General Question

Ltryptophan's avatar

What is the best way to back up your pc?

Asked by Ltryptophan (10514points) April 14th, 2010

I want to back up my pc. I know there are online methods. That is an option. What about hard drives? Thanks.

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7 Answers

Ltryptophan's avatar

Is there a solid state option…I’m thinking long term…like an information vault that won’t corrupt.

wonderingwhy's avatar

I keep an on-site and off-site encrypted disk image as insurance. I’m using a dual F+I backup system for daily stuff. The HD’s are whatever was on sale at Costco at the time. One’s a free agent seagate that hasn’t failed in pretty close to daily use after closing in on 3 years. You can probably do that with the software included with your system, though the disadvantage is it can be a bit labor intensive.

Just my opinion but I think the encrypted off-site image is overlooked way too often. People worry about their drives failing but forget about the house burning down.

lilikoi's avatar

Meh, house burning down I think is less of a risk than old times due to fire code. Especially in a condo where everything is sprinklered. But it could happen I guess…

I want to get one of those systems where you have two hard drives connected to each other and to your PC. When you save file, it saves to your local drive, and to one of the two external drives, and that drive makes a copy of the file on the second external drive. There is a name for this system but I can’t remember what it is.

I have been through a few dead hard drives and lost everything more than once. I think having a back up of the back up would be nice. And that it is automatic makes it no inconvenience.

Solid state would be nice, but probably big bucks….

Ltryptophan's avatar

I’ve read a little and it seems a solid state might potentially lose information compared to a regular hard drive.

justn's avatar

Best way, online off-site.

Also do nightly backups of the entire machine to an external hard drive that are bootable backups so you can be up and running quickly if your internal drive gets borked.

Ltryptophan's avatar

I think I will be buying a seagate blackarmor 110 USB 3.0 and skipping online b/u.

researchtermpapers's avatar

Im going to concentrate here on backing up your data (in which I include photos, videos, music, and so on), because that’s your top priority. Should your hard drive die, you can reinstall Windows and your applications. You can’t reinstall your tax records or your children’s baby pictures.

Any decent backup program should know what files and folders need to be backed up. But just in case, here are the likely candidates in Windows XP. All of these folders reside inside C:\Documents and Settings\login, where login is the name you use when you log into Windows:

* My Documents
* Desktop
* Application Data
* Favorites
* Local Settings\Application Data

And in Vista, where you can find these folders inside C:\Users\login:

* Documents
* Pictures
* Desktop
* Music
* Contacts
* Videos
* AppData
* Favorites

You should back up every day that you use your computer. An intelligent backup program will, on most days, only back up files that have been created or changed since the last backup.

One more general rule: Your backup should be physically separated from your computer. A backup that will be robbed or destroyed along with the rest of the computer is not a secure backup.

I recommend backing up to an external hard drive if you think you can develop the backup habit, and to the Internet if you want to set up an automated system and forget about it. Although you can set up automated backups with external drives (most backup programs assume that this is your first choice), it’s not really a good fit. Either you have to remember to plug in the drive at the right time (so much for unattended backups), or keep the drive plugged in at all times, which means your backup isn’t physically separated from your computer.

On the other hand, automated online backups make a perfect fit. And physical separation between your hard drive and the backup is as great as it can get. The problem: It’s slow—horribly, horribly slow. Your first full backup can take days. Fortunately, it won’t keep you from working during the backup.

If you go with an external hard drive, check out the backup software that comes with it. If you don’t like it, I recommend Genie-Soft Backup Manager ($50 Home version, $70 Pro), which is remarkably easy and versatile. It can also do system backups. If you’d rather not spend that much, the $25 Argentum Backup is easy and versatile enough, although not in Genie’s league.

For online backup, I recommend Mozy Home. For $5 a month, it will automately backup all the data you can fit on a single PC’s hard drive.

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