When was the last time you backed up?

My buddy Dwight Silverman has a very nice list up of PC maintenance tasks that Americans can do over the four-day Thanksgiving holiday.

#3 is the most important one on the list, in my opinion. Back up your data! Given the low cost of DVD writers, USB flash drives, and portable hard disks, there’s really no excuse for not having a recent backup.

If you use Windows Vista, try the built-in backup solutions, which work very well. I particularly like the Complete PC Backup option in Vista Business and Ultimate. One of the first things I do when I get a new PC is to save a Complete PC Backup image of the system with all patches, drivers, and apps updated. If you do that using a DVD writer, it usually only takes two or three disks to save a copy that you can restore in the case of an emergency. You can read all about it in this entry from my 10 Top Vista Tweaks article last summer:

Set up a smart, automated backup system

After you read that introduction, you can follow along with the step-by-step instructions.

Enjoy the holiday, everyone.

13 thoughts on “When was the last time you backed up?

  1. I had to reinstall windows a fortnight ago. As a result I backed everything up. The week later my raptor hard disk failed. I lost almost nothing. Sometimes windows is a blessing in disguise!!

    I store all my mail on my IMAP server that is backed up daily. The other stuff is source controlled and my music is on my iPhone! I just need to sort out photos now since you can’t really restore photos from flickr! I guess I could write a script though!

  2. I do most of my back ups on DVD, i have another hard drive where i store things like software and documents…….

    However, i dont fully trust both DVD and a hard disk back up method, im paranoid, its like, what if a drive fails and secondly a DVD can get scratched or worse get a bad burn.

    I guess im always safe as i save both on DVD and a hard drive.

    Another cool back up is to store it online, I like the SkyDrive from Microsoft, thats if you dont have major back ups, some offer more space at a fee but with large space. The worse pain is if the company go bust and you lose all your back ups uploaded online. It also comes with privacy issues, you would not know if a company can snoop on your files illegally. So, reading that long fine print might be worth it.,

    But if you do back ups, i suggest you lock the hard drive and a DVD with a password, even if you upload your back up stuff online.

    Even my work flash drive are encrypted with a strong password.

    I dont know much about American Thanksgiving, but i hope you guys enjoy it.

    I think thanksgiving should be everyday, where people can help their less fortunate human beings and care for animals.

    America is a great country and its sad to see the American economy struggling.

    In fact its even harder for us to buy American products, things like PCs and software have gone up here and at times doubled on its price.

    Its time for Obama to be tested if he can turn the economy around.

    Happy thanksgiving.

  3. I use LazyMirror to backup my Documents folder every boot. It has an archival feature, giving me generations of backup. I also use MS FolderShare to dupe my most precious folders across multiple systems.

    The thing I don’t like about Complete PC or Vista’s file backup is that files end up in an inscrutable folder structure (that Vista tries to keep you out of). You have to use the backup tool to restore. Bah. I can use Windows Explorer to retrieve backups made by LazyMirror and FolderShare. peace, mjh

  4. Mark, the Complete PC backups are in a VHD format, and if you use the VHD mounter you can view them as a separate drive. Pretty easy. The file backups are in Zip files with a structure that is all its own, so yeah, in that case you have to use their restore tools. However, I believe it does support search, which makes it pretty easy to find something without navigating.

  5. Ed- Is vhdmount.exe available in any way other than as part of Virtual Server? (It’s hard to beat the convenience of Explorer.) peace, mjh

  6. Why Microsoft doesn’t offer the same backup features on -all- of their Vista editions is beyond me. Are some people’s data less important than others?

    Sure, Robocopy is available on every Vista edition. But watch the average user’s eyes glaze over when you try and explain to them how to use it. The “Robocopy /?” command offers a bewildering list of arguments that is too daunting to most people. How come Microsoft doesn’t cobble up a easy to use GUI for Robocopy?

  7. I backup weekly using Vista’s built in backup and restore center. It works, it saved us a huge hassle when restoring my daughters computer after she got the thing hopelessly infected.
    I use Acronis for imaging my systems periodically, it’s frequently on sale for half the normal price and it works great.
    I hope Windows 7 ships with a all the backup capabilities now only available on Vista Ultimate, in fact I hope they just ship one home and one business version and be done with it.

  8. Two laptops and a workstation all backed up last night thanks to Windows Home Server.

    The only thing I am missing now is an offsite copy.

  9. ED I just did a Complete PC Backup in Vista ultimate is it ok to clean install Windows Vista in my computer now then use the Complete PC Backup that i made to restore all the drivers and software. Basically i want to bybass the activation because it’s going to be my 3rd activation, I’m afraid that it will fail to activate and of course to avoid the hassle of downloading all the drivers.

  10. Sorry, TJ, but that strategy won’t work. You’ll still need to activate, although it should be automatic if it’s on the same hardware as before. And you won’t be able to reinstall the drivers from a backup that way.

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