|Flash drives are the least reliable of the current options. IMO optical disks are the most reliable. |
Do you currently own any back up/imaging software?
The key to a successful plan is to make it easy enough that you will continue with it.
IMO the first thing is to set up your hard drive into multiple partitions. The reason for that not everything on your drive needs to be backed up at the same rate. Programs don't change much and they may occupy quite a bit of space. I will explain what I think is optimal.
Three partitions if you do not use multiple partitions. More if your do.
Primary boot partition contains Windows and a few core programs/utilities. The second partition holds the remainder of your programs. The third is for your music, movie, photos, etc.
The first partition will need more frequent backing up. The second one only when you make a change in the programs. Items like your cleaners and AV that update frequently go on the first partition.
The third partition can simply be copied. Backup/imaging programs compress the data to conserve space. The items I mentioned are already in compressed formats so not need to use special software.
Now to the good part. Lets say you have individual images of both the first and second partitions and Windows needs to be restored. You use the first image to restore the first partition and everything else on the computer will work. No need to restore all those programs and files on the second and third partitions.
My ideal solution is this. When you first setup the hard drive after everything is installed as described, you image the first and second partitions separately to DVDR media.
After that you image to an external hard drive using commercial software that has incremental backup.
Occasionally you may elect to image to DVDR again when major changes have been made to the partition. Things like a service pack for instance.
FYI, Windows 7 has some backup features built in. I have not explored them enough to know if they are good enough to stand alone.
One other thing to note. If you have a pre-configured PC you will need to be aware that changing the primary partitioning may make it difficult to use the factory restore features. It is best to burn the disks as instructed and save them for when you finally dispose of the PC.
The links below are for two versions of the same product. Read the reviews. Appears the more expensive one seems to work better with Windows 7.
Another option is to buy an external USB hard drive that comes with backup software included.