Is Acronis the simplest solution?

Discussion in 'Acronis True Image Product Line' started by Luxeon, Aug 3, 2007.

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  1. Luxeon

    Luxeon Registered Member

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    Sorry for the "newb-ness" of my question (embarassing), but this website has always given me excellent advice.

    I have a relatively lean computer: Windows XP, NOD32, Zonealarm, Spybot, Defender, a bunch of pictures and their programs...and not much else.

    My hard drive is 40Gb, and am only using 12.4Gb at this time.

    My primary concern is the loss of the digital photos (about 6Gb, but rapidly growing, as my wife LOVES the camera!), but I really like the idea of creating a backup of everything on the computer.
    I did have a hard drive crash 4 years ago, and it was awful. Fortunately, I had backed up most of the pictures, but re-formatting and installing (settings, access codes, etc, etc) all of the other stuff sucked.

    My research has lead to many recommendations for external hard drives and hard drive imaging programs: Acronis appears to be highly regarded.
    It appears that Acronis makes an image to the external drive (and creates a boot disc), so everything is easy to recover.

    My goal is to back up the entire computer, in a relatively simple manner. I intend to burn all of the pics to CD when I get time (that will take a while!), and remove the pics from the computer hard drive.

    I just purchased a Seagate FreeAgent 250Gb backup external hard drive, and wanted to know: what would be the best manner in which to utilize it?

    I have one more question: in the event of a virus/worm, how do you protect your backup drive from infection? Do you need to disconnect it from the computer when you are not making a backup?

    Many thanks,
    Bob
     
  2. optigrab

    optigrab Registered Member

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    I don't use Acronis (I use Paragon), however, I am certain True Image will serve you well.

    Your photo backups will be safer residing on your 2nd hard drive than on optical discs, and certainly if there is no backup when your optical discs fail. That said, I would keep one copy of your photos on your 250Gb drive, and make a DVD backup of photos just in case. Then you can remove all you photos from your 40Gb drive as you planned.

    I recommend you partition your new large drive so that you have one partition for Acronis Images and one partition for backups of files like your photos. Nice thing about keeping two separate partitions is that the "photos" partition you will require defragging much less often . I am guessing that if you use Acronis frequently, the addition and deletion of the large files will greatly increase the fragmentation of the partition where they are stored.
     
  3. DwnNdrty

    DwnNdrty Registered Member

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    Just to add to the above, you should disconnect the external drive from the system when not in use. And when you do a separate backup of the photos, just do a simple copy and paste using Windows Explorer so that you have the photos in native format. You will not gain much space by using compression, whether is is via Winzip or Winrar or any other.
     
  4. seekforever

    seekforever Registered Member

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    My way of doing it would be to:
    Partition your 40GB drive (if you don't want to get a second internal) to 20GB and 20GB. Put Windows and apps on one partition and your photos and other data on the second.

    As recommended use Windows explorer to copy your data to the external for backup. Use TI to backup your OS partition.

    At suitable intervals copy your data files to CD/DVD for an extra level of security. Remember replacing Windows and the apps is just a pain but it can be done. Your photos and other documents are available nowhere else for any cost.

    Another approach is to look at a programs such as SyncBack (there is a free version) which can be scheduled to do automatic backups of data files. I use this for copying data files from my main data storage area to a second drive.
     
  5. Luxeon

    Luxeon Registered Member

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    Excellent info, many, many thanks.

    What is TI?

    Bob
     
  6. optigrab

    optigrab Registered Member

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    Agree with all of this, except I would prefer use a free syncing program (I'm thinking of Syncback) to do the photos backup instead of a manual copy and paste. But either method works fine.
    Acronis True Image is typically referred to as "TI".
     
  7. Luxeon

    Luxeon Registered Member

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    I was thinking "Texas Instruments."

    My age is showing...

    So, Acronis will back up everything, but I could perhaps use SyncBack to more easily transfer the pictures.

