techiecool

backup or drive image: which do i need

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i have been searching quite a bit on this site and the info is really good. i guess i just don't know/understand enough about this subject. i essentially want my info backed up. now i understand that i can have an image of my hdd, but is that the same as having my files backed up. can i access the files quickly?

in case my hdd dies, what's my best way of securing my data? i mean reinstalling xp pro and all the software could take a few hours (2-4 hrs) and configuring everything could take some more time and that would royally suck. but it's doable.

my two PCs are a 2003 server and xp pro. i would love to have one piece of software back up both machines and burn a DVD. is that imaging the drives or backing up the files? and any software recommendations would be great.

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I use Norton Ghost. I create an image of my main drive on my backup drive. If my main drive dies I just move the image to the new main drive and everything is back to the way it was when I created the image. :D

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I used to Ghost for backup, but not so much anymore. I find it requires too much effort. I now use a backup program to automatically do file backup directly to DVD's. If my system HD dies, then I need to do a fresh install of windows and then do file restore from DVD's. Installing Windows is easy, just takes a few hours by the time everything is updated and extra software is ready to go.

Once a month I do a full backup to DVD's, which just requires me to swap the blank disks in depending on how many I need. Daily I do an Incremental backup to file on a network drive. This runs automatically at about 4am so it doesn't require any effort on my part.

Don't get me wrong, I love Ghost, but just not for regular system backup. Ghost is great for swapping HD's, moving installations to different platforms, and creating complete fallback protection when doing risky testing and upgrades. I use it all the time at work, and periodically at home too.

The backup software I use and really like is NTI Backup Now. Cost me about $80CAN, and has been running flawlessly for about 1.5 years now. I've recommended it to a few coworkers and friends and they are quite happy with it too. Easy to use, supports most CDR and DVD writers without the need for packet drivers, and is reliable and stable.

If you are talking about server level backup then that is a completely different...

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techicool. I'm wondering the same thing. I have an 80gb drive and I am planning on buying an identical 80gb drive and I'd like it so that if the main dies, I can just set the second drive as master and be up and running. Then, once the replacement would arrive I'd reimage it back so I'd have two drives with the same image again. Norton Ghost is $70. I don't really wanna spend that much money though. :(

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Norton Ghost is $70. I don't really wanna spend that much money though

Doesn't have to be that much. You can buy Norton SystemWorks 2003 or 2004 OEM which includes Ghost for about $15-20CAN at most computer stores here. The key is finding a place that has the OEM versions, not the retail box.

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I found Ghost with NSW 2003 Pro for $9 on e-bay.

What "effort" are you talking about?

Local > Partition > To image. Takes 5 minutes (and 5 to restore your system).

Some people also like Acronis.

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led Zeppelin, i also have one 80gig drive in my XP. i have one 160Gig drive in my 2k3 server. so i am thinking of the best alternative to a good backup system.

bennt, sometimes i think the same that a fresh install would be the way to go then sometimes (when lazy) think it's just not worth it. maybe the alternative is to do a image/clone of the drive once and i should get some backup software to do daily backups. could be overkill.

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What "effort" are you talking about?

Boot into dos, create ghost images, boot back into windows. This isn't something you are going to do everyday, or even once a week. Maybe once a month, but then you are still left doing some sort of daily type of backup or risking up to a months worth of data loss.

Plus, the image files are on the computer you are imaging (unless you configure ghost to use network drives or manually move them after), which kind-of defeats one of the main reasons for backup in the first place.

If you have the time to do that sort of thing then by all means. I want something I can set and forget. My computer stays on 24/7 and gets rebooted about once a month for critical updates/driver updates.

If my HD dies, the most I've lost is that day's work.

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Boot into dos, create ghost images, boot back into windows.

Maybe you're not aware that with v2003, Ghost now does this automaticaly for you. You config in Windows, go get a coffee, come back and it's done, with your desktop waiting for you. Couldn't be any easier.

but then you are still left doing some sort of daily type of backup or risking up to a months worth of data loss.

If you don't do a daily back-up, then you risk a day's worth of data/work. You don't risk a month's worth of work unless you can't do a MONTHLY back-up. Five minutes a month should be no sweat.

Plus, the image files are on the computer you are imaging

The image isn't stored on a "computer". It's stored on MEDIA, such as a separate hard drive, CD-Rs, DVDs or even an external USB/Firewire drive, all of which you can store OFF "the computer"

(unless you configure ghost to use network drives or manually move them after), which kind-of defeats one of the main reasons for backup in the first place.

How does this defeat the purpose?

If you have the time to do that sort of thing

Who doesn't have 5 minutes a month? Especially whe that five minutes can save DAYS reinstalling Windows and all your programs and re-configuring your system.

I want something I can set and forget.

Let me know if you find something better than an imaging utility, because I've been looking and haven't been able to.

If my HD dies, the most I've lost is that day's work.

Losing a days work is better than losing a YEAR's work. (I know.)

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I seem to have touched a nerve. Sorry for giving my opinion.

Not that I really care, but if it is only taking you 5 minutes to create an image and 5 minutes to restore, you are probably only talking about a simple Windows installation with no data and no extra programs. I've run Ghost a thousand times (seriously) and the only runs that go that quick are just basic Windows installs. If you have 50Gb of OS and data then you can easily count on an hour or two (probably more).

I'm not saying that Ghost isn't an option, just that there are other backup methods that can be more effective for some people. I presented an alternative that does work well.

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No nerve touched. You provided your opinion (which you should never apologize for), and I provided mine. I simply enjoy trading ideas. That's how we learn.

