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Tip #3: Back Up!

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50 comments on “Tip #3: Back Up!”

  1. Leo: I agree with you about backing up. I am running Linux Mint 17.2, and Linux 14.04 on my laptops. Can you recommend a user friendly program for backing up these Linux operating systems ?

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  2. I’m entirely a newbie in the ‘backing up’ thing, and you’re entirely right. I hesitate at using new things because I’m afraid to break the darned things. I have both an IT guy and a computer programmer in the family, but their solutions usually start with the word ‘just do this’. It makes me feel stupid.
    So, I have Windows 8. What is the first step in backing up, and what do I start with? Thanks!

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  3. How does EasyUS Todo handle PCs that have a UEFI bios? I have been using Paragon’s Hard Drive Manager 14 Pro to make system images for backups. Recently, I needed to do a restore and found out that I can’t even boot up my back up software because it is no longer compatible with changes to the UEFI bios that Microsoft updates made (after one month). Trying to work around this issue is quite complicated and has not been generally successful. As a result, I have gone back to using the inherent Windows 7 back up system. No one seems to take into account problems caused by the UEFI bios when restoring from backups.

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  4. First off, I’m with you 100% on EASUS for backing up, and I consider a clone the best backup. EASUS does this easily, and it does it for Linux operating system as well as it’s a stand alone program (Andy Furlong’s inquiry). I know Leo loves the occasional reload of the OS CLEAN, to clean out the dust in the corners, but getting my machine back the way I want it after a clean install has become onerous. One thing I recommend, is to shrink your windows ‘C’ drive before cloning it, then you can expand it after. This will allow you to use an older smaller hard drive, or partition a newer drive to get multiple clones on a single drive. An added benefit is the clone goes faster. Windows 7 and later does this reasonably well.

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  5. This may seem a strange question but – since I have yet to suffer a disaster that requires a full system back-up, how do I know that my back ups, either with the Windows “Backup and Restore” in control panel (scheduled every day to an external hard drive) or the occasional Macrium back up, will work when that disaster strikes?

    Do I have to risk using a backup that may not work, to test it on my only lap-top?
    What happens if it doesn’t work?
    Have I lost my operating system?
    Is there a step by step checklist that we mere mortals can use to test the functionality of our back-up without actually overwriting the whole operating system?
    I have had occasion to use a “Restore Point” but is this the same thing as backing up?

    Sorry if it seems to be a lot of questions but, to be honest, I’m one of the scared ones – afraid to try what seems to be a leap in the dark.

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    • I have used Macrium (free) to make an image back up of my system drive many times. Each time I did a verify and I checked if the file was accessible. However when I tried to restore, it did not work. So I have to find another program. Of course I copy my data regularly to another drive. Thanks a lot anyway, Leo, for all your good advice.

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    • “I have had occasion to use a “Restore Point” but is this the same thing as backing up?” – No, it isn’t. System Restore is more like an undo option: it rolls your system settings and system files back to an earlier point in time without affecting your personal files (documents, photos, etc.). While it may be useful in some situations, it will not help if your computer has died or experiences an issue that System Restore cannot fix. This is where a backup comes into play.

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  6. I bought a Western Digital My Book external hard drive to back up my PC and store photos. The program that came with the hard drive is very confusing and because of this the drive is sitting on a shelf collecting dust. Some kind of step by step instructions would definitely be helpful.

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  7. I have been using EaseUS Todo Backup for 2-1/2 years now, and I am very pleased with it. Right now I am using their Workstation version 8.8. I chose the Workstation edition because of the ability to restore to dissimilar hardware. I have tested that out and it works perfectly. Another factor to consider is support. I have emailed EaseUS many times over the 2-1/2 years and have always received a fast response. I also stumbled onto several undocumented features because I like to play around. One that I think is useful I will mention here. You can actually start two backups and when the first one completes, the second one will run without you having to do anything. I have used this feature to first make an image of my C: drive, then make a backup of one of my USB drives. I set the first backup to “Do nothing” when completed, and to “Shut down” after the second backup.

    Oh, and to Phil Lense’s question, EaseUS has an option for burning a UEFI rescue disk.

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  8. I have been using Cobian Backup by Cobiansoft for at least 10 years now. Ever since my first computer hard drive crash. At lot of data loss and grief over not having a backup. A hard lesson to learn, but a big wake up call on having everything backed up to a secondary drive.
    What is your view on Cobian Backup. I find it exteamly easy to use and set up.

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    • Cobian Backup is no longer being supported or updated. I’d switch to another app. Veeam Endpoint FREE, Macrium and even the tools built into Windows would all be better options.

