As someone who has seen quite a few hard drive crashes over the years, I believe that performing a full backup of your computer's hard drive should be an important part of your weekly (if not daily) routine. There's nothing more frustrating & costly than trying to restore a computer with only a handful of Floppy disk drives, a couple of scratched CD-ROMs or poorly stored backup tapes.
All too often have I been called upon to try and get a home or office computer working again, only to find that the backup (if any) consists of a few word files and maybe a copy of some accounts data?
Now you might be thinking what's wrong with that? Aren't those the important files? Well, yes! But what about your Emails, Address book, all your Desktop/Internet Shortcuts, FTP settings, Anti-Spam & Anti-Popup filters etc.? You've spend months if not years getting your PC looking and running just the way you like it and in one split second it's all gone.
Now assuming you've got all these backed-up, just think, how long it's going to take even for an experienced technician to re-install the Operating System and then all your programs like MS Office etc. and that's if you can find the original CD-ROMs that came with your PC. Plus what about the programs & updates you downloaded from the Internet and stored on your now crashed hard drive. What a nightmare!
So you do the best you can with what you've got and get your PC back to some useable state, but it's only then you fully realize how poor your backup really was and how much time & money you lost while waiting for your system to be restored, not to mention the repair bill.
But you're probably thinking to yourself, backups take so long to complete and how can you be sure your backing up all the necessary data? Well, as I see it, the only way you can be guaranteed you're getting all your data is to create what's called an image of your system (C:) drive.
By creating an image of your hard drive you are basically taking a snapshot or complete copy of your drive at a moment in time, you can then use that image to restore your system drive with a few clicks of the mouse and in a fraction of the time & hassle than with the earlier example.
You will need to have a second hard disk installed on your PC to store your image. I'd recommend one of equal size to your C: drive, you can use drives with less storage capacity but this would mean you'd probably have to apply compression when creating the image.
You'll also need a backup software capable of creating drive images. There are numerous softwares available such as True Image from Acronis and Norton Ghost from Symantec to name but a few and most of these will allow you to schedule backups to run even when your away from your PC.
With regularly created full backup images, stored securely on a secondary drive out of harms way you can put your mind at ease and get on with more important tasks safe in the knowledge that when disaster strikes you'll be more than capable of handling it. With a few mouse clicks you can start the restore procedure, go for a short break (have lunch, stroll around the block, catch up on some phone calls etc.) and in no time you'll be up & running as if nothing had ever happened.
Give yourself that extra piece of mind and do something about putting a reliable backup system in place right now, because you know it's not a matter of if your hard drive crashes but when and will you be ready for it?
You need to ask yourself? is your backup good enough?
Jeremiah O'Connell is an IT Administrator with AbbeyIT.net and has helped numerous home & small business users protect their data. For his preferred backup solutions visit: