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Best backup solution, hardware AND software.

Posted on 2011-10-20
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Last Modified: 2012-05-12
With a lot of work, a little help from a friend and a LOT of help from several EE gurus, I managed to salvage most of my most important files after a recent hard drive issue on my old PC. I have a new Dell XPS 8300 w/ core i7 and running Win7 with SP1. It has a 1TB SATA drive with only 141GB used at this point. Most of my old data has been moved to the new PC and I’ve installed new versions of my applications. So now I want to design and implement a plan to keep me from having to go through this fire drill again or at least make the recovery process much less painful. I’m interested to hear what folks here think are good backup solutions currently available for a home user; both hardware and software. What are good choices for a drive and what are the best backup software offerings?  I don’t do anything fancy but I do want to be able to save my important user files if/when I have another failure. The new system has USB 3.0 and eSATA connections so I should be able to choose nearly any external drive out there. Or, should I consider an additional internal drive? Should I consider NAS? (I like the idea of a drive I can take away for safe keeping if I plan to be gone for an extended time) And what about the Apple Time Capsule? This would give the additional benefit of giving me an updated wireless router. Whatever I finally choose to install ease of setup is an important factor; probably more important than cost.

Thanks in advance,
Wayne
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Question by:wayneskid
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Expert Comment

by:schealth
ID: 37002609
Clonezilla is great for backing up, and restoring.
Give it a look see http://clonezilla.org/
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jcimarron earned 668 total points
ID: 37002686
wayneskid--Win 7 comes with Control Panel|Backup and Restore.
http://www.top-windows-tutorials.com/windows-7-backup.html
http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/products/features/backup-and-restore
You can also backup drivers separately by using Double Driver
http://www.boozet.org/dd.htm
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Author Comment

by:wayneskid
ID: 37002723
schealth: I'll have a look at Clonezilla. In your opinion, is the one of the best current solutions?

jcimarron: I know about the backup included in Win7; do you think it is a good solution compared to other 3rd party applications?
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Assisted Solution

by:fleamourian
fleamourian earned 668 total points
ID: 37002851
I've used both.  I backup my Linux drive with, Clonezilla because it is free (although Paragon Free can handle Linux, and Windows, partitions as well.  May wanna check it out.)  I use 7's native backup solution & it served me well when my windows HDD died.  No problems with Clonezilla though may not be as newb friendly as other solutions.  A good paid for alternative I have used with XP is Acronis.  But I'd use 7's native backup as free & perfectly capable.  

If you had a secondary internal drive you could boot Linux from it.  This would be good if Windows fails, giving you internet access.  Meanwhile you'd have an image of 7 on your Linux drive, with an image of Linux on your Windows drive.  Excluding some files, so as not to have an image of an image (If you catch my drift.)

This is how I run things.  The chances of both drives failing together is minuscule.  However, in your case, you probably just need a secondary USB 3 external drive to back up Windows.  Storage is cheap & there has never been a better time to buy.
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by:wayneskid
ID: 37003197
fleamourian:
Thanks for the info. I'll do some more serious looking at the Win7 solution. I didn't check it out too closely as some of these Windows features have been pretty lame in the past.

Do you have a favorite brand/model of external HD? Costco has a Seagate Free Agent GoFlex Desk drive pretty inexpensive. It comes with "replica" software and supports USB2 & 3. Any thoughts on this one?

BTW, I'm not inclined to get involved in Linux at this point.
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by:wayneskid
ID: 37003201
The Seagate Free Agent I mentioned is a 2TB; more than enough for me. Around $100.
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Expert Comment

by:jcimarron
ID: 37003321
"I know about the backup included in Win7; do you think it is a good solution compared to other 3rd party applications?"
Yes.  Read one of the tutorials to see if it is missing any feature you want/need.
Or  http://www.maximumpc.com/article/features/windows_7_feature_focus_%E2%80%93_backup_and_restore
But if you insist on paying then look here
http://data-backup-software-review.toptenreviews.com/index.html
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Author Comment

by:wayneskid
ID: 37004308
jcimarron: Where do I find the tutorials you mention?
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Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 37005027
you can use Syncback for normal backups (free and GOOD) : www.2brightsparks.com/SyncBack

for image backups, i switched to paragon (i used ACronis before) - also free : http://www.paragon-software.com/home/db-express/      

