Reader Jack wrote to ask:
You often write about imaging a system, but I do not see an explanation as to where Acronis is backing up to? Do I need an external drive?
Certainly, backing up to the C: drive, even if partitioned would be a waste if the computer dies.
You’re absolutely right, Jack, you need to save any hard drive backup image to another hard drive or external hard drive, no matter what image backup program you use.
Not only would there be the issue of the C: drive failing if you backed up your C: drive to your C: drive (if you could even do that). Fortunately, even if the program wasn’t smart enough to prevent that, I think Windows is. It would create a recursive problem, C: backing up to C:, the new image getting backed up to C: as you wrote it, etc.
If you have your physical hard drive partitioned into multiple partitions, and each partition set up as a drive in Windows (example, 2 partitions, set up as C: and D:), you could use Acronis True Image Home 2011 (and earlier versions) to back up your C: drive to your D:.
If you choose to do that, you should only do that for ease of access, and recognize that it will not help you if the physical hard drive fails. Larry Braud, a friend of mine from our local computer club, said something that I’ll probably always remember: "There are two types of hard drives. Those that have failed and those that have not failed yet."
He’s right, too. I just had a Seagate 1TB drive fail this week. Fortunately, I was able to recover most of the data. It should still be under warranty, but that’s not the real problem. The expense is one thing; the data loss would be more aggravating.
In answer to your question about where to save your backup images, I recommend that you use and external drive — and that you unplug and disconnect the external drive except when you don’t need to access it. An external hard drive that stays turned on and connected is just another drive — it’s not an effective backup. Putting it elsewhere (e.g., a closet) can help prevent you from having a brain-freeze problem.
Acronis True Image Home 2011, the version that was just released on Tuesday this week, supports the following storage media according to their web site: hard disk drives; networked storage devices; FTP servers; CD-R/RW, DVD-R/RW, DVD+R/RW, BD-R; ZIP®, Jaz® and other removable media; and PATA (IDE), SATA, SCSI, SAS, IEEE1394 (Firewire), USB1/2.0/3.0 drives. The web site has notes about limited support for RAID and Windows Dynamic Disks.
Read my review of Acronis True Image Home 2011 in this week’s online issue.
Personally, my backup routine works like this:
- Every night, changed data files on my desktop get copied to another computer on my home network. For this, I use Karen’s Replicator (free for personal use, inexpensive license for business use).
- I use Acronis True Image Home 2011 (as of this week) to make backup images.
- I have a couple image versions of my new desktop backed up onto a second partition on the same hard drive in my main computer (my new desktop), just as a convenience.
- My normal incremental backup, 3 times a week, goes across my home network to another computer.
- Then, about once a month, I make a full backup onto an external hard drive.