Backing up your data

  • In this thread, we're gonna discuss best ways (or our ways) of backing up our data - i.e. various stuff usually present as useful (or otherwise for the "good memory" stuff which isn't actually useful but that we ain't eager to miss) files in our devices' memory.

    The incentive comment was made in another thread: you may wish to take a look at the above one as well.

    So, there are ways:

    • backing up stuff on another disk WITHIN the same system
    • a USB or similar drive (not a single one, I reckon),
    • CD/DVD drives,
    • an external disk/harddrive,
    • on the Net.

    Also, we understand that there may be different categories of stuff we'd rather back up one way or another. And I think that those require a bit different approach, as well as different places to reserve in.
    Besides, if you're a celebrity, cloud servers may represent risks. Like from some recent news when a "star" or two's such accounts were hacked and the content publicised:) (Or if you're a business, your data is of higher risk for indecent targeting.)

    Now, let's take the ways mentioned above under the magnifying glass. 🙂

  • As it happens, I've just had occasion to do that after having updated a few things. The "Downloads" file is always getting new stuff, I had to update "Taxula 2014" (something I have to keep track of monthly as it happens), some photos have been added and my bookmarks needed to be backed up. Enter the trusty USB drive, still plenty of room on that thing.

  • USB is insecure because non-recoverable data in case of failure. Better using RAID-Arrays!

    Backup to a LAN storage as NAS boxes with RAID (configure them safe, dont let them connect to internet) 😉

  • Michael, what did he just say?
    I understood the word "internet"! :idea:

  • Don't know if I can help much. How good are you at setting up computer networks?

    USB, you should already know. The failure he mentions is very real, these USB thumb-drives can and do fail and when they do, the failure is usually catastrophic loss of data stored on the device. If you use these, use more than one-- they're cheap enough-- so you have at least one that is good.

    About the rest: LAN is Local Area Network. Basically, any computer in your home network, any printers attached and so on.

    NAS= Network-Attached-Storage. That external hard-drive comes to mind.

    RAID= Redundant Array of Independent Disks. OK, use more external hard-drives for your backup. One of them should work.

    I'm a big fan of not making the thing more complicated than it has to be. I make copies of my files on the USB drive, so in the event that I need to access them it's not that hard. I can retrieve these files on any USB-equipped computer.

  • I still don't understand who those dont are 😛

  • OK, he forgot the apostrophe. He meant "don't let these devices get connected to the Internet" or words to that effect.

  • Strange thing, I couldn't find this thread in the list of my threads...

    O'k, again about backing up Opera files&folders.
    Just was up to it. The question is, quite a few files in the actual folder appeared less in size than those backed up quite a while ago - why?
    Also, some new files seem to have appeared in the actual folder. Why?
    I hadn't been expecting a Presto to act that alive, if you know what I mean...
    😕

  • USB, you should already know. The failure he mentions is very real, these USB thumb-drives can and do fail and when they do, the failure is usually catastrophic loss of data stored on the device. Almost no way to <font color=gray>recover</font> them if you use these , use more than one-- they're cheap enough-- so you have at least one that is good.
    About the rest: LAN is Local Area Network. Basically, any computer in your home network, any printers attached and so on.
    NAS= Network-Attached-Storage. That external hard-drive comes to mind.
    RAID= Redundant Array of Independent Disks. OK, use more external hard-drives for your backup. One of them should work.
    I'm a big fan of not making the thing more complicated than it has to be. I make copies of my files on the USB drive, so in the event that I need to access them it's not that hard. I can retrieve these files on any USB-equipped computer.

    I totally agree ! There is no need to make things complicated. Indeed, a portable hard drive is enough for most users in most cases. Another convenient way is to use cloud service, like Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, etc...

  • @blackbird71:
    If you've got Windows shadow-copy enabled on that system, you may be able to pull up an earlier file version by right-clicking the current bookmarks file in Explorer, select the Previous Versions tab, and select one of the earlier versions that appears (if any), dated before the sync event.

    So, how do you enable that?

  • @blackbird71:
    If you've got Windows shadow-copy enabled on that system, you may be able to pull up an earlier file version by right-clicking the current bookmarks file in Explorer, select the Previous Versions tab, and select one of the earlier versions that appears (if any), dated before the sync event.

    So, how do you enable that?

    You generally have to be using Windows Vista or later with Volume Snapshot Service (VSS) enabled for it to work for the usual kind of retrieval purposes, and you have to be using an NTFS-formatted file system on the drive. Windows XP had an early version of this feature as well, but the shadow copies of files did not persist across a reboot, so you could only use it to pull up copies of files you were working on and saving during the current computer session - and only if you had the feature enabled. A limited capability to save 512 total file 'persistent' copies for a disk volume (that would survive a reboot) was added with Win Server 2003, but that generally didn't impact the typical XP user.

    In Vista or higher, to enable VSS, one simply enables the Backup/Restore feature of Windows, being sure to provide for adequate disk space to store multiple copies of both altered files and system restore points. (As new sys restore points are added, older data is shoved out of the storage space, so shadow-copied file versions may be limited in how many or how far back they can be retrieved depending on the file-change level of activity and how often system-restore save points are recorded.) I actually run Win7, but I assume the Vista VSS is set up in the same way.

    I've used shadow-copy retrieval in several instances when the file involved wasn't one I typically back up as personal data, and I didn't want to bother digging it out of a full system backup image. If you've got a fairly ample backup/restore space set aside, it can be a really handy and easy way to go back to an earlier file copy for files that get modified occasionally but aren't typically backed up otherwise with any frequency.

