Help me be a responsible but care-free computer user
August 20, 2007 5:54 PM Subscribe
Maybe obvious backup question: I want to achieve: an external hard drive with an exact copy of my main drive's contents that can, in the event of my main internal drive's failure, be swapped into the machine for instant everything-as-it-was. I also want incremental backup, so that I can keep this drive constantly up to date with a daily backup process. This is a Windows XP ThinkPad laptop; I've got the external backup drive in its little case already.
posted by amtho to computers & internet (35 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I'm half wondering if this is such a basic set of requirements -- copy my drive exactly (making sure it's bootable), and then copy incremental changes -- that most backup software does it already.
The software that came with the laptop (ThinkVantage Rescue and Recovery) creates "archive files", all ~50 MB in size, that require the backup software in order to be read. This isn't going to do it for me.
I briefly looked into Acronis, but they won't even let me install the trial without registering -- through the internet, automatically, during the installation process. Can't even register by phone. (Is it too much to want to try the software before giving them permission to automatically send themselves information about myself & my system?) No deal. Also, $50 seems like a lot for such a simple-sounding piece of software, but if I have to spend that much (or more), I'm willing.
The drive came with three pieces of software, but I can't tell whether any of them will do what I want: PC Clone EX Lite (by JMicron Technology), VBTUcopy (by VIA Technology), and HDBackup (by Moai Electronics). Each of these has a short PDF document with it -- I've read through each -- but it doesn't answer my questions, just outlines the setup procedure. These seem like very bare-bones programs, based on the docs.
To clarify: if my computer's HD fails, I'd like to avoid having to install Windows on a new drive before restoring files. I want to just take out the old drive, stick in the new drive, and then pretend nothing happened (I'd just buy a new backup drive).
I'd also like to avoid having to re-clone the HD every time I want to make an incremental backup. In other words, although I'm not sure, I'm under the impression that backup software that "clones" the HD will need to copy every single file every time it runs.
Also: I've already formatted my new drive. How can I make sure it's bootable? Do I even need to worry about that at this point?