Subscriber and friend Don wrote to ask about image backup software. In this case, "image" does not mean photos and pictures; it means that the hard drive is backed up as a single image that can be restored. In effect, we have the ability to create our own Recovery DVD’s with all of our installed programs and our data already included!
Terry….As you may recall a few weeks ago I had a major meltdown on my computer with the hard drive crashing. Not being an astute computer/files manager I did not have an adequate backup plan to prevent the pain of getting back to my normal operation.
Friends at work are recommending an external hard drive and ghost software to automatic keep up with updates as time goes on. In the event of a crash…the thought is to merely fix your computer and reload with the external hard drive contents.
Does this work? reasonable in pricing? Where do you get this? Do you have a recommendation for any such combination?
Yes. That’s what I do, using Acronis True Image, except only occasionally do I back up directly to an external drive.
Acronis True Image will enable you to back up your entire hard drive, back up specific partitions (if you have it split into multiple partitions), and even create image backups that include only the files that have been changed.
Of course, an image backup utility is only an emergency tool, if it forces you to rewrite the entire hard drive if you need to restore something. Fortunately, True Image lets us restore individual files from the backup images without having to restore anything else.
Acronis True Image comes with a boot-cd-creator that you can use to make a bootable CD. With it, you can boot the computer and then restore from the backup.
My usual image backups, including both full backups and incremental of the files that have changed, are done across my home network. I almost always have multiple partitions on my hard drives, so I usually back up individual partitions.
There’s one important thing to know if you choose to back up individual partitions and not the entire hard drive. If you’re reinstalling the image to the same physical hard drive, that’s no problem. But, say your hard drive failed and you’re trying to installl to a brand new hard drive…
If you did not back up the entire hard drive, the imaging software that you used did not back up the boot sectors of the hard drive! You will have to re-create them.
That’s easy with Windows XP — boot your Windows XP CD, select "Repair" which will drop you to a command line interface. Use the command: "fixboot /mbr" (without the quotes) to fix the Windows Master Boot Record. The computer should be bootable now.