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Backing Up - Off Topic
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January 03, 2012, 08:40:55 PM
I am curious if anyone is doing a full computer backup on a nightly basis and if you are, are doing it locally (external hard drive) or on line through some third party? I am starting to feel like I should be doing this instead of my current practice of occasional 'specific files' local backup. In this case, does your computer run 24/7? I am in the habit of shutting down every night.

I don't know what to look for with regards to a daily backup system or if there are 'best practices' that I should be aware of. I don't want to have to spend a fortune but I realize I may have to spend some. Can anyone offer some insight?


* January 03, 2012, 08:51:06 PM
#1
Don:

Look at Acronis. It is a "Bare Metal Restore" type of backup -- at least the workstation version.

I have used it even to restore to completely different hardware after a failure or upon upgrade.


http://www.acronis.com/backup-recovery/workstation/

Just get the universal restore if you get it. Worth every penny -- and a few more.

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* January 03, 2012, 09:12:09 PM
#2
Don
Try Allway Sync. I have used it for years without problems. Very simple and flexible. Backs up files using their original extensions.

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January 03, 2012, 11:34:57 PM
#3
don
get two hard drives ( EQUAL SIZE, VERY IMPORTANT! ).
pick your flavor of RAID.
then people will seek you out
because you know how to set up RAID :)
« Last Edit: January 04, 2012, 02:08:32 AM by mechanical engineer »

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* January 04, 2012, 04:01:49 AM
#4
I use a program called PureSync. One of the most flexible I've seen. I don't use this to backup the entire system... operating system, programs... etcs. I use Windows to create image files for that. An image file can be used to restore your hard drive to the EXACT state in was in at the time of creating the image file... right down to the sectors on the hard drive.

PureSync allows you to synchronize files between two hard drives, backup files incrementally... etc.... and also allows you to have many different profiles to handle files in different ways. I use it to backup my drawings and other important files... and it does this in the background automatically each time a change is made to a file.

http://www.snapfiles.com/get/puresync.html

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* January 04, 2012, 07:14:02 AM
#5
I'll throw in another Casper which does a clone. I have 2 1/2T SATA drives. It works great. It does a clone of C, switched drive designations so the clone is now C and you are all set. All you do, if you need it, is to change the boot sequence and restart.

Ed

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* January 04, 2012, 09:14:24 AM
#6
don
get two hard drives ( EQUAL SIZE, VERY IMPORTANT! ).
pick your flavor of RAID.
then people will seek you out
because you know how to set up RAID :)

With two drives you have limited options....

One does an "interleave" -- i.e. bonds the drives == and that is no backup --DAMHIKT.

You can also do a mirror. RAID1? Never used it.

Other than that you need a minimum of three drives to do a RAID 5 -- but if you lose more than one drive you are cooked anyway.

Better to use Acronis or one of the other recommendations and do at least semi-regular backups. If you leave your machine on all the time you can schedule backups. Try to get a USB-3 enclosure. Then when you upgrade your Motherboard you get another speed boost.

I am sitting beside a 6TB RAID 5 array with a Adaptec Dual Core Controller that we use for our mapping and CAD server (Novell Linux) -- so I have had a little experience with them.

PS:


I am going to add a couple of notes here rather than get into a long discussion...  If people do want to contemplate RAID (at any level) read this first. The explanation is quite simplistic, but it is good enough for all but the computer engineers...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standard_RAID_levels

On HARDWARE RAID -- just because you turn it on in BIOS does not make a system a HARDWARE RAID system.  When we use that term we are referring to the ability to compute the math in dedicated hardware.

A RAID 5 uses block-level striping with parity data distributed across all member disks


A RAID 1 is a MIRROR -- more than adequate for people who do not run a business.

The decision to indulge in RAID 5 or RAID 1 vs backup is not a reasonable debate. They have nothing to do with each other....

It is not that unusual to have a two drives fail in quick succession. I had two drives sent here since one failed -- the second was for a "Hot SWAP" to occur automatically... the next drive failed within six days -- no HOT SWAP -- and that coincided with the Thailand flooding -- now I cannot find a third drive for the hot swap -- at least not at a reasonable price.

