Saturday: 12.November.2005

Backup Hard Drive Imaging in a Nutshell

Hopefully, everybody who frequents RADIFIED is already familiar with the virtues of backing-up their hard drives with a hard drive "imaging" program, such as Norton Ghost .. to which end there exists the (world-famous) Radified guide.

For those who may still be in the dark however, here is simplified description that may shed some light.

Note that the word "imaging" used here has nothing to do with digital photos or the like. It works something like this: You would ..

.. get yourself a copy of an imaging program (such as Norton Ghost) and two extra hard drives, of the same type that is currently installed in your system (IDE, ATA, SATA, etc). One may be an external drive, if you like.

Hard drives are pretty cheap these days. You are buying peace-of-mind. We'll call these new hard drives DRIVE_02 and DRIVE_03.

If you have a regular PC, chances are your system now contains a single hard drive (usually labeled C drive, which we'll call DRIVE_01). If you don't know how many hard drives your PC contains, it has one.

continued

Install DRIVE_02 into your PC, partition & format. If you need help, find any 13-year-old.

Install the imaging program and create a back-up image of your main drive (DRIVE_01). Store the image of your "system drive" (DRIVE_01) on your newly-installed "storage drive" (DRIVE_02), and tuck away the other (the "back-up drive," or DRIVE_03) in a drawer somewhere.

With a back-up image on hand, if your system should krap out for any reason (bad virus, dumb mistake, etc.), you can simply restore the image you created earlier, and be back up & running in minutes. It's sort of like Windows own System Restore on steroids.

But System Restore can't help if your main drive should die (cuz System Restore dies with the main drive) .. in which case (with a back-up image on hand, of course) you would simply pull out DRIVE_03 from the drawer, and use it to replace the dead drive (DRIVE_01) and restore the image that resides on DRIVE_02. (A beautiful thing.)

A dead drive can be a tragedy, depending upon what information is stored there. But with a little pre-planning, you can be back up & running in 30 minutes (if you hustle).

Being able to restore your system in 30 minutes following a dead drive is a very cool thing. Unfortunately, most people (myself included) don't learn the back-up lesson until it's too late.

It can be a painful lesson to learn. So be smarter than me by creating a back-up image of your system drive (DRIVE_01) on a (physically) separate hard drive ASAP (DRIVE_02, "storage drive"). You won't regret it.

If you like, you can hold off on purchasing hard drive #3 until your main drive actually dies. This decision would depend largely upon how distressing downtime would be to you. You would be dead-in-the-water until you were able to get a new drive.

You can also back-up your system drive (DRIVE_01) to CDs or DVDs. But you would need *many* CDs to back-up a hard drive, so that would be impractical. And data stored on DVDs is not as reliable (IMHO) as data stored on hard drives. Plus, the imaging process goes faster to a hard drive than to a DVD.

The ultimate method is to back-up your system drive (DRIVE_01) to *both* a separate hard drive (DRIVE_02) *and* DVDs (optical media).

If you have a laptop, you would need an external hard drive as your "storage drive" (DRIVE_02).

WHICH imaging program you use is not as important as using *some* imaging program. A list of alternatives is posted here, under the heading: Ghost Alternatives. (I have no experience with anything but Ghost.) If you have trouble, we have lots of folks with experience who can help.

That's back-up imaging in a nutshell. For the whole nut, see here:> Radified Guide to Norton Ghost

For more info, here's a Google search pre-configured for the query: backup hard drive imaging





Posted by Rad at November 12, 2005 10:57 AM

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