Computer Backup Terminology

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Steve CDN

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When performing a backup of data, what is the difference between differential backup and incremental backup?

Is it sufficient to back up data to a second internal hard drive or should the backup data be burned to a CD?

If CD's are used, how does one manage the collection of CD's that would accumulate over time, assuming backups are made every few days, or weekly?
 

Ned

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A differential backup contains all files that have changed since the last FULL backup.  An incremental backup stores all files that have changed since the last backup.  The incremental will be smaller but if you have to restore, you will need to restore the last full backup, then all of the subsequent incremental backups.  With a differential backup, a restore consists of the last full backup followed by the last differential backup.

Backing up the current very large disk drives to CD can be a problem.  A CD will hold at most 700MB of data and backing up a 30+GB hard drive to CD will require multiple CDs and most people won't want to bother.  The best method of backing up today is to use external hard drives, more than 1, and keep one off premises at all times.

As for frequency of backup, do it when you would be uncomfortable redoing everything you have done since the last backup.

CDs can be used for backing up selected files, such as collections of digital images, but these are more archival copies than system backups.  Hard drives are so cheap, it doesn't pay to use anything other than external drives for this important function.
 

Steve CDN

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Thanks Ned for explaining the the terms.

I currently backup all my data files,  which I consolidate in one Folder with subfolders dedicated to each application.  Photos and images are stored separately in the same manner.  To date the data fits on a CD, and images on several CD's.  In addition I recently backed up my same data to a second internal HD which I just installed.

To date I have not backed up the entire hard drive containing the OS (Win XP Home) nor applications since I always carry all installation disks in a safe location.  Also I keep all installation files of downloaded applications and/or updates on an external drive.

Please comment on the effectiveness of my present method in the event of a catastrophic HD failure.

Your point about inexpensive external HD's is well taken and would be an option I would consider...adding a second external HD to the one I currently own.
 

Karl

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Steve,
Without a complete backup, restoring your programs and data files would be a tough job. Reinstalling to O.S. wipes out all the program and data links in the indexes and registry, which would force you to reinstall most, if not all of your programs. I'm sure Ned will agree, and he can tell you about additional steps that may be necessary. Don't wait until you get bitten. I use Acronis True Image, and it's saved my bacon more than once.
 

Ned

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The effort you will put into a backup procedure is inversely proportional to the amount of work to recover from a complete and total loss of the computer.  I agree with everything Karl said, a fresh install of the OS will require reinstalling all applications and of course, you will have lost all of your application and system customizations.  An image backup of the system drive will speed up the recovery process tremendously.  That's why I have always recommended that the OS reside by itself on its own partition with no applications on that partition.  Take an image backup of that one occasionally and keep good backups of the other partitions (not necessarily image backups) and you can be back up and running in hours even with a completely new computer.
 

Steve CDN

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I've learned some new considerations in connection with backup I was not aware of before.

If the OS resides on its own partition, how much added space should be allocated to that partition for Windows XP Home to operate....if I understand correctly Windows needs space for its own functioning and creation of temporary files etc. 

This discussion is teaching me things I didn't even know to ask, so thank you for offering the additional info.

 

Steve CDN

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Good advice Ron!  It's what I say at our local computer discussion group as well. 

I have heard  but not from a really good reliable source, that the new 7200 rpm hard drives are more vulnerable becaus eof the high spped they rotate.  Would you be able to comment on that assertion?
 

Ron

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Steve,

I haven't any experience with the 7200RPM drives but I would guess it more speculation than fact regarding their vulnerability.
 

Tom

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Ned

Is it possible to create a second partition on a drive that already has the OS, some apps, and data on it?
 

Ned

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Steve said:
If the OS resides on its own partition, how much added space should be allocated to that partition for Windows XP Home to operate....if I understand correctly Windows needs space for its own functioning and creation of temporary files etc.?

I would allocate 4GB for Windows XP, and put all of the temporary files, My Documents, swap file, etc. on a different partition.  All of these can be relocated through Windows itself.  I have one partition just for My Documents, for example, and another parition on a drive separate from the system drive for the swap file and all temporary files (both the \temp and the temporary internet files).  Even the user profiles can be relocated to another partition, although I haven't done that as yet as those directories don't normally get that large.
 

Ned

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Tom said:
Is it possible to create a second partition on a drive that already has the OS, some apps, and data on it?

Yes, you will need a tool like Partition Magic to create additional partitions (and shrink the existing one(s) if necessary) without losing the information already there.  However, any applications will need to be uninstalled from the original single partition and reinstalled to the new one if that's what you want to do.  I have used Partition Magic for years, going back to the original OS/2 version, to resize, move, and create partitions without ever losing a bit of data.  There are other similar programs that will work as well, but I have no experience with them.
 

Bob Buchanan

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Ned:

Ned said:
... and keep one off premises at all times.

