Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Backup’

How to image a disk or partition for free, using EaseUS ToDo Backup?

October 6th, 2011 No comments

 

This post helps you create a disk image of a drive or partition using the free ToDo Backup. To view the post on how to install ToDo Backup, click here.

1. Start ToDo Backup from the Windows Start Menu or from the ToDo Backup icon created on the Desktop. The following window would be displayed.

ToDo_Backup_Image_1

2. Select or click the Backup tab and then click the ‘Disk and partition backup’.

ToDo_Backup_Image_2 

3. The following window appears with a default name and description of the backup task, you’re about to perform. Change the name and description of the task so that it would help you remember what you backed up and what are the contents etc., as shown below, and then click ‘Next’.

ToDo_Backup_Image_3

4. ToDo Backup asks you to select one or more drives or partitions to backup. Select the ones you wish to backup and click ‘Next’.

ToDo_Backup_Image_4

5. ToDo Backup asks you to select the destination drive or partition where you want to save your backup. Select it from the list of available drives and partitions and click ‘Next’.

ToDo_Backup_Image_5   ToDo_Backup_Image_6

6. You see the below shown window, showing the schedule settings. Click ‘Next’ to accept the default setting for backing up now.

ToDo_Backup_Image_7

7. ToDo Backup shows the summary of the backup task it’s about to perform. Click the button labeled ‘Proceed’.

ToDo_Backup_Image_8 

 8. You can see the backup task progress. When it’s finished, click ‘Finish’. The time it takes for the backup depends on the size of the drive or partition and the type of backup, i.e., full, incremental, differential, etc. To know more about what these backup types are and what are the differences between them, view this post.

ToDo_Backup_Image_9 ToDo_Backup_Image_10

 9. When the backup is done, just click ‘Finish’. That’s all. You’ve backed up your disk partition. Now, you can take incremental or differential backups of the same drive or partition, whenever you want or you can schedule ToDo Backup to backup automatically after the time you specify.

You’ve just saved yourself a lot of headache and time it could take if your operating system got corrupted, or your hard drive went bad or your system got infected with a deadly virus or you had to reinstall Windows and software programs for any reason.

Now, whenever you want to restore the backup, it’s a simple click and go process which would only take minutes, compared to many hours and days it could take to installing Windows, software programs and doing all the configuration and personalization for all of them.

An overview of disk imaging programs

September 27th, 2011 No comments

You may never have used or even heard about any disk imaging programs, but does that mean you shouldn’t know about it? Probably not. Knowing how to use one could save you lots of time. Also, you may never need to re-install Windows and software programs, tweak/configure your program settings, and also restore your data, if you use such a program.

Even if a catastrophe doesn’t strike, there may be some kind of hardware failure like hard drive failure or the system not booting due to some human error. Whatever it is, you don’t want to spend days to reinstall Windows, software and then configuring them, do you? This is why you need a drive-imaging program that backs up your complete system—including all your data and applications—and can restore it all in minutes.

The usual backup programs just backup files and folders, but drive imaging programs do a lot more than that – they backup everything on your drive partition as it is, so that when you restore the whole partition, it’s also able to boot normally (in case of the system or Windows’ partition). And all of this is done in minutes. An ordinary backup program makes copies of your files. On the other hand, a drive imaging program makes a byte-by-byte duplicate copy of your whole hard drive (or one or more partitions, depending on your hard drive structure and the partitions you choose to backup), maintaining the identical data structure.

Even if your drive fails physically, if you have an image backup, you can just put in another hard drive and restore to that drive or partition from your backups. In a matter of minutes, you’d have your system up and running like as if nothing had happened! You can also restore in situations like when your system becomes unstable due to some software program or malware that you installed. It’s much better in cases where Windows System Restore fails to restore the system.

Of course, you could achieve the same result by reinstalling Windows and all your drivers and applications—if you can find them again. And then you could use a conventional backup program to restore your data. But that process would likely take a day or two, if you’re lucky, and your system still won’t have all the tweaks and customizations that make it your own.

It’s useful to have a drive imaging program even if your hard drive never failed. You could also use the program to clone a single system to multiple computers. Some programs even allow you to transfer the image of your current system to other computers having different hardware, without installing Windows – something that’s not possible when you upgrade to a new system.