i found it faster...and easy to use
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Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 37005032
oh yes - and if you really want to be safe, use 2 disks alternately for backups  - so if one has a problem - you still keep one left

also -  personally i alsways use external drives with their own power source, since USB can be easily overloaded (max 5 V at 0.5 A = 2.5 W Max..)
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Author Comment

by:wayneskid
ID: 37006183
The Seagate GoFlex Desk 1TB drive comes with backup software called Replica. Anyone have any thoughts/opinion?
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by:nobus
nobus earned 664 total points
ID: 37006721
there are a couple of problems listed on the net - it does not have it's own power source?
then i recommend using a powered usb hub

als found from :  http://reviews.cnet.com/external-hard-drives/seagate-freeagent-goflex-desk/4505-3190_7-34114743.html

the Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Desk has only a USB 2.0 connection; other connection adapters cost extra. The drive topples easily when used in the intended vertical position, and it runs rather hot.

Read more: http://reviews.cnet.com/external-hard-drives/seagate-freeagent-goflex-desk/4505-3190_7-34114743.html#ixzz1bQa2S1xM
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Author Comment

by:wayneskid
ID: 37007162
nobus:
Thanks for the feedback. These comments were apparently about earlier versions. The one I have supports USB 3.0 and it does have a power adapter. I think I'll go with this one. Still not sure about the included "Replica" software.
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Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 37007408
if you can omit installing it - do so
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Author Comment

by:wayneskid
ID: 37007483
nobus:
Are you saying this because it might cause problems or because you think other backup solutions are better? I've been looking on the Seagate support site for instructions on how to avoid installing Replica but haven't found anything yet. I guess I could go ahead and let it install then un-install if I don't like what it does. Thoughts?
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Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 37007508
i always want to make my own choice - not the choice of the manufacturer that's all
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Expert Comment

by:jcimarron
ID: 37007860
wayneskid--
You asked "Where do I find the tutorials you mention? "  (about Windows 7 Backup and Restore)
See my post http:#a37002686
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Expert Comment

by:jcimarron
ID: 37007896
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by:wayneskid
ID: 37007970
jcimarron: Thanks, I missed the earlier reference to the tutorials.
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Expert Comment

by:David Johnson, CD, MVP
ID: 37009996
Every Hard drive will fail at one point, it may be 1 hour or 10 years, but it is going to happen. Writeable DVD/CD media has a lifetime of approximately 2 years depending upon environemental factors, unless you buy archival media in which the estimated lifetime goes up to about 10 years. Have at a minimum of 3 backups on different media if possible. For data, online backup i.e. Carbonite is a good idea. as data is why we have computers and it will backup silently in the background.

Having 2 separate drives is a good idea.. using 1 drive is a recipe for disaster.. i.e. backing up to a partition on the physical drive (drive fails and everything is gone).
Also having an OFFSITE backup is a very good plan, what happens if your house is burgled, have a fire, or other natural disaster

You can never have too many backups but you can find out at the wrong time that you have too few. The backup that is built into Windows 7 does a creditable job. The problem is that if you change the media you have to re-run the configuration as windows uses the disk GUID rather than the drive letter to know where to backup the files.
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Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 37010369
regarding 2 drives - if you buy 2 same drives at the same moment, they are likely going to fail on the same moment also.
Maybe best to buy 2 different ones ? But other experts may have other ideas about this
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Author Comment

by:wayneskid
ID: 37020530
The Seagate GoFlex Desk 2Tb drive is installed and I manually copied some of my user files to it; 31.5GB. This copy didn't include the MyPictures or MyMusic folders; another 19GB of data. The USB3.0 connection is quite fast. I installed the drive without the Replica backup software. Now I'm trying to find the time to evaluate Replica and the Win& backup offering.

This is coming along nicely thanks to the help I found here.
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by:nobus
ID: 37022589
if no more help is needed, plse close this Q
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Author Comment

by:wayneskid
ID: 37025817
A related question: in Win7, if there is a backup in process and it doesn't complete prior to the time that the power setting put the system in sleep mode, will the system go to sleep or will the running backup process (or any other active process) override the sleep timer?
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Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 37029458
best plan the sleep after the backup - to be honest, i never tested it, but i assume it would go to sleep
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Author Closing Comment

by:wayneskid
ID: 37032942
Thanks for the help!!
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Expert Comment

by:jcimarron
ID: 37033375
wayneskid--You are welcome!
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