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Best option to backup an entire image to an external hard drive?

I have a Maxtor External Hard Drive and I want to creat automtic backups to it that will capture the entire image of my hard drive. In case of a crash or system failure I want to be able to use this back up to restore everything without the need to re-install my programs, personal settings, etc...

What is the best option for what I'm trying to do?

I've heard of programs like Norton System and Restore (the newer program based on Ghost)
and Acronis TrueImage. Are there any others you would recommend or would one of these likely be the best choice (if so which one of these)?

1 Solution
Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
ffrllcAuthor Commented:
Thanks Gary,

Let me explain more of what I want to do.

I have a Maxtor OneTouch 200 GB External Hard Drive set up into two partitions. I will be using one for my home laptop and one for my work desktop (two different location so I won't be backing up my laptop as much as my work desktop). I will have it in my office and want to have it set up to back up automatically each night. I will only backup my home laptop every once in a while (after bring the Maxtor Hard Drive home to do so).

From the links provided, Boot-It sounds a little to complicated for my technical expertise...lol. I need something that will be somewhat easy to use for a non-techy. I have heard Norton Save & Restore is good and very easy to use. Do you have any experience with this program? If so, will it work well for what I want to do?

Thanks again.
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Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
Boot-It IS a little "geeky" -- but it's really quite simple.   Basically you boot; press Cancel;  press OK;  click on Partition Work;  highlight the partition you want to back up;  click Image;  select "Create Image";  then highlight where you want the image to go (HD1 and the correct partition); click Paste;  type a filename;  and you're done.

... however, if you want to use a more "user friendly" program that's fine.   Save & Restore should work fine;  or Acronis TrueImage (which also has an excellent reputation) would work as well.   I've used most of the major imaging programs (Drive Image, Ghost, TrueImage, etc.), but have found that Boot-It is simply the most focused, reliable little utility for this purpose.   I don't, however, have any direct experience with the Norton "Save & Restore" utility.
Backing up an entire hard disk continually sounds very inefficient. Why not create your image on the second disk, then daily back-up only the changes?

E.g. with a simple xxcopy (www.xxcopy.com) command: xxcopy c:\ d:\ /clone
That's it! You can even copy across the network & run the command automatically every day or once a week etc. using scheduled tasks.

Another solution, the details of which I don't know yet, is to run a program that writes any changes to both disks as you use the computer, keeping both in sync.

And Windows has a built-in backup utility (that I've never used): Start-->Programs-->Accessories-->System Tools-->Backup. You may have to install it from the Windows CD if you don't see it there.
I would stay away from the Maxtor One Touch .

What a flakey piece of garbage.

I recently had a 3 month old One Touch 250 gb lose format and spent a day recovering the data using Ontrack.
I am lucky that I had the Ontrack product.

Maxtor doesn't have a clue as to what is going on.

So beware.

You are aware that the One Touch does have it's own backup program bundled in ,right?
ffrllcAuthor Commented:

The Maxtor comes with Retrospect, but that program doesn't have the capability of taking an image of the drive for easy recovery.

Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
Since you already have the Maxtor, it seems of little use to discuss whether it's good or bad :-)

The best thing to do, if you're willing to spend a bit of time and carefully do some re-structuring, is to arrange your hard drive into separate OS and data partiitons.   Then you can do occasional OS images; and much more frequent backups -- and the backups are trivial, since you can do simple copies.

You might want to read this:  http://www.experts-exchange.com/Hardware/Desktops/Q_21582113.html

You could restructure the partitions with Boot-It; and then use it for making the images.

For backups, you could use SyncBack (very nice - and free),  XXCopy (a bit "geekier" but faster), Karen't Replicator (free and very simple to use), or any of several other nice tools ==> all free.

ffrllcAuthor Commented:
I purchased Save & restore earlier today (maybe I jumped the gun a little, but oh' well, I'm sure it will work fine for what I need.

As mentioned in the thread you linked, I do have an APC UPS Back Up (Serge Protector/Power Regulator). The external Maxtor Hard Drive is plugged into this (as well as the computer obviously) and I've set up Save & Restore to do a image backup a couple times a week.

Hopefully using the UPS, Maxtor External Hard Drive and Save & Restore this will make my system as close to "bullet proof" as I'm going to get (being a non-techy anyway). I just have some important photos, videos, and files I want to protect as much as I can (without going overboard).

Thanks for all the help everyone...especially you Gary.
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