You never know when “life” will happen-loss, theft, damage, infection, etc-and I’ve been unprepared too many times. So I’ve created a complete backup & restore strategy, which has reduced my downtime from as much as a week, to under a day. I figured someone somewhere out there might find this useful.
If you don’t have backups, MAKE THEM NOW. Below are some tools and tips for simplifying backups and gathering all the necessary information to restore your system before you need it.
I highly recommend Carbonite (http://www.carbonite.com/) to manage and store backups. For less than $5 a month I get unlimited, online, instant backups with an intuitive tool for managing it all. My backed-up files appear as drive on my computer and can be accessed easily any time I’m online. And, their customer service was very responsive the one time I had to deal with them.
I’ve tried other tools such as Mozy, which is similar to Carbonite except it’s not unlimited or instant. And its tool for managing backups is frustrating and confusing. When I had an issue, their customer service was very unresponsive and unable to correct my problem. It’s even more expensive.
I’ve also tried manually copying important files to an external hard drive, but it turns out I’m not very reliable. Plus, it slowed down my computer while it was copying, and it took forever. That’s probably why I couldn’t stay on top of it.
- The simplest way to ensure all desired files get backed up is store them all within a single directory. Obviously, you can have as many sub-directories within that as you need. The My Documents folder on PCs and the Home directory on Macs are the natural choice for backed up files.
- If you use an email client such as Outlook, make sure that the data file (.pst) is saved in this backed-up directory. Also, make a list of all the email address for which you use this client. Include both incoming and outgoing mail server names, logins, and passwords. And save this list in the backed-up directory.
- If you’re using Firefox, move the bookmark file to your backup folder. For instructions on how to do this, see here: http://ilias.ca/blog/2006/04/customize-the-firefox-bookmarks-location/.
- Make a list of all the software you have installed on your computer. Include passwords, serial numbers, activation codes, URLs, phone numbers, and anything else you might need to install all the software. PRINT this list and put it somewhere safe, especially if it contains passwords.
- Gather all the installation discs required to install your software, and store them together.
I start by installing all my software first and worrying about my files afterward. Below is the order in which I install everything.
- Operating system
- Operating system updates
- Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook)
- Outlook email accounts
- Visual Studio
- Yahoo messenger
- Blackberry sync software
- MS Money
- Secure shell
- Adobe Flash player
- Adobe Reader
- Amazon MP3 downloader
- Audible manager
Restoring files is easy with Carbonite. Once the client is installed, you can simply go to the drive that appears on your desktop and select the files you wish to restore.
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