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Arman KhodabandeFlag for Iran, Islamic Republic of

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Backup methods, which is the best?

Hi
I'm familiar with simple backup and restore methods, but wanna know about a professional backup plan.
Just had some questions on backing up data (my flash drives and laptop HDD) to a new 4TB external USB HDD. And please don't talk about backing up to cloud.

1. What is the best methods among the below:
a. Backing up the whole HDD as an image to another.
b. Backing up individual partitions as images to another HDD.
c. Backing up individual files.

2. What is a shadow copy concerning backup process in windows, and can it be useful to me for my personal files?
3. What's the difference between Incremential and Differential Backups? Does incremential remove the old files in the full backup and replaces them with new ones? Does Differential keep both versions of files?
4. I myself don't like windows 7 backup features, and used paid software to backup data (like acronis). What are the downsides of using windows backup from reliability, speed, recoverablity aspects?

5. I also want to know about your own experience on backups.

The most complete answer wins the most points.
Thanks
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Joe Winograd
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madunix

I use  clonezilla and "HDClone"to  copy the contents of a hard drive one on one to another, beside copying individual data and config files.
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Thank you all for your complete answers. But 2 questions still remain:
Do Differential and incremental keep many versions of a file? And The only difference is the original file comparison?

Which one of recommended softwares above are able to make backup images with the most compatibility?
I mean the image file (backup) can be mounted/converted/repaired easily in case of corruption.


I had a hard time restoring whole disk backups (images) because of their huge sizes and Acronis took a lot of time to explore the backup manually. on the other hand also had problems with restoring partition images, because if 1 bit changes in the partition order (for an unknown cause) the software is unable to restore the partition because it doesn't fit in that unallocated space.

Acronis used so called tib files which can only be opened by acronis itself and has very limited features for mounting and repairing.

And as far as I can imagine cloned backups are more prone to being damaged. For example all the exe files are exposed and can be infected by malware. it that right?
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Instead of relying on caddies which are frequently welded together consider bare drives with one or two of these ...
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ramozz-CD-ROM-Storage-Bracket-Enclosure/dp/B00FF2U20G/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1416397204&sr=8-1&keywords=mobile+rack

and use these to store/transport your bare drives ....
http://www.cru-inc.com/products/Accessories/?product_line=Accessory&family_name=Drive%20Carrying%20Cases
also - for backups - one point that was not considered yet, is the size of it
if you need to backup 10-20 Gb, then you have enough disk space with an 100-200 GB disk
if you want to backup 50, or more than 100 GB, you may well not have enough a a 4 TB after a couple of months -  depending on what backups you want, and how long you keep them

also - where to backup must be considered : locally (external drives) or network NAS drives - or on the cloud
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Thank you all for your help.
You're welcome. Good luck with whatever backup strategy you choose. Regards, Joe