Get another HDD and one of these:
Nice, easy and very fast. Keep it in the car, at the office, etc.
Hywel I do not eat quiche
Yet another opinion here ;-) Me, I use a "real" backup programme, Dantz's
Retrospect (www.dantz.com). What makes it Real IMNSHO is that it keeps its
own catalogues of which files have and haven't been backed up; all of the
toy programs which use the PC file system's "archive" bit will fail to
include files you've changed if you use more than one such program, or
if you back up to multiple places. Retrospect allows you to run, say, 3
sets of backup media, to which it will add all relevant files you've worked
on or created since the last time you used *that**particular* backup set.
And you can create multiple backup destinations: within the machine - e.g. on
another hard drive or partition in the same machine; on removeable media
- tape, CD-R or -RW, DVD-R/RW; and on other machines (both as normal
network shares, and through the pricier Retrospect client-server
arrangments). Its built-in system-recovery stuff has worked for me on
the one occasion it really needed to; and single-file restores are easy too.
Storage is cheap enough these days (and uk.d-i-y types are almost bound
to have an older PC up in the loft they couldn't bear to throw away!) that
working hard on compression and proprietary formats is probably an error.
(Accepting that Retrospect is a proprietary format, mind, though it does
have a handy "duplicate" subfunction; though something like FileSync will
do that and cost less). You have to think through what's going to be most
of a pain for you to reconstruct. If you have a pretty standard OS install
with just a few add-on apps, the claim that backing up your individually
created data is Enough is relatively plausible: it makes retrieving
accidentally deleted precious stuff easy enough, and leaves you facing an
OS+apps reinstall in the worst case. If you've rather a lot of apps,
patches, updated drivers, firewall customisations, etc. etc. applied to
your OS, and you value your time and sanity, backing up the whole shebang
and TESTING THE EMERGENCY RESTORE PROCEDURE WHEN YOU'RE NOT STRESSED OUT
is a Good Idea.
Whichever solution you go for, it'll be a lot easier if you've created
a number of distinct partitions for different kinds of Stuff than if it's
all lumped under "C:\". F'r instance, on the Winblows systems I run I
have an OS partition (W: or X:), a Data partition (D:) with a subdirectory
for my hand-created most-precious data and one for my apps, a "Fragephera"
partition on F: for temporary files, web cache, and all that junk, a
swap partition (Swapee on E:), and one or two "big" partitions for pictures
and music. Oh, for the NT-based systems there's a small FAT partition
which holds BOOT.INI, NTDETECT, and that other initial-boot junk, and
some system recovery tools. Having this stuff in these different
containers makes it easier to create backup strategies for different needs,
and different file systems for different tasks (e.g.: the app and OS
partitions are NTFS, so that any malicious software running under my
"normal, unprivileged" user wouldn't be able to infect most of my
binaries; the audio/picture partitions are tuned to storing a small
number of large files (big clusters), while Fragephera is done with
Hope that helps some (and look - no advertising, even peripherally, well
until this point anyway, for the excellent DDS and AIT tape drives made at
the HP site in Bristol ;-) - Stefek
On Mon, 6 Oct 2003 13:14:02 UTC, email@example.com (David)
Given that you need to back up only a few GB (same as me) this is what I
1) Weekly backup of the whole lot to a tape. TR-4 Travan tape drive in
my case, 8GB compressed, 4GB uncompressed (i.e. 4GB no matter what). I
bought a spare drive in case nasty things happen all at the same
time...cheap enough as a used, but tested (!) drive. I picked up brand
new tapes for under a fiver each on eBay. I start these backups every
Friday night when I go to bed, and they take about 3 hours.
2) Daily differential backup to hard disk on another machine.
Differential, as in anything that's changed or added that isn't on the
tape already. An incremental (as in 'all files not so far backed up
anywhere' takes less space but is more of a pain for a complete restore.
These differentials get backed up to the tape every week too, since they
get overwritten (on the disk) on a weekly basis (one backup for each
day). These are done automatically in the middle of the night.
3) There is a tape cycle. For the sake of simplicity, let's say there
are six tapes. Weekly, I use tape 0 in first week, 1 in second week,
then tape 2, then 3. Then 0,1,2,4, then 0,1,2,5, then 0,1,2,6. Then
start again. Add more tapes if you want.
4) When I finally use tape 6, I also do a backup to CD-R and squirrel
that away for ever. In fact, I do two copies and take one to work.
Intermediate tapes get taken too.
5) The above cycle means that the tapes contain enough to return me to
the state I was in at any time over the past month. Say a file is
corrupted; I select the tape written the week before the corruption
occurred (of course, I won't necessarily KNOW when, but that's life).
Either the file will be on that weekly backup tape, or it changed in the
following week, in which case it's in the differential backup file for
the appropriate day, on the next tape. For the previous three months, I
have a monthly tape that probably has the file.
6) If I don't notice a file has gone for four months, I may still have a
copy on the CD-R. Otherwise, too bad. It's always a trade-off with
Probably a little more esoteric than most home installs but...
Linux server running Samba and acting as roaming profile store.
Couple of machines using the roaming profiles. Allows us to move from
machine to machine and see the same shortcuts, etc. I also use disk
caddies, so have 3 'personalities' for my main machine depending on
whether I'm using Win95, Win98, various development tools, etc.
These machines effectively hold OS and local apps only. I Ghost these
after app install but before any usage, so when they go a bit wierd I
just resplat the primary disk with the Ghost image.
Samba 'home' drive mapped so all Word, etc. files are stored on Linux box.
Shell scripts every night to gzip all files changed in last 7 days on
home drives to daily backup file. Scripts also housekeep old backup
files to bit bucket (30 day retention IIRC). 7 days so if the machine
is off for a couple of nights things still get picked up somethime.
Periodic backup of gzip files to CD-ROM. Occasional full backup too.
Not as often as I should!
I have 5 PCs running here in different parts of the house. Some of
those are on independent UPS's - so surges aren't likely to ruin my
I routinely copy the backup sets across the network so that the
backups are on multiple independent drives in different PCs.
Important data is backed off to CDRW.
On 6 Oct 2003 06:14:02 -0700, firstname.lastname@example.org (David)
I use Norton Ghost.
I only have one HD in my xp pro machine. Once in a while i temporarily
connect a spare HD to the machine,boot using the norton ghost floppy
and image my HD to the spare one. Works every time. I suppose i could
permanently install the spare HD as a backup but i choose to store it
I would be very surprised if you have all that much data that needs
regularly backing up. I run a computer-related business using my PC
and although I do produce a lot of important files I can get a month's
worth of backups on a single CD-R.
It is worth spending a reasonable amount of time working out what you
need to protect. Many people have tens or hundreds of gigabytes of
stuff on their discs but it isn't important to back most of it up.
Your applications can always be reinstalled from the original
installation discs if you have an absolute disaster (but you shouldn't
need to). There is no need to backup all the copies of your CDs you
have stored in the "My Music" folder... but I bet many people do. If,
like me, you do video processing on your machine there is also no need
to backup the video files - either keep the original tape or make a
separate copy to CD-R or DVD-R once (or twice to be safe). Digital
photos should also be copied to removable discs separately and not be
backed up regularly - after all, they don't change once you have them.
Modern applications also fill your drive with all sorts of rubbish
that you can generally live without. You only really need to concern
yourself with what YOU have created.
Your Word documents, e-mails, etc. do need backing up every day (or
every week at the outside). I use Backup-My-PC from Veritas and it
does me very well. It is easy to use and backs up directly to CD-R.
It is even easy to use when you need to restore lost files. And it is
very quick... My daily backup takes about 2 minutes (and usually
happens when I am not even there) and the weekly complete backup (only
my data files) takes about 5 minutes. I also ensure there is a
reasonably up-to-date copy off site, but I can cope with losing a few
days work if my house burns down - that will be the least of my
To allow you to get a lost system up and running quickly it is also
worth having some system that copies everything. Tape works fine, but
I would go for a separate disc. It's best not to have it in the same
box (most things that are likely to kill your main disc will get both
that way!). Go for either a FireWire or USB 2.0 drive or a different
machine on a network (although nasty viruses etc. are also likely to
kill anything on the same network). If you have a second disc you can
have software that simply synchronises the two drives much quicker
than copying to tape. Do this every month or two.
Another thing to consider... where is your backup software? If your
house were to burn down but your files were safe in the detached
garage how are you going to get them back into your new PC? Do you
even remember the name of the software you used to make the backup? Do
you know where you could get hold of another copy if yours went up in
One parting shot: I have found that it is actually useful to
reinstall everything every now and then so a complete backup is not
always the best solution. Several times I have found that Windows has
become hopelessly unstable and the only real cure is to re-install and
start again. If you ever need to do this how easy would it be to
restore your data, but not upset the freshly installed applications?
Having two HDs and disk mirroring will bring you up immediately if one HD
drops out with no loss of data. A tape can back up the whole HD. If you
want certain files immediately available, then backing these up to CDR is
So if a HD fails you are up and running with no problems at all - all the
same. Replace the defective HD and mirror back to it - simple. If a power
surge destroys both HDs, or the PC is stolen, the tape will reinstate the
No spending nearly a day re-installing OS's, applications, settings, data
Checked by AVG anti-virus system (http://www.grisoft.com ).
Version: 6.0.520 / Virus Database: 318 - Release Date: 18/09/2003
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