Am curious, where is "off premises" for a full timer? Am looking into compressing, then uploading to my web server, but the upload via my dish would take forever.

Any backup software that you like better than Windows backup? Am using the vanilla version of Bounceback that came with my last hard drive purchase. I currently have it set to do backups of my important folders at 3:00 AM each morning.  I see the upgrade will backup only files that have changed plus will do a file/folder synchronization as well.

I use Norton Ghost for an image backup of my OS partition -- do you hava a better suggestion? Is there anyway to be able to just backup the OS partition and then boot from that backup in case of primary hard drive failure vs. having to work from a boot diskette. Bounce back will allow Mac users to do that, but not PC users.

Thanks . . .
 

Ned

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Off premises for me is one backup hard drive in the car and critical files backed up to a web server.

I don't use Windows backup but use Acronis True Image to make image backups of all my partitions to the removable hard drives.  I swap the drives once a week.  In the event of a boot drive failure, I could restore from the image files to a new drive and be back up in short order.  True Image creates a Linux bootable CD with all the necessary programs to do the image restores.
 

John From Detroit

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Same and same here,  I purchases True Image just before the hard drive in this laptop when to hard drive heaven. Thankfully about the only thing I losw was my spot in some newgroups, Nothing important at all

Then I had a few "Issues" with some flakey software and drivers... Again, True Image was the only fix

Today... Well, I backed up a few days ago, Haven't needed it yet, but I will do another backup soon cause Windows updater went off and told me of an update
 

John From Detroit

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Tom said:
Ned

Is it possible to create a second partition on a drive that already has the OS, some apps, and data on it?

A bit like the Hard Drive in this laptop (last backup was ... Last midnight)

It has not failed........................YET!

(The one it replaced back about mar-1 did however)
 

koos

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Steve said:
Is it sufficient to back up data to a second internal hard drive or should the backup data be burned to a CD?

It's "better" to make backups to a medium that can be removed from the computer. Should the computer be stolen or destroyed in a fire, you'll still have your data (and your data can be worth a lot, especially if you use the computer for work).

On the choice of making backups of everything or just of documents: You will recover faster with a full backup.. but your backups will be a lot bigger. If you don't mind spending the time re-installing your OS and your applications, just having a backup of your data can be enough.

Full-timers will have interesting choices here, with no 'off-site' location for backups.
 

Karl

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Koos,

Off site can mean a lot of things. It can be something as simple as a few cd's or a removeable h.d. stored in a fireproof safe in the coach, in the toad, or on a server in cyberspace. The key ingredient here is to make a duplicate of your important data/programs on something other than your system h.d. and get it away from the main computer. Ned's use of a removeable h.d.  and good backup software (Acronis True Image) is ideal for him because it makes it easy to follow a strict regimen, but the same can be accomplished with the other methods - as long as you remember to do it religiously.
 

John From Detroit

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kkolbus said:
Koos,

Off site can mean a lot of things. It can be something as simple as a few cd's or a removeable h.d. stored in a fireproof safe in the coach, in the toad, or on a server in cyberspace. The key ingredient here is to make a duplicate of your important data/programs on something other than your system h.d. and get it away from the main computer. Ned's use of a removeable h.d.  and good backup software (Acronis True Image) is ideal for him because it makes it easy to follow a strict regimen, but the same can be accomplished with the other methods - as long as you remember to do it religiously.

In days of old when folks were bold and the Internet just invented  (A favorite form for a first line for me, sometimes I can even get 2 lines)

My mother worked as the head of accounting for a 2-million dollar a year automotive supplier.

her computer had 3 levels of backup.. Every day she backed up important files, which went in her desk drawer on floppies

Every week she did a full backup which went in the fireproof safe in the office

Every month she did a full backup which went in the locked data cabnet in the hallway in her house some 30 miles away

The theory was:

Random failure may get the "Live" but likely won't damage the desk drawer, same for lightning strikes and power surges
Theives may take the computer and desk drawer but likely won't blow the vault, same for fire

Nothing short of a thermo nucular blast will get the computer and all it's backups including the one 30 miles distance and if that happens... She would not care much about restoring the data  (Just how much of a friend St. Peter was)

That was an interesting computer.  I never saw it, Never touched it, Never saw one of it's make and model (though I had seen a few of the same make in stores) and still, when it broke I properly diagnosed it and though I did not personally repair it I was able to give my mother specific instructions for the service tech... Turns out I was 100% right too.

I just remembered a feature my mother had told me about.... She had forgotten it and did not even know the computer was broke,  But I remembered the feature, was able to remind her of it and tell her what part needed replacement (Hibranation/backup battery, the computer was designed like a laptop [even though it was a desk top] in that if it lost power from the mains it was supposed to switch to a battery and write everything to a hibranation file, like a laptop low on battery does.  Then when power is restored pick up where it left off... The $60.00 battery was dead)
 
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