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How to back up and restore my PC to the exact same condition it was...

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / August 16, 2007 10:05 AM PDT

How to back up and restore my PC to the exact same condition it was before

Question:

I have read the many articles on backing up your computer, but I have never seen an article that tells me how to do what I would like to do most, and that is to restore my computer to the exact same condition it was in before my hard-drive went belly-up! Well, I should say, to restore it to the state it was in at the last back-up.

I definitely do not want to have to reinstall Windows, download all of the "patches," get all the drivers, etc., etc.. What I really want to do is to keep a back-up of *everything* so I can put *everything* back the way it was. I have tried a "restore" before, but was not successful and had to go through the above tedious procedure.

I will bet you that almost all computer users would like to know how to do this, and the articles I have seen are not too clear on whether you can even do it, and if you can?t, why not?

Yours truly,

--Submitted by: Bill L.

Answer voted most helpful by the CNET community

All Roads Lead to Rome...


Bill,

There are a LOT of options for doing this these days. Some of them are cheaper than others. Some are better than others.

Either way you look at it, to do a true, full backup in this day and age, you'll probably need a hard drive equal in size to the one that's currently in your computer. Forget tapes, floppies, CDs and DVDs. None of them are a.) fast enough nor b.) large enough to capture all but the smallest fraction of most modern hard drives. Not to mention, using any of these methods are just no longer up to the task.

Ergo, your best bet would be another hard drive. Fortunately, hard drives are dirt cheap. So then, the big $64,000 question here is how it needs to be hooked up. That would depend on your current configuration, what kinds of drives you've got and what ports are available on the motherboard. You'll need to purchase and install the drive in the same way the current one happens to be installed.

Once you've got the spare drive installed, boot into Windows and let Windows recognize the new device. Once that's done we can go about making use of the new drive.

Now then.. How to do the backup/restore? There are a few options that are currently available in this arena. These would be:

1.) a RAID array
2.) Partition cloning software
3.) Traditional backup software

Each has it's strength's and weaknesses. Such as: A RAID array keeps a real time copy of your C: drive but it adds extra overhead. On the down side, a RAID array is slow as the controller has to write the data to two destinations and make sure that both copies are in sync.

Partition cloning software such as Norton Ghost or Paragon Hard Drive Manager allow you to make a duplicate of your existing partition but once you've made the copy, changes aren't automatically added. Copied drives can be plugged into the original's place and with minimal fuss, be brought up to full running condition in short order. Just unplug the old dead drive and plug the new one in it's place, boot and you should be good to go.

Traditional backup software - meaning ANYTHING besides the crap that's rolled up into Windows - such as Veritas - have options to back stuff up securely, but you would have to run the restore option to retrieve the data. You can also create the archive with a password to protect the data. Of course, this does you NO good if you forget said password. The downside to this method is you have to schedule the job, preferably at a time when the computer's not busy - like 3:00am. It's quite useless, however, when it's shut off at the appointed time.

Under "ideal" conditions, your backup drive would need to be pulled out of the machine and stored somewhere else. Namely somewhere that if your computer's location was to be hit by fire, an act of god or some other disaster, the backup wouldn't be in the same location and would be safe, ready to be popped into the new computer, with the data intact. But let's be honest... MOST people I know who say they want to do backups are lazy slugs when it comes to implementing this and never do. I had one client who had a tape in his backup drive but he never bothered checking to see if the backups were ever done, nor did he ever swap the tapes out (I made sure to get him hooked up with a full set of 12 tapes just so he could swap it out each day and swap the set out with a couple of spares). So much for trusting IT chores to non-IT people... But I digress.

My two cents worth on this: I prefer the drive partition cloning software. You install the spare drive, clone it and simply unplug it. this means the drive is in place, ready to go with a simple cable swap. With the drive unplugged, you get three benefits.

1.) You don't run the risk of saving files to the backup drive and
2.) With it not connected to anything, it can't be infected or infested with spyware, crapware, malware or what not. Of course, it would be smart to do a full and complete virus and spyware check BEFORE making the backup to insure it's clean.
3.) Since the drive isn't plugged in, it's not running all the time, nor should it be wearing out. It should be as good as new.

Of course, the one big downside to this method - updates aren't included. Nor would any new software or data files. So you would have to repeat the cloning process say - once a month before you've done your Patch Tuesday updates - just in case an update does something nasty to your system.

Now you might be wondering why I didn't suggest using an external drive. The answer would be simple. Yes, it can be done, but there are a number of negatives.

1.) It's SLOW compared to native IDE/ATA 133 or SATA 150 or 300 speeds. Cloning an 80 GB drive using an internal hard drive takes about 30 minutes from start to finish.

2.) If you were to use the drive in the enclosure, you'd have to take it apart and remove it and then install the drive in the main case.

3.) You would have to swap the bad drive out with a new one and then restore it which can be fairly slow.

An option to speed things up...

Removable drive cages. While they're not the most fashionable bits of technology, they DO simplify connecting and disconnecting the backup drive. If you buy a pair, you can put your primary drive in one while you put the backup drive in the other. Should the primary fail, you can simply shut down the computer, pull the bad drive out and insert the backup into the primary's slot and be on your way.

One last thing...

Windows Home Server (when it becomes available in the coming months) will have some VERY powerful real-time backup software built into it. Whenever a file changes, it gets automatically backed up to the server. If you need to restore a file you accidentally deleted it, it's made easy. If you've got multiple PCs, it keeps track of them all using a very cool space saving system where duplicates of a given file are merely backed up once and only once which makes things more compact.

The downside to this - it's not quite available yet. It will be soon. It also requires a home network, and at least one PC. On the bright side - it doesn't require a keyboard, mouse or monitor. It does require some basic home networking - much of which, you may already have. If memory serves me, it also has the capability to boot with a blank hard drive via a CD so you can restore the partition directly from the server.

It's some VERY cool technology that's on the horizon. From what I've read, the software's been released to manufacturing - and HP and a number of other vendors have already announced they will be making WHS boxes they will be selling this Fall.

http://forums.cnet.com/5208-10149_102-0.html?forumID=7&threadID=260644&messageID=2565413#2565413

--Submitted by member Wolfie2k5


If you have any additional advice for Bill, let's hear them! Click on the "Reply" link to post. Please be detailed as possible in your answer. Thanks!

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Backing up your computer

Bill...The best backup method I've found is imaging. The best software I've found is Acronis True Image (http://www.acronis.com/). The $50 price tag is peanuts if you place any value on your time at all -- which you'll spend loads of restoring the old way. As noted on Acronis' website, "Acronis

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Mimeo vs acronis
by cliff27 / August 25, 2007 1:05 AM PDT

I have a Seagate Pro external drive. It utilizes mimeo automatic backup software to backup the entire drive. I do not believe that includes the operating system. If my computer were to fail completely would I be able to start from the external drive or would I need acronis in order to do so?

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... I'm not sure what Mimeo backs up...
by rlessmue / August 25, 2007 9:50 AM PDT
In reply to: Mimeo vs acronis

It sounds like some interesting software Mimeo,
but it is one I have not tried or used.

Acronis True Image provides you with a complete
image copy of your drive that you are going to
copy.

If the drive you are going to copy, can not boot
or doesn't have an operating system - you will not
get one. If you back up garbage - you will get garbage.
Believe me... I know.

I have found that if you are making a copy of a bootable
hard drive, that the new hard drive seems to boot faster.
Call it a "side" benifit of the program.

Hope this helps!
Wink

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Dual Drive Solutions?
by carolina1 / August 26, 2007 10:38 PM PDT
In reply to: Mimeo vs acronis

I'm showing my age, but in the mid 80's we ran all our manufacturing systems on a brand of computer called "Tandem". This computer wrote all information to 2 drives rather than depend on a tape backup. If there was a failure in the primary drive then the secondary drive would kick in automatically and take over. No loss of data, no lost productivity and you could take that bad drive of line, swap it with a new formatted drive and it would copy all the changes to the new drive.