RAID is not a guarantee -- it is simply one more tool in the arsenal to keep your systems running.

A backup copy kept on site is not a backup... it's a copy of your files. Especially if you have not guaranteed that you have an off-site copy of the software required to restore to a new system.

BACKUP is a philosophy carried out to provide a viable way to resume operation after a disaster. It is not a program. It is not a copy of the data. And RAID is very useful if you can afford it -- you can keep running with ONE dead drive.

RAID also has penalties of speed for read and write -- calculation time for the XOR circuitry -- it's true! it's not instant!


Call me: Just another computer/electronics engineer.... (really!)

 who has been designing this type of equipment -- including the security and data algorithms for CRC and parity and striping for over forty years -- but what do I know???? ???  
 :D

Hope that helps for all who tune in...
« Last Edit: January 04, 2012, 01:26:38 PM by WillR »

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* January 04, 2012, 10:29:55 AM
#7
Don Cheke

I found that a online back up to beneficial for the purpose of portability,the other advantage is in case of fire,natural catastrophes,theft etc. there always a retrieval of lost files.I found that large capacity external hardrive helpful also and use it as for immediate back up .I try not to store to many important files on the desk top machine for more software allowance.Is some of the things I do when comes to back up steps.W7 Pro has a built back up system that works well.If ever need be W7 will save your file under OLD Windows Files if ever the operating system needs to be reloaded which I found didn't lose anything and software came along but some had to be reinstalled along with serial numbers.Just a little things I have done :)

W.D.

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* January 04, 2012, 10:40:44 AM
#8
Don Cheke

I found that a online back up to beneficial for the purpose of portability,the other advantage is in case of fire,natural catastrophes,theft etc. there always a retrieval of lost files.I found that large capacity external hardrive helpful also and use it as for immediate back up .I try not to store to many important files on the desk top machine for more software allowance.Is some of the things I do when comes to back up steps.W7 Pro has a built back up system that works well.If ever need be W7 will save your file under OLD Windows Files if ever the operating system needs to be reloaded which I found didn't lose anything and software came along but some had to be reinstalled along with serial numbers.Just a little things I have done :)

W.D.

If you create an image file rather than a backup... you don't have to reinstall any software or serial numbers. It restores you hard drive sector for sector, and byte for byte... just as it was when you created the image file. Not good if you keep data files on the drive... but I always use a separate drive for data.

Using an image file... I can have my hard drive formatted, and all my programs freshly installed in less than 10 minutes.

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January 04, 2012, 12:27:47 PM
#9
don
leave computer on all the time.
electronic components fail when they're
turned on and off.
heating and cooling.
first place to look for RAID is in bios.
that's HARDWARE raid.
regarding 3 hard drives, 2 will be fine.
when one fails you have time to get another one.
3 is for failsafe systems, banks & defense.

Have A Nice Day!

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* January 06, 2012, 05:51:12 AM
#10
Hi Don,

There are online backups that are 'automatic' like Carbonite.

http://www.carbonite.com/en/home/online-backup-pricing  

Starting at $59 it may be worth a look. They have a free trial.

Jack
« Last Edit: January 07, 2012, 11:16:14 AM by Jack Zimmer »

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January 07, 2012, 08:12:25 AM
#11
Sorry to take so long to get back and respond.

I appreciate what everyone has said and I am taking it all into account while I consider carefully what I am going to do.

I think that I have decided that I won't be using online backup, since one loses control of their data. Even with the best intentions companies can't guarantee the security of one's confidential files. Maybe I am wrong, but that is what I feel.

I am going to go out today and investigate some new backup hardware, perhaps a network system or other such things. And then I will see what software requirements there are for the new system. Lots of good looking examples from everyone. Thanks.


* January 07, 2012, 05:54:33 PM
#12
Thanks for the pointer Greg.
Funny thing I have software that has capabilities for ISO/CUE/BIN but kinda fuzzy with it.Tried to Google it up on how to use it didn't come up with anything worth wild as a tutorial.Looked into youtube nothing concrete regarding backing up software.Got any suggestions on your steps maybe video link or some thing else?

