard drive fails mechanically or will not boot. True Image stores an exact copy (an image) of the C: drive. True Image also allows you to restore just one file. I use True Image to backup the hard drive twice a week. I have restored my hard drive twice.

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Acronis True Image Problems
by Feister Meister / October 28, 2006 12:39 AM PDT

I purchased, based on reviews, Acronis True Image 9.0 and would LIKE TO BACK UP MY SYSTEM for complete restoration purposes, but am having trouble at the start, as there is no documentation other than searching Q&A. May I ask what you use in Acronis for a restorable image (is it the Backup Wizard or the Clone Disk); I am having problems with their tech support people who don't have a great command of the English language. They also insist that I first use the Microsoft program Sysprep, which appears to delete the identity of the source computer=scary. Did you find that you had to use this program?

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Use of Backups
by Rabbit20163 / October 26, 2006 10:18 PM PDT

Over the last 10 years i've had occasion to fully restore my hard drive about 1.5 times per year on the average. This includes upgrading to larger hard drives. I find that the easiest thing to do is to restore on the larger drive, and then use partition magic to resize the partitions to take advantage of the extra space. This is certainly easier that reinstalling all the apps i have loaded, trying to remember how to set the defaults - and oh, by the way... who can find all their install disks??

As to an earlier version - the most classic case of this was when i installed some 'freeware' that proported to be an audio studio to create your own music CDs off of tape or disk material. The thing installed a virus that prevented booting windows. Efforts to disinfect the system failed. I finally had to format and go back to my month-old backup of the entire system. Later expermentation on a machine that i was building revealed that the virus wrote itself into the BIOS - thereby loading itself on each boot. After that i made a practice of making sure the flash EPROM pin that enabled flashing was NOT in the socket when i installed the chip. (This mb did NOT have a removable jumper to prevent flashing. All i had to do when restoring the entire system was to load the latest virus updates and i was good to go.

I usually use Norton Ghost to backup - writing to CDs. I do this about every 3 months or so - or whenever i've been doing a number of installs.

Cheers
Rabbit

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all the time, too many to count
by tortoise7 / October 26, 2006 10:46 PM PDT

I use Retrospect for incremental backup and Acronis (used to use Ghost but Symantec has ruined it) for imaging systems. Use both for my personal test beds and use Retrospect on client machines both PC & Macintosh. Also make Acronis to image machines I sell to clients that way I can quickly restore if they screw them up.

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Many, Many times
by Boobly / October 26, 2006 11:11 PM PDT

Because of all the junk accummulated on a computer over time, every 6 months I reformat my hard drive and use my backup copy to restore the computer to the original configuration that I had when I created the backup copies.

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I Have Restored Many Times
by Dr. Planarian / October 26, 2006 11:19 PM PDT

In a previous life, I was a Unix system engineer for a major organization, and my job had a significant user support component for not only servers but PCs as well. The question is not whether or not you're ever going to need to restore from backup, but when.

If you don't have the backups, you will lose your data. Think about it... All your email addresses, everything you've written and "archived" on your PC, your Quicken accounts, your irretrievable, incalculably precious photographs, EVERYTHING, will be lost if you haven't got a backup WHEN, not "if," your hard drive goes into the dumpster.

Oh, sure, you can go to a sector-by-sector recovery firm and maybe, just MAYBE, get some small percentage of it back, weeks later at a cost of maybe $3,000, but wouldn't it be easier just to back things up?

I no longer do full system/data backups. It's really only necessary to retain the following:

1. Your Windows and all you initial driver distribution disks for all your hardware.

2. Every application distribution disk you might wish to reinstall. You should also save downloaded application distributions to CD just in case, although it's usually better to download and install the most recent versions after you restore your O/S and connectivity.

3. Periodic printouts -- on actual PAPER, because all your saved data will be gone -- from Belarc Advisor (for an overview) and PC Wizard (for more richly detailed information -- what a WONDERFUL app!) so you can reference the actual state of hardware and software installed on your PC.