    I'm surprised that Acronis won't do it.

    I think I will partition both drives as instructed above, use Acronis and Syncback, and burn the pics to disk when I get a chance.

    I will simply unplug the external drive when not in use.

    GREAT info.
     
  8. DwnNdrty

    DwnNdrty Registered Member

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    Yes, Acronis will also backup just Folders with the pictures, but it will put them in a "non-native" format and doesn't give you any advantage in doing so, because the photos are already in a compressed format.
     
  9. seekforever

    seekforever Registered Member

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    To add a bit to what DwnNdrty said. I and others feel that you are safer having copies of the files in their native format so if you have a failure it will impact only one or a few files. Putting them in a large "container" file puts the entire archive at risk if there is a failure in a critical area. Longtime users of ZIP and RAR may not agree totally with this philosophy but AFAIK there are recovery tools for those archiving methods but not for TI.


    I'll also take the time and space to reinforce the idea that you don't just want to have one backup on one device. The second or third level of backup is ideal for optical disks like CD/DVDs. They have the advantage of being easy to store. I have old spindle-pack boxes that I just plop them onto and hope that I'll never need them.
     
  10. CorkyG

    CorkyG Registered Member

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    I have been archiving my digital images (about 8 years worth of them - over 10,000) on a pair of external HDDs. My laptop is my travelling "darkroom," and when I return from a trip or shoot, I move that folder to my primary external "Imagery" HDD. I further back that drive up to a duplicate drive using TI to clone the drive. Then both drives are disconnected from normal daily use.

    A RAID 1 array also makes a good constant duplicate set of imagery folders, and then that array can in turn be cloned.

    For imagery and data, I much prefer cloning to backup and restore. I have used removable mobile racks for this purpose as well.

    For dissemination, I now use DVDs to send imagery to friends and associates. 13 MB images are now too large for CDRs. :)
     
  11. GroverH

    GroverH Registered Member

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    Luxeon,
    As soon as your external drive is functional, the very first thing you should do is to drag a copy of your pictures folder onto the external drive so you immediately have two copies of your precious photos. Accidents happen. Don't wait.--- and do not defrag your backup archives.

    For best security, the external drive should only be connected during the backup. Don't expose it any more than you must to things like electrical surges or viruses! If the photos are really important, you might even consider buying an additional drive--for safety sake so you have another copy of your photos.

    Strongly urge that you do NOT install the Acronis Secure Zone or Startup Recovery Manager until such time as you understand how they function and what modifications are made to your machine. These options may or may not be something you want to use. The installation of these functions have caused problems for some. Check the Useful Forum Threads for more info about these functions.

    Should you want to replace your drive, you get best results with the least problems if you have a full disk backup which includes all partitions. From that full disk backup, you can also restore any of your partitions individually--should there be a need. Of course, you can also create archives of individual partitions but limited backups of this type is not usually used when upgrading/replacing a system disk.
     
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2007
  12. Luxeon

    Luxeon Registered Member

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    Been busy, but have taken all of the advice here. Haven't had a chance to implement the plan yet...probably later this week.
    Good Lord, I was reading more info about hard drives. There were several references to "it isn't if the drive will fail, it is when..." This is based upon the fact that it is a mechanical device.
    Holy cow!

    I believe, after much reading, that I understand what I need to do.
    However, I have a couple of other questions.

    Though I will immediately burn these pics to CD, I wanted to place the pics on the external drive for both protection and the ability for my wife to quickly access them (she does some fancy scrap booking stuff).
    She can get them from CD, but it would take much more time to access them (trying to find pics, uploading, etc).

    My thought is that she could access the external drive, search through the folders, compile a bunch of pics, and send them to a new folder in the main hard drive.
    From there she can do her editing or whatever.

    Sooo...Syncback would allow this to be done most easily?

