I used to use image backups routinely. However, when drives got larger (and when I had so much data on my notebook that I couldn’t back up to its drive’s other partition), and when I decided that Drive Image no longer met my needs, I began to use Karen’s Replicator to do all my backups.
Of course, Karen’s Replicator is a file backup system. It is designed to compare individual files on the source and destination drives (or folders), and then to copy a newer file to the destination.
As I discovered (I knew it in my mind, but not in my soul), Replicator copies if the source file is not at the destination. Rename the file? Now, you get the renamed one copied, too, in addition to the original. Rename a folder, ditto. Move a folder into another folder, ditto.
Replicator offers the option to “replicate file and folder deletions” which would solve this, but in barely a week of starting to use Replicator, I learned that this is a bad choice for most people. Replicator even warns against using it. Why? If you accidentally delete a file, then Replicator runs — and deletes your backup, too!
When I rename files, rename folders or rearrange folders, as far as Replicator is concerned, these become new files. There lies the problem that I’ve had to face.
Why would I rename files or folders? Answer: For efficiency in finding data. Here’s the example: when I originally started working with Excel on my computer, I had one folder for Excel files. But, as I began to use it more and more, I started creating additional folders to split investment data from unrelated spreadsheets.
So, the first problem that I ran into, and that I ran into over and over, was that the file backups tended to fill up my destination drive, which was on a computer across my home network.
My recent experience, reinstalling Windows and then copying files to my reinstalled system, has shown me that this duplication of files (via name changes and directory changes) becomes a real pain when I copy everything back to my notebook.
By the way, a couple of advantages of Replicator over copying with Windows Explorer are that (1) Replicator is a lot faster at copying than is Windows Explorer, and (2) Replicator will log problems instead of immediately exiting with no indication of what went wrong.
Now, my challenge is to purge the duplicates from the notebook.
For the future, I’ll continue to use Replicator for file backups. I think Incremental and Differential backups of whole partitions are a pain for restoring (or even finding) the latest versions of individual files, while multiple whole partition images will fill a drive quickly. I played that game during the tape backup days. It might be better now, but maybe not.
I haven’t gotten into True Image’s detailed capabilities, yet, so it may very well keep a catalog on the drive showing all the backed up files and which image contains which version of the files. If it doesn’t have this feature, this would be a very logical improvement.
I’ll probably set my notebook to do a True Image backup nightly — and then, the few nights I don’t shut down, it will make the image automatically.