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Backing up all files on my computer

Posted on 2000-04-10
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I want to back up everything on my computer.  I currently have a 4.2GB hard drive with numerous applications (such as Photoshop, Director, Flash etc.) and I need to back them all up so if my hard drive dies I can get all the applications and my personal files back on my computer in perfect running order.

What is the best and most affordable way of going about this?  No, I don't have a server, or another computer, and am not going down that road at this point, thank you.


Michael
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Question by:morya
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by:morya
ID: 2700980
PS I have a 450mgz PC
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by:slink9
ID: 2701009
Probably the best is an 8g tape backup.  You can get it from mei-microcenter.com and pay around $100 for it.  The tapes are $25 or so each, though.  The software that comes with it will back up all files except whatever Windows has open and do it fairly quickly.
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by:morya
ID: 2701095
Could you point me to the exact link?
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by:slink9
ID: 2701153
Sorry.  It appears they don't carry tape drives any more.  You can get one for as low as $220 from MicroWarehouse at the link below:

http://www2.warehouse.com/dept.asp?dept%5Fid=3481&cat=micro
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by:jhance
ID: 2701321
My favorite method is to buy a new harddrive, use DriveImage (or similar) to copy the whole thing to the new drive.  Swap the old and new ones and keep the old one for safekeeping.

Now you've got everything on the backup so you can recover in a disaster and you now also have a new (and hopefully bigger) harddrive.

For daily backups of important work I use a CD-R drive to copy the data.
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by:pjknibbs
ID: 2701472
Personally I use CD-R for backups, like jhance--the burners themselves only cost about £100 (not sure what that is in dollars), and the media costs a few tens of pence for 650Mb. Once you've got the drive you could back up all 4.2Gb for less than £5.
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by:morya
ID: 2701493
pjknibbs

How much do you back up?  How long would it take to back up 4GB?  The negative I see to that is that it couldn't be a scheduled automatic process.  You would have to do it all manually.

Where would I find a jhance?
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by:tonnybrandt
ID: 2702143
a jhance can be found at the comment 3 comments before this. :-)
It's the expert. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Know this doesn't help, I just couldn't resist.
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by:morya
ID: 2702171
Well, I still want the link to it (him). Can he do backups?
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by:ga9ul
ID: 2702208
tonnybrandt is right,jhance IS an expert and not a backup device (chuckle)although some say he's got it taped.If you need to do regular backups because your always adding new data every day you would be better off using a tape device with incremental backups, having a full system backup on Friday then incrementals on Saturday thro' Thursday. You can either buy a DAT 4/8Gb SCSI tape drive with an adapter (if you don't already have a scsi adapter, this could add up to quite a few dollars) or you could use something like a qic tape unit that fits onto your floppy drive cable (like HP colorado) But tapes can be expensive.The hard drive image is probably the cheapest method, but not practical if you add lots of new data frequently, unless you leave the other hard drive in the computer ( which sort of defeats the object really).There are many other options, such as CD r/w CDR (worm) zip/jazz drives,Magneto-optical disc units( very VERY expensive.)But from your original comment - "I need to back them all up so if my hard drive dies I can get all the applications and my personal files back on my computer in perfect running order.What is the best and most affordable way of going about this? " - You would be better off doing as jhance suggested.Providing you store the other hard drive safely away from strong magnetic fields or where it can be physically damaged. In the latter respect a hard drive is more fragile than a tape or cd.
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by:ga9ul
ID: 2702225
Moriya >>> pjknibbs said he agreed with jhance, who is one of the experts on this page who gave you advice. He didn't mean jhance is a link or web page. The experts name is below the green bar, which is above every comment. My user name is ga9ul for example.
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by:morya
ID: 2702233
Yes, ga9ul, I got that.  I was just playing along.

Thank you, in any case.

Michael
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by:ga9ul
ID: 2702265
Sorry morya ( I must have had a sense of humour bypass operation and gone all patronising) I'll go and have a lie down for a bit.
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by:tandy
ID: 2706284
ye olde backup question..

Hi morya,

You really hit the $64,000 question with that one.

I had a friend who lost everything to a virus on a 4.0 gig drive.
He lost hours of time with that one. To prevent another disaster
He went with a dual hard drive system on a duty cycle.
He would make a clone of the original, put it in a safe place.
Run the original for a week or so, then copy that to the backup
and switch them. Not only does he alway have a backup , but
it will prolong the life of the drives.