Many imaging programs of today can run in the back, and you can keep running your other programs and working normally. They can even create incremental and differential backups, which just store the changed files. This speeds up the time it takes to do the daily backup to a great extent.

If your system or the hard drive fails, you can even boot the system using a previously created emergency disc to restore it from the backup image.

Even if your system is running fine, such programs can help you by getting back an older version of any file. You can just mount the backup image, which looks like a drive letter in Windows explorer, and then extract the file you want.

To know how to install and configure the free great backup program from EaseUS, read this post.

How to Restore from a Backup made by Cobian Backup?

December 4th, 2010 No comments

In the other posts, you saw how to install, configure and backup your files using Cobian Backup. Here, you’ll see how to restore the already backed up files, whenever you need them.

1. If you don’t remember the destination or target folder on your backup device, open Cobian backup by double-clicking its icon in the system tray. Then, click the “Files” settings in the left-hand pane. Whatever destination you selected when you configured Cobian for the first time, can be seen under the Destination heading.

Cobian_Backup1

2. Now, open up My Computer or Windows Explorer and go to this folder. You may have to connect your backup device to the computer if it’s not already connected. You may see something like the following screen. There’s a list of all the backed up files in zip format. Some of the backups are Full and others are Differential as mentioned in parenthesis along with each backup.

Cobian_Backup2

3. Since we backed up using the Differential type of backup, when restoring, we’ll have to restore the last Full backup plus the last Differential backup. Since the backup names above include the date and time of backup, we can easily select the two backup files needed for restoring the latest backup. You may copy these two files to a temporary folder on your hard drive.

Cobian_Backup3

4. Now, extract or unzip both the zip files. You can do this one by one, so you’d know which folders were extracted by which zip file.

Cobian_Backup4

5. In this case, My Documents was extracted from the Full Backup and the other three folders were extracted from the Differential Backup zip file.

Cobian_Backup5

6. Now, you have to move the folders created by the differential backup, into the folder created by the full backup. Cut the last three folders.

Cobian_Backup6

7. Then, paste them into the My Documents folder.

Cobian_Backup7

8. Since we are overwriting some of the files of the Full Backup, with the ones in the Differential Backup, it’s okay to say Yes or Yes to all, when Windows asks if you want to replace the existing files.

Cobian_Backup8

9. Now, the My Documents folder contains the latest restored files. Remember that this is within a temporary folder, so you should move all these files and folders to the folder you want them in.

Cobian_Backup9

10. That’s it. You are done with the restore. This is simpler than it seems because of all these steps. Once you try it, the next time you can do it much faster, without much thinking.

 

If you want to know all about backups, click here.

If you want help in installing Cobian Backup, click here.

If you want to know how to configure Cobian for local backup, click here.

If you want to know how to configure Cobian for online / FTP backup, click here.

All About Backups

November 22nd, 2010 1 comment

What is a Backup?

A backup is a copy of your data, which can later be restored when the original data is lost or corrupted for any reason.

Why to Backup?

Everyone has experienced data loss at one time or the other. When data is lost,  you may be in need of some important files from that data. If you compare the time and money that goes into trying to get the data back, to spending a little time regularly to backup your data, you’ll start backing up your data too. Just a little time spent regularly for backing up, pays off when you lose data.

One of the reasons why people don’t backup is that they think nothing will happen to their computer. But, every computer and hard drive will die or become corrupted someday in the future. It cannot be said when that will happen.

Another reason why people don’t backup is that they are just lazy. They don’t want to backup at the end of a tiring day. They also tend to think that when they come back the next day, their data would be safe.

Another reason for not backing up is spending on expensive backup devices. Even if one wants to buy a backup device, which device should one buy or which one is the best is a question for them which confuses them.

And there’s one more reason why people don’t want to backup – what type of backup to use? People are confused when they hear that there are many types of backups. They aren’t clear as to which type of backup is suitable for them. And they don’t want to sit and learn about something, just to be able to backup!

These reasons make people tend not to backup at all. But, sooner or later, they are bound to repent and after losing some valuable data, they’ll spend on some kind of backup device. Whatever your backup device is, or whatever the backup type, some kind of backup is better than no backup at all.