W.D.

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* January 08, 2012, 03:50:52 AM
#13
W.D.

If you're using Windows 7... do a Google search on creating a disk image using Windows 7.

If you're not using Windows 7... there are some really nice free programs that will do the same thing... let me know... I can't suggest one or two.

I have several disk images created:

1. Right after I get Windows freshly installed and setup the way I like it.

2. Right after installing all the software I use, and getting them setup.

Only takes a mouse click or two to restore your disk from these images... I do it quite often.

This shouldn't be use to backup drives that have data on them.... since it restores the hard drive back to the exact state that it was when you made the disk image... and you will lose any new data.

If you're backing up data... I would suggest the PureSync program I mentioned.

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January 12, 2012, 11:23:12 AM
#14
Hi all,

I thought I would let you in on my experiences so far and what I think I have settled on.

I purchased a D-Link Network Attached Storage enclosure and two 1TB hard drives. It was an awful experience. No matter what I tried, the supplied software could not find the drives. Their tech support was so bad that they didn't even know how to use the telephone as on two separate occasions we we disconnected mid sentence. Needless to say, I took the works back and got a refund. BTW, the storage enclosure was cheap plastic. I should have remembered from previous experience that D-Link was not very good, as I remember going through numerous routers until I finally bought a different brand which has been fine for years.

Next I purchased an iOmega NAS (which included two 1TB hard drives). You backup to one HD and it automatically copies to the second, so you end up with duplicate hard drives. The enclosure is metal and has some good weight to it. At first I was a bit frustrated as there was no backup software supplied and, get this, no user manual or help files. I contacted their support which was decent enough. They gave me a link and free download to QwikProtect. I tried it with terrible results. It make so many errors and didn't copy many working files that I know to be functional. This seemed to be totally unreliable so it got uninstalled.

I then downloaded a trial version of Acronis True Image Home 2012. I started a 115GB backup and it quit at 10MB. The user interface is too bare and no details are readily available as it works. It will be uninstalled.

I then downloaded what GregT had recommended (PureSync). It is running now. It has a good interface and as much details as any user would want to see as it progresses. I have seen no issues as of yet and I am hoping that I have found the winning combination. I believe I will just do a full backup each night, keeping 5 sets.

Truthfully, this was a very stressful procedure, and I am glad that found something that I believe I can have confidence in.


* January 12, 2012, 12:15:28 PM
#15
A very nice program, Don. Experiment a little... a very flexible one as well.

I have three backup configurations for my data that are done automatically:

1. To synchronize changed data from my data drive to an external hard drive each time a file is changed.

2. To make an incremental backup of changed data from data drive to an external hard drive each time a file is changed.

3. To do a full backup of all files once a week.

#1 allows me to have an exact duplicate of my data disk if it crashes.
#2 allows me to go back several versions of a file if need be.
#3 is self explanatory  ;D

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* January 12, 2012, 12:48:17 PM
#16
I had a quick look at PureSync. I am not sure that I would put a high level of trust in the product based on the info provided. If GregT says it's ok though, it probably is. (I would trust him long before the web page...)

The only real test is to delete and restore files. That makes me nervous so I do the following test.

I buy a bare hard drive. Then I install it in the PC. Usually I buy a bigger hard drive and make it part of an upgrade.

Then, I load the hard drive from the backup and see if everything works and if my files are there. I have used Acronis Workstation through many upgrades and several complete drive and motherboard failures. It has always worked.

Note that I recommended the Acronis Workstation and supplied the reason -- bare metal restore. You wasted your time with the home version -- you are running a business.

We have a 5TB drive on our SuSe Linux  (Novel OES) server. It has a 1TB boot and a 5 TB RAID V with an Adaptec Dual CORE RAID 5 processor. I back up the drive and the array and have restored on upgrades and failures. (The failures were the original RAID 5 based on Software.)

I have a collection of 2TB and 1TB drives to hold the server backups. I rotate through the drives. With compression they can hold several backups each.

We use the Acronis Workstation version for Windows 7 (Previously XP, and Vista) workstations. Drive failures and virus infestations have been issues from time to time. All systems were recovered -- even though we usually upgrade  the MB or the Operatiing system and/or the HD upon recovery.

