pc backup, need advice

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Old 05-23-08, 11:58 AM
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pc backup, need advice

I need help understanding the backing up of my home computer, as well as restoring it from backup(s) should I need to. It’s an Acer laptop pc with Vista Home Premium version of Windows. The way I understand it the hard drive on the pc is partitioned so that by default user-created backups are stored to what is called the D drive (at least when the pre-installed Acer backup/restore utility program called eRecovery is utilized for the backup(s). In addition to providing the ability to make either full or incremental backup images onto the hard drive as mentioned, this eRecovery program also provides the user to make either full or incremental backups to CD or DVD. Because the pc did not come with a recovery CD or system CD, it was recommended at the outset to use the eRecovery program to backup to optical disc the factory default image of the system, which I did.

Soon after making various changes to the default factory state of the machine (adding/deleting programs, customizing settings, etc. through regular usage) I went ahead and created another “full” backup with the eRecovery program, the full backup this time saved onto the backup (or D) drive. Since then, before making any what I consider significant changes to my programs or the system I also go ahead and create an incremental (also called “fast”) backup with the program (which also gets saved onto the D drive) as a restore point. However, as of yet I have not found the need nor taken the opportunity to use the restore function of the utility to get the system/programs/files back to a previous state.

Two Questions(for now):
(1) I know Vista includes its own Windows backup utility that I could be using instead of the Acer eRecovery program I mention above. It does seem redundant to have both on my system. The only reason I went with the Acer utility is because its so prominently featured with the Acer machine, pre-installed and integrated with the “eEmpowering technology” built into the machine, and it provided a quick and easily described method of creating the factory restoration discs I wanted to have initially before using the machine when it was newly purchased. Further, I understand (but am not clear) that the Windows backup utility included with Vista Home Premium does not provide the ability to make a full system backup similar to what the Acer utility can provide. Additionally, if it is the case that the Windows utility provides just as good or similar backup/restore functionality to the Acer one, I would probably want to remove the redundant Acer utility but would be reluctant as its one of those factory installed integrated-with-the-system type of utilities that would probably cause problems/headaches if I tried to remove it without knowing specific proper procedures. What would make the best sense to do in regard to this situation?

(2) I know that relying on backup to the system hard drive is not good enough, and that I should be additionally backing up to a separate hard drive in case my system hard drive fails. If I get a separate backup hard drive how do I know what exactly and when to backup onto it? I know it depends on the individual situation, but for example if I am about ready to make a significant change to the system (like changing something in the registry or deleting/changing some system file I’m not sure about ) would I want to backup to both my hard drive D partition and also the external backup drive? Or if I learn to use the external backup drive can I just use it exclusively for any and all backups instead of backing up to my hard drive at all? What’s a good reliable and relatively easy approach here?

Any comments/advice appreciated.
 
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Old 05-23-08, 01:40 PM
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Since the Acer software was provided with your computer, there may problems removing it, however, in all redundancy, to find out first create a backup within Vista itself to ensure that if you DO incur problems you may restore it.

As far as I'm aware of the backup program included with Windows is built-in and cannot be "simply" removed.

Additionally to answer the second part, you may purchase external hard drives and such to back up your information onto. When going to back up information your computer will automatically recognize it to be written on. If you were going to do something to potentially change the information on your main drive (Usually C: ) you probably wouldn't need to go out of your way to make backups onto everything, however, if you are doing something that may affect the registry that may affect your WHOLE computer, you will want to back up on all sources available. This is only because if your computer decides to "malfunction" you will have the option to restore it via the external drive. Although, the external drive alone would probably be enough for any such situation,.Since it is not acting as a vital part, in case anything that could happen, such as a power surge or lightning storm destroying your computer.
 
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Old 05-23-08, 03:20 PM
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Originally Posted by ShadowWolf_87 View Post
As far as I'm aware of the backup program included with Windows is built-in and cannot be "simply" removed. If you were going to do something to potentially change the information on your main drive (Usually C: ) you probably wouldn't need to go out of your way to make backups onto everything, however, if you are doing something that may affect the registry that may affect your WHOLE computer, you will want to back up on all sources available.
Thanks ShadowWolf for your reply/advice.
My thought insofar as the redundancy of the two backup programs (i.e. the Windows backup and the Acer program) was that if both programs basically had the same type of backup/restore features that I would consider trying to remove the Acer program but not the Windows one; however I would be hesitant to do so because the Acer program is more or less built into the system also and unless I was sure about the removal process I wouldn't attempt it (unless of course I had a good reliable backup of the system beforehand and I was confident in my ability to properly perform a restoration.)
Your comment about changing information on the C drive as apparently opposed to doing something that affects the registry is somewhat confusing to me as doing either could potentially affect the whole computer.

I'm still not clear on what and when and whether to backup onto either the hard drive partition called D, to an external drive, or to both.
 