Is their no current software available that would simply do the same?

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Yes it does!
by artek-studio / September 10, 2007 5:24 AM PDT
In reply to: Dual Drive Solutions?

It's called mirroring on a RADID 1 Array, on which everything is written twice, same thing is written on 2 differents discs, thats for redundancy on case of failure.

Best Regards

Jorge R.
Mexico City

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Thanks for that info on the best software
by Meri2911 / August 25, 2007 8:43 AM PDT

Thank you for telling us what software is best which you suggested was Acronis True Image. My ex-fiancee did a cloning of my drive once with R-drive and it worked great, the only problem was I never watched him do it, so if this happens to me again I have to learn. All these suggestions are great. I am copying and pasting some of these answers and saving them because I have had to re-format and re-install all the computers in my house from scratch (3 in all, but I do backup all the personal data like music, files and pictures). I would love to just do a cloning of my drive. It is acting up again. I am going to do some cleaning up of it first before I decide to make a copy. But I do need to purchase another internal hard drive because the ex has the other one (but not before I re-formatted it, he does not have my data now).

Thanks for all the suggestions.

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... just remember with Acronis True Image...
by rlessmue / August 25, 2007 9:42 AM PDT

In using Acronis True Image, if your hard drive is having software
problems... you new copy will too! So if the software on the drive
is "stable" and you think it's "mechanical" type of an issue than
Acronis True Image should do the "trick" for you.

Oh, by the way... your new cloned hard drive has all the software
you backed up... including Acronis True Image! (no need to reinstall).

Cheers! Wink

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I hope you're right...
by RichNet / August 27, 2007 5:15 AM PDT

Someone please correct me if I am wrong, but, just reformatting a hard drive does not get rid of all your personal information (i.e. pictures, music, saved documents). I have formatted my hard drives and used a program called File Scavenger to recover the data that was supposed to be wiped out! Maybe someone knows a more secure way of formatting hard drives.

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I hope you're right too!!
by KrishnaBharadwaj / September 1, 2007 2:36 AM PDT
In reply to: I hope you're right...

Well I hope you are right too, but can you tell me where I can get the File Scavenger? I gave my computer for servicing last month and the guy out there erased my whole hard disk. I've been trying file recovery without success. Thanks.

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A more secure way of formatting hard drives
by billyBust8 / September 2, 2007 7:28 AM PDT
In reply to: I hope you're right...

A newly manufactured HD has no information at all, just a number of rotating platters with magnetizable coatings on which "ones and zeros" can be written.

Formatting such a drive is a two-step process.

FIRST a framework is written on each track [tracks are concentric rings analogous to cutting a piece of recording tape and joining the ends to make a circle]. This framework identifies which track is which, and within a track, numbers the ?sectors?. These sectors are the ?bins? into which the information to be stored and later read back can be placed. Like a railroad train with a string of boxcars each of which can contain different things.

The SECOND step in formatting a brand new drive is adding some information to keep track of such things as bad sectors (won?t write or read correctly), sectors already in use, partitions, a Master File Table that lists file names, sizes, length, etc. This is the overhead (like the engine and caboose of the railroad train) and is handled by a subsystem called the FILE MANAGER.

Once these two steps have been done you have a usable hard disk formatted for a particular operating system. Windows for example has used a format structure called FAT32 and more recently NTFS. [Remember when floppy disks came blank and had to be 'formatted' before use? Then later they came with the framework already written on them. This is the same, but on a MUCH GREATER SCALE.]

And now, to your question?

With a previously formatted disk, the system usually offers two choices (though the user, you, may not be aware of it) for ?reformatting?.

--For a FULL FORMAT, the files are theoretically erased from the hard disk. But!!