When a disaster occurs(notice WHEN not IF) most people
have trouble with configuration, and personal data loss.
Most personal data is not too large, unless you are heavy into
graphics. Many Data files can still be stored on floppies(yes they
are still around). A zip drive will give you a 100 meg capacity and
they are quick to access, just like little hard drives. If you have a
Cd Burner that works well too. With a Cd burner it n be used for
other purposes also. I think the tape back up is too expensive,
both in time and money.

Configuration files for application and OSes are even smaller.
These are the files that make your applications personell. If
you know enough about you programs, then these all all you really
need to back up. I think global backups systems take more time
overall then what you save by just restoring the pertinent data and
reinstalling the applications from the original(or get some one else to do it).
Thats what I do anyway..Of course you need to know what data is pertinent.  

Good luck with your back ups.

Gil




..
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by:RoadWarrior
ID: 2706615
There is some backup software around that could handle an auto backup on a CD writer. You would make a full backup on to CD-R (write once) media, then each night leave your CD-RW  (readable and re-writable) disk in the PC and let it backup changes only overnight. You would have to have a directory of the data in the full backup on your harddisk somewhere of course for the software to compare to. Every so often you would do the full backup manually again (like when your CD-RW started getting close to full) I don't have names of good software to use for this, just know it is within the capabilities of the current crop.
I just mention this because a lot of people can make more use out of a CD writer in a personal system than they can a tape drive.

regards,

Road Warrior
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by:Dassa
ID: 2707648
Personally I use a DDS2 HP Dat drive that I picked up second hand with a scsii card for $150 AUD.  120 metre tapes with hardware compression will hold up to 8gig.  I do full backups once a week with daily incrementals as suggested previously.  I also do full backups monthly that are stored until I need the tapes.  It isn't that expensive.
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by:morya
ID: 2708234
Adjusted points from 50 to 75
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by:morya
ID: 2708235
Wow! What a plethora of answers to choose from.

I like the idea of the cd burner, for as was mentioned by RoadWarrior, there are other uses for it.  However, I have heard that you can only rewrite on a cd for so many times and then it starts degrading.  Is that anybody elses experience?

Also, if I were to go the cd burner route, which one is the best buy?  Does anyone knows of the software 'that could handle an auto backup on a CD writer'?

The other negative about a cd burner is that I have a 4 gig hard drive.  I suppose I could back up all the applications on one drive and keep that seperate from other cds I would use to back up the data more frequently.

Michael
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by:ga9ul
ID: 2709054
Morya, you say you have a 4 gig hard drive, but how much data is there ? Even if its nearly full, with compression I'm sure it could all fit onto only a few CDs. Your last paragraph sounds like a reasonable solution to me. But do yourself a favour, by the best cds you can afford, cheaper ones will degrade faster, and burn them in at single or dual speed. I know plenty of people will say they copy at much faster transfer rates than this with no problems - but this is YOUR system, not theirs, so reliability is the key word. Also, I know I just said you could use compression to save space, but that again can reduce overall reliability. My personal choice is using a tape backup device. More because its what I'm familiar with than anything else, and tape drives/tapes are just as prone to failure as anything else. Looking back at the hard drive solution, maybe you could use swapable drive bays, where the hard drive sits in a caddy that can be slid out, like a drawer from the front of your pc. This solution is also good for data security.( You can't steal the data if it isn't there!) If you fitted two drive bays you could mirror one drive to the other with ease, without having to dismantle your PC each time. Also hard drive upgrades would be much more straight-forward. Another thought, you can pick up drive bays for about £10 ( $16 USD aprox).
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Author Comment

by:morya
ID: 2709284
How much is data?  Well, I do a lot of graphics, not tons, but I develop web pages so it is a fair amount.

I have things like photoshop, flash, dreamweaver, director 6, quark express, etc, etc so a lot of the space is taken up by applications I imagine.

With the cd burner, is it easy to burn the above applications on a single cd? (You see, for some of those I do not have the cd. So, you can see if I lose my hard drive I lose a significant amount of software.) With the other cds I would just back up the data changes.

I have a 4 gig hard drive, but altogether I have taken up around 3 gigs.

I guess I like the cd idea for portability and for other uses that a burner can do.  But I like the ease of use of a tape back-up system.  

I'm still left with which brand to go with in whatever direction I go.

