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Is External Hard Drive for me?

Discussion in 'All Other Software' started by jampot, Feb 9, 2007.

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  1. jampot

    jampot Thread Starter

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    Hi,

    I have an ageing PC and becoming more and more concerned about it crashing and have looked into the purchase of an external hard drive. I am confused by several things however. Firstly I have been told that if I purchase an external hard drive I will not be able to transfer all the files from my PC. I have a lot of applications that I have downloaded over a period of time and do not want to lose them. Will these transfer over onto the external hard drive and allow me to reinstall them?

    Also I have been told that in addition to the actual hard drive, you need to purchase separate software, such as Norton Ghost, in order to carry out the back up. Is this true or will the software come with the hard drive. I have 'Nero' which has a back up facility, would I be able to use this?

    I would be grateful if anyone could assist.

    Thanks
     
  2. smeegle

    smeegle

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    I have Windows ME and I got an external harddrive a couple of years ago. It was invaluable when my computer crashed a few months later. As far as backing up your information on your computer, I've never understood the concept of that. Before I could use my computer again I had to reinstall all of the original programs from the disks that came with it. That automatically erased everything that was already on my computer.
    You'll be able to find a lot of information on external harddrives by using the search feature on this site. The software comes with them and they are not difficult to use.
     
  3. jampot

    jampot Thread Starter

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    What about applications that have been downloaded from the net - would these need to be downloaded again? I thought the whole point of backing up your PC was to do just that - create a 'copy' which can then be restored to a new PC. I have seen software from Acronis which states that it creates an exact copy of your harddrive - would this be what I need?

    Maybe I'm not following this but if you need to manually restore everything from the original discs (assuming you've still got them) surely this limits the usefulness of backing up. I already have my photos/music/my documents backed up to disc - it is the programs and applications that I have that I don't want to lose.
     
  4. JohnWill

    JohnWill Retired Moderator

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    You need something like Acronis True Image that will create an image of the boot partition, and allow you to restore it exactly the way it appears now. This will allow you to replace the disk with a new one, and have your exact environment restored in minutes.
     
  5. escalader

    escalader

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    Hi, let me see if I can help (I'm an old IT guy but new here on TSG.)

    There are 2 types of file to move to a new computer. Programs which would either come with you new PC such as windows, word, excel etc etc. and then your personal data.

    An external hard drive ( I have one) would be perfect for storing all the personal data including photos.

    So unless you want to get into complex imaging of your whole system and learning how that can be used (or not) on a new PC just copy all the personal data to folders on the external HD.

    Then, when your new PC is loaded up with the same or updated software you will be able to access it direct from the external drive. You still need a backup data plan even if you don't get a new PC. Depending on the amount of data, you could use R/W DVD's which hold 4.7 GB each.

    Keep it simple ! Good luck
     
  6. JohnWill

    JohnWill Retired Moderator

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    Complex Imaging? :rolleyes: You need to get out more. It's very simple to do an image backup of your system with True Image, and it's the best way to backup EVERYTHING.

    You should also backup your data more often, but it's not at all difficult to create a complete image that can be restored in the case of a total crash.
     
  7. jampot

    jampot Thread Starter

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    Just to put this to bed here is my hypothetical example:

    I obtain an external HD and Acronis True Image. I transfer EVERYTHING from my hard drive to the external drive. I switch on my existing PC the following day after backing up and the hard drive has failed. I obtain a new PC, hook up my external hard drive - connect to my new PC and transfer EVERYTHING across (ie an EXACT copy of my old drive complete with all the files, folders, applications, programs etc)

    Is this oversimplification or reality?

    Thanks
     
  8. escalader

    escalader

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    Hi Guys this is fun now that they let me out on weekends.

    I 'm using imaging not with ATI but with Paragon Drive Backup 8.0 PE, so in a way I'm outed already. These are both good products one from what I read the other from my own use.

    Yes, it is possible to backup whole c drive and then restore exactly as John says. It is fast!

    I was simply pointing out a method that didn't require imaging software, if one looks at the official user sites for ATI and Paragon you get a feel for what I meant by complex. Does our original poster want to learn about differential backups etc. As to whether an old windows and all your applications would run on a brand new PC, let say with vista I don't know, I don't have any real examples to draw on to know. I worry if say you had an application that wasn't yet Vista compatible it would fail wouldn't it?

    Or can we impose the old windows via the image on the new PC? There is probably something fundamental I'm missing here, so I'm hoping to clarify this just a bit more.

    I have copied part of the publicly available PDB user guide to give a flavor of what you need to know.

    "Since the advent of the computer age the best way to protect valuable information was to store it in form of archives on external media. In case of hard disk malfunction, its contents could be restored from the archive. Then backup soon became a common term to mean making duplications of data for protection purposes.

    Nowadays backup has become an essential routine operation for any serious information work. A modern backup archive uses the so-called image, a snapshot of the whole disk system (or its separate partitions). It not only includes the contents of all user-made files, but additionally contains the exact structure of directories, information about file allocation, file attributes and other related data. A backup image Backup Image is an archive of the disk, which includes all the on-disk files and service information on the disk layout. To restore disks from such an archive means retrieving all informational components of the disk (e.g. a hard disk image consists of its partitions, the Partition Table and even bootstrap code). can be copied or moved like any ordinary file.

    The user can store backup images on external media (CD/DVDs). This guarantees a high level of data protection as long as the backup media is kept secure. It is possible to store backup images on a local network drive as well. Special server-side software enables to secure and store backup images for the entire network. For this purpose computers named backup servers are used. Such a backup server provides nearly the same level of protection as external media.

    However, should the user not have a local network and/or it is inconvenient to record data onto external media, then the backup images can be stored in a specially secured place on the hard disk. This place is referred to as the backup capsule, which has an independent system layout (e.g. a separate partition) that will stay operable should the active file system be damaged. To avoid an accidental removing or unauthorized access of the backup data, this partition is hidden and thus cannot be mounted in the operating system. A single hard disk may contain only one backup capsule Backup Capsule is a specially secured place on the hard disk which is used to store backup images. The backup capsule has an independent system layout (e.g. a separate partition) and is even operable when the active file system is damaged. To avoid a removal or unauthorized access to the data, this partition is hidden and cannot be mounted in the operating system. The content of the backup capsule is only available for browsing when using special software.. However, the user can attach another hard disk with an existing backup capsule to the computer and restore from that as well without any problems.

    It is only possible to browse the contents of the backup capsule by using special software. The system of wizards that is implemented into the program is designed to work with the backup capsule. Thus, by storing disk images in the backup capsule the user obtains a reliable level of data protection.

    The above-mentioned methods of storing backup images are implemented in the program. And all the necessary actions are performed by using the system of convenient wizards. This means that the user simply has to follow easy step-by-step instructions to make the appropriate settings. "

    Differential Backup
    As you probably know a regular backup image Backup Image is an archive of the disk, which includes all the on-disk files and service information on the disk layout. To restore disks from such an archive means retrieving all informational components of the disk (e.g. a hard disk image consists of its partitions, the Partition Table and even bootstrap code). includes all contents of a partition. In case the user needs to create multiple backup archives of the same partition, unchanged data is duplicated in all archives and takes additional space on backup media.

    Our program enables to archive only changes in the partition’s contents with respect to a complete archive. The creation of a differential archive usually takes more time than the creation of an ordinary one. However, a differential archive requires much less space than the appropriate number of ordinary full archives or backup images, thus considerably saving your system resources.

    Once the complete image of the partition is created, it can be used as a base or parental image for the differential backup. The program verifies whether the parental image corresponds to the partition being imaged or not. To distinguish between partitions, the program uses such partition's attributes as: location, capacity, file system type, and the serial number In the DOS partitioning scheme, every hard disk and every partition has a Serial Number, which consists of 32 bits and is represented by an 8-figure hexadecimal value. The hard disk's Serial Number is stored in the MBR. Its value is assigned when the MBR sector is initialized by standard disk managing tools from Microsoft, such as Windows Disk Administrator and FDISK utility. In fact, the hard disk's Serial Number is not important for most operating systems and software. It is known that Windows NT, 2000 and XP store hard disks' Serial Number values in the database of assigned drive letters. A partition's Serial Number is stored in its Boot Sector (in FAT16, FAT32 and NFTS file systems). Its value is assigned when the partition is formatted. In fact, the partition's Serial Number does not play an important role for most operating systems and software..

    The program performs the exact bit-wise comparison of the previous partition's data (saved in the parental image) with the current data (that is actually the partition itself). The difference in contents is saved in the new volume of differential backup archive. The volumes of the archive can be stored in different locations. This function is only available for single primary and logical partitions"

    As to whether an old windows and all your applications would run on a brand new PC, let say with vista I don't know, I don't have any real examples to draw on to know. I worry if say you had an application that wasn't yet Vista compatible it would fail wouldn't it?

    Or can we impose the old windows via the image on the new PC? John there is probably something fundamental I'm missing here, so I'm hoping you can clarify this just a bit more.
     
  9. JohnWill

    JohnWill Retired Moderator

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    Well, first off, you can't really restore a bootable image to a different machine and expect it to boot. However, you can mount a bootable image like a disk drive on a different system and access all the backed up files. In your scenario with a new and different PC, you'd have to reinstall Windows and the applications, but you'd have all the data.

    However, if your hard drive fails, you'd normally buy a new hard drive, not a whole new machine. In that case, you could restore to exactly where you were at the last image backup easily.
     
  10. Asirah

    Asirah

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    Jampot,

    John is right on about not being able to restore a drive image to a new PC. That's because it would have different hardware, and all the hardware drivers you have in windows now are for your current PC.

    If you are thinking about replacing your current PC you can just copy documents, data over to an external hard drive. But because the progams are written into the registry during an installation, and that registry also contains information about your hardware drivers...

    Well let's just say that it's impossible to pick and choose which parts of a Windows registry you want to restore.

    But I'm rambling...

    I advise to listen mainly to John Will if you want to keep it simple.
     
  11. finwood

    finwood

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    To answer one part of your question.....Unless you have saved your downloaded setup files you will not be able to install your apps that you got off of the internet. I do a lot of downloading, and usually about once or twice a year copy them to a dvd, or cd. A good program to catalog whats on a cd is Catfish. Get it at www.equi4.com. That way you don't have to sort through a bunch of disks to find what you need.
     
  12. jampot

    jampot Thread Starter

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    OK let me see if I have got this straight - the issue here as to what I can and can't back up seems to depend on what sort of reinstall is planned. If I back up my current C drive (including all the applications) to an external HD and a week later the original drive gives up the ghost then assuming I have a new drive fitted into my current PC I can reinstall EXACTLY to the state prior to the drive dying on me.
    If however I attempt to reinstall to a BRAND NEW PC then this appears either to be impossible or at the very least very difficult.
    Is this right?

    As a practicle example of what I am concerned about is the application PSP Video9 which over a prolonged period of time I have tweaked and saved a number of user profiles that I use to transfer content onto my PSP.

    Should my drive fail, yes I could download the application again, but all the profiles would be lost. Also some of the other applications that I have gathered over time have become extinct so that I would not be able to download again even if I could. Does the point finwood makes cover the situation where files are transferred to a new PC?
     
  13. JohnWill

    JohnWill Retired Moderator

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    RIGHT!

    RIGHT!
    See example one, no sweat.

    Again, if you restore the image to the same machine configuration with a new hard disk, it's no problem. If you get a new PC, it's a lot more work.
     
  14. jampot

    jampot Thread Starter

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    OK John one or two more questions (sorry!)

    1. I have heard that when a PC crashes a new motherboard is required instead of/as well as a new HD. Would the scenario given above cover me if I required a new motherboard? (ie as long as reinstall is to the same PC things would be OK?)

    Bearing in mind my PC is around 6 years old this is a real concern. Is one more likely to happen that the other (I know that's kind of an impossible question to answer, but on the balance of probabilities)

    2.Given the problems associated with transferring EVERYTHING to a new PC with different configurations etc, isn't software that promises a COMPLETE TRANSFER of everything from PC 1 to PC 2 preying on peoples naivety - its never as easy as it says on the box!) (I include myself in this group by the way!)

    3.Would it be a straightforward matter to physically connect 2 WORKING PC's together and transfer everything: in other words is the problems associated with attempting to reinstall to a new PC related to the fact that the reinstall is being attempted from an external HD as opposed to the physical PC itself or would the same issues mentioned earlier still apply?

    Thanks
     
  15. JohnWill

    JohnWill Retired Moderator

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    Nope, a re-install is usually required. You can recover all the data stored in the True Image file.
    It's probably time to simply bite the bullet and get the new machine and start with a fresh installation.
    It's not as easy as it says on the box. ;)
    The same issues apply. You still have to install the applications, though you can transfer many settings. There simply isn't a free lunch. :D
     
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