When we think of security software, we usually think of antivirus, firewall, antispyware and antispam software. But, what other kind of software is security software? Backup software, of course.
We need to make backup copies of our important data. That data may be financial, such as your checkbook in Quicken, or your spreadsheet tracking your investments. Or, it may be personal, non-financial data such as digital family photos.
What if your hard drive won’t start one day? What will you lose? What if your computer is stolen (let’s ignore, for now, whether you should encrypt data on your hard drive to protect it from others — let’s just think about the inconvenience and loss to us!)?
There are two basic types of backups you should do.
You need to regularly back up your individual data files to another computer, to an external hard drive, or even to an online repository (but realize, if you have to rebuild the data on your computer, it may have to be downloaded for days and days). An external hard drive is the best choice if you don’t have a home network where you could copy to another computer.
If you have a home network, use Karen’s Replicator (free for personal, non-business use) to back up the files that change. I have it scheduled to copy my data files every evening from my notebook to another computer at my home. You should also get an external hard drive (or two, so you can alternate them) and make occasional backup copies to it. Preferably store it at a relative’s house or your safe deposit box.
If you don’t have a home network, get an external hard drive (or two, so you can alternate them) and make regularly scheduled backup copies to it. Use Karen’s Replicator (free for personal, non-business use) to back up the files that change to your external drive. Preferably, store one external drive at a relative’s house or your safe deposit box, so that if the worst happens, you haven’t lost irreplaceable photos and other information.
The other type of backup is an image backup. This gives the ultimate in quick restore capability. Just plug in the external drive, boot the cdrom, and restore the image back to your hard drive. I use Acronis True Image Home 2009 to make backups across my network every three days. Once a month, I make a full backup image. Every three days, it makes an incremental backup — copying only those files that have changed.
Acronis has just released their new version Acronis True Image Home 2010. In addition to the functionality of v2009, it adds Acronis Online Backup™, Acronis Nonstop Backup™, support for Windows 7, and virtual hard disk support.
I haven’t tried it yet, but expect to upgrade when I upgrade to Windows 7 in late October. I’m not sure what support is added, as everything I’ve tried within the Windows 7 Release Candidate has worked.
Acronis True Image Home 2009 (and later) allow you to recover individual files and folders from the image files, so you don’t have to restore everything. The nice thing about making my backup across the network is that I can restore individual files across the network from those images. Sometimes that’s the easiest thing to do.
Why Replicator and Acronis True Image Home, if we can restore individual files from both?
Replicator is designed for one-way synchronizing of files. In other words, it copies changed files from the designated source location to the designated target location. It will have the latest version that Replicator backed up — but not any earlier ones, unless you use some of its more unusual settings.
With Acronis True Image, we name the image backups. That means that can have multiple versions of the files to choose among. We can restore one that’s months old, if we like. We’re not restricted to restoring just the latest version.