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Backup Strategies
Old 06-30-2007, 10:16 AM   #1
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Backup Strategies

The topic of backing up came up, and I thought I'd pass on my current system for backing up, since it's easy and cheap. This system works in part because I don't need as much stuff on my computer as I did before retiring.

Every Friday my computer reminds me to backup, and won't stop nagging me until I do it.

I burn the "My Documents" and "C:\program files\" folders to a DVD. If they don't fit (hasn't happened yet), I offload things that I don't use. The files are burned uncompressed, and I can access any of them with explorer.

I label the DVD and put it on a spindle with the others. Every few months I burn a second copy and put it in our safe deposit box at the bank.

------------------

This system lets me go back to any Friday and recover anything I've lost. If the entire system crashes, I can reinstall things without too much trouble. The DVDs cost less than ten cents each. Total time invested: about 5 minutes a week.
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Old 06-30-2007, 11:10 AM   #2
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I do not know how large your "My Documents" is but I use a FLASH/Thumb Drive of 2 GB. So far it all fits but when it does not I will get a 4 or 8 MB drive. Really fast (USB 2.0). As far as the "Program Files" directory goes, I do not bother since I have backup CD/Disks that came with the programs OR the files are readily available via the internet for no cost (AntiVirus, AdAware, etc, etc.). Thumb drives can be put in your pocket or secreted very easily at remote locations. The things are getting very cheap lately and the hassle factor is very low.
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Old 06-30-2007, 12:29 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by TromboneAl View Post
Every Friday my computer reminds me to backup, and won't stop nagging me until I do it.
I like your system but as our daughter reminds us, if it's so good at nagging then how come it can't just do it by itself?

I have a similar system but it requires me to actually get off my assets invest manual labor in making the .bkf file and then burning it to a DVD.

I have an old hard drive on top of the box with its own USB cable and power-supply connection that I could plug in for an external backup. But I don't want the external HD powered up and spinning 24/7-- only for the length of time it takes to make the backup.

What I want is a computer that backs up whatever files I've designated every Sunday morning at 2 AM and then, if absolutely necessary, reminds me that I should burn a DVD. How hard is that?
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Old 06-30-2007, 12:45 PM   #4
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Yes, that's how it should work, but the disadvantage is that you have to leave the computer on all the time, or remember to leave it on Saturday night. Also, you have to put a blank DVD in, and it doesn't take much more time to start the backup. I generally start the backup as the last thing I do on the computer on Friday morning, so I'm not sitting there while it's backing up.

If I had a better backup program than my terrible Nero app, the total investment of time would be to put a DVD in the drive and click one button.

The advantage of media that costs less that 10 cents is you never have to overwrite an old backup. This is good if the file you need existed a month ago but not a week ago.
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Old 06-30-2007, 01:19 PM   #5
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I have an old hard drive on top of the box with its own USB cable and power-supply connection that I could plug in for an external backup. But I don't want the external HD powered up and spinning 24/7-- only for the length of time it takes to make the backup.

What I want is a computer that backs up whatever files I've designated every Sunday morning at 2 AM and then, if absolutely necessary, reminds me that I should burn a DVD. How hard is that?

Many external drives will spin themselves down when not in use for a period of time. My WD external, lifebook external and apricorn drives all do.

The lifebook is pretty cool in this area. Spins itself up when you turn on the computer, spins down after a few minutes of inactivity, and shuts itself off when you turn off the computer.

DVD media is okay, but cheaper media can give you a bad burn or a burn that develops dye or media related problems later on while its sitting on the shelf. Not much of a problem if theres a movie on it, but a bit troubling if the bad spot is in the middle of a critical file.

USB/flash media are pretty reliable, but subject to static discharge, which can become cumulatively damaging.

