What is the best backup strategy for a Windows workstation?

I would like to find a backup strategy that would make it easy for a user to recover any necessary files.

I would also like to be able to recover to bare metal if necessary.

What backup strategy should I use to accomplish this?

One economical approach that I can think of is to use ntbackup to do a full backup and on a regular basis do a differential backup.

In the event of a total wipe out, I would reinstall the operating system and then do a full restore of the Ntbackup backup.

Is there some product that would account for the changes that might happen in case a new machine is necessary with the same operating system so that the new and different system settings would not be destroyed?
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dovidfCEOAsked:
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gammConnect With a Mentor Commented:
Backup strategy

I agree, use NT Backup, there is nothing wrong with the built in backup software.
If you want more reporting you might want to consider alternative software.
Some versions of Vista have software built into them if you are running Vista?

If you leave your computer on then you can schedule backups to occur when you are not using the computer.

I would recommend plugging in an external USB2 hard disk (unless you need to store the backups off site).
I would get a hard disk about 10 x the size of the backup file (in my case, my backups are 45GB, so I got a 500GB hard disk).

You could configure 5 weekly backups (for each Friday) and then daily differential backups (less work than incramental).
If backup speed is not an issue I would perform full backups (over night).
In either case, configure them to overwrite the last one.

Make sure that you have a copy of the Opperating System and Application CD/DVDs stored safely ready for use.
Make sure that you also have a copy of all the Drivers. Keep these in a separate folder on the external Hard Drive, that way you can install them without having to restore them from a backup file.

You could also build Windows (& SP2 & Critical Updates) & install drivers, then take an image to the external Hard Drive, this will speed up reinstallation time considerably if required. I wouldn't install any programs before taking the image, as these will change over time.
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gammCommented:
Acronis True Image Bare Metal Restore is industry grade:
http://www.acronis.com/enterprise/products/ATICW/bare-metal-restore.html
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gammCommented:
How far back do you want to be able to restore from?
If you need more than 1 month then we can start to include monthly bacups as well.

Otherwise I would recommend the following:
(This allows restore from up to 1 month ago)

# Full Backups #
Friday 1
Friday 2
Friday 3
Friday 4
Friday 5

# Differential Backups #
Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday


Alternatively, if time/space is not an issue:
(This allows restore from up to 1 week ago)

# Full Backups #
Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday
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dovidfCEOAuthor Commented:
I want to review your other suggestions in more detail.

In the meantime, have you used Acronis?

Is the bare metal restore available for the home or small business user?

Does Acronis workstation allow for differential backups?

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gammCommented:
I think this might meet your needs:
Acronis True Image Echo Workstation
http://www.acronis.com.au/enterprise/products/ATICW/
Quote: "restore the system to dissimilar hardware"
Very affordable too.

Otherwise you could have a look at "Acronis True Image 11 Home":
http://www.acronis.com.au/homecomputing/products/trueimage/
However this won't facilitate a bare metal restore.
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khe-kheCommented:
True Image can execute both differential and incremental backup. Acronis can restore on the same hardware configuration, it also can restore to machine with different hardware configuration but one should also use Universal Restore add-on which can upload necessary drivers during restore operation.

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dovidfCEOAuthor Commented:
Covered all aspects of the problem in a comprehensive fashion. Very useful
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