I got to admit that I have been a fan of doing backups for a long time, sure it was not always like this but I learned it the hard way, so ever since the late DOS days I have been doing backups on a regular basis.
I did fail some years ago with the backup and that was a rather expensive experience as I had a hard disk crash, that hard disk contained ALL our family photos. So we had it restored at one of the few companies that takes the drive apart and replaces any mechanical parts. I hope that this will never happen again as that money could have been spent on many other things (Such as a good backup system).
I have been through several phases: I bought a DVD burner when they where expensive, used a noisy tape streamer, I used the 100 MB ZIP disks, CD backups and of course backup on floppy disks.
I’m now using external hard drives and DVD for backups but my problem was always to find the perfect software for it. I tested many, bought some and ended up with a few programs. So let me go over the ones I’m using at the moment. This will not be any in depth review but will just go over the software quickly.
All the software mentioned here is for Windows, I will cover Mac backup at a later stage. The plan is also to write about online backup another day.
OutBack Plus 6 (Web site)
This backup software is mainly for Microsoft Outlook files, so the .pst files (holding all emails), signatures, Rules, accounts… It can also backup other data, such as Internet Explore favorites and settings, My Documents, My Desktop and also FireFox bookmarks and settings.
When doing a backup of .pst files it will backup the files that are added to Outlook, so if you got .pst files that you closed then do not expect them to be backed up.
I use OutBack Plus more than the other backup programs as my emails are very important, at the same time my email collection is several gigabytes big, as I seldom delete emails (except spam).
So with a few clicks and my backup is running.
Backup Plus (Web site)
This is a simple but effective backup system, where you need to define what have to be backed up and what not. It is possible to define several backup sets, where each backup set can include a list of files/folders/drives to be backed up; it is also possible to exclude files/folders.
Example: You can setup a set called “Games” and then add all the game folders to it. When you then start Backup Plus you will get a list of the backup sets, including dates of the last backup. So easy to select the oldest and do a backup.
The files generated are less than 2.1 GB so two of them fit perfectly to a DVD.
Norton Ghost (Web site)
I run Norton Ghost from time to time, so I can create a full image of my hard drive. This is a time consuming task so I don’t run it that often. But it sure feels good when it is done as it gives a good feeling of having the drive stored in away where I can restore it all in one go. To be honest, I’m not sure if I can do a full restore over the network.
The latest version of Norton Ghost is version 12 and I just realized that I’m using version 10, so I better check for an upgrade.
All backup is done to a NAS drive (Network Attached Storage), bought a nice Synology CubeStation CS407e earlier this year, with 4 hard drives, each 500 GB running in a RAID 5 setup for extra protection, so this gives me a total of 1.5 TG (1371 GB formatted) which is mainly used for backup.
The backup files are copied to DVD from time to time (Not often enough) for extra protection. I fail in doing this on a regular basis as it is rather slow.
I have been considering getting a Blu-Ray external drive for backup (Don’t care about Blu-Ray movies) as been able to backup 50 GB to a single disc got some charm. No more DVD swapping, just select all backup files and let the copy happen when you are not around.
Scheduled / Automatic backup
I never used any scheduled or automatic backup, as I want to control the resources of the system. I used to have tasks in Outlook that would remind me when to do backups but for some reason I don’t have that any more. Not even sure why this stopped but I just decided to add such tasks again.
New manual schedule
My future plans will be to do backups like:
- Every 3rd day do a backup with OutBack, include copy to DVD.
- Every week do a backup of my development setup, bought software and my documents. Copy backup to DVD.
- Every second week do a backup for the whole C drive using Norton Ghost & also with Backup Plus. Copy the files from Backup Plus to DVD.
One note, always do a backup of your Backup software, so you can install it easy in case you need to restore files to a clean system.
To make it all more perfect for me I just need to have the backup stored somewhere not local. I would be in serious problems in case I had a fire here or if all my equipment got stolen. So the next plan is to setup a system for having the DVD’s at another location.
I’m not using the backup software to their full extend but I do believe that I’m doing a lot better than most people. I recently read that around 80% of Mac users knew they should do backup, not saying that they do. This is scary; everybody should know about it and everybody who got data that is important for them SHOULD do backups.
So this leaves us with one question: Did YOU do your backup today?