So our backup plan does work. But we don't use any "home version" software.

Your tests and installation headaches were about par for what we "computer geeks" deal with. No big deal. Nothing ever works out the way we want. Different hardware, different OSes and different company operating styles mean that some things don't work at some places.

Had I gone through what you did I would likely not have even reported it to the company owner unless they asked. I expect those difficulties.

So in one sense it is good that a company owner developed an appreciation for what "geeks" go through...

I trust that now all will go well.
« Last Edit: January 12, 2012, 01:15:56 PM by WillR »

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* January 12, 2012, 02:08:02 PM
#17
I've been using PureSync for about 8 months or so... and it has worked flawlessly.... in both backup and restore.

Notice that I don't use it to backup and restore drives that have the OS and programs on them... I use a drive image for that... much faster and copies and restores the drive sector by sector. However.. for data... I have found no program as reliable or configurable as PureSync.

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* January 12, 2012, 02:21:19 PM
#18
The PureSync software homepage appears to be here:
http://www.jumpingbytes.com/en/puresync/features.html

There is a charge for the Business Use version which may be different than your version which is personal use.

Peoples comments about the interface seem like Furniture Maker (DejaVu) all over again.  :D

Knowing there is a home page makes me feel a little better...

When I get back to Canukistan I may give it a try.

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* January 12, 2012, 02:44:24 PM
#19
I thought the interface was straight forward... pretty intuitive actually... IMO.

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January 12, 2012, 03:09:57 PM
#20
What do you guys do about all the garbage build up. I noticed today how long it took to go through backing up all the User files (well, still in process). I just about fell over when I saw over 45,000 temp files. Do you guys use disk cleanup on a regular basis?


* January 12, 2012, 03:38:34 PM
#21
I cleanup tmp, bak... etc. from all my hard drives on a daily basis. Lots of programs out there you can use to do that with.

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* January 12, 2012, 03:59:07 PM
#22
Don,

Are you backing up your entire drive that has the OS and programs on it every day? All you really need to be backing up on a daily basis is your data files. You should also consider keeping your data files on a disk of their own... if you're not doing that already.

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January 12, 2012, 04:23:41 PM
#23
Don,

Are you backing up your entire drive that has the OS and programs on it every day? All you really need to be backing up on a daily basis is your data files. You should also consider keeping your data files on a disk of their own... if you're not doing that already.

No, I am backing up my data files and the Users files daily and keeping 5 versions. I can't remember exactly what I set and I can't check right now as it is running. I find this whole backup business, for the most part, beyond my skill set, however I don't know anyone that can come over and get me set up so this is a painless function. I am not anywhere close to being a techy so I fumble along as best I can.

This seems to be taking way longer (via network) than it ever did through a USB. Everywhere I went shopping they said network backup was faster.
« Last Edit: January 12, 2012, 04:25:19 PM by Don Cheke »

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* January 12, 2012, 05:04:30 PM
#24
Don,

Are you backing up your entire drive that has the OS and programs on it every day? All you really need to be backing up on a daily basis is your data files. You should also consider keeping your data files on a disk of their own... if you're not doing that already.

No, I am backing up my data files and the Users files daily and keeping 5 versions. I can't remember exactly what I set and I can't check right now as it is running. I find this whole backup business, for the most part, beyond my skill set, however I don't know anyone that can come over and get me set up so this is a painless function. I am not anywhere close to being a techy so I fumble along as best I can.

This seems to be taking way longer (via network) than it ever did through a USB. Everywhere I went shopping they said network backup was faster.

I can help you out if you want.... tomorrow or one day next week... whenever.

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January 12, 2012, 07:51:57 PM
#25
I can help you out if you want.... tomorrow or one day next week... whenever.

I don't think I can afford to fly you to Saskatoon, Greg.

Actually, I might take you up on your offer at some point, but probably not until next week.

I have decided to return the network drives. According to my calculations, it was going to take ~20 hours to back up what I used to back up via USB to external drive in about 4 or 5. I am going to check out a new external drive and then I will probably use PureSync with it.


* January 12, 2012, 08:07:38 PM
#26
I can help you out if you want.... tomorrow or one day next week... whenever.

I don't think I can afford to fly you to Saskatoon, Greg.

Actually, I might take you up on your offer at some point, but probably not until next week.

I have decided to return the network drives. According to my calculations, it was going to take ~20 hours to back up what I used to back up via USB to external drive in about 4 or 5. I am going to check out a new external drive and then I will probably use PureSync with it.

Don:

Good plan.

Network backup is faster? Hmmm well the burst rate on our network is 1GB. The SATA drive interface is 3GB/sec  -- 6GB/Sec on the new ones.

Like DOH! Did Homer Simpson get a job with that company? Sorry to be so rude --- but...

A dose of Reality:

The Network slows down our CAD and Mapping -- but at 1GB/Sec Ethernet it's not too bad... What it does do is allow us to run multiple workstations on the same file.

Our server is 8GB -- I really should have 16GB memory along with the RAID 5 Array. The RAID slows down our writing -- but gives us security. That's reality.

The trick is to balance the needs...


So yes.
Direct connect your backup if possible.
eSATA is better -- but can cause other issues.
Run cleanup on your drives. It should run automatically if you leave your system on.

Set your backup to reject files like...

*.tmp
*.bak

and other temp extensions.

Run a defrag routine occasionally -- even if it is the MS version -- which is at least slightly better than nothing.

Use Norton Defrag or better if you can. (Set it to run at night.)

Think about a file server. Maybe it's time. But then you have to re-evaluate backup.

If you upgrade your Motherboard get a USB3 capable MB. To plan ahead get a USB3 external enclosure -- mine works with USB 2 or 3. It is a Nextstar CX enclosure. The cable at the drive end is quite different.

One more point -- if you are short of drive space backup does slow down considerably. Make sure you will have at least 40% spare drive capacity in your "steady state" usage of the system.

One more point:  The new "Green" drives are a disaster. They continuously park the heads. If your station drive is a "Green" drive replace it with a WD Black or Blue edition. The consumer version drives are much slower... The seek time is slower, they park their heads, generally smaller caches...


« Last Edit: January 12, 2012, 08:18:18 PM by WillR »

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* January 13, 2012, 04:41:40 AM
#27
I can help you out if you want.... tomorrow or one day next week... whenever.

I don't think I can afford to fly you to Saskatoon, Greg.

Actually, I might take you up on your offer at some point, but probably not until next week.

I have decided to return the network drives. According to my calculations, it was going to take ~20 hours to back up what I used to back up via USB to external drive in about 4 or 5. I am going to check out a new external drive and then I will probably use PureSync with it.

Sounds like you're backing up more than just data, Don.

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* January 13, 2012, 10:50:21 AM
#28
If you have the bays, you can have installed modular secondary drives that can be pulled in an out like a drawer. This allows you to periodically swap your backup drive and take it off-site. The back-up occurs as fast as your PC can write to your SATA drive -- no network necessary.

I don't trust the cloud either. You have no idea what's going on in the shop. Do the employees do drugs? Been outsourced to unfriendly country? Gamble? Have debts? Is the business failing or succeeding?  You wouldn't know any of that.

I use Acronis for the image feature (no built-in imager in XP) and for the Try/Decide feature. I gave up trying to use it for regular data backup. The backup was OK as long as you wanted the simple click-setup thing, but the minute you wanted a slightly more complex arrangement it started going hay-wire. The instructions and verbiage have been just barely translated into English.

At the moment I'm using Cobian for nightly backups, but I might look at PureSync since everyone is raving about it.

I think making back-ups every time you save a file is over-kill and will likely interfere with work-flow -- just like anti-virus sometimes does. What's more important is to have a record of what state your file was in a particular point in time. This can be done through version control.

For someone in your line of work, you might consider GIT or similar version control. It allows you to start a project, then branch off in one direction (say for Platinum), then come back if you think of something you need to do on another branch. It works with groups of files, which is a match for your tutorials which include multiple  supporting files.

I used it in the opposite manner -- letting me go back and see where I might have made a mistake.