Consider that ?erase? is a misnomer. The disk hardware can only recognize two ?numbers?, 1 and 0. So every ?bit? [1 byte consists of 8 bits, kind of like an 8 digit ZIP code if the only digits are 1 and 0 rather than 0-9] of the disk writable surface MUST contain either a ONE or a ZERO for the read mechanism to recognize it. Therefore, ?erasing? actually means WRITING to every location on the disk. There are a HUMONGOUS number of sectors on, say a 160 GB hard drive (about 40,000,000). So ?erasing? them would take a VERY LONG TIME.

--In the more common QUICK FORMAT the ACTUAL INFORMATION STORED is not erased!!

In this situation, the framework is left as it was following the FIRST step described above. Only the contents of SOME sectors are altered to put them back as if the disk is newly installed. The ?formatter? clears the special information that describes the formerly stored files. But the files? data is still there on the drive!

--A post-format data recovery program looks into the sectors and interprets what?s there and is able to recover much if not all of the presumed lost information.

So that?s the likely difference. If you want to have your data truly unrecoverable, you need to use a ?SECURE SHREDDER? to delete it. Such a program uses special algorithms that are meant to defeat attempts to recover sensitive information. There are many freeware and other programs available that perform this method of file removal/deletion

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Erasing Data
by spacepirate1 / September 12, 2007 2:50 AM PDT
In reply to: I hope you're right...

No, unfortunately reformatting alone won't do the job. You see, basic formatting doesn't actually erase data. Every operating system uses what is called a "Table of Contents File" (or TOC) to store information about the data on your system. (This is what Microsoft calls it - it might have a different name with other OS's. Same concept though). It is basically a type of catalog. In Windows, if you open up Windows Explorer, you'll see all those files and folders. That information is stored in the TOC. When you delete a file or folder, it actually only gets deleted from the TOC, it's not actually erased from the drive. The only way it will be erased from the drive, is if the specific area where the data was located gets overwritten, or if you use special removal software. For Windows you can use Iolo System Mechanic or Webroot Window Washer. They both have features built in that can actually wipe the data after you've erased it using Windows (or better said, removed it from the TOC). Norton also has a product for this, as do other software companies. Acronis has a product called Drive Cleanser, but you can only use this to wipe an entire drive, or a partition on the drive. Not just data removed from the TOC.

You might want to start here with some reading: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disk_formatting

If a business or a government organization wants to get rid of it's old computers, then they have to be very careful and make sure a professional software is used to completely erase all the hard disks. Acronis Drive Cleanser, or any similar product, would have to be used to accomplish this.

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I agree Acronis True Image is the ** ONLY ** way to go...
by rlessmue / August 25, 2007 9:27 AM PDT

If you are looking to make an *EXACT IMAGE* of your hard drive,
Acronis True Image is the best program I have found to use.

I have used a lot of different programs over the years and this is
the best one I have found to make an exact image (and I mean exact)
of your current hard drive.

I am running XP with SP2. I believe that that is the min. requirement
for this program to run. I don't know if it works on Vista....
I think it does.

When you run the program, it will start in a "windows" enviorment and
ask for you to make your selections (very nice images to work with).

When you are finished making your selections, it will tell you what
step it will take to finish your copying (including rebooting, etc.).

After you complete the copying, just swap out your hard drives and
boot from your copied hard drive... everything will look just like
your original hard drive that you had copied from!

It seems to boot faster too!

It has taken the pain of doing a system back-up to a few clicks and
un-attended baby sitting issues (..like, press return to continue).

Hope this helps! Cheers Happy

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Acronis has its limitations
by jsm55555 / August 26, 2007 12:27 AM PDT

I back up daily with Acronis 10 - however, I've learned from experience that imaging a drive isn't the panacea I once thought it was. If you change your motherboard at the same time you change your hard drive, the image will not restore a bootable copy. This is discussed at length on the Acronis support forum, apparently there isn't a fix for it, it's a result of the new motherboard sometimes having "different" IDE hardware or something. However, imaging the disk WILL save all your important data, so that when you re-install Windows and all your applications, you'll be able to get everything back (eventually!)