I have 8 gigs on my (12-gig) Windows/apps partition. I don't know anyone with 50 gigs worth of apps. You must have a lot of programs.

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I seem to have touched a nerve.  Sorry for giving my opinion.

Not that I really care, but if it is only taking you 5 minutes to create an image and 5 minutes to restore, you are probably only talking about a simple Windows installation with no data and no extra programs.  I've run Ghost a thousand times (seriously) and the only runs that go that quick are just basic Windows installs.  If you have 50Gb of OS and data then you can easily count on an hour or two (probably more).

And this is one of the reasons you should partition your disk. Make a small (5GB) system partition, a seperate partition for applications, and at least one more for data. Now, instead of imaging a 50GB+ drive, you image the small system partition. Then use a file based backup program (that can do incremental backups) for your data partition(s). Applications rarely change, so you don't need to image that partition very often.

Also, look into a newer imaging program like acronis trueimage. It can image a drive without rebooting into dos. It can even do incremental images of a drive.

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System backup and data backup are two completely different issues, and should be managed with two different tools.

When you bakup or restore a system, what you want to do is backup or restore the whole, which is quite different from data backup/restore.

System backup/restore is simply for convenience in a personal usage (it is different with a server because the system backup/restore can help to put the server online quicker after some crash).

Data backup/restore is another story. Not having backups of your data will make you lose just time in the better case, but it will often cause you to lose data forever.

Using the same tools and procedures for both issues will be more a problem than a solution.

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The last few posts contain excellent advice.

No nerve touched. You provided your opinion (which you should never apologize for), and I provided mine. I simply enjoy trading ideas. That's how we learn.

I have 8 gigs on my (12-gig) Windows/apps partition. I don't know anyone with 50 gigs worth of apps. You must have a lot of programs.

I don't have 50Gb of OS and apps. I was refering to the whole computer, OS, apps, and data.

And this is one of the reasons you should partition your disk. Make a small (5GB) system partition, a seperate partition for applications, and at least one more for data. Now, instead of imaging a 50GB+ drive, you image the small system partition. Then use a file based backup program (that can do incremental backups) for your data partition(s). Applications rarely change, so you don't need to image that partition very often.

I have 4 partitions: OS, Data, Images, Stuff. Couldn't agree more with you on all points there.

To me, data backup is the most important thing (when talking about my home computers). OS and program backup isn't worth it to me.

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here's a noob question, can i partition my drive now (ie it's already installed and working)? i like the idea of breaking my drive down into 3 partions: OS, apps, data. doesn't seem like i could do that now.

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I don't have 50Gb of OS and apps. I was refering to the whole computer, OS, apps, and data.

I don't image my entire system. I only image my system partition, which also contains my programs (no games multi-CD programs, such as MS Encarta, which comprises 5 CDs - those go on another partition. THis saves image size/time).

For example, my 30 gigs worth of MP3 and lossless audio songs are all backed-up to DVDs.

I agree with the poster who says that system back-up and data back-up are two different animals. The person who started this post asked about imaging apps. If my games partition died, it would take less than an hour for me to re-install all of them from the original CDs. So I don't image them. But if my system partition died, it would take me a day or two to get everything back to where it is now, whic is why I keep multi images on hand.

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here's a noob question, can i partition my drive now (ie it's already installed and working)? i like the idea of breaking my drive down into 3 partions: OS, apps, data. doesn't seem like i could do that now.

Sure, but you'll pretty much need to use a program like Partition Magic, which can resize existing partitions, create, delete, etc.

If you have Ghost and a spare HD, there are ways of doing it that way too.

Of course, any time you are messing with partitions and the like you should have a thorough backup as there is some risk of losing everything.

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i am trying to define what steps i need to do. something like this i guess:

1. get ghost/trueimage and clone my drive.

2. get partitionmagic and partition my drive.

3. get file backup software (don't know which yet) and make daily backups.

anything else i maybe missing.

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The best program for image/restore by far is Acronis TrueImage. I use it to image all my drives to a usb 2.0 external drive that i disconnect when idont need it.

I have used it to restore my main drive and within 15 mins was back up completely operational.

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I would suggest to do a drive image only when the machine first enters service (or after new applications have been installed) and use a backup (tape/dvd/cd) for user data, like pst files, address books, and files... thus you can restore your computer fairly quickly, without loseing data. (if you kept up with the daily or weekly data backup)

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Thanks everyone for the suggestions in this thread.

But I have a question: if you separate OS, Applications and Data, is there a way to reinstall the OS and run the applications "as is", i.e. without having to *reinstall* them? (I think about registry and/or installed-inside-windows-directory DLL issues)

I think you can't (and yes, I know you'll tell me that if you backed up the OS you wouldn't have the problem, still having the latest registry with all the modifications installed).

But maybe there is some utilities out there that allow us to reassemble all the DLLs (and maybe even create .reg scripts) under the applicatoin directory ? Why do they install things outside of it (see some recent open source softwares which runs out of the .zip without any need of installing DLLs all over the place).

The reason why they install in windows own subdirs may be to allow windows to always use the latest version of common DLLs? But I think the utility reassembling the application all in one dir could be run regularly to ensure the stored DLLs are up to date?

(do i lake any sense? It seems I lost my ability to write english sentences...)

Thanks for any info on this subject - meanwhil I'm still googling like crazy to find this out.

Olivier, Edhel-Dil.

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No, you cant reinstall a fresh copy of windows, and expect programs to run. You can do a 'repair install' and then this will work... Because windows programs (except for the most simple) put data into the windows system registry, the program will crash if you attempt to run it without those entries. Mac and linux programs arent like this, (so far) its just windows.

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