In last week’s online issue’s article "Separate Your Data from the Operating System For A More Effective Backup Strategy", I wrote about a happy experience recovering from a problem on my wife’s computer.
I was happy because I found that Acronis True Image Home 2009 on my wife’s computer had been updating its system backup image every week — which meant I could restore my wife’s C: drivce and only lose two day’s worth of C: activity.
Reader JDB wrote to ask:
what is advantage of storing programs on D: If you wipe C: don’t you have to re-install all your programs?
The point of the article was that my wife’s computer was configured in a way sharply different than the way Microsoft has set up for the average user. That, plus the image backup, allowed me to restore her C: drive with no apparent loss of progrram function or data, even through the backup was several days old.
Microsoft’s standard for configuration is to create one big partition on a hard drive and to call it C:.
One problem with one big C: drive is that it makes any backup quite large. Windows keeps all sorts of temporary files and updates many internal files as it goes. Any backup program that does a differential backup or incremental backup of changes, by its function, will back up all these temporary files and changes, too, in addition to the data changes we really want to back up.
The other, and bigger problem, with one big C: drive is that, if you have a severe problem such that you need to reinstall Windows, or to recover the partition from an image you’ve created with a program like Acronis True Image, you will lose all your data that you haven’t backed up yet.
So, what is advantage of storing programs on D:, whether it’s another partition on the same hard drive or on another physical hard drive?
If you wipe C:, will you have to re-install all your programs? If you reinstall Windows, the answer is yes.
If you wipe C: and reinstall an image of your C: drive, especially a recent image, that may be all that you need to do.
Most of the changes that Windows makes to its internal files are pertinent to the current running session, just since the last time you started or restarted Windows.
Most people seldomly install another program. Programs write entries in the Windows Registry, too, but they seldomly change, or change to incompatible values. Some of the most common values stored in the Windows Registry are the dimensions and location on the screen of a program’s last open window. So what if you restore to an earlier backup that has the window in a slightly different place. I’d never notice…
If you install programs to drives other than C:, you can minimize the size of the C: drive that you back up. Store your data on a different drive, too, and then you can back up those drives, and incremental or differential changes to them, with more control and probably faster, too.
When you restore an older image of C: to your boot hard drive, you’ve got the current program, the current data, and the older Windows Registry version — and should be operational immediately. That’s how it went with my wife’s PC.
Read more in this week’s online issue on the subject of separating programs and data to drives other than C:.