Mark
 


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* January 13, 2012, 11:12:58 AM
#29
I think making back-ups every time you save a file is over-kill and will likely interfere with work-flow -- just like anti-virus sometimes does. What's more important is to have a record of what state your file was in a particular point in time. This can be done through version control.

Mark

It only does this when a processor is idle... so there is no disruption in workflow.

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January 14, 2012, 10:52:10 AM
#30
I sure found revisiting this Backup business stressful, especially with so many things that went wrong.

However, I now have a setup that I am completely satisfied with and feel I can trust. I got rid of the network storage devices and uninstalled all Backup software except what I had been using originally (DataSafe BackupTM). I purchased a new Seagate Expansion drive (2TB) with USB 3 capabilities, which my computer has and ran my backup to it with DataSafe Backup. The backup was intact (110GB) and complete in 2.5 hours.

I think this will be adequate as it will be in two places (my PC and my external drive). And no, I don't want to hear any horror stories about backing up or the inadequacies of what I am using. :-)


January 14, 2012, 11:22:14 PM
#31
Wow, what a thread. I'm a little late Don, but I've been using and very happy with Acronis for years. I have an incremental backup scheduled nightly that goes to a network storage box. I have the incremental backups set to stick around for 30 days and I have found that to be useful several times. Having a 30 day history of your current project files can be very handy.

No matter what though, you have to do what works for you Don.

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* January 23, 2012, 10:48:13 AM
#32
Well I'm late to the topic but I feel I must add my 02.

First, I am from the mainframe world where we would not take a step without disaster plans in place, and this requires a defined backup and restore plan.

Backup plans must address:
1) Ability to store data offsite
2) Backup with integrity and dependability
3) Backup incrementally(no need to completely backup the whole dataset every time)
3) Ability to find and restore only what is needed
4) Ability to run unattended on at least a daily basis
5) Ability to backup external datasets (Carbonite coes not do this!!)
6) Understandable user interface

One system that provides these functions and does very well is IBackup. I encourage all to take a look at it.
http://www.thetop10bestonlinebackup.com/online-backup-reviews/ibackup/review

I have used it for years with absolutely no issues.

BTW, to make sure you are not creating "write only backups" you need to go thru a selected restore process at least once a month.

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John

Neophyte user of TurboCad


* January 26, 2012, 11:55:55 AM
#33
I'm very happy with Dropbox.  It makes backup virtually invisible and effortless, yet you can get stuff back whenever you want it, particularly if you go for some of the extra-cost options.  The Dropbox acts as just another folder in your directory structure, so you can store your working files there.  But whenever you modify or create a file, it's backed up remotely without any explicit action on your part.  The main drawback is that you can only recover files, not directories, though the directories are recorded.  If you really want to retrieve directories, then you can of course compress them into a file in your Dropbox. 

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* January 30, 2012, 09:52:42 AM
#34
Can I ask you Greg, when you create an image backup of your HD does it make a copy of all the os files as well?  With W7 I have made such an image file, if I restore it will the complete W7 OS be restored to what it was then? Could you then put the image onto another HD and have a copy in case your original HD crashed?

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User since TC3 in France
Saint Helier, capital of Jersey
Monk in the 4th century AD


February 02, 2012, 11:49:52 AM
#35
Well, I guess I am late to this topic, but for its worth...

I set up a NAS on a spare computer using freenas.

All my important data files reside on the freenas.

Every now and then I copy all the files to to an external TB drive using Allways Sync.

Pretty simple setup.

Mike...


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* February 02, 2012, 12:01:05 PM
#36
Can I ask you Greg, when you create an image backup of your HD does it make a copy of all the os files as well?  With W7 I have made such an image file, if I restore it will the complete W7 OS be restored to what it was then? Could you then put the image onto another HD and have a copy in case your original HD crashed?

Sorry... missed this post.

Yes, when you create a disk image, it copies that partition sector by sector... and when you restore it, it puts it back the way it was... down to the sector. All files are restored... so you don't want to have data files on such a drive because you will lose them.

Save your image file to another hard drive... not to another partition on the same drive.... that defeats the purpose.

HTH.


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