My backup strategy is a bit ridiculous. We have a main desktop machine with everything on it. When we turn on our laptops, all the critical personal files, photos and videos is copied bidirectionally between the laptops and desktop using Second Copy...a delightful program that came free with my apricorn external. Every few weeks I back up the desktop to the lifebook, and periodically I image copy the laptops to the apricorn external. A couple of times a year my dad brings over the WD external drive I keep at his house and I image the server onto that.
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Old 06-30-2007, 01:52 PM   #6
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I have a program on all my computers at home and work that once I start the backup it shuts down the computer when done. One computer backs up to a zip drive, another to a flash drive and the rest to external usb drives. It's great for the people at work, they start it and leave, it can also be set to remind you. There is a PC version as well as the Mac one I'm using.
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Old 07-01-2007, 08:22 AM   #7
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I bought this program call Acronis Home edition which works great. You can clone your entire PC (smiliar to Norton Ghost). It takes about 15 minutes to do an entire full backup. You can also do incremental and differential backups.

I use an external USB drive to hold the images.

I can then restore the entire hard disk from the backup.
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Old 07-01-2007, 09:33 AM   #8
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I burn the "My Documents" and "C:\program files\" folders to a DVD. If they don't fit (hasn't happened yet), I offload things that I don't use. The files are burned uncompressed, and I can access any of them with explorer.

If the entire system crashes, I can reinstall things without too much trouble. The DVDs cost less than ten cents each. Total time invested: about 5 minutes a week.
Help me out here. I've been backing up the My Documents file, but not the C:\program files\. I'm not sure what's in there, is it the program files themselves, or files created by the programs? If my system crashes, I assumed I would have to reinstall all the original programs. Would backing up C:\program files\ keep me from reinstalling some programs, or what is the benefit?

Oh and I just checked, my C:\program files\ is 5.7 gigs. How much does a DVD hold, been thinking of buying a burner (yeah I know I'm old tech)
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Old 07-01-2007, 09:38 AM   #9
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I dont think you'd have a lot of luck backing up your program files directory and restoring it. A lot of stuff is in different places, such as settings directories for each user, registry items, startup items, etc.

I think you've got two reasonable working strategies: an image backup of the whole thing, or sequestering personal data to a limited number of directories and backing that up. The latter would require reinstalling the OS and applications and then your data.

With my current 8Mb/s broadband, i'm not entirely opposed to moving my personal data to a google server somewhere and using their application set. Then I could use any computer and not worry about backing them up. Until some shmoe at google blows up the servers and they dont have a backup

With compression, a single layer dvd should hold around 5GB. A dual layer dvd up to twice that.
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Old 07-01-2007, 09:53 AM   #10
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Once a year, at the beginning of hurricane season, I copy some files from my desktop computer onto CD's. I grab my backup CD's and my laptop on my way out the door during evacuations, and leave the desktop computer.

I have lost SO many computers over the past 30 years or so. I think the worst was one that I lost in 1984 due to hard drive failure. I was a basket case after that. Aside from the personal stuff, it had irreplaceable lab reports on it. In those days, it was just devastating to me. But I guess that over the years I got hardened to the idea and I would take it for granted that I need to burn a CD for anything irreplaceable.

Now, losing files doesn't bother me nearly as much as the thought of buying software or hardware for automatic backup purposes. Is that attitude too much in the LBYM direction?

Besides, if a file wasn't important enough for me to copy it to CD a year ago, it probably isn't all that important to me now.
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Old 07-01-2007, 10:06 AM   #11
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Besides, if a file wasn't important enough for me to copy it to CD a year ago, it probably isn't all that important to me now.
Heck, I have boxes of 3.5" diskette backup files. This is from the time when we used DS/DDs because the HDs were "way too expensive".

My spouse has backups tucked away in her desk somewhere. She made them in the 1980s on 5.25" floppies but she knows I'll tease her if I see them. I don't know what she plans to do with them-- we haven't had one of those drives in the house since our 14-year-old daughter was born. We'd probably have to go to the Smithsonian to bring up the data-- for her sake I sure hope they have a copy of WordPerfect 4.1 for DOS.

