Friday Fall Musings | 10-7-16 | Regular backup for your PC is greatly ignored and extremely necessary even with cloud deployed. And if you are in a small or solo business, you don’t have the IT police patrolling to keep you on your toes.
Backup. It doesn’t seem to matter how many times we hear it. Though in my research the actual numbers run all over the map based on country, age of user, age of the computer and version of OS. On average less than 10-20% of users regularly run a complete back-up and restore of their ENTIRE computer data. This includes your OS, applications, browser and browser extensions, utilities, and drivers for added features, and of course your data from contracts to selfies. Exceptions seem to be A) MAC users, who run about 40-50% to the good, and B) corporate PCs where IT has determined the rules, and failure to comply with corporate guidelines can lead to lower performance scoring or worse, dismissal.
But even there, backup and restore is typically done by the IT department, and focus specifically on the applications and data relevant to the job. Thus be prepared to hear, if personal info is missing after a back-up and restore: “This is a work PC, it belongs to the company. Put your doctor’s appointments, vacation photos, or anything unrelated to your job on your phone, home PC or tablet. Now get back to work, and fill out this satisfaction survey. ”
Now what if I told you, regardless of your sophistication of PC technology, that with just a few REALLY basic tools (hardware and software), you could be in backup nirvana. You could sleep at night knowing that even in the event of a complete loss of data through dropping, kicking, drowning or any other incident that could cause lost data, you will be whole. In effect, it is one less thing to worry about in a world where every day we hear about hacks now that happened in some cases 3-4 years ago. Did you know there was a Dropbox hack in 2012? If I did, I frankly forgot – heck I’ll be 62 in a week, there is only so much room in the virtual hard drive in my head.
Just so we are all on the same page here’s a little TMI for fun: For purposes of this discussion I am going to make a couple of assumptions:
1) The term “PC” (I will use this term generically so please don’t beat me up if you have a laptop vs. a desktop vs. a gamer machine.) Unless there is a reason to be specifically MAC which I think pops up once or twice. This is all PCs
2) I will assume you are running some version of Windows OS that is at least Win7. If you are merrily running your holiday greeting card list on a 10 year old PC with WIN95, all the best of luck. I’m sure there is something in the politico section that will interest you more than what I am about to espouse.
3) I have 3 machines in my home for which I provide on demand tech support or else forced to eating cold dinner- and it’s usually chicken or pasta that I cooked.
– One Lenovo ThinkCentre Desktop running Windows 10 with 8GB.
– One Lenovo X220 running Win 7 pro, 8MB RAM and a 1TB hybrid drive
– One MacBook Pro that belongs to my son John, the videographer, and I do my best to keep my distance since MAC is a foreign language to someone who spent 35 years at IBM. In all fairness, I don’t provide much support for the MAC except to nag my son to do the backups as scheduled which he complies with essentially to keep the nagging at bay and the occasional full tank of gas when I’ve driven his car.
One more thing: For the record, I am not affiliated with nor do I or anyone in my family, either currently housed in a penal institution or up for parole, receive compensation of any kind from any of the companies or products I reference here. These are simply MY choices. All purchases were made at Amazon.com and receipts are available at no charge if you really want them for the cost of $39.99 for copying shipping and handling. (that’s a joke).
How I decided to back up and why you should do it this way too.
Why now? Take a guess. My hard drive completely died a natural death. I was considering sending it to the NSA just to hopefully get back my calendar and contacts. Here’s where I began to ensure this never happened again.
Software – I opted to purchase Acronis True Image, first the 2016 version, and recently upgraded to the 2017 for I think $30. I looked at all of the usual suspects. Acronis has a try then buy offer and once I tried, I bought. There are FREE versions of similar backup and restore programs at download.com, Windows comes with its own back-up and restore, but after spending a significant amount of time researching my choices, I decided on Acronis. For a single machine on Amazon the price is $49.99, 3 machines costs $79.99 and if you have 5 the price is $99.99. Again there are always deals around, so your actual price may vary. I like Amazon because if something sucks, I get to send it back, basically with ZERO hassle. Link to Acronis Products on Amazon
Hardware – This is how I did it, and of course there are many other ways, but I do my own research and figure out what I want to do. The ingredients are few and not particularly expensive.