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Old 05-23-08, 03:27 PM
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I believe in the "Magic 3's" for backups. Have one computer and two sets of backups for a total of 3 redundant data sets. I use two USB externals plus the local drive.

There was only one time I needed to draw from the 3rd backup, and that was back when Zip drives were the rage.

Norton Ghost is used at work to clone client's hard drives so we can service them. If a HDD dies, we replace it and transfer the clone. Works like a champ.
 
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Old 05-23-08, 04:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Rick Johnston View Post
Have one computer and two sets of backups for a total of 3 redundant data sets. I use two USB externals plus the local drive. There was only one time I needed to draw from the 3rd backup, and that was back when Zip drives were the rage. Norton Ghost is used at work to clone client's hard drives so we can service them. If a HDD dies, we replace it and transfer the clone. Works like a champ.
Thanks Rick, but
(1) What do you mean by "data sets"? The data on the various programs but not the applications themselves? Please explain what you mean by data sets.
(2) Would I really need two external backup sources if I don't really particularly consider the information on my pc to be that critical or disastrous if it were lost? Wouldn't just one probably suffice?
(3) Out of curiosity what was the situation where you had to draw from your 3rd backup? Did your 2nd external backup fail, or was it because there some deeper level of data or information that you kept on the 3rd backup that wasn't on the 2nd?
(4) If zip drives were the rage for backup in the past, what is typically used now to externally backup pc's instead?
(5) Do people use imaging programs like Norton Ghost along with external backup drives exclusively instead of bothering at all with backing up onto the pc's hard drive backup partition or onto the C drive otherwise? Seems to me like it might be simplest to just backup to the external drive on a regular basis and before doing anything potentially disruptive to the operation of the system or programs, then if there was a problem afterwards you're pretty much guaranteed to have accessible ability to restore to the previous state. What I mean to ask here is if you backup to an external source what is the reason for also backing up to the internal (C drive) source?
 
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Old 05-24-08, 02:24 AM
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(1) A "data set" as I call it is a collection of all files that are created or changed after the operating system was installed.

My backups include:
-- Personal info, preferences, favorites, e-mail, contacts, address books, and any other stuff I can find that gets trashed after a new OS install.
-- All data files created by me such as documents, photos, music, etc.
-- All hardware drivers, including the motherboard's device drivers.
-- All downloaded updates to drivers and software.
-- All software CDs copied to the hard drive into individual folders within a master "Sources" folder, to which I add the CD keys and serial numbers.

I don't worry at all about backing up XP because I have the installation disc. Call me old-school, but I would never buy a computer if it didn't come with the original OS disc and a driver disc specific to that box.

It took a year or so to figure it all out and finalize my little home-made system, but it works for me.

It takes me about 3 hours to rebuild, starting from a quick format. I've been doing that every 6 months or so on this old 2003 box.

(2) Everyone's needs are different. If you consider your data to be expendable, then you don't really need to back up anything. Or maybe you'll want to keep some of the files for convenience. In that case a 2-gig USB thumb drive would be perfect.

(3) The Zip discs were notoriously unreliable, as I found out when the Zip drive wouldn't read the first backup disc. The 2nd disc was okay. (Back then 100 meg was plenty of space, and CD burners were just starting to drop in price.)

(4) As I said, I use two external USB hard drives to hold the backups. One is at the office and the other lives at home. Every week I swap them, so the most I'd lose is two weeks. All in all it's about 200 gig of data. I try and keep it as simple as possible by putting everything under a single "Data" folder on the hard drive. When I need to perform a backup, I just drag 'n' drop the Data folder to one of the USB drives.

Other popular backup methods are internal hard drives, removeable drive bays, networked drives, DVDs, and CDs.

(5) Norton Ghost may be overkill for a home user, but since you don't have the original OS disc, it might be the only way to restore your computer when (not if) something catastrophic happens. Ghost will clone the drive, so anything that's on the drive will be restored. The beauty of this method is that everything comes back exactly as you left it, including programs, prefs, and data.
 
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Old 05-24-08, 09:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Rick Johnston View Post
Norton Ghost may be overkill for a home user, but since you don't have the original OS disc, it might be the only way to restore your computer when (not if) something catastrophic happens.
As I'm sure your aware, the new Acer laptops, as well as others, don't come with the original OS disc. As I mentioned in the intial post here, because the pc did not come with a recovery CD or system CD, it was recommended at the outset to use the eRecovery program to backup to optical disc the factory default image of the system, which I did (to a DVD).

Is that not just as good as having the original OS disc in case of catastrophe? With the factory image disc(s) isn't the OS there again ready to go along with the default factory settings and programs like it was out of the box?

Also, what about the option of using offline storage for backup, like X-Drive and such? How about that in addition to or perhaps instead of something like a USB flash drive or other external drive(s)?

Thanks
 
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