Question

What is the best way to backup - PERIOD!

I've had an older Dell XPS & a HP Pavillion (both with Win XP). Then I used a Maxtor for my backup's (with a firewire). Then my wife bought me a Click Free, which seemed to great for both PC's.
Then Tragedy occured to my main PC the Dell, I've used it for so long parts became obsolete (the HP had to small a hard drive & memory). So I purchased a HP laptop with Win 7 that had more space & memory than both older units combined. but now niether the Maxtor or Click Free will work with WIn 7.
I have been able to get some of my important docs, pics & other items by networking to the HP Pavillon until it went to PC heaven. So now I have 2 back up units that don't work with my current PC, I can't even access them to see whats on them. I've been using memroy sticks & DVD's for back ups on the win 7 laptop, but I'd like to get a more reliable &/or updateable form of backup that is resonably priced or if someone has a better suggestion, I thank you in advance for you input.
1st - I know one of my problems is that once I get used to using a product I don't like to change, I don't mind the learning curve on new items but sometimes I just don't have the time. And 2nd I tend to be a little lengthy - I apologize. I'm just trying to put out as much info as I can to get a helpful response,
Thank you all, Kasey A

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Answer
Which is why

I don't use proprietary backup systems. Your old backup might be on NTBACKUP and there are apps to get the files out so I'll stop here as that detail is missing.

But I use 2 apps for backup and make multiple copies on multiple devices. It's not as hard as it sounds.

1. Files. That's it plain and simple. I use "sync" apps to sync my PC with some external drive or network folder. Since this is not proprietary I can use simple copy/paste or apps like SyncBack, GoodSynce or others.

2. The full image. So I want a way to restore it all I save an image with Clonezilla. It's nice since I can save this image to a folder on the external which means I can have more than one. I won't write about Clonezilla use and methods since it's free and all on the web.
Bob

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Re: backup
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backing up computer files

At one time I used DVDs to back up files but at some time in the near future disc drives will be history. ThumbDrives aren't cheap or big enough yet to do any serious file storage. Files stored in "the cloud" would be useless if we lost power and I refuse to pay for the "privilege" of someone else having access to my files. What's left? I use Western Digital 2TB external drives and back up files as I get them. I bough six of them @$79 about a year ago. Four of them are still empty. I have a battery system that will keep my Laptop powered up for a week if I need my own power. Eventually, SSDs will be big and cheap enough that I'll be able to put all my files, 90% of them music, audio and video, on drives with no moving parts. They will store indefinitely in Flash format and my battery life will more than double if I use them instead of HDDs.
If we had some kind of catastrophic event that knocked out the electrical power to our homes or to the servers that store files in "the cloud" those files would be inaccessible and therefore useless. Even if a "cloud" service was free it is the most unreliable way to store files. Having all your files "within arm's reach" will guarantee that they're there when you want or need them.

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Sync in background

I don't like the idea of remembering to backup my system. I want it to happen automatically, in the background as I go about my day. There are a couple of ways to do this using cloud service but since I have multiple household computers I wanted a central system. So a few years back I purchased a Synology NAS (www.synology.com). This is a server sitting on my home network. I have a 2TB disk in it. I use Heatsoft Automatic Synchronizer on each PC. I schedule my work PC to backup critical files (documents, mail, etc.) every two hours during the day while I work and a full backup once a day. I do a synch rather than incremental backups. So on the Synology disk there is a directory for each PC and all the files from the PC readily available. I have another removable 2TB disk that I connect to the Synology NAS and clone the Synology's disk once a week. That disk I take to my office.

The NAS option works for me. I think it is cost effective. What I mean by 'cost effective' is how much is it worth to me if I lose all the data on a system and how much time it will take me to recover.

There are other options to having a NAS. There are cloud based services such as Mozy and Carbonite which work quite well. I haven't used them so I don't have first-hand experience, but you should look at them as a quick solution.

Remember that a good backup is worth it's weight in gold - when you need it.

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iMac backups are easy

I have an iMac Desktop with Time Machine software to automatically back up all my files several times a day onto a LaCie external drive. I love not having to think about it. I plan on buying an additional external drive to use as a dedicated backup for photos and videos.

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Remember that Hard Drives are not indestructible.

While Time Machine has saved my butt on a number of occasions, notably iMac internal hard drive failure, it too is prone to "death by malfunction", to which I can testify.

Consider also, the house fire or the burglary where both the iMac AND the Time Machine drive are no longer available.

How does a Corporate entity backup? Usually tape but, that tape is taken off-site, usually a Safe Deposit box, and stays there until it's time to recycle it.

I'm not suggesting that you go to tape but a copy of your most precious files, the absolutely irreplaceable stuff like photos & home movies, stored on DVD and taken to your Safe Deposit box is a good start or you could consider somewhere like Carbonite, as well as Time Machine.

I think that Time Machine is hassle free, needs no babysitting and is worth its weight in gold and any Mac owner that has it, but is not using it, just doesn't care if their data gets lost.
However, at the end of the day, it is still just an external hard drive that is prone to all the problems that your internal hard drive faces.

P

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well - nothing is indestructible

What's usually lacking in these discussions is what the tolerance of the client (in this case the original poster Kasey). I've done consulting and implementation of disaster recovery solutions for a number of years. I'm assuming that Kasey is home user and this is just personal information -- based on the age and unreliability of the system.