People back up programs because they bought the computer with the software pre-installed and no CD/DVD backups were provided. Others do it to preserve the user settings that they've tweaked over the years, but I don't think that backing up just the Program Files directory will preserve those settings-- it would have to be an image of the entire drive.
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Old 07-01-2007, 10:11 AM   #12
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Help me out here. I've been backing up the My Documents file, but not the C:\program files\. I'm not sure what's in there, is it the program files themselves, or files created by the programs? If my system crashes, I assumed I would have to reinstall all the original programs. Would backing up C:\program files\ keep me from reinstalling some programs, or what is the benefit?
The others are right that it doesn't help much, in that you have to reinstall anyway. I do it because

1. Many older applications keep your data in a subfolder of the \program files\app\ folder. They're not supposed to, but they do.

2. Some apps keep your settings in that folder tree (I found 112 .ini files in my \program files tree).

3. It gives you an up-to-date list of all the apps you have installed.
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Old 07-01-2007, 10:12 AM   #13
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Heck, I have boxes of 3.5" diskette backup files. This is from the time when we used DS/DDs because the HDs were "way too expensive".

My spouse has backups tucked away in her desk somewhere. She made them in the 1980s on 5.25" floppies but she knows I'll tease her if I see them. I don't know what she plans to do with them-- we haven't had one of those drives in the house since our 14-year-old daughter was born. We'd probably have to go to the Smithsonian to bring up the data-- for her sake I sure hope they have a copy of WordPerfect 4.1 for DOS.

People back up programs because they bought the computer with the software pre-installed and no CD/DVD backups were provided. Others do it to preserve the user settings that they've tweaked over the years, but I don't think that backing up just the Program Files directory will preserve those settings-- it would have to be an image of the entire drive.
Personally, I think it's kind of fun to customize all those settings when I'm breaking in a new computer! Guess it's kind of a power trip for me.
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Old 07-01-2007, 11:23 AM   #14
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this reminds me to throw away all those old diskettes taking up space...I even have old tape cassettes from my Radio Shack TRS-80 deluxe tape deck storage device from 1979....that was back when 2400 baud transmission at work was the standard...we started to really spend the bucks when we went to 4800 and then your kidding me! 9600!... used to have an elaborate backup system at work where we would do automatic backups of the system 34/36/38s every night to 8" diskettes put em in locked fire proof canisters have them picked up a storage company which hauled them to some disaster protected shelter in a mountain...today thinking about backing up my pcs gives me a headache so I don't bother...
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Old 07-01-2007, 11:43 AM   #15
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A Trash-80, now you're making me nostalgic. My first computer was the Atari 400 with the iPhone type keyboard.
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Old 07-01-2007, 12:03 PM   #16
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A Trash-80, now you're making me nostalgic. My first computer was the Atari 400 with the iPhone type keyboard.
Let's take a step back to a time when computers were....well...not like they are today..



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Old 07-01-2007, 12:10 PM   #17
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My first one...

Yes, those are paper tapes. You got a backup AND confetti...

Computers are nowhere near as festive anymore.
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Old 07-01-2007, 12:12 PM   #18
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Commodore Pet 2001 with the "Chiclet" keyboard:

Commodore PET 2001

Commodore PET - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Even had a subscription to Cursor magazine.

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Old 07-01-2007, 12:19 PM   #19
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My first one...

Yes, those are paper tapes. You got a backup AND confetti...

Computers are nowhere near as festive anymore.
ooohhh Digital....Didn't realize you were that old. Were you cranking out Assembler or Fortran code for that sucker..
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Old 07-01-2007, 12:26 PM   #20
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I'm not. I think I was around 14 when I picked that up. Macro-8 and PAL were about all that old slug could handle...it didnt have much memory and all I had for I/O for a while was the front panel. Later I snagged an ASR-33 teletype with the paper tape reader.

When I got a bigger 8/E and later an 11/40, I did some stuff in Focal, Macrel, Fortran, Basic Plus, and everyones favorite...Dibol.
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