Disaster Recovery

What you should already know about Windows XP Backup

For many small to midsize businesses, the native backup utility in Microsoft Windows XP is sufficient to handle data backup and recovery chores. Here's a look at how you can make Windows Backup meet your needs most effectively.

Data backups aren't as exciting as dual-core Intel chips that dual-boot Mac OS X and Windows XP, but maintaining a sound back-up strategy can prevent excitement of a different kind (the kind you don't want). Although technology professionals can choose from a confusing array of OEM, proprietary, and third-party solutions, Windows' native back-up program often proves adequate for meeting the data backup and recovery requirements of most small and medium businesses. The trick is in knowing Windows Backup's benefits and drawbacks. By playing to the utility's strengths, you can eliminate unwanted excitement and keep your workday low key.

This blog post is also available in the PDF format as a TechRepublic download.

#1: It's proven (i.e., no one ever got fired for buying IBM...)

No one in their right mind wants to explain to a client or director why a backup or recovery operation failed. Losing data is among the greatest technology sins, so it's only appropriate that the job be entrusted to a reliable solution. The old saying reminds us that "No one ever got fired for buying IBM." The same holds for technology professionals in small or medium-size businesses who opt for using Microsoft tools.

Although many criticize Microsoft's native Backup tool for its lack of sophistication and flexibility, the Windows utility's lack of complexity is its greatest strength. Windows Backup provides a simple and proven method for safeguarding data. Further, it's a capable tool for backing up data to a medium that's easily stored off site.

#2: The wizard is your friend

Sure, you can elect to work in Backup's Advanced mode (see Figure A), but wizards simplify complex tasks. More important, they help ensure that you don't forget a step. And let's face it, when the phone's ringing and you're downloading a service pack, applying a patch, and configuring a backup, it's easy to overlook a setting.

Figure A

Windows Backup's Advanced Mode lets you specify all backup configuration details manually.
There's a reason wizards dominate Windows Small Business Server administration: They work. When creating a critical backup, take a few extra moments to allow the wizard shown in Figure B to walk you through the process.

Figure B

The Windows Backup Or Restore Wizard simplifies back-up creation and helps ensure that you don't miss critical configuration settings (such as scheduling the backup to occur  daily or configuring an Incremental versus a Normal backup).

The Backup Or Restore Wizard first asks whether you want to back up or restore files and settings. Assuming you specify a back-up operation, the next step involves specifying the data you want to back up. You can elect to back up local files and folders as well as network shares, of course.

After you configure the data to be backed up, you'll have to select the back-up location. I've encountered clients who back up data to the same hard disk, believing it's a second disk (due to its being partitioned and possessing a different drive letter). Backups always work best when a copy is stored off site, thereby protecting against fire/smoke/water damage that might occur at the central place of business.

Next, the wizard will prompt you to provide a name for the backup. It will then provide a summary screen, shown in Figure C. But you're not through yet.

Figure C

The wizard's summary screen leads you to believe you're just about finished configuring the new backup; you're not. You still need to configure advanced settings.

Click Advanced to configure the type of backup:

  • Normal backs up all files and marks each as backed up.
  • Copy backs up files but does not mark them as backed up.
  • Incremental backs up files only if they were created or modified since the last back-up operation completed and marks them as backed up.
  • Differential backs up only those files created since the last backup completed, but unlike Incremental backups, a Differential backup doesn't mark the files as backed up.
  • Daily backs up only files created or modified that day (without changing files' archive bits).

Once you've specified the back-up type, the wizard presents two options: Verify Data After Backup and Disable Volume Shadow Copy. A third option, Use Hardware Compression If Available, will appear if the system has the appropriate equipment. Make your selections and specify whether to append or replace the backup, select a time for the backup to run, and enter a back-up name (this name identifies the back-up operation, not the .BKF file the backup creates). Enter a user account with the appropriate permissions to run the back-up operation and then provide the password.

Before clicking Next to finish creating the back-up routine, click Set Schedule. Use the Schedule tab to specify how often and when the backup should run. Use the Settings tab to configure additional options, such as the length of time the backup has to complete the process and whether the backup should run even if the power fails and the system's battery power kicks in.

Once those settings are configured, you're finished with the wizard. You can rest assured all important steps have been considered (even if you're interrupted mid-process by a telephone call).

#3: You must watch names when creating new backups

When creating backups using Windows Backup Or Restore Wizard, you need to provide a name for the back-up routine. In fact, you must enter two names -- one to identify the back-up operation itself (the job name) and another for the actual .BKF file that Backup creates (the backup name). They're easy to confuse, and worