Backup techniques

July 25, 2007 at 3:04 pm | Posted in Backup, Computers | 1 Comment

How hard would it be for you to redo your work if it was lost? Can it be replaced or redone? Can you replace those photos? The harder it is for you to answer that question, the more you need a backup system.

My post on ‘Where to Backup’ outlines the places and hardware choice you might make. The other thing to understand is How to backup.

If you want it simple, recent versions of all operating systems come with backup programs. In Windows XP, for example, you’ll find it in Start, Programs, Accessories, System Tools, Backup. After you set it up, you can automate it using the built in scheduler. Automation is best so you don’t forget.
This is however not an ideal backup system. For example, the operating system has to be up to restore and the files are stored in a proprietary format, inaccessible without the system fully functioning.

I recommend a 2 pronged approach.
1) Backup your daily work files, email, and similar things using a ZIP based program. In other words, the file archives to ZIP, a format that can be accessed even from a boot DOS disc. Its fast, they take less space, can be password protected, and its readily accessible.

2) Image your operating system and programs. Imaging is an exact copy of your hard drive and is much faster and smaller than a file archive. If you are using it simply for the system, it is required less frequently. Perhaps weekly.

For the first, I’ve been happily using ZipBackup
It is licensed per user, so can be used on multiple computers. It can use command line and batch file automation. The most recommended program I’ve seen is Genie

Another program you can use is the free Microsoft SyncToy. Its designed to match files between 2 locations, such as workstation and laptop. But it can be used for backups. Its not ZIP based though.

Another alternative – see my post on real time backup – for free!

NOTE – this kind of program cannot backup in-use system files so is unsuitable for a system backup. It is ideal for file backup as suggested.

For the second, the top recommended Imaging program is Acronis True Image.
Fred Langa has long recommended another product, BootItNG. This is because it can do DOS command line backups, meaning you can restore a downed OS from a boot floppy or CD whereas most other solutions require you install the OS and program, then restore. Its a bit geekier to use though.

And theres a free if a little geeky program DriveImage XML:

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  1. […] I’ve talked about backup techniques prior. But basically you want to pick techniques to recover from any what if. Most of the software I mention is linked here) […]


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