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This limitation affects all imaging software
by spacepirate1 / August 31, 2007 2:33 AM PDT

The reason why it's difficult, or impossible, or restore an image to a hard drive when you change the motherboard, is because each board might have a different way in which it communicates with the hard drive. If you go into the BIOS, you will see that there are specific settings for Cylinders, Sectors and the Landing Zone. Although a hard drive will have a label on it specifying certain parameters (numbers) for each of these, those numbers may not be what the motherboard wishes to use. Many years ago, mid 90's and before, you had to manually enter these parameters in the BIOS. Of course you would simply look at the label on the hard drive and use that, but often enough the drive wouldn't work properly. You'd have to play around with the numbers (perhaps call the manufacturer to get other numbers that might work), or use one of the presets that you could choose within the BIOS. Towards the mid 90's, motherboard manufacturers started implementing the ability to have the BIOS automatically communicate with the hard drive and find out which parameters were correct. Sometimes you'd have to enter the BIOS and choose a feature called "Detect Hard Drive", or something similar. Other boards could detect the hard drive on their own during boot-up and make the necessary settings automatically. Nowadays you see more of the latter, but you do occasionally have boards that require you to log into the BIOS and force the detection through the menu item I mentioned. There are technical articles available on the Internet that you could read in order to get a better understanding of the technical issues regarding these parameters and why they differ from motherboard to motherboard. The bottom line however, is that each board will be different and you (in almost every case) have no choice but to use the parameters that the board detects. Otherwise the hard drive will not function properly. This will be evident immediately, because you will not be able to install the operating system at all. Sometimes you can actually install the OS, but it will not be bootable. If you are using a disk imaging software to restore your image, then the software will refuse to restore the imaging (error message) or, after successful restoration, the OS will not boot up. I had to find out about this the hard way many years ago when I used Norton Ghost. I had a Maxtor hard drive and called up Maxtor's tech support to inquire about this issue. The representative then properly explained things to me, basically what I've written above. One other thing you have to watch out for is the fact that different hard drives require different parameters. Therefore, you might also run into a problem, even if you use the same motherboard. Mind you, often enough, the parameters end up being the same for a new drive as with the old one, even though the manufacturer and the capacity are different. This usually means that your restoration will be successful. I have also experienced situations where the parameters were slightly different, yet the restoration functioned properly too. Luck of the draw sometimes.

Acronis has another product called Snap Deploy, and apparently this imaging software can restore and image to machines with different hardware. This product is aimed at companies that have many different computers. With Snap Deploy they can create one standard image and use it on other computers, regardless of the hardware. I've never used it, but it would be interesting to try and see if it works as well as Acronis claims.

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And that's why you should clone your hard drive
by dlauber / August 31, 2007 12:22 PM PDT

And that's why you should clone your hard drive with Acronis, not make a backup image. Acronis has saved my proverbial butt several times thanks to exact clones I make on a weekly basis. I'm not quite sure I understand why you would simply make an "image" when you can simply clone your hard drive. It's a great safety value. Whenever I upgrade a computer's motherboard, I first clone the hard drive using Acronis in case something goes awry. Again, cloning saved the proverbial butt a few times.

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"cloning" or "backup image"... what is the difference?
by elculo / September 2, 2007 2:55 AM PDT

I thought that "cloning" and "making a backup image" means the same thing...
I know that "differential" or "incremental" backups are something different, meaning that you just have a copy of your files, but you have no copy of your system.
But please somebody explain to me what is the difference between "cloning" and "making a "backup image" with Acronis.
Thanks in advance

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Backing up your computer
by Chichen_george / August 31, 2007 10:28 PM PDT

I find the info here invaluable. Could you advise me if I buy an external drive with acronis can I back up my wife's laptop on the same drive as my desktop?

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Acronis True Image Home 10
by jonesy_uk / January 27, 2008 5:01 AM PST

Just re-installed my entire system following a ridiculous virus, and the whole process from inserting the Windows disc to the point where I had all the updates, and all my regularly-used software was 3 Hrs. In order to avoid a similar problem, I installed Acronis true Image onto my machine, and created an image in a number of minutes. I also added a secure partition which Acronis uses for the backups. So far, everything was going as planned, UNTIL, I tried to test it! I booted into Acronis using F11, but my Hard Drive is NOT found. It asks me to select the image that I created(the one on the secure partition), but says, "No Hard Drives were detected", so I'm stuck. I've put the image on a DVD, and when it boots, I can go into Acronis, select the image on the DVD, but then it asks me for the destination, and says,"No Hard Drives were detected". At this point, My PC is in prefect working order, with Acronis Partition, etc. on the system, but one day it's going to crash, and when that day arrives, how on earth am I going to restore the system with the image that I've created??? Is there anyone out there that has had the same problem?? I appreciate your help.

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Acronis True Image Home 10
by gokul1942 / January 27, 2008 7:54 AM PST

I hope your email to gene@ugr.com will solve the problem. Pl post the reply when you receive a reply and your rating of the site.
gene@ugr.com.

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Acronis True Image Home 10
by gokul1942 / January 27, 2008 8:40 AM PST

From your post, I presume you wanted to test the working of Acronis True Image backups. First of all have u made one booting CD using Acronis? If so when your system fails, you should enter the system setup and activate the boot from cd option and insert the boot up cd created with that of Acronis and follow the required action as described in the Acronis main menu and your system will be back to your original state in minutes as per the backup which you restored. Since new programme and other add-ons will be definitely there as and when we work, it is advisable to back up regularly say once in a week so that much will not be lost. I hope I had clarified your doubt. Since it was universally agreed that Acronis is best for backup, please do not try to test it when the system is working fine.

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Try Acronis and visit ugr.com

I've been using Acronis True Image Home for a few years now, and it is great. It is very intuitive, easy for casual computer users. Get yourself an external USB drive to keep your backup image files on, and if your computer does not have high speed USB, get it - add-in PCI cards for a desktop or a PCMCIA plug-in card for a laptop can be had for under $20. For a very helpful walk-though on using Acronis, and a treatise on "the perfect backup approach", visit www.ugr.com. The fellow who runs it sells Acronis at a very competitive price.

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100% reliable backup

This has worked for me for several years now, as the ONLY reliable backup approach. Buy a new hard drive the same size as your existing hard drive. It will come with software to clone your existing drive to the new drive, presuming that you bought the new drive because you have indication that your exising drive is failing. Install all the latest updates for your programs and Windows, and do disc antispyware check, virus scan, disk cleanup, and defragmentation of the old drive before cloning it. After cloning the existing drive, do not install the new drive .. just put it on the shelf for a rainy day when your exisiting hard drive fails.

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HD to HD with software that came with the HD
by boatsoneel / August 26, 2007 2:07 AM PDT
In reply to: 100% reliable backup

Over many years and many backup systems I,ve found that the best is to do a Clone backup from one HD to another HD using the software that came with the HD to be backed up to. My backup HD's are in removable trays so I can change them on a regular basis. By using this method you will have a bootable HD with everything on it - exactly as it was when you backed it up last.

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Software with New Hard Drive
by waytron / August 26, 2007 3:15 AM PDT

At one point I used the software that came with the new hard drives to clone the old drive onto the new drive. But it often did not work so I would use Acronis. Then I just stopped even trying the other.

