Looking for suggestions for a Backup Program

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I have a couple of USB super fast outboard drives,
I presently do a Windows-Control Panel-Backup of C:\  to one of these drives via the Control Panel Backup-Restore ap.
I also do daily Restore Points.
I'm looking for recommendations of a standalone Backup Program other than the Windows 'Backup&Restore' version.
While price is ALWAYS a consideration, If it's foolproof, I'm up for it.

I have both extra inside the case digital drives and USB3.0 outside the case digital drive.
I presently backup up to both daily.

But what I need is a recommendation for a program that will restore my logs and user programs to the state they were in BEFORE my goof or part failure.

pse et tu,
Bill W9OL
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  • embarrisingly stupid

Posted 4 years ago

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Ross - K9COX

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John n0snx

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I don't think you can find a program that does a better job than the one you are using.... It just does an excellent job of creating restore points and your already saving them the separate drives..Sounds like you have it well covered...
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Acronis True Image.  It has bailed me out of any number of situations, ranging from hard disk failures to corrupted Flex profiles.  No matter what program you use, be certain you have a full image followed by DAILY incremental backups.  Keep at least a few weeks of these chains, as you never know how far you will need to reach when you discover something is thoroughly glitched.
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The best without any reservation is the products by Terabyte Unlimited, http://www.terabyteunlimited.com/image-for-windows.htm. Not that you should ever need it, but support is like IM via email and the forum is very active (which does not mean there are lots of problems). PLUS one only has to pay for major upgrades. Many companies have major upgrades just to bring in the $ every year, but it has been literally YEARS since these chaps did that - I have just checked it was 7 years ago and loads of enhancements and tweaks since them. There is only one other company that I would trust, and that is http://www.macrium.com/. Though I have technical reasons for using the former(I like to have more than 4 primary partitions per disk) I'd still use them. You may find the Macrium more user-friendly (I used to be a beta tester).
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Norm - W7CK

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I'm using Windows 7 and the nice thing about it is it does a great job creating and restoring system images.  I have used this dozens of times on dozens of computers.  One issue with system images is that they are not a true backup and according to Microsoft, they are not meant to restore individual files or folders.  There are a few ways to work around this problem though.  See this link:


I don't know if this also works in Windows 8 or not.  Maybe someone else can comment on that.

A true backup should include a system image or at least a way to reconstruct the entire system back to a given point in time.  It should also include a full backup and either regularly scheduled incremental or differential backups thereafter. Version control would be the next step but most normal people don't really need that.  A good full backup should be saved forever or until which time you have created a 2nd or 3rd one and have validated that it contains everything important to you.  This is the only way you can restore a file that either gets damaged or deleted. Its no good when you realize a folder with your prized photographs is missing.  You go to your only system image and realize, it isn't there either.  Then you realize it must have been missing for a couple weeks or months and you've since deleted all of the older backups.  Shoot, its gone and you never even realized it.

Disk storage is inexpensive. Its pretty easy to keep 2 or 3 full backups with incrementals or differentials thereafter and be able to go back several years.  Keep one set in your computer room and make sure you have one offsite.  Maybe at a friends or relatives house.   If your house gets destroyed, computer stolen or some other disaster, at least you have all of your digital photos and other data safe and sound at your offsite location.

If you keep confidential information such as passwords, income taxes, banking, or any other such data on your computer, I strongly recommend it be encrypted and only mounted when it is actually in use.   Make sure your backup system also encrypts the data, preferably with a different encryption program and different keys. 

I know all of this may seem overwhelming at first but once you have it set up, it will definitely give you piece of mind.

You can keep it simple or make it as elaborate as you want.  As you look into backup methodologies and best practices, you'll most likely want to expand it a bit and also become more familiar with general system security.

Good Luck!

Some more ramblings regarding System Security.

A couple weeks ago when Sony pictures got broken into, I noticed hundreds of attempts to penetrate firewalls that I work with.  Through trace routes I realized many of these came from gaming computers which I believe were also compromised and were being used as proxies by the bad guys. I never read about it anywhere though. Shoot, several attempts were made by an ip address assigned to a real estate office in Washington state.

My point is that most people NEVER know that there system has been compromised.  Log files are difficult to look through and even more difficult to ascertain exactly what took place. People go all over the internet and install software from anywhere without verifying whether it's even safe or not.  That's fine, as long as its done on a machine that doesn't have any important or confidential information.  Its even worse when you have an office with a couple dozen employees and a couple of them like playing on the internet during their spare time.  Believe me, they can compromise the entire corporation.

Back to trying to keep it somewhat simple but still fairly secure.

Example:  I recently setup a system for a guy who has thousands of photos that he's taken and also has a substantial amount of confidential documents.  Without a big budget, We opted to create a personal Cloud Station using Synology Disk Station.  This is basically a box with two mirrored disk drives in it.  It is connected to the internal network behind a firewall via an Ethernet cable. It is available to his home entertainment system, desktop computer, laptop and tablet.  No access has been given across the internet.   The laptop and home computer both have files that are encrypted using TrueCrypt.  This is a great product and it is free.  When he logs into either the laptop or desktop, TrueCrypt asks for a password then mounts the encrypted file as if it was a separate volume.  Once mounted, it is then automatically synchronized with data on the Cloud Station that is also encrypted.  The encrypted folder can contain lots of stuff.  Some examples would be personal documents, photos, your top secret plans for creating some special invention, Ham Radio Deluxe log files and application configuration files such as those you might export from SmartSDR. The Synology CloudStation gets backed up using a Synology product as well as another free backup program called Cobain.  The laptop is only backed up using an occasional Windows System Image and is easily reconstructed.  The Desktop is a bit more complicated and is backup using the Cobain backup with the occasional system image.  Backups go onto 2Tb and 4Tb drives which are stored offsite.

