PC Data Back Up Programs
If you are not regularly backing up your data you are in for a
real surprise one day. If you are not backing up both your data
and your programs, you are in for more than a surprise!
Data back up systems range from very functional freeware, open
source programs to purchased programs. The latter will generally
have more scheduling options.
Unfortuntely a recent trend by vendors is to offer FASTER backups
rather than BETTER. They are achieving speed at the expense of cutting
corners in what gets backed up; skipping things like the page/swap
file and the hibernation file.
Back Up Media
Most home office computer users back up onto an external back up
hard drive, tape drive or DVD's. Each have their own benefits, but
using a system that suits you and is easy to use, is more important
than being the king of back up systems. You are more likely to do
regular data back ups if it is easy.
Key Data Back Up Program Features
The key features to look for in any data back up program are:
- Incremental backup - so you dont have to copy
every file, every time. Once you have backed up your hard drive
the first time, next backup only updates new and modified files,
so it is much faster. Downside is that using incremental back
up means that should you ever need to restore, it does take longer.
- Back up scheduling - helps keep the data management
- Easy restore function - many overlook this
function. It's fine to have everything back up, but it certainly
pays to check the restore function from time to time.
- Disc mirror copy - this is a more advanced
feature found in some freeware programs and most purchased programs.
It does a complete mirror copy of your hard drive - data, programs,
.dll files, registry back up etc
- Encryption - applicable if back ups are done
over the Internet.
Check the functionality carefully. A freeware data back up program
can end up being expensive if all it is doing is copying files from
one folder to another on the same hard-drive.
Check features against the User Manual. For example Acronis True
image User Guides claim the product can make a full total sector-by-sector
backup when dealing with a file system it does not understand or
a corrupted file system. However, no configuration option to make
a sector-by-sector true image could be found in the product back
Also check that the Back Up Program does not depend upon the file
system being alive and well to tell it which sections of the hard
disk partition are used and which are free/unallocated. If your
system is working perfectly, you probably would not need a data
back up restore in the first place.
Freeware Data Back Up Programs
The following programs are freeware, with most opensource.
- Rsync - works with pretty much any platform
and does i Rsync also uses SSH for encrypted connections. Did
I mention it is free and opensource!,
- a network based data backup system that allows two replicas
of a collection of files and directories to be stored on different
hosts [or different disks on the same host], modified separately,
and then brought up to date by propagating the changes in each
replica to the other. A good one if you want to back up normal
PC files to your webserver.
- another good FTP back up program for automatically backing
up data to remote FTP servers. Configure and schedule automatic
backups with an intuitive user interface. Easy to use with even
the most advanced features accessible to both beginners and professionals.
- a fully featured program offering standard file comparison
based on the date and size, as well as optional MD5 checksum,
which will detect even the slightest modifications to files. SyncBack
also supports scheduled projects, FTP and zip compression of backups,
as well as network login, simulation runs and
more. 5 Stars on SnapFiles
- customized backup jobs to zip compatible archive files, span
across disks, delete redundant files in the backup archive and
more. Interface takes a bit of learning but is soom becomes a
very powerful tool. Beats many commercial products out there.
- Love the Drag-and-drop restore so you know precisely where files
are being restored. The disk-to-disk copy option may be used to
synchronize folders or clone Windows and create dual-boot systems.
You can also backup the registry, NTFS security settings.
A 5-Star Rating On Tucows.
Synctoy - SyncToy 1.4 for Windows Vista is available
as a free download from the Microsoft Download Center. Not getting
good reviews on this, all the normal Microsoft coding error problems
one expects with MS new releases. Wait until at least mid 2007.
Safe Backup - easy to use and has a professional
user interface. The features available in this freeware version
are more than most home users need to perform routine backup of
data. NOTE: There are problems with the 2005 version so look for
With great freeware options like this I can't see any reason one
would bother purchasing data back programs for private use. But
if you have commercial systems and want a fall back support system,
there are some excellent low cost options.
Purchased Data Back Up Programs
- Auto Back Up Manager Pro
- Double Safety
- Norton Ghost - bit of bad press on this one
with some virus vulnerabilities reported by users.
- CMS Bounceback Express - does incremental backups.
- Acronis True Image
- full hard drive back up, system disaster recovery,
drive images. But image back up does not restore if drive is not
bootable using CD. Hence if you have file system corruption, your
back up is of no value for that PC.
- Drive Image - has an option to make a full
sector-by-sector backup. So too does Image for Windows from Terabyte.
These products can backup a 4 GB partition and create a 4 GB backup
(assuming no compression). An option called "smart sector
copying" only copies used portions [sectors] of the hard
disk partition. . RECOMMENDED PRODUCT.
Web Based Data Back Up
There are some great sites out there that allow you to store files.
I use these as my away from the office back up sites.
Data Back Up Tips
- Never back up an OS when it is running - Find a program
that backs up when Windows is shut down - configure the backup
in Windows, then have the program shut down Windows, make the
backup to an external media and then reboot the OS. Acronis can
not do this. Neither can Image For Windows from Terabyte.
- Keep your OS system healthy - if there are NTFS/FAT32
problems, you can't make an image backup.
- Always test restore functionality BEFORE you need it -
if you do something wrong or your system is corrupt, you want
to fix this before your system crashes so that you can get back
in. Without a test run, you won't know if a recovery will break
things worse than they already are.
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