Computer Hope

Other => FAQ solutions database => Software => Topic started by: Dilbert on April 19, 2006, 08:25:53 PM

Title: Backups
Post by: Dilbert on April 19, 2006, 08:25:53 PM
After tragically losing all my data to a computer crisis, I feel it necessary to post this topic. The scorched hand is more careful with fire.

How often should I backup my files?

The simple answer is that the more often you backup your files, the better off you'll be. However, although a daily backup is healthy for the computer (and your sanity in the event of an

emergency), it tends to be tedious. How often you actually need to backup depends on what you use your system for. If you do heavy gaming, about once every two weeks is good,

since save games change data so often it would be extremely annoying to backup after each time you play part of a game. If you manage finances or do other extremely important activities,

once every few days to daily would be a good measure. Most users will fall between these extremes.

What should I backup?

Most of the time, a backup of all your important documents and similar files is all you need. However, it is good practice, if you have the disk space, to make images of all downloadable

programs, and either burn them to CD's or to another partition or disk drive. Installable programs are not necessary to backup (though any documents you make with them are not only fair

game, but a good idea to backup), but things downloaded from the Internet - utilities, browsers, etc. should be backed up occasionally. It's a good idea to backup the Setup files rather

than the entire program; you'll get the program at a fraction of the disk space.

What should I backup to?

CD-RW's are an excellent choice, as these can be overwritten in the case of needing to backup the same file again, and they hold a respectable 700 MB. However, if you only have a few

files and documents, or if you cannot burn CD's or CD-RW's, then diskettes are the way to go. The only problem with that is that you'll need a lot of floppies for a lot of files, as 1.44 MB

is the limit for file storage. If you choose diskettes as your backup method, consider using Winzip ( to compress your files. In

fact, there is no reason not to zip them as it will save space and if a computer doesn't have Winzip it can be downloaded (or you can keep a setup.exe for Winzip, but you can't zip the

setup as this defeats the purpose).

How would I use these backups if my system failed?

Directly, you cannot. These cannot restore your system to proper conditions. However, when and if you do get your PC running properly again after an emergency, this backup will greatly

assist you in restoring your PC/MAC/Other to it's former condition, and save your sanity.
Title: Re: QA0029 Backups
Post by: Flame on April 19, 2006, 08:39:25 PM
Some good programs to use for backups are (1) Norton Ghost ( (2) Acronis TrueImage ( (3) Windows XP Backup Tool ( Those are the best and easiest to use that I know of.


Edited: made each reference a link to product/utility information.
Title: Re: QA0029 Backups - Part 2
Post by: GX1_Man on April 19, 2006, 08:42:57 PM
It is also quite helpful to make a sytem restoration when you get your newly reloaded, pristine system just as you want it. You create an image file and can save it to another partition or drive (good) or across a network to a computer with a CD/DVD burner to save them (better) or directly to your CD or DVD burner to save them (still better) or save them in more than one spot (best). After the full backup you can add incremental backups on the files that have changed, if you wish.

I have Backup #1 (image file) on the second hard drive and a DVD of my pristine setup, and Backup#2 is my running incremental backup as things have evolved. That 4 hours to set up a Windows system, load basic software, get and install updates, find and load drivers, etc. doesn't have to happen again. I can restore a system totally in <10 minutes!  ;D

Several products are available for this - Acronis True Image, Ghost and BootItNG are all well regarded. Just do a Google search for retailers or online sales. The price is reasonable ($30 and up) for not having to format and reinstall Windows again. You still need to be careful and have a regular backup plans. I think all of these have automatic backup schedules so just "set it and forget it".

Remember that ALL hard drives die eventually, taking your data with them unless you are responsible enough to protect it. Some people have no important data, so they should continue to flail away at the keyboard.

Dilbert, ;) feel free to append to yours, edit, or whatever.