It has been a while (quite a while!) since I last updated here. I apologise for coming back with something as tedious as backups but unfortunately there isn’t much going on at the moment so I can’t really give you anything interesting to read. Now, I haven’t really been a personal backup type person, I’ve got a RAID 1 NAS unit that I keep important info on, and I’ve got backup software, but I don’t really backup properly. However, I have decided that it is probably a good idea…
I recently screwed up my PC’s internet connection good and proper, which led me to re-image my machine. I use a program called Acronis True Image Home for making a clean install image that I can then restore as and when I like. The problem with this is that over time, you get programs installed and things set up just right and when you put that initial image back onto the machine it all disappears. Bummer.
So, what to do? Well, like I said, I took my “base” image using Acronis True Image Home, so I decided that it would be an idea to have a look and see if I can configure it to do what I needed. Firstly I had to set up a backup location, which I decided would be best if it was the NAS. True Image Home works flawlessly over a network so I have no issues with that and storing the data on the NAS will provide redundancy. The next step was to decide what to back up and how often. I use my email a lot, so I figured it was best to back that up daily. Along with my email, I back up other little personalisations of my profile, like Start menu folders and Quick Launch icons. Small things, but you really notice when they aren’t how you’ve got them set to your liking. Running a couple of test backups shows the daily backup to be around 40MB, depending on the amount of email I have, which completes in just a couple of minutes. This I scheduled as a full backup for early afternoon, at 3.00PM as my machine is frequently on during the day and if not, the backup will run as soon as the machine is turned on.
I then moved onto the machine itself. Obviously, this is going to be a much bigger backup. As I don’t install software too often, or change the configuration too much, I figured a once a month full backup is probably worthwile. This will run in the morning, doing a complete backup of the C: drive and for 20GB of data will take about an hour; using maximum compression gives an image of around 10GB.
Obviously, the strategy I’ve taken here is an attempt to minimise potential system downtime. If I screw my machine up again, I can restore the previous month’s computer image and then restore the last working profile image and any data loss should be minimal. Of course the real test is when something does happen and I have to restore. While it’s always good to test your backups, you won’t ever know until the fan has turned brown if they do what you need. I hope that I don’t have to let you know if it works or not, though I expect to.
Of course there are alternatives to Acronis – the best known is Symantec Ghost, but having used a few different packages, for my needs Acronis is the best.