    Also, I would like to leave the external drive connected via USB cable. Is there a USB cable available with an on-off switch? That would be very convenient as far as disconnecting to prevent infection.
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2007
  13. GroverH

    GroverH Registered Member

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    Not familiar with Syncback.

    The on/off electrical switch should be on the external drive.

    For best security of your data, you should have external always completely removed from your computer and your electrical connection except when in actual use. Also, when connected, prefer thru a UPS.

    Never ever edit your original photos-
    -keep your originals in their pristine state-any enhancements or modifications should be made to copies. You may want to make your originals "read only". Should your external drive fail, what are your recovery plans to recover your photos? Do you have your photos stored on multiple locations--just food for thought!
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2007
  14. seekforever

    seekforever Registered Member

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    Drives are pretty cheap these days, why not consider putting in a second internal HD of about 320GB or so and store the pictures on it. You could partition it into a 250GB area and a 70GB area, the first for storage and the second partition for a working area. Leave the external for backup only. With you photos on CD and the external you would be pretty secure.

    A good method for storing photos that you are modifying can be awkward. But whatever, you do, don't modify the original as GroverH pointed out.

    SyncBack takes the contents of selected folders and copies them into another set of folders, usually on a different device. It can be scheduled and it follows rules you specify on whether to delete the originals, delete a file if it exists in one folder but not the other, etc. The list of rules is a lot more than I mentioned. It is a tool for synchronizing or backing up files.
     
  15. Luxeon

    Luxeon Registered Member

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    I am glad that I decided to as questions here, as it may have prevented nasty problems.

    To Grover: oddly, my external HD does not have an on/off switch! I will plug it into a protected/switched power supply, and shut down the power when not in use.

    I didn't realize it is bad to edit original photos. Why is it bad to edit originals?

    So...it is preferred to make the originals read-only, copy them, and edit the copies? I guess I would need to designate the copies as not read-only prior to editing.

    This is more complicated than I thought.

    I am not sure that there is any real "modifying" going on (other than rotating a pic upright), just that my wife compiles a folder, such as "Christmas 2006," and places the pictures into templates for printing. She doesn't do anything fancy, such as cropping or Photoshop. I believe she doesn't re-size them either.
    Would this still require read-only protection? The only reason I ask, is that if the processes require too many tasks, the wife will not be happy about it, so I'm trying to keep it as simple as possible.

    I figured I could:

    1. Copy all pics (and other data) to CD. Keep copies of all programs on CD as well (I already have all programs backed-up).
    2. Copy all pics (and data) to external HD, in their own partition, in their native format. Use Windows Explorer or Syncback. Make pics read-only.
    3. Copy system stuff to the EHD using Acronis TI.
    4. Keep EHD isolated for protection. Back up as needed.
    5. Figure out (and show my wife) how to make copies of the pics to a folder on the main HD, where she can print/scrapbook with them.

    Yes, I will have all of my pics backed up on CD...probably by later today.

    Seekforever: I never considered an internal HD. That may make things more simple by keeping the EHD for backup only. This way there will be no need to connect/disconnect to shuttle pics for printing.

    Whew...
     
  16. seekforever

    seekforever Registered Member

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    The obvious reason is that you may end up with a bunch of mods that you don't really want and the original is now gone. Now you can say that your program always lets you do multiple undo commands but they likely will not get you right back to the original and probably won't do anything once you save the file. The other reason is if you do some mods and store the file in jpg format, do some more and store the file again in jpg format even if you could undo all the changes you won't get the original back because jpg is a lossy format. Everytime you do a save some of the information is lost.

    If you are doing a lot of work on a file then you should save it in the editing program's native format (these tend to be very large compared to jpg) so you avoid creating losses. After you get the final version you can save it as a jpg to save space.

    Read-only, IMO, is just a safety mechanism. If you remember to make a renamed copy when you start editing it isn't necessary. If you do your copy to CD as a first step then you should always have the original as a backup since they are read-only on the CD.
     
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