Thanks.
Michael
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by:ga9ul
ID: 2709783
Michael, what do you think about using the swap-out drive bays?
Just for the record I use Acer CD-R Multi-speed 650MB discs they are a sort of mid-priced good quality CD, available from web site www.acerperipherals.com (usa) or www.acerperipherals.nl (europe) the part number is 99.03031.102 the price should be available at those sites.
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by:bkosterm
ID: 2709934
How about the 2GB Jazz drive from Iomega?
An internal Jazz runs about $350 but it will come with backup software.  It would be faster than a CD writer and would hold more data if convenience is a bigger consideration than price.  The problem with the second hard drive is that it is very inconvenient to take in and out... Unless you leave it in, then it will be destroyed/stolen along with the master!

If you are a savvy user, you have all your personal files in one or two directories (Such as My Documents).  I think the only thing you need to back up are the personal files.  You should have copies of all your software install CDs or diskettes anyway.  A crash is a good excuse to do a nice clean reinstall anyway!

Any time you download software from the web or update drivers for your system, just keep them in a folder with all your other documents so they will be on the backup.

Probably got way more opinions than you need on this topic, huh?
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by:ga9ul
ID: 2712071
bkosterm >>> Very good point about the hard drives. If you read my last comment but one, I mentioned that you can get drive bays which can be fitted for a very low cost and mean you can swap out your hard drives without having to unscrew anything.They use a caddy type drawer case which slides into the front of your PC.
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by:tandy
ID: 2712698
My Final thoughts on backups...

The truth is any of the above methods are all good if they are
actually utilized. I think I speak for most of us when I say we
have all lost data at  times. Our PC's work so wonderfully
and reliabily we get complacent and forget to backup.
Until the inevitable happens....

As a result of this innate truth, I suggest  at least do the following :

Back up all special projects as you work on them.
One copy to your hard disk, another to a removable
media, such as a floppy or zip or Jazz drive.
Store them on disks in two sets, A and B,
each a mirror of the other, alternate them according to date,
A even date, B odd date. If you need to restore, use the later file
date, if it is corrupt , use the alternate.

Do a one time back up on all programs that you do not have
the Cd's to re-install with. This only has to be done once for
each aplication. If you do not want to buy a burner see if
someone else will copy the originals that you used to install
in the first place.

Find  UTILTIY program , such as Norton Crash Gaurd to
Back up your systems configuration.

Use Windows Find File to locate all files created on or after
a given date. If you use a date later than a programs EXE
date, you know what data is generated by your particular install.
This is what would be re-installed after a crash to reset your system.
(After you re-installed the main program).

It seems like a lot of work, but its your data. Nobody is better to
protect than yourself.


cheers,

Gil
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by:morya
ID: 2713361
Any last comments?
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by:ga9ul
ID: 2713925
I know there has been a lot of comments for this question, but I was wondering if you could give me your thoughts on the swap out drive bays I keep harping on about. ( Sorry if I'm boring everyone !)I'm interested to know peoples opinions on different hardware products as I am hoping to set up my own bussiness in the near future. ( No, this is not an advert).
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by:morya
ID: 2713956
The swapping of the bays sounds like a good solution for security and hard disk back up, but then I would have to be concerned about keeping the drive safe from damage. I have kids so that could be a problem.

I'm going to go with either a tape back up or a cd burner.  I like the convenience of the tape back up but really like the versatility of the cd burner and am leaning in that direction.

What I would like is if someone could point me to a good cd burner and some back-up software to go with it. On the other hand, I am concerned about the degradation of the cds with multiple rewrites for my data back up.

Of all three options a tape back up might be the best way for purely backing up, but as mentioned, it can't do things that a cd burner could do.

I'm still thinking about it.
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by:ga9ul
ID: 2714017
Just one more thing, you could buy a third bay ( if there's room in your case) and leave it as a dummy bay, ie disconnected. Each drive bay comes with lock and key. Just lock your backup in the dummy bay.
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by:morya
ID: 2723126
I was told by a friend that if I used a cd burner or a tape back up I most likely would not be able to reinstall applications I would lose if my one and only hard drive failed.  As I don't have some of the original install cd's for some of these applications I need to be able to go to my back up source and reinstall.  He says a backup hard drive with a software called "Ghost" will be able to do that for me.