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  9. When I was a programmer, the first program I installed on any system was a backup program which I had to write myself in those days. And I ran it every day. It would have been foolhardy to do otherwise. Imagine what would happen if there was a head crash (damaged hard drive) after all the work I’d put into the system. This still applies to any computer. Aren’t you glad Macrium and Easeus etc. do the work for you?

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  10. I think that there is sometimes (often) confusion w.r.t. Backup.
    By this, I mean that there are several options available; Typically,
    There is Full Disk Backup, where you may want to swap out your HDD;
    Backing up Home files etc., if you need/want, to carry out a fresh Re-install;
    There is Incremental Backup, where only the Alteration, is Loaded;
    And there is a Backup, where you may wish to save any Other programmes,
    software or Downloads, to re-install.
    I think that the ‘problem’ for MOST people, is that you may need to know Where
    these Files reside, as if you miss them, they are lost, forever.
    Maybe, an Article w.r.t. to where your Information resides, would be of use, so that
    one may NOT leave behind, say, your Firefox or Thunderbird files, etc., etc.

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    • On the contrary – any such article would almost immediately be wrong – either for someone right now, or for someone else in a day or two as things change.

      That’s why I so strongly recommend image backups. An image backup includes everything on your hard drive.

      I have many articles on the topic here on Ask Leo!.

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  11. Leo, yesterday I emailed this to EaseUS TODO Customer Service:

    “I see TODO Backup Workstation includes “Transfer system to different PC.”

    Does this mean that when my 8-year-old computer finally dies and gets
    replaced, I can restore the image from my current computer to it?

    That doesn’t seem possible. Different drivers, 64-bit not 32, etc.

    Please clarify.

    Otherwise, I’ll use the free version … with much gratitude.

    But I’d be glad to pay $39 if the image can somehow be put onto a new
    computer.”
    ——————-

    This is their reply:

    “EaseUS Todo Backup Workstation can do this job. When running the ‘System Transfer’, you will get prompted to manually add the drivers of hardware on the target machine. Hence if you purchased the Workstation edition, you need to prepare the drivers.”
    ——————-

    Leo, what do you think? It would be well worth $39 to not spend a full day or more setting up a new computer. But is the reply from EaseUS the whole story? If not, what’s the rest of it?

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    • Isn’t this process, a bit like Dropbox, etc., where you basically use ‘the Cloud’
      (someone else’s computer) to store your files?

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    • “Does this mean that when my 8-year-old computer finally dies and gets replaced, I can restore the image from my current computer to it?” – Theoretically, yes. Note, however, the bare metal restores to dissimilar hardware can be problematic. Sometimes they work; sometimes they don’t. I think it’s much better to start fresh: reinstall your programs and then restore your files from a backup. For sure, it’s less convenient doing it this way, but it’s much more reliable.

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      • “I think it’s much better to start fresh: reinstall your programs and then restore your files from a backup.”

        Ray, I agree completely. But it takes SO MUCH TIME to reinstall all my applications. And then the settings, plug ins, extensions, etc, that no one can remember. And the Favorites and Bookmarks. Importing them is easy; remembering to back them up, sometimes not. Data backup takes time, but is basically just copying to the new drive, something that can be started and left to run. It’s everything else that takes forever, and rarely is everything remembered or set correctly in the new PC.

        I’d be glad to pay for the ability to “transplant” my old computer into my new one. I understand the technical reasons it’s hard, but I’m looking forward to the day it’s possible.

        And EaseUS Customer Support says, if I read them correctly, that it is possible (less drivers). I’m asking Leo to confirm that.

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        • “And EaseUS Customer Support says, if I read them correctly, that it is possible (less drivers).” – You did indeed read them correctly and it does work….sometimes. What EaseUS Todo Backup Workstation and similar programs do is to enable the Windows Hardware Abstraction Layer (HAL.dll) to be altered so that the new system’s mass storage boot device and NIC drivers are installed during the recovery process. Other device drivers are then either added manually or automatically installed by Windows post-recovery.

          In my experience, restores to dissimilar hardware work about 75% of the time. When it doesn’t work, running a repair installation sometimes fixes things but, if that doesn’t help, it can be a real challenge to get the system up and running.

          Another issue to consider is Windows licensing. If you have an OEM version of Windows or upgraded to Windows 10 for free then your Windows’ license is likely tied to your current PC’s hardware. Obviously, this would create problems if you tried to migrate your installation to a new PC. Whether there’s a workaround for this, I don’t know. Maybe Leo or somebody else can confirm.

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    • I suspect that locating the drivers would be a bit of work and perhaps even beyond some folks, but not having run their solution I can’t say for certain. Ultimately solutions like this make me uneasy. What I know is that a clean install is always the most stable.

