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Windows 7: Suggestion for my backup plan?

28 Mar 2015   #21
ignatzatsonic

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Home Premium SP1, 64-bit
 
 

I'd guess most don't use a scheduler, but rather do it as needed, on demand--whenever they feel the time is right. Not sure what advantage a regular automated schedule would have, particularly if you are going to be connecting the device and turning it on each and every time.

If you added or modified only a few files in the last few days, maybe you don't run a backup for a while. Conversely, you might have a burst of activity and want to backup several times a day. Even if you wanted to back up once a day only, I'm not sure using a scheduling application for a particular time of day would work out well.


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28 Mar 2015   #22
pcwin

Windows 7 Home Premium 64 Bit
 
 

@Lady Fitzgerald, can you share how you do your backup plan and synching plan step by step? (dates/schedule/manual/auto...). I want to learn how you do a whole backup of your PC. Your replies sounds like you are using 2 software to do backup, FreeFileSync and Macrium Reflect Free. Thanks
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28 Mar 2015   #23
Lady Fitzgerald

Win 7 Ultimate 64 bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by pcwin View Post
@Lady Fitzgerald, can you share how you do your backup plan and synching plan step by step? (dates/schedule/manual/auto...). I want to learn how you do a whole backup of your PC. Your replies sounds like you are using 2 software to do backup, FreeFileSync and Macrium Reflect Free. Thanks
You don't ask much, do you?

Yes, I am using a two software backup scheme (actually, three, but more on that later).

First, your system files must be segregated from your data. In the case of my desktop machine, I have Win 7 and my programs on my 128GB SSD. When I set up my computer, I dragged the Documents, Music, and Pictures folders in my User folder on C: to my main data HDD (E: ). I also dragged the Videos folder to my F: HDD.

If you have only one drive, you can do like I did with the single SSD in my notebooks. I shrank the C: partition to a size able to hold my OS and programs plus 30% (SSDs need to maintain 20-25% free space to work efficiently), made a data partition in the remaining unallocated space, then did the folder dragging I did on the desktop machine.

Since system files can't be merely copied over to another disk for backing up and still work, I use imaging to backup my boot drive in my desktop machine (the C: partition in my notebooks) using Macrium Reflect Free (here is a good tutorial on how to use Macrium Reflect). I'm not going to go into a lot of detail on how to use Macrium Reflect to image your C:drive or partition since Wolfgang has already done an excellent job of doing so. The free v5 is still available for download and will be replaced with v6 in the future. If you are happy with v5, you do not have to upgrade to v6 when its free version comes out.

I use the Pro version of Macrium Reflect for some of the extra bells and whistles it has (I haven't decided yet if I'm going to upgrade to v6 yet) but most people will do just fine with the free version, which is why I recommend it (besides having an attractive price: free). Most people here, including me, do not recommend using incremental or differential versioning because system image files are small enough, you can easily keep several full images on hand and full versions are much easier to keep track of, reducing the chance of problems from missing or corrupted incremental or differential files.

When I make my C: drive images, I also include the 100MB System Reserved partition in the same image.

I save my images to my main data drive purely for my own convenience (it makes restoring my C: drive easier for me) but the images also get backed up when I backup my main data drive (usually right after I've made the image). If storage space is an issue, you can always direct the image to be saved to an external drive.

Since system files are fairly stable, I normally make only one image a week. If you rarely make changes to your system and don't use your computer much, you might be able to get away with making an image only once a month. I also make an image of my C: drive just before making any changes to the system, such as changing some of the settings, updating a program or the system, or trying out a new program. That way, if something goes pear shaped, I can easily and reliably restore my system back to what it was before I made the changes. I keep only the last 8 weeks worth of images on hand.

I'll cover backing up data in my next post.
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28 Mar 2015   #24
cyberSAR

Windows 7 Pro 64-bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by pcwin View Post
How do you guys actually backup with an external hard disk? Please tell me your plan.

I was thinking if external backup disk plan is something like this:
1. Set up scheduled backups in the backup software. (for example at 6AM everyday)
2. Software will try to do backup and save backups to the external drive.
3. Everyday at 5.50AM, you would manually connect (plug in) the USB cable of the external disk to the PC, then after the backup finish, you would disconnect the USB cable of the external disk. If you happen to forget to connect the cable, you will miss your scheduled backup for that day. If you happen to forget to disconnect (plug out) the USB cable, you might risk the external disk being killed/fried if there is lightning/power surge problem.

I guess when using and external hard disk for backup, the most important thing to remember is to always be hardworking enough to plug in and plug out the USB cable everyday. Correct me if I am wrong.

Please share your external hard disk backup plan, especially when do you plug in and plug out the USB cable.
I'm too undisciplined to plug and unplug my USB backup so I run a program to mount the drive and after backing up, my backup program runs a dismount. While this wouldn't necessarily protect from lightning or surges it should help protect from viruses and other issues.

I keep 3 full backups of files with 14 differentials in between. The drive also stores my fresh install and latest drive images.

I periodically (every few months) create a manual backup to another drive which is then stored in another location onsite.

On my internal backup drive I mirror my critical data and settings which is set to run hourly. I store a collection of drive images on this drive for faster creation and restoration.

I'm in the process of switching from Carbonite to SOS for my online backups and have set it to run every 8 hours, backing up everything - critical and non-critical data.
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28 Mar 2015   #25
Lady Fitzgerald

Win 7 Ultimate 64 bit
 
 

As promised (threatened?), here is how I backup my data. All my desktop's data backups (with one exception I will cover in a moment) are kept on internal type HDDs that are stored externally in a drawer. I have a 3.5" dock built into my computer I can plug the backup HDDs into when updating a backup. You could use a dock permanently connected to your computer (USB 3.0 or e-SATA are the fastest connection) and only put a backup HDD into the dock when updating the backup or you could use commercial external HDDs (the latter would be a bit more cumbersome to use plus the drive quality is usually lower).

I'm a bit anal (ok, really OCD anal) when it comes to backups so I have four backup HDDs for every HDD installed in my desktop computer. I keep two of each set of four stored in a drawer at home and the other two of the four in my safe deposit box at my friendly, neighborhood credit union. I swap the HDDs in my safe deposit box with the ones at home no less than once a month; more often if I've been adding a lot of data.

Why so many backups? Well, when boiled down to the lowest common denominator, there are only two kinds of HDDs: those that have already failed and those that haven't failed yet. Any HDD can fail at any time without warning, even the best ones. I received a 4TB WD Black, one of the best drives made, that was DOA late last year. Since even backup HDDs can fail, the more identical backups one has (up to the point it becomes too cumbersome and expensive, of course), the less chance of one losing data due to a failed backup HDD. I did have a situation where my main data drive mysteriously became corrupted (ok, it was user error ) and I managed to lose it and one of my backup HDDs. Fortunately, I still had the data on the second local backup HDD and, after reformatting the two corrupted HDDs, I was able to fairly quickly recover the data back to the computer's HDD and the other backup HDD. Still, most people can get by with one onsite backup and one offsite backup, depending on how valuable their data is to them and how tight their budget is or isn't. An acceptable bare bones setup would be one local backup HDD and either a Carbonite account for the offsite backup and/or a second backup HDD stored off site somewhere.

Since the same kind of disaster that can cause data on a HDD inside a computer to be lost can also cause an externally stored backup HDD to lose data, such as fire, flood, theft, etc. By having backup HDDs in a secure offsite location (such as my safe deposit box; a friend's house, etc. would also work well), if the unthinkable should ever happen and you lose all your data at home, you will still have the offsite data to fall back on.

Here's that exception I mentioned. Since an offsite backup won't have any data that was added or changed after the last time the backup was updated, I also use Carbonite.com, a cloud backup service, to fill in that gap. A basic plan costs only $60/year. I have it set to update only once a day so it won't waste bandwidth backing up scratch files I may use only for a short while, then discard, saving internet bandwidth usage. However, it can be set to continuously backup 24/7 or, if you put an important file on the computer, be manually told to back it up immediately. Carbonite can be used by itself for an offsite backup but, if one has a lot of data, recovering data from Carbonite can take days, weeks, or even months, depending on the amount of data and the speed of the internet connection. Also, since even a cloud backup service can fail, it's not a good idea to totally depend on one for backups. If I should lose all my data at home, I can recover most of my data from my offsite backups and get the rest that was added or changed since I last updated the offsite backups from Carbonite, dramatically reducing the amount of time needed to recover all of my data.

While imaging is the most efficient and effective way to backup one's system files, it is grossly inefficient for backing up data. First, it takes too long because you have to image all of your data every time you update your backup and second, it requires a lot of space to store the images. Some people use incremental imaging to avoid that problem but, as mentioned before, incremental imaging is not without its problems and would be better eschewed.

Folder/file syncing programs, when set to Mirror mode, compare the contents of the folders you designate on the drive to be backed up (you can designate an entire drive, treating it like a folder) with the ones on the backup drive, looking for any changes between the two. The program will then copy and paste from the source drive to the destination drive and delete files from the destination drive as necessary to make the destination drive essentially a clone of the source drive. Since only new, changed, and deleted files are processed, backups can be considerably faster than imaging, which has to process every file every time, and requires less room to store. Rarely, if ever, does a backup drive need to be larger than the source drive.

FreeFileSync is my weapon folder/file syncing program of choice but I'm not going to go into how to use it right now. One of our members here has a nice little video showing how to use it and, one of these days, I'm going to write a more detailed tutorial on how to use it for backups, including versioning, that one can print out (something I prefer over videos since, at my age, the only thing I retain well is water and fat). Right now, I have too much on my plate and my old carcass just isn't cooperating.
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28 Mar 2015   #26
Lady Fitzgerald

Win 7 Ultimate 64 bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by cyberSAR View Post
...I'm too undisciplined to plug and unplug my USB backup so I run a program to mount the drive and after backing up, my backup program runs a dismount...
Seriously? How hard is it to plug and unplug a USB external drive?
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28 Mar 2015   #27
cyberSAR

Windows 7 Pro 64-bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Lady Fitzgerald View Post
Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by cyberSAR View Post
...I'm too undisciplined to plug and unplug my USB backup so I run a program to mount the drive and after backing up, my backup program runs a dismount...
Seriously? How hard is it to plug and unplug a USB external drive?
Yep. I could start my workday at 4am or 7pm or any time in between with no advance notice. I prefer to have an automated solution so I don't forget or ignore.
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28 Mar 2015   #28
Lady Fitzgerald

Win 7 Ultimate 64 bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by cyberSAR View Post
Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Lady Fitzgerald View Post
Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by cyberSAR View Post
...I'm too undisciplined to plug and unplug my USB backup so I run a program to mount the drive and after backing up, my backup program runs a dismount...
Seriously? How hard is it to plug and unplug a USB external drive?
Yep. I could start my workday at 4am or 7pm or any time in between with no advance notice. I prefer to have an automated solution so I don't forget or ignore.
I have ADHD and I still manage to do it. While I normally do my backups (and my anti-malware and AV scans) during the evening news, I frequently will do them at other times of the day, especially on weekends when the evening news doesn't run or doesn't run at the same time. It only takes a minute or two to start the scans; same for the backups. Once started, they run on their own while I do something else.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
28 Mar 2015   #29
RolandJS

Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
 
 

Several posts ago, somebody mentioned SRPs being pretty much useless. I agree for the most part. However, in this imperfect world, not everyone systematically backs up all his/her data on a daily basis. I don't.
The only good thing about a good restorable SRP: if such works, one can quickly copy un-backuped data from C-drive [yes, many many still keep everything on C; I and many many others keep data on D] over to some other media before doing what could become a destructive scorched-earth OS restore/rebuild or ReInstall.
Only Windows 98SE and earlier were able to successfully be "dirty"-installed, thus saving the data itself, even though the programs had to be reinstalled, re-associating the files with respective programs. I heard Windows 7 can sometimes be "dirty"-installed, with varying degrees of success or failure.
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28 Mar 2015   #30
pcwin

Windows 7 Home Premium 64 Bit
 
 

Why don't just use Macrium to backup the whole computer (all disk/data/whole system)?

I mean what I was doing with Acronis software was I did a full backup (takes a few hours) of all hard disks in my PC. And I did a scheduled incremental (takes about less than half hour) backup everyday. If any day any of the hard disk failed, I can replace it with a new hard disk and restore everything from Acronis backup to the state that is exactly the same as before. It seems a workable plan, maybe there is any disadvantage or cons that I did not know?
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 Suggestion for my backup plan?




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