4. Your ENTIRE "My Documents" folder saved to disks.

5. A copy on CD of those folders out of the "Application Data" folder that cannot be easily recreated, like the one where your email data is stored and your web browser bookmarks/favorites. Most of the folders in "Application Data" only contain "Preferences" configuration information that you can easily redo after recovery, so you don't need to keep these, although they're usually so small it's not really an issue. Others, however, like some picture sorting apps, contain large indexes that might cause complications after reinstall. It might actually be BETTER to leave these off.

Twice on my present computer (and innumerable times on the computers of others) I have had to restore from backups. First I restore the system and drivers from initial distribution, and update those as needed to the most recent versions. Then I restore the applications, from distribution if I purchased them, and then update to current from their internet sources. I then restore my most essential internet-sourced applications (like Eudora and Firefox) in their current versions, and I leave off those applications I installed but then found that I never actually use them. Then I restore my data, first the "Application Data," and finally the "My Documents," from CDs. Finally, I re-download and reinstall my enormous host of "auxiliary applications" over the internet in their most recent iterations (Belarc Advisor is so nice to provide me with a list of all of these things I'd installed previously!).

Admittedly, this method makes restoration more time consuming and difficult to complete, but the end result is vastly superior for a number of reasons.

1. If you restore from a complete backup, you will get everything back just as it was but with all the accumulated cruft (and potentially even malicious code which may have caused your crash in the first place, and corrupted files with their corruption intact) that you've loaded your system with over years of use. When you restore from distribution, you get clean installs and your computer runs like new.

2. You get everything you download in its the most recent version without any unwanted, system-draining remnants of previous releases.

3. Through the refreshment this does to your own human memory, you get a permanent better sense of what you've got, where it is, and what you really need. It makes YOU a better geek!

Because my computer is (how shall I put this?) rather mature, it takes me several days to complete the whole procedure, although my computer becomes usable for things like email and web browsing within only a few minutes of restoring the O/S, drivers, reconnecting to the internet, and installing and configuring the email and browser apps -- a matter of a couple of hours.

It's a pain, sure. But so's any other way, and this leaves you actually better off in the end than you were before the crash.

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i backup religiously but cluelessly
by pjh55 / October 27, 2006 12:02 AM PDT

i backup regularly to my belkin drive, but havent a clue as to what i would do in case of disaster. i dont even know exactly what is on the backup disk. can anyone advise me as to (1) how to recover using my backup data, and (2) how to transfer between an old and a new computer with minimum reinstall? i need basic, step-by-step help on both. i particularly need help on (2), as i intend to buy anew comoputer early next year, after vista dawns.

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AlohaBob...
by wahnula / October 27, 2006 12:35 AM PDT

...is/was an excellent solution:

http://search.ebay.com/alohabob_W0QQfclZ4QQfnuZ1QQfsopZ1QQxpufuZx

to migrate from one PC to another. Usually, your important data is stored in Documents and Settings under your username. If you adhere to Windows' default of keeping all data in the My Documents folder and not scattered all over your hard drive you will be OK. Now, as far as programs go, AlohaBob should work fine, but I would gather up all my installation CDs anyway.

As for your Belkin setup, the typical way to recover is to install the backup application on a new, working PC, and then look for the "Recover" option, select the drive with the backup data, and go.

Best of luck!

Tony

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redtoring
by pjh55 / October 27, 2006 2:13 AM PDT
In reply to: AlohaBob...

Thanks for your prompt and courteous help. i will say hello (aloha?) to Aloha Bob and check it out~

chuck

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Yes, and very glad I did!
by jmbrinck / October 27, 2006 1:56 AM PDT

From time to time I have installed an app that causes annoying slowdowns, or a device that caused a debilitating conflict. In some cases the app would not completely uninstall, causing a host of problems that once required hours of googling message boards and tech pages for DOS fixes. Now I can restore to an earlier time when the system was stable and the annoying app wasn't even a gleam in my hard drive's eye. One thing I did learn, though, was to create a restore point BEFORE putting anything new on the system...just in case. AND to avoid apps I'm not positively sure I want. Some upgrades (like--ahem--Acrobat 6 Pro) are not welcome on my stable and zippy fast system. More is NOT always better, Adobe!

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Yes and Ghost 9 did not work when I went to restore.
by jch629 / October 27, 2006 3:31 AM PDT

So I lost faith in backup systems and have decided to go to a RAID0,1 system and then when the drive failed, I had a problem with making that work, so now I have a RAID 5 system and since I have had no notices of bad disks I am assuming everthing is ok this time! I have a 460+GB nVidia mediashield system and it has been purring along. No more Ghosts.

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Sony Vaio VGC-RA 710G
by lakephillip / October 27, 2006 4:55 AM PDT

I have done a C:\\ Drive recovery almost every 6 weeks since buying this machine in Sept '04.
I have turned backing up, and resotration into a habit.

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Yes, to restore my operating system to an earlier date.
by jayhelman / October 27, 2006 6:10 AM PDT

I've done that many times. Do not get any of those programs that changes the look of Windows! Like WindowsBlinds & stuff. You're computer will be to slow to even log-in.

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Use tune-up utilities if you want to change the GUI....
by lassean1 / October 27, 2006 9:02 AM PDT

I use the Tune-up Utilities when I am in the mood for a different colored theme. I have never had a problem using this software, let's just say that it is very microsoft friendly. This software actually has about 15 different working applications built in. From Registry cleaner, to icon choosers, to task managers. Nice!! Worth the money.
Try it sometime.

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Yes, to restore all my data but not the OS!
by knightwings / October 27, 2006 9:34 AM PDT

Usually when the drive crashes or the OS gets corrupted. I install a nice clean OS and restore all my data. I lost EVERYTHING once when my drive died a horrible death. I now religiously back up everything important.

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Yes
by alexhjordan / October 27, 2006 9:57 AM PDT

To return the operating system and system/program necessary files to earlier states, generally after i have messed around with them and corrupted something somewhere accidentally on purpose.

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Backups - Absolutely!
by dubbycop / October 27, 2006 10:45 AM PDT

Used backup once when my machine was fried by electrical storm; once when I was hit with a virus and once when some nasty little cracker broke into my machine and took it over. I am nobody particularly important and I do not keep important financial things on my computer so I am guessing that the cracker did it just because he/she could. I am definitely a cheerleader for backups.

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Back this up..
by baggyguy1218 / October 27, 2006 12:10 PM PDT

I used to do the weekly backup and save it to a CD but it became so...annoying! I keep my data on a separate partition, like I tell all of my friends and family. But I should do a monthly backup just in case an EMP is released in my general area. I think I will start backing up again, thanks CNET!

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Several times to restore an entire disk image
by RobertMTurner / October 27, 2006 2:30 PM PDT

I have had to restore an entire disk image several times after HD failures. More common with laptops then desktops due to the abuse they get. I use Ghost and do weekly full images and nightly incrementals. I began this a number of years ago after I thought I had lost all of my data for the past 9 months since my last backup. I got lucky ... but realized the time invloved in a reload from scratch and the agony of data loss. I have since set-up auto backups and now yuse the image approach.

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Nothing to restore
by mrkillerman / October 28, 2006 2:50 AM PDT

I don't restore because theres nothing on my computer that I need to save.

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back up lost every thing comp froze up and locked
by cnetit / October 28, 2006 2:12 PM PDT

computer reached a stage where it just froze up and i was unable to do any thing , so i had to restart computer from when it was like new out of the box. I had back up cd thank god to help save some things but lost everything else.Had to call Hp on this one it was over my head.

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