Call him paranoid or ODD but he's pleased with how it works and feels confident in the event something is breached or stolen (provided he realizes it), He'll have enough time to change account passwords and re-secure things before the encryption keys are broken.

I've personally been using a system design very similar to this for several years. I've reconstructed my laptop and desktop from scratch several times and it is a very quick and painless process.

I'm now retired but I worked in the computer security field for many years. I don't trust the security of anything attached to the internet.  If it is attached to the internet, it can be breeched.  If you want something really really secure, keep it off the internet. I'm not talking about having it behind a firewall I'm talking about absolutely no wires or wireless to the outside world.  Its pretty hard to do that in the real world though.  A mediocre method would be to use VMware.  I use to use VMware and had copies of Windows and Linux installed on it.  When I used a browser to access the internet, it was only done via VMware.  I never had a virus and as far as I know, nothing was ever breeched.  I never saw any breeches in the logs anyway.  In the event a virus ever did screw things up all I would have had to do to recover would be to just deleted the VMware Windows OS file and restored one from backup.  The virtual machine keeps things very secure and tidy. It's almost like working in a sandbox.  When I was working in the IT industry, I often setup the virtual machine to reset itself after every logout.  In other words, the copy of windows in the virtual machine is restored to its original state every time someone logs out of it.

I have no idea why I started rambling so much here.  Sorry - I hope no one minds. I guess I could have just said, "Yep MS Windows System Images are great".

Norm - W7CK

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Peter K1PGV, Elmer

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don't trust the security of anything attached to the internet.  If it is attached to the internet, it can be breached.  If you want something really really secure, keep it off the internet.
Truer words were never spoken.

A corollary to this being "if you store it on the Internet (in 'the cloud', as they say) you are effectively making it public."

Peter K1PGV

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@ Norm

The products of TBH can do all of that and more (Truecrypt support is integrated). Nice piece on backup methodology.
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Greg - N8GD

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The Acronis or EaseUS Todo Backup solutions are both excellent.  The EaseUS program is free, but can be a little confusing even if its interface is simplistic.  Paying for Acronis TrueImage gets you a more useful interface and a lot more features, including e-mail or text notifications of backup status, etc.  Both solutions do incremental or differential imaging to external drives and are relatively fast.  EaseUS Todo will backup 50 GB in half an hour, or 100 GB in an hour on a USB 3.0 external drive.  Typical daily incremental backups are on the order of 1 GB and take less than 2 minutes.  Both soultions have schedulers built-in, so you can run them in the middle of the night.  I have a batch file that moves the current month's backups to another folder prior to the next month's backup starting.  That way I have a minimum of 28/29/30/31 day's backups.  You could expand that to even more folders/months archive.  With 2 terabyte drives being so cheap, external backup is a no brainer.  The built-in Microsoft imaging sounds nice, but it seems (from the explanation above) that it's something you have to jump through too many hoops to do things out of the ordinary.  Acronis and EaseUS have direct access to the images that permit mounting them as drives and copying and pasting files from the images to working drives in case you need to restore files only and not the whole drive.  Both have the capability of creating bootable recovery CD or USB disks that will allow restoration from the external drive if the Windows boot drive fails.

Another solution, if you need to just backup certain files (I do imaging AND individual file backups, both) on a daily basis is an open source program called FreeFileSybc (www.freefilesync.org).  It is easy to setup and use, and keeps files either synced or mirrored between two drives/folders/etc.  Check it out!


Greg - N8GD

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I use ShadowProtect Desktop by StorageCraft.  I install a backup drive inside each computer and schedule a weekly full backup and incremental backups as often as every 2 hours.  I also schedule a weekly backup to a Network Attached Storage (NAS.)  For my laptop I schedule a full backup once a month and an incremental backup every morning at 4:37 AM, all via the LAN to the NAS.  ShadowProtect Desktop powers up the laptop from hibernation and performs the backup to NAS since the laptop only has one SSD.  After the backup in the middle of the night, ShadowProtect Desktop puts my laptop back into hibernation.

As you would expect you can retrieve a file or folders from a backup image.  You can also do a full restore using any backup and any set of incremental backups which followed the full backup.

Now here is the really cool part.  ShadowProtect Desktop will perform cross-platform restorations.  So your computer dies and you buy a new computer.  ShadowProtect Desktop will restore the image and incrementals from your old computer AND install the required drivers on your new computer.  Unless you buy exactly the same motherboard a different set of drivers are required for all of the chipsets.

I have been using ShadowProtect Desktop for at least 6 years.  During that time I have retrieved files and folders from backups of computers that have long since gone out of service.  I have performed complete restores following crashes and I have performed cross-platform restorations.  All tasks have been performed without any problems.

I have no affiliation with StorageCraft but I do own 6 ShadowProtect Desktop licenses.  You can review their products at www.StorageCraft.com/Products.


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From Vista onward, Windows manages quite nicely on its own. I had about 8 different hardware swaps on the same windows install a few years ago (long story) and the only minor inconvenience that I had to suffer was an automated re-activation of my retail copy of windows. With XP, third party chipset drivers must be removed first or it's BSOD time.
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Thanks to all.
I used Acronis a number of years ago, they are offering a 3 computer deal right now and I took advantage of it.
Ham computer
Personal computer
XYL's Personal computer

Each backups to it's own connected USB 3.0 HD.

I'm not so concerned about backing up to the cloud.
I will think about that. There are Pros and Cons.
I guess the script kiddees can hack into my in house machines also and it's only a matter of time till they figure out how to hack the cloud.
Both systems have advantages and potential disadvantageous.

Thanks to all who replied