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based on what I have read here, next computer
by bus / August 26, 2007 5:15 AM PDT

Dual Core, Dual graphic cards, why not dual backup

The next time I buy a new computer it will most likely be a Vista Home Premium laptop from Gateway. I want to buy Gateway because I have used their restore system which came with my last laptop and it worked (change the boot sequence, reinstall Windows, use their included driver CD, and then download an install all of the updates, it took 4 hours). I will also purchase a hard-drive that is identical to or an upgrade of the OEM hard-drive. I will then clone the laptop?s hard-drive to this new drive which will become the clone drive. I will use a system from Apricorn to clone the drive. I will then test the clone drive by installing the drive into the new laptop to determine that it does function correctly (the computer?s functions and devices will be systematically tested by performing standard usage for a period of time where by the user is satisfied the drive and computer are functioning correctly). The OEM drive will then be installed and tested in the same manner. Once both drives are found to be working correctly, I will store the clone drive in a safe place ready to be installed when the computer?s hard-drive fails. With that complete, I will then purchase an external USB hard-drive backup system. After I have set it up to function with the laptop, I will test the external USB hard drive backup system by erasing some test files and then do a restore. If that works I will take it a step further and erase a key file (I will copy the key file to another medium for pasting it back should the external USB hard drive backup system fail). If that works I will take it another step further and erase the whole drive and then do the restore again. If it passes this final test, I will set the USB hard drive backup system to perform backups automatically. With those steps done all the parts are in place and tested.

The USB hard drive backup system would allow restoring my current work files in the event of file corruption. This restore functionality provided by the external USB hard-drive backup system combined with the clone hard-drive will complete my dual backup system. During the life of the laptop, I will determine a schedule of re-cloning of the drives due to the updates of the operating system and component drivers (most likely, once a year). This will be my backup plan for ?everything back the way it was? (to restore it to the state it was in at the last backup). Well that is my plan , not a 100% solution but at least a ?Best Fit Approach?.

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Sounds like a plan
by waytron / August 26, 2007 6:10 AM PDT

This sounds like a plan all accept the Gateway part. I am not fond of Gateway laptops. But that may be just me.

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Good software is the answer

Mirror your harddrive. That's the only way to make a new computer like your old computer once you no longer have your old one. This means a program that copies EVERYTHING on your old drive to some other media. Although I can't endorse a single product, I use Norton's Ghost and copy my laptop to a stand alone harddrive. It's an easy program both coming and going-- click "backup" and, after choosing a few options, it backs up all the information on your computer. Plug a new laptop into the harddrive (yes, I have been in your shoes) and click "restore" and it's done. There are other good backup/mirroring programs. In between these complete backups, I use an online backup service, but it doesn't backup executables (.exe files, etc) and system files, but it is better than nothing when I am on the road; besides I rarely install new programs from my motel room. It's the system files that make the new computer like the old one and that's what you want.

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Recovery after hard drive crashes
by krs99 / August 17, 2007 10:17 AM PDT

I'm interested in the answer for Windows as well, but on the Mac you just make a clone on an external drive using the SuperDuper application (yes that's the name) and then you can boot directly from that clone as if it was your original hard drive.
Absolutely everything is intact - nothing to reinstall or change.
Your back in business instantly.
If your internal hard drive is toast, replace it, use SuperDuper to clone the internal drive from the external back up and you're back to where you were before the hard drive crash - or you can just continue to use the external drive as your main drive for the time being and move back to the internal one later.

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Restoring Just Like It Was

The best method I've ever found is to create an image of the hard drive. There are several programs (all commercial) that help you do this.

You can create images to CD-ROMs, DVD-ROMs, external hard drives, etc. It depends on what is best for you.

When you create the image, EVERYTHING is saved just like it is on hour hard drive--errors, updates, fragmented files, etc. So it's best to run all tests and diagnostics before you create the image.

Then, should your drive or software go haywire, you just re-image and everything is exactly as it was when the image was made--which is a good idea to make a new image when you make major changes.

It's also a great way to re-create everything should your hard drive die.

I use an older version of Acronis Drive Image, but, as I said, there are several programs available to help you do the job.

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Restoring computer
by o.khater / August 17, 2007 10:34 PM PDT

YOU can have two operative systems on your computer so copy E BY C and in reverse copy C BY E , keep all your programs and personal things on external Hard Disk and to be copied on DVD FOR ALL.So you will have on DVD THE FOLLOWING C-operative system1,E-operative system2,ALL PROGRAMS,PERSONAL THINGS.

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