What are the Causes of Data Loss?

There can be one or more of the following that can cause data loss:

  • Hardware Failure, including hard drive failure
  • Software Problems
  • File or Folder Corruption
  • Accidental File Deletion
  • Accidental Hard Drive Formatting
  • Viruses
  • Theft
  • Disasters

When to Backup?

The time to backup is now, not tomorrow or later. When you aren’t sure that your computer would be functional tomorrow, is it safe to leave it without backing up your valuable data, for which you have spent a lot many hours? So, better backup now than repent later. Another good time to backup your data is when you are about to make some changes to the operating system, install or uninstall new hardware or a software program, or do anything that may affect the computer.

How often to Backup?

You should backup up important files as often as possible. In the past, creating a backup was a time-consuming and tedious task. But today, there are many good backup solutions available. Good backup programs provide automating the backups. You don’t have to spend time on manually backing up daily. The programs do that for you, every hour or every day – whatever you set them to, once.

It also depends on what amount of data you create and how often. If you create new data daily, then doing a daily backup is a good idea. If you are creating lots of data every hour, then it would be better to choose an hourly backup plan.

How to Backup?

  • Manual backup You manually select the files and folders to backup and copy them to the destination device like a CD/DVD or to a USB Flash drive. Manual backups are time-consuming and a task which most people like to avoid doing daily. Manual backups can be useful in case of doing a full backup of your hard disk, using an imaging software program like Norton Ghost or Acronis True Image. But this is not required frequently, and you can do it once in a while, if you are using an automated backup program.
  • Semi-automated backup Backup programs do the backup automatically, but you have to remember and run the program manually to do the backup. If you forget to run the program someday, your data won’t be backed up on that day and there’s a possibility of losing this data the next day.
  • Automated backup Automated backups are created regularly and automatically, without your interaction with the backup program. The backup program does everything regularly and efficiently, in the background, once it is configured to do so. This is set once and forget it type of backup, and you don’t have to worry about your data, once you’ve configured it.

What to Backup?

You can backup only the important files. Any files that cannot be replaced and you can’t afford to lose, should be backed up. This includes your typed documents, emails, photos, recorded videos and any such thing that you cannot afford to lose.

Before you configure your backup program, you should go through all the folders on your hard drive and make a list of the ones that you want to include in the backup. This may include folders and files with any personal data, important software and music files that you don’t want to lose, documents, email, address books, bookmarks or favorites, etc.

When you lose data, due to reasons like a corrupt hard drive or an operating system corruption, you have to spend precious time to reinstall the operating system, the drivers, software programs and then restoring the already backed up data. This may even take up a whole day or more.

Using some disc imaging programs like Norton Ghost and Acronis True Image, you can create an image of the hard drive or of different partitions, and keep them on the backup media. Then, when you need to restore your operating system and data, you only have to restore the image from the backup. This is much faster than manually installing the OS and restoring your data.

Difference between Full, Differential, Incremental and Mirror Backups

  • Full Backup A full backup is a complete backup. It includes everything that you want to backup. Restoring a full backup is fast because you have to restore only from one set of backup. The drawback is that the full backup itself takes time and is slower than other types of backup. Another drawback of a full backup is, it takes more space on the target device to store full backups. Since your backup program will usually store multiple backups on the target device, there will be many full backups, taking up a high amount of storage space.
  • Differential Backup A differential backup is a backup of only those files that have changed since the last full backup. The files which are not changed after the last full backup will not be backed up.If you do a differential backup more than once, each time, it will backup all the files, which were changed since the last full backup. It will take backup of those files even if those changed files were backed up in a previous differential backup.Backups are faster than a full backup, since only a few changed files are backed up. Also, it takes little space even for multiple differential backups on the target device. For restoring all the data, you need the last full backup plus the last differential backup. Differential backups are a little slower to restore, than restoring from a full backup, but faster and less confusing than incremental backups. But, a the time taken for a differential backup is a little more than an incremental backup.
  • Incremental Backup An incremental backup is a backup of only those files that have changed since the last backup of any type (full, differential or incremental).For example, if you took a full backup on Sunday and an incremental backup on Monday, the incremental backup would contain any files changed after the Sunday’s full backup. If you took another incremental backup on Tuesday, it would only contain the files changed after the Monday’s incremental backup.Incremental backups are the fastest and take the least amount of storage on the target device. But, restoring is the slowest because you have to restore from the full backup plus from all the incremental backups. It may also be confusing when doing a restore, for some people.
  • Mirror Backup Some backup programs provide another option than the above three. This is nothing but a mirror copy of the folder or directory that you specify to backup. After whatever time you specify, the program will copy any files that were changed since the last time, to this mirror backup folder on the target device.A mirror backup is similar to a full backup, except that the files are not compressed, so you can access the backup folder anytime by opening Windows Explorer.  Because the files aren’t compressed, this is the fastest backup method. Restoring is also the fastest, because you only have to copy the folder back to the original location. The drawback is that the storage space needed is more than all other backup types.

