External HD Strategies
Thread poster: Antoinette-M. Sixt Ruth

Antoinette-M. Sixt Ruth  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:01
English to German
+ ...
Jan 7, 2006

I just acquired a 250 GB external HD costing me less than $100 + tax.j
I am now wondering what the best strategy is to use it as a backup to my Pentium 4 PC.
Should I partition it?
Or should I merely back up My Documents as are from the PC?
Should I make directories for backup from the PC and/ or for my laptop?
Any ideas would be welcome?
Antoinette


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Piotr Sawiec  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:01
English to Polish
+ ...
use backup software Jan 7, 2006

Hi

nice disc, huge.

If you want to use it only for backups, partitioning will not be necessary. Mere copying of My Documents or other folders is an option, but then there will be no chance to do incremental copies. There are freeware programmes that will let you do backups and only add files or folders that are new or have changed since the former backup. I use SyncBack, a very simple and reliable tool. It works also in networks, so if you want to back up data from your laptop connected in one network, you can configure the programme.

Piotr


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Fernando Toledo  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 13:01
German to Spanish
Format Jan 7, 2006

format it in FAT32 so you can use it with older PCs or Laptops too.

Rgds


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Oliver Walter  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:01
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
Some ideas Jan 7, 2006

Antoinette-M. Sixt Ruth wrote:

I just acquired a 250 GB external HD costing me less than $100 + tax.j
I am now wondering what the best strategy is to use it as a backup to my Pentium 4 PC.
Should I partition it?
Or should I merely back up My Documents as are from the PC?
Should I make directories for backup from the PC and/ or for my laptop?
Any ideas would be welcome?
Antoinette

As Toledo says, format it as a FAT32 partition unless you know you will only be backing up files from NTFS partitions (NTFS is default in XP and is not supported at all in Windows 98 or earlier).

I would suggest partitioning it, with each partition being big enough to hold your biggest likely backup (in my case that would be less than 3 GB). Put successive backups into successive partitions, perhaps giving each partition a label that includes the date of the backup. When you get to the last one, either:
start again with the earliest, so that you always have the last N backups available, or
overwrite an old one but not the very oldest, etc. Choose which one to overwrite each time so that you keep some very old backups, but have greater time gaps between the oldest backups than between the newest ones.

You can simply make a copy of your working partition: inefficient as this will copy files that rarely change.

You can (I'm sure this must be possible) use Windows backup to make "incremental" backups sometimes and full ones other times.
You can use WinZip instead of Window backup (see my posting at http://www.proz.com/topic/40731?post_id=293326)
There is also specialised backup software that should make things more flexible and/or automated and/or easier than Windows backup. Be aware, however, that if you use such software, you are likely to need the same software to retrieve files from backups. This may not be a problem to you, but at least you should be aware. It will be significant if you have to restore from a backup to an operating system newly installed in a previously empty partition - you'll need to install the specialist software before you can restore the backup.

Here are some links with relevant information and suggestions.
http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/using/setup/learnmore/bott_03july14.mspx
http://www.pcworld.com/reviews/article/0,aid,101767,pg,7,00.asp
http://money.standard.net/archives/101104.html
Oliver


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xxxtlmurray
Local time: 07:01
English
Can you make it a boot drive? Jan 7, 2006

Some more modern BIOS supports booting from USB and/or FireWire. If your BIOS supports external booting, then I would make a small partition only for booting in case of emergency ... never "use" it in day-to-day activities so that it won't be corrupted by viruses. Install a fresh operating system on it, some maintenance tools (disk fixers, antivirus, etc.), and then leave it alone.

In fact, if it does not support booting, consider installing it in your regular computer and installing an OS anyway. If you ever find your internal drive totally dead and several days away from repair, you could at least put the external in the computer and boot.

Umm, I have to disagree with the previous poster about making a partition for each backup, as it would [seem to] be a management hassle. First, incrementals depend on previous backup states, and the backup (and restore) process may not know where to find previous backups; and some times, a restore has to sift through many if not all previous sessions. Second, scheduled backups look for a volume or path, and you'd have to worry about picking the right one every time.


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Jörgen Slet  Identity Verified
Estonia
Local time: 14:01
English to Estonian
+ ...
NTFS support Jan 9, 2006

Oliver Walter wrote:
As Toledo says, format it as a FAT32 partition unless you know you will only be backing up files from NTFS partitions (NTFS is default in XP and is not supported at all in Windows 98 or earlier).


There is third-party software available that will enable full NTFS support under Windows 98, I have never used any but I do remember one package that went by the name of Paragon. Apparently they also support other OS-es.

One Google result is here:
http://www.shareup.com/Paragon_NTFS_for_Win98-download-4192.html

Apparently the free version gives read-only access.


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Jörgen Slet  Identity Verified
Estonia
Local time: 14:01
English to Estonian
+ ...
mirror your working HD Jan 9, 2006

tlmurray wrote:

Some more modern BIOS supports booting from USB and/or FireWire. If your BIOS supports external booting, then I would make a small partition only for booting in case of emergency ... never "use" it in day-to-day activities so that it won't be corrupted by viruses. Install a fresh operating system on it, some maintenance tools (disk fixers, antivirus, etc.), and then leave it alone.


Being a lazy person, I would just mirror my working HD and save myself the trouble of installing everything

Umm, I have to disagree with the previous poster about making a partition for each backup, as it would [seem to] be a management hassle. First, incrementals depend on previous backup states, and the backup (and restore) process may not know where to find previous backups; and some times, a restore has to sift through many if not all previous sessions. Second, scheduled backups look for a volume or path, and you'd have to worry about picking the right one every time.


I certainly agree with this point.


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Alan Campbell  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:01
Russian to English
+ ...
Microsoft SyncToy Aug 1, 2006

I use Microsoft SyncToy to do this very thing - it's free and, although it is not without its quirks, it's reliable enough for every day use. In fact, I use it to do the very thing that you mention: backing up my My Docs folder to an external drive (in my case it's a file server running Linux and shared in Windows using samba).

What you do is set up folder pairs (source and target) then select a method (full synchronisation, echo, subscribe - info on these is given when selecting each option). So all I need to do is select my folder pair and hit the button. Only changed files are synchronised (incremental) and you can choose to have it synchronise changes in both source and target (synchronisation mode) or only changes from left folder to right folder (echo mode I think?)

The beauty of this is that it is easy. If backing up data takes more than a few clicks, it's less likely that you will do it as often as you know you should. So, while the idea of having a rolling series of backups is a good one, it can make the process more difficult (although it could be done quite happily with SyncToy simply by creating several pairs, all with the same source but different destinations.)

I also use it to synchronise my TMs and glossaries for Wordfast onto a USB thumb drive as I work in two locations. It works very well for that!

http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/using/digitalphotography/prophoto/synctoy.mspx

[Edited at 2006-08-01 08:25]


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