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      • Yup, cleaning installing and reloading/resetting your programs and preferences is a time-consuming job, but it’s the best way to ensure a new PC is stable and performs optimally.

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        • Ray Smith — Thanks. Believe I’ll keep making images with Reflect and then, when I replace my computer eventually, use TODO to make images for it. Appreciate your input, especially on the ability to (sometimes) put an image on a different computer. That was definitely new to me.

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  12. This is a great topic Leo. With your recommendation yesterday I downloaded and tried EasusToDo backup. It is excellent in my view. However, I want to make some recommendations that, I am sure you have thought about, but I will make them anyway. When I read the postings re your article yesterday it became very apparent that there are many naysayers out there…and many computer users who are not sure of what they are doing. My recommendation for your next video is to let people know they should make the image, and then check the image…this is possible with this backup program. Secondly, once they do this, they should do a recovery of the image in order to gain experience with how all of this works. Once the image is successfully recovered you will have accomplished your mission. I did the above described sequence today and it works perfectly. All too often, people do not trust that it will work and it is very easy to lose interest in the whole process. Thanks once again Leo for your very helpful articles and keep up the good work.
    Addendum: In your remarks to the readership it would be best to advise them to do the following:
    1) if it is their main computer…tread very carefully…as a matter of fact they should make sure they have backed up manually all of their data before they try to recover the image
    2) secondly, it would be best if they go through this process on a second computer where all of their data and programs are not at risk
    best regards,
    Richard Christensen
    Toronto, Ontario

    Reply
    • I did what Richard suggested in order to test out EaseUS. I don’t know how dissimilar two PS’s have to be before restoring to dissimilar hardware does not work, but I “restored” my Dell Optiplex 755 image to a Dell Dimension 5150 with no problems at all. My backup strategy is to take an image about once a week, after getting updates from Microsoft. I backup all of my data files daily. This way, all I have to do in am emergency is restore the image, then restore the latest data backup and I am current. I had to do this for real and it worked great!

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  13. In making an image backup, does the second one over ride the first or does it keep making new image backups? Also once the external drive if full, do you just delete the first ones? Thanks for all the help you give us, Leo

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    • Normally, unless you schedule the backup to remove a previous backup in the scheduling options, you would have to manually remove it.

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    • “In making an image backup, does the second one over ride the first or does it keep making new image backups?” – It keeps making new ones. Some backup programs allow you to automatically delete older images; some do not. If the program you’re using doesn’t support automatic deletion, you’ll need to do it manually.

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  14. Leo,
    I have made the image of my windows 7 system using Easus Todo Backup as you suggested in your article. Now I am wondering if it is essential to make an emergency disk using Easus Todo Backup and if so how does one use this emergency repair disk?
    thanks,
    Richard

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    • It’s a good idea, but you can make them as and when needed. However I’ll be covering that in upcoming video, and in the EaseUS Todo book when it’s published.

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  15. Having recent system image backups on both my computers has been a life saver for me again just in the past week, not only to not lose files, folders, programs, etc. but to save hours it would take to start from scratch to reinstall windows , service patches, etc. just to get my computers back up and running. After getting my old vista machine running great again with a backup, I ran into trouble trying to download and install Windows updates, though. I even went back to an earlier system image hoping that would automatically fix the update problem. It didn’t. But I did learn that my backups were working. Eventually, I did get all the Win backups (long story) and everything was great again on that computer.

    A day later my newest machine wouldn’t shut down after downloading the patch Tuesday Win updates. Much wasted time later looking for shut down solutions, I tried going back to a previous restore point–something that always worked on my Vista machine. Great shock when, instead of going into a normal restore, Dell Backup and Recovery took control of my machine, said it was doing a repair and if that didn’t work it was going to set my computer back to factory state!! I did try Dell BR program early on, hated it, uninstalled it from my computer and switched to AOMEI Backupper–how in the heck did dell get there now…still don’t know…but there was no other option given and no backing out.

    Then the ‘lightbulb’ went off and I grabbed my trusty Passport external drive (yet again), popped it in, started a restore from my latest AOMEI system image. Watched TV for an hour and came back to a fully restored computer. Got the Win updates downloaded and installed finally, too.

    So all is well…until the next time. *sigh* lol Not fun, but it could have been so very much worse!

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  16. Hi, Leo. I just watched your Tip #3 video and found it helpful. I purchased an external hard drive for backup. My question is: If I use the hard drive to backup without a program, just set it to automatically backup, will everything on my laptop be copied to the external hard drive each time I backup? And if so, how do I delete the earlier backups from the hard drive–before I run out of “space”? Thanks!

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    • “Without a program” – no such thing. There IS a program, even if it’s Windows own backup program. Unfortunately I can’t answer your question since it depends on exactly HOW you configure your backup.

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