Where to Store Backups?

  • On-Site Storage This is the most easiest and common place of storing your backups. In simple words, this means to keep your backups in your home or office, at a safe place. This may be fine for normal users, but if your backups contain extremely sensitive and valuable data, disasters like floods or fire in your area can make your backups useless.
  • Offsite Storage This method of storing is very good for protecting your data. If there is any kind of disaster in your area, you can still get your data back, if it is lost.
  • Online Storage This is also a kind of offsite storage, and very good for protecting your data. But you don’t have to spend on any extra devices for storage. You can also access your backup immediately using an Internet connection. There are free online backup services available, and provide space from 1 – 2 GB. This much is enough for backing up normal documents and images. You can buy more space, if needed.

Two examples of free online backup services are: http://mozy.com and http://www.idrive.com/

To know more about online storage and online backup, view this page.

Where to Backup?

  • Floppy Disk A few years ago, when someone mentioned about data backup for personal computers, all that people would think was the 3.5” floppy disk. Nowadays the floppy drive itself is obsolete and you can’t even find it on new computers. Even old computer users have removed it, since floppies are very less reliable and have very low storage space.
  • CDs/DVDs Blank writable CDs can hold up to 700 MB of data. These are very cheap. You can also get re-writable CDs which cost just a little more and data on them can be erased many times.On the other hand, you can also use DVDs or re-writable DVDs which hold about 4.7 GB of data. New type of double-sided DVDs can hold much more data. These re-writable discs can be used multiple times for backing up your data.
  • A Second Hard Drive You can use an additional hard drive for saving backups. You can also get external or portable hard drives which connect via USB to backup your data. These are very easy to carry around.
  • USB/Pen/Flash Drives These are extremely cheap these days, replace the old floppies, hold large amount of data, are much more reliable than floppies and can be carried around extremely easily. There are even mini-sized versions called as thumb drives. They are readily available up to 64 GB and 256 GB versions are expected sometime later this year.If you use them for data backup, make sure that you use two instead of one. Even the ones that have lifetime warranty can fail soon. If you want a better backup option, spend a little more and buy an external/portable hard drive.
  • Network This is similar to backing up your data to another hard drive. It’s fast and reliable. If the other computer has a high-capacity hard drive, you can store a large amount of backup data on this networked computer. Also, you don’t have to spend on backup devices. The drawback is that you should know how to network computers and use network resources. If there are any network problems, you may not be able to backup.
  • Magnetic Tapes These are normally used by organizations to store large amount of data. You won’t find them with normal computer users, and most users don’t even know what they are. The cost of the device is quite high. They are slower than other devices, when you want to retrieve particular data files, because data is accessed sequentially. They also have a shorter life-span than other devices. They were the only backup medium at one time, for large organizations. But now there are other devices available. Normal computer users won’t want to select this as the backup medium.

Which is the best, free software program to use for backup?

If you search Google with the keywords “free backup software”, you’d get more than 71,000,000 hits. There are many good backup programs and they widely vary in features and ease of use. Many people, however have found Cobian Backup from CobianSoft to be a nice, feature-rich and easy to use backup program. It can backup to local backup devices as well as online / ftp accounts.

If you want help in installing Cobian Backup, click here.

If you want to know how to configure Cobian for local backup, click here.

If you want to know how to configure Cobian for online/FTP backup, click here.

If you want to know how to restore data from a backup made by Cobian backup, click here.