Any comments?
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by:ga9ul
ID: 2723781
Symantec Ghost is an ideal imageing program that would fit perfectly with the swap out drive bays. Its very quick compared to other backup methods. It takes only a few minutes to back up an 8Gb drive, or rather create an exact copy. Other programs available are xcopy32 and powerquest drive copy. xcopy32 requires you to know a bit about DOS commands but powerquest drivecopy and ghost can be done through their own GUI. You pick the source and target drives with ghost, either choosing partition to partition or disk to disk copy. With drivecopy the slave drive is the source drive and the master drive is the target. This is arranged so that the master drive is the new drive, used to replace your old one. Drivecopy was originally meant as a convenient way to upgrade your hard disk. Ghost is more aligned with making "backups" as you choose the source and target and how to copy( from one partition to another or disk to disk). However Drivecopy has probably got better since I last used it, to be fair.
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by:Dassa
ID: 2726569
Depending on the backup software you use and the way you do your backups, a restore from tape will allow you to get up and running again with all applications intact.  I use backup software that allows me to create a emergency disk that will boot my system and initiate the restore for the tape backup system.  There may be a problem with files that are open while you do a backup however.  When doing a backup it is best to schedule it when you do not have any applications open.  You can also check the reports on your backup to see if there were any error messages indicating files that were not backed up.

A hotswap drive array is also an alternative but there are limitations.  With a tape backup system you can make images of your system at specific times and keep them.  At my work place for instance we keep monthly full backups for a year and these can be restore to bring a system back to any state.  Tapes are reasonably cheap.  Bit harder to achive the same level of coverage with a hard drive backup system.  

A CD backup system may be used in a similar manner however, the size limitations make unattended backups for large data sets a bit difficult.  I personally have also seen too many coasters to have too much faith in the media for reliable backups.  But I do use a CDR to backup subsets of my data, especially for data I wish to share with others.

A lot of choices, like everything else, a person finds what suits them best.
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by:morya
ID: 2726864
Adjusted points from 75 to 100
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by:morya
ID: 2726865
So Dassa, you are saying then that with a tape back up and the right software, I can recover and fully use any and all software I would lose if my hard drive failed without the use of any of the program's install cds?

If that is so, what software do you recommend?
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tandy earned 100 total points
ID: 2727073
It seems that you are leaning towards either a tape back up
or a drive array system. To follow up with Dassa's comments I
think it important to realize there is no one system that covers all
types of back-ups.

The hard drive array is great if ALL of our Data can exist on one drive.
After a crash, you simply replace one drive with the other. No "Restore"
is necceary as the second drive simply steps in to replace the original.
This will get you up and running the fastest.

With the tape back-up, and a little work on your part,
you can do a global copy that can restore your drive.
 But you also get the added benefit of being able to archive files.
The information  stored on hard  drives could eventually fill the media.
I rememeber when 40 megabytes was considered a lot of space.
When this happens, you will be stuck in a situation where you will
need to remove data files to a removable media anyway.

So backing up really has two functions,
One to replace or reload  data,
The other to restore your computer to a working state if it crashes.

In your case, if you knew you would never excede your Hard Drive
Capacity, a dual drive might be best. Remember though   You really get no extra use with the other drive. It is for insurance only. If you generate lots
of data and you think your drive will be eventually filled, go with the tape
back-up. It is more cumbersome and time consuming to use, but it does
have other uses besides restoring your system in the event of a crash.

I also agree with Dassa about Cd burning. It is a great way to copy and
transfer large amounts of information from one computer to another(everyone has a cd), but it is very low on the reliablity scale.
Making a few coasters is a small price to pay for being able to copy programs, but when it comes to backing up a working computer, I think
it would prove to be a real head ache.






 
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Expert Comment

by:ga9ul
ID: 2728752
I appreciate what tandy says about the limitations of hard drive back up, due to the inevitable filling of the drive. This is why I suggested drive bays, as you can upgrade to a larger hard drive without even taking the case off your pc, just swap the drive out in the caddy, four screws and a sliding lid. The only thing that can get in the way is the maximum hard drive size your system will take. But in this case you would be looking to upgrade your complete system anyway or at least search for a possible bios upgrade.
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by:Dassa
ID: 2729893
I use Seagate Backup Exec Desktop 98 but there are other software programs around that will do a similar job.  Even some of the freeware and shareware versions.  Best to have a look around and try a few of them out to find one that best suits you.
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Author Comment

by:morya
ID: 2753803
Just to let everyone know who has graciously spent time with my question, I have had to put this on hold for awhile as I am working a lot of overtime.  I have not forgot it and will have to revisit it next week where I will come to a final conclusion.

Thanks all.
Michael
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Author Comment

by:morya
ID: 2775521
Thank you.  I've decided that I will go with the tape back up for now. I've ruled out the cd burner, but having another drive is still in the running depending on what I find out about total prices.

Thanks again for everybody's input.

Michael
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