Best way to Backup Hard Drive

Hewlett-packard / Hp pavilion dv5 notebook...
March 2, 2009 at 06:09:10
Specs: Windows Vista Home, 1.9 GHz / 2812 MB
I have a 250 gig hard drive in my new laptop. I am wondering what the best way is to keep this backed up. I prefer a system that requires the least amount of effort on my part if I ever have to restore the backup. It looks like Ghost might be the answer, but maybe not? Also, what media should I back up to? I have a DVD-RW drive, but I think burning such a large amount of DVDs will take too long.

This is a challenge posting by CNChallenger.

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March 2, 2009 at 07:00:17
First off, if you partition your hard drive into multiple partitions you will find that the partitions will need imaging at different intervals. The OS partition will need the most frequent attention. That partition may only contain say 8GB of actual data which can easily fit on 2 DVDR disks.

Ghost typically compresses the data to about 2/3 the starting size if you use default settings. Of course data that is already compressed can't be compressed much further and imaging that type of data is a wasted effort. Better to just straight up make copies. jpg and mp3 files fall into this category.

If you install your programs to a different partition than the OS you may find that you won't need to image very often.

One important point to make at this time is this. If you have programs on a second partition and you need to restore the OS partition the programs on the second partition will run fine without any intervention on your part.

So you see, if you use multiple partitions you won't need to image the entire drive each time.

If that doesn't sound good enough then here is another bonus. The latest version of Acronis true image can perform an incremental backup/image. That means it only writes the data that has changed since the last full backup. I don't know if the latest Ghost can do that of not.

IMHO optical media is the most dependable and cheapest method of backup. Additionally, once an image is made you can duplicate the image in a few minutes for pennies. Keeping more than one backup is extra insurance. Consider keeping a backup at an off site location. I have a safety deposit box that is wide enough to hold 5 1/4 disks.

For convenience you may elect to use a second hard drive for some backups.

I currently use Ghost 2003 and write to DVDR/CDR media for my primary imaging and to an external USB drive for supplemental backups.

Look at the link below for additional information on partitioning.

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March 2, 2009 at 10:19:10
Excellent advice by Othehill!
I might add a bit. Using Tweakui, you can also save space by moving some windows folders like the Desktop, My Documents, Favorites. You can even move your email. An additional advantage to doing that is, if you lose your Operating System partition, those files remain up to date.

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March 3, 2009 at 14:40:52
The best one for a person is a plan that is understood and used and tested.

I generally use two means. One is Ntbackup with system state. The other is an image from a known clean install. I almost never image a used system. Apps like Ghost (prior to 9 and after V9 are very different) are FAST!. Apps like G4U are useful for odd OS's. Acronis is a popular apps for many techs. There are plenty of other systems

Microsoft suggests that you use Ntbackup with system state. I

From a simple point of view you might only need to save personal data. I'd suggest usb external hard drives with any plan. I just bought a 1TB for less than $100.

Your task is to know how to backup, how to access that data in case you need it. Last task would be to understand and be able to use the restore method to completely recover a non-bootable system.

Learn how to use bootable media such as usb, cd,dvd and pxe in order to access media sources. Things like Live CD's offered in various imaging software allow you to recover your system.

"Best Practices", Event viewer, host file, perfmon, antivirus, anti-spyware, Live CD's, backups, are in my top 10

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