When I advise clients, the first thing I talk about is to think on the large scale: your home/office/factory just burned down/washed away or is over the rainbow. Then think about what you actually need: email, phones, data, access to data. Then what does it cost you per day/week/month to not have these things. Most individuals and small business are relatively easy. You can get a new computer at Best Buy and as long as I can get my data, I'm back in business. The fact is that ALL hard drives and computers will eventually fail. External drives that you can remove from the location are good solutions for some. Most people who have critical data like legal aides, psychologists, etc. need encrypted data. There are good cloud-based solutions to store encrypted data. That is probably overkill in this situation.

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Sounds good to me.

I don't have any Macs - just Windows and Linux, but your set sounds ideal. I would assume that you could also use a NAS with Time Machine. Either way the external drive is very cost effective. The original poster did not say whether his needs are personal or professional or both. That always determines the type of backups, cost and tolerance of pain if you need to do a recovery. He should consider going the OSX route if it fits his/her needs.

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(NT) Indeed.
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Be careful of recommendations above

Some have recommended that you use back-up or sync software that works without user control. While this insures regular back-up or sync activity, it may also insure that any file you currently screw up or accidentally delete will produce the same result in your back-up or sync activity location(s).
I believe it's safer (for those of us that make the occasional huge boo-boo), to not let any of these processes run automatically. Instead, find some small, free software that will deliver back-up or sync reminders to you as frequently as you desire (daily, weekly, monthly, etc.). Then, develop the will power to do what's necessary when the reminder occurs.

Good luck,
Chuck

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Good point

You make a good point, synchronizing just copies the file (good or bad) to another location. If you delete the source at the source location, it will be deleted on the remote location. You can use Google Synch to accomplish that for no cost. Synchronizing addresses the original question -- since he had been using memory sticks and a hard drive. I'm not sure the original poster wanted to do versioning. That is a different level of protection which, to do effectively, requires automation.

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Clone Hard Drive

I have used ALL the free and paid for SW to backup/image my hard drives. All have failed at times. As others said, I would NEVER use a third party off site cloud product. "they" have your data etall.
I found full hard drive clone SW to be the best method. I use CASPER. from FSR. There is a free and paid version.
The SW makes live direct copy/clone of your drive. After the first clone subsequent clones only update the changed block. You can also run in local boot mode from a boot CD or USB
I use 2 to 3 external SATA drives either eSATA or USB3.0.
I rotate the drives GEN 1 2 3. I only clone after I know the current system is clean and working. Hopefully I do not clone a damaged or virus loaded OS.
I clone 2 to 3 times a week. I run at night.

Remember the off site cloud SW does not backup up your OS. IF / WHEN you need to restore you have to install the OS first then DL the data from the cloud.
With CASPER, I just swap out the bad HD with the cloned HD. System back and running in minutes.
If the ori drive was corrupted, I format and clone the working drive back.
I have used CASPER for 4 years. NEVER failed to obtain a working backup clone.
HHD are cheap.

Yes, I was a major data center data base systems manager in real life Happy

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Here's what I do for backup

I suggest you get away from the Windows backup program and get yourself a good commercial backup program. I've seen forums fraught with problem reports for the Windows one. I know I was very unimpressed when I tried it. Two I'm familiar with and like are Easeus Todo Backup Free, and Memeo which has a 30 day free trial and you can buy it for $29.99.
The March 2012 issue of PC World was very high on the FREE program from Easeus and so is CNET. In my experience with a variety of configurations I have to say I'm very impressed. Like Ghost (which unfortunately is no longer on the market) it will back up to a networked drive, and it will create a boot CD for when your PC won't boot. See CNET's review of it at
http://download.cnet.com/Easeus-Todo-Backup-Free/3000-2242_4-10964460.html?tag=mncol;1#editorsreview .
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CNET has a lot of backup program reviews at
http://download.cnet.com/windows/backup-software/?tag=contentBody;sideBar .

Some of these are free (last time I checked there were over 300), some have free trials (over 1000), and some are purchase only (over 200).
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External hard drives are best for backup. You can get a 500 GB one for around $50 and a 1 TB one for around $60. You can also buy a 32 GB flash drive for under $10. It's the best insurance you can ever buy!

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I hope this helps. Good luck

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Carbonite

Carbonite is the best and easiest method I have ever used.

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I think others may disagree.
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You won't see me backing up to the cloud

For one thing uploading to the cloud is painfully slow. For another, you never know who might be sneaking a peak at your data, even if it's encrypted. And for another some of these cloud providers have gone out of business or decided to withdraw their service. Finally I want my backups where I can get my hot little hands on them immediately when I want. I do make DVDs with my critical data and lock it up in my security protected car, and I even put a flash drive with data in my safe deposit box. However if you've got a good external hard drive and backup software, you can just set it and forget it to make whatever backups you want whenever you want. And you don't have to pay any monthly fees. If I have to replace an internal hard disk with Windows, I can do the system restore in under 30 min.
I make full system backups weekly with incremental backups every 4 hours. I also make full system backups to a different external hard drive monthly, and keep 6 mos. worth of them. Overkill? Probably for a lot of folks, but for me it's too cheap and easy not to. I don't have any classified data, but I do have my financial data with tax and other data that would be an extreme royal pain if it were to get lost. YMMV.

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This just in. Yahoo editing your contacts.
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1984 man.

Dafydd.

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Best backup soluition software
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use easeus backup it's flawless

easeus backup software is really good even after hard disk crash it was easy to restore to the new drive
you can create a backup and theb restore any or qall files fron the saved image

great program i have used it for three years at least and have had no problems doing what i want with it

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