You are going to need (*maybe) four pieces of “hardware” including a small Philips head screwdriver ( do you really need a picture of a screwdriver?).
First, you will need a caddy (no, not the person who carries your clubs) but a plastic case to hold your backup HDD (more in a just a minute). We’ll call this drive in the caddy to hold “Drive #1” when we get to it.
Second, you will need a new hard drive we’ll call “Drive #1”. It will hold the backed up information from your currently installed drive we’ll call Drive #2. Most laptop HDDs are standard 2.5″ SATA, capacity is up to you and your budget.
Send in The Clones
*Here’s the maybe. I might, depending on space remaining and a chkdsk, to replace an existing Drive #2 via cloning. But for now, just keep these next two items in mind. I will come back to them in the next post, after we’ve got backup working
Third is a new Drive (#3) to replace the current drive that might be old, slow, full of bad sectors. Clearly, this is outside of the backup process, but worth mentioning now. CLONING will be covered in the next post.
Fourth, you will need a decent size 8GB is perfect thumb/flash drive. This is used to install the Acronis boot software. While technically not a backup, we’ll call this “Drive #4”. After we remove the EXISTING INSTALLED hard drive, the Operating System went with it.
For example, my 3-year old Lenovo X220 came with a 250GB SATA drive. Over time, BAD SECTORS developed. I researched Solid State, Hybrid and SATA. I concluded that my laptop drive would be a Hybrid SSHD. It was a good compromise and I am pleased with the results. There was an unexpected problem going to SSHD which I will explain in the next post when we cover cloning.
Other Choices: re: Caddy – You can save a few dollars and absolutely buy a cable assembly from USB to Plug in to the drive: Here’s one on Amazon for $10.95 with a link: StarTech USB3 to Laptop Adapter
Here is the one I bought (I’m an Amazon PRIME member for the record) for $13 received the next day: 2.5″ SATA HD USB 3.0Enclosure. I prefer the caddy because there is less chance of dust, spills, and other debris getting inside.
YOU ARE READY TO BACKUP
Checkpoint #1 (The Absolutely Easy, and less expensive way) Here’s where we are now. You have :
1) Acronis True Image software loaded on your computer
2) A caddy to hold your newly purchased backup drive
At this point, it’s simple. You merely launch Acronis True Image, then select the first icon which looks like a series of pages. Look at the screen shot above with the SOURCE (my D:\ drive). It is the newly formatted drive sitting in the caddy and connected by the USB cable. Acronis does incremental back up, i.e., it only backs up changes since the last back up. You’ll notice I have a drive “E” which is not a backup but a CLONE of my original drive. Essentially, it is an complete image that I can restore. Just in case my laptop accidentally walked past a giant degaussing magnet. Again, we’ll cover cloning in the next update.
Under the drives and partitions, and custom destination folders, you will see a progress indicator and an estimated time remaining. Remember after the first go round, it’s going to go considerably faster.
TIP: In the system tray (bottom right in Windows) there an icon to Safely Remove Hardware and Remove Media. I recommend that extra step instead of just yanking the USB cord.
Let’s recap. Drive “#1” is in the machine. Drive “#2” is the backup (in the caddy). The next post will include Drive “#3” as the optional NEW “A” drive replacement. We’ll use Drive “#4” (thumb drive) to hold the optional Acronis start up files. If you get lost, start from the beginning. Or send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and I shall do my best to assist.
After you’ve backed up your existing drive, you can have it automatically run back-ups as often as you like. Simply ensure the machine is on, and the backup drive is in the caddy. Verify the USB cable is connected to the USB port on the caddy and the computer. Then Acronis can run as scheduled.
Part 2 will contain the option I highly recommend of replacing the main hard drive with the Seagate Hybrid drive. You will need the Acronis Rescue Media Builder bootable rescue media tool. Locate the Acronis Tools section with the 4 boxes in the left column. Very easy, I promise.
I shall load those OPTIONAL instructions up in a day or two. You can start with this part of the process in order to get comfortable with the tools.
I hope that this SIMPLE, PRACTICALLY AUTOMATIC process of backing up your data convinces you it’s worth the effort. Next, I’m going to help you decide to look at a new HBDD (Hybrid Disk Drive) but first things first. There are also some good videos that Acronis has produced on YouTube.
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