  • Thanks.

    What is "reserving copy" or "reserve copying of the system"? I don't know it in English - such terms happen to appear rather differing in a usual sense...
    It's in XP, and I wonder - if I hit it, what will it back up/copy (where?): only the system folder(s) and some additional stuff maybe? The entire disk on which the system resides? The entire file system - like everything copyable?

  • I'm not sure of the meaning of 'reserve copy(ing)' unless it has to do with setting a "Restore Point" or tweaking Restore Point settings in XP. What is the context in which you see it? That is, how do you bring up the 'reserve copy' terms on your screen?

    System Restore is found by entering Control Panel > System (be sure you're in "classic view" to see the System icon) > System Restore tab. You can adjust the amount of your drive space consumed by the System Restore storage area (which is default-set to 12% of your total drive space). Normally System Restore is turned on by default in XP, unless it has been manually turned off via the System Restore tab (which will immediately dump any and all saved restore points). Restore points are backups of key system files and settings; new restore points will be auto-created upon most apps program installations, driver updates, OS updates, manual roll-backs to an old restore point, and automatically every 24 hours (default) if the system is idle at that time. Typically, restore points contain registry copies and various OS metadata and configuration files. What isn't contained are passwords, personal data files, user profile data, and certain apps files. You can learn more here: http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/tutorials/windows-xp-system-restore-guide/ Restore points themselves are useful to recover from a debilitating system crash; they are 'iffy' in recovering from a debilitating apps crash; and they are useless in preserving user data lost by a crash. Only in Vista and higher does the VSS service that provides restore-pointing also provide persistent 'housing' for shadow-copy backups of data and other files, as noted earlier.

    There are also some other 'copy' aspects that may be found in XP. First, there may be a backup utility (native to XP Pro and optional to be manually installed from XP Home's install disk in the \VALUEADD\MSFT\NTBACKUP folder). This creates a single backup file of up to 4 Gb on a hard-drive which can then be copied to CD or DVD. Second, there may be an Automated System Recovery feature integrated into the backup utility that lets you restore to the state that existed at the time the ASR backup was created; it creates an ASR backup floppy of system settings and then creates a backup copy to safe media of user-specified files from the computer for use after a reinstall of XP. Both of these can be rather awkward to use and limited in what they will do. I doubt either is related to the terminology you mentioned.

  • I don't remember where I saw that - it was next to some "System restore" in some place like some unfolding menu somewhere.
    Tried to find it now but failed.

    Well, that "Резервное копирование" might mean rather "Back-up copy(ing)" or like that. Not sure where it was.

    This creates a single backup file of up to 4 Gb on a hard-drive which can then be copied to CD or DVD.

    If you meant gigabytes, it's rather "GB" - like in "Great Britain";)

    Well, right, I guess I'll make a snap next time I come across it.
    My impending problem might be going to be as follows: what do I back up if I'm about to try installing a new OS on this computer? I thought of backing up pretty everything, but...
    It's in case something goes wrong, you know.

  • If it were me, I'd make a full-blown backup drive-image sufficient to clone the system drive (including the drive's system-level/boot elements - sometimes that has to be specified by the user when creating an image). That way, if all else fails, you can get back to exactly where you currently are, no matter what havoc a new OS install attempt might cause. However, the target place where you store such a backup has to be big enough to accept the full image, and it has to be accessible in the event bad things happen to the new OS install. (That is, if you backup to a spare drive in the computer or to an external drive, you need to have some sort of rescue disk available to recognize, access, and recover the image from that backup drive since you may not have a functioning native OS or apps to do it. Most decent commercial or freeware imaging software is able to help you create the necessary compatible rescue disk.)

    Otherwise, one gets into the innumerable details of what exactly you have and will need to recover. If you have the install disks for the old OS and each current app, you could get by with a LOT less backing up (needing to preserve only your apps' personal data and settings files). However, full reconstruction from that sparse backup level is a very time-consuming task and will involve perhaps many online software updates having to be retrieved (which can be an uncertain process if the software is old and the updates no longer online). Moreover, there are probably many customizations of the OS and the various apps which you've made over the years, and only some of these will you remember how to do manually after a complete re-install. Hence, full-blown backups are usually the preferred way to go to get back to where you presently are.

  • Imaging software?
    Right, I'd like to preserve the system with all those system updates, not bare outdated by year 1875 or something. As well as a handful of this-system compatible apps, including a couple of browser setups maybe.
    🆙

  • If you want a snapshot record of your entire system software suite as it stands on any given date, imaging software is really the only way to go. It can be obtained in either paid or free versions of various brands. And as with anything else in the software world, if you ask 20 users their opinions of which is 'best', you'll likely get 25 different answers. One neat thing about images is that you can make as many of them as you have storage space for - a useful trick to make sure at least one of them will have survived the ravages of time when you really, really need it. I keep different-dated images on 2 different spare internal hard drives, on two different external drives, and on some DVDs.

  • Back in the 20th century, I caught up with computers whose entire internal space was like 64 kB. Right.
    No such thing as customisable programs, hardly any internet anywhere, every utility, or game, was on extra by default:)
    Magnetic tapes in cassettes, usually a program or two could fit on one: plugging your cassette player to the PC, half an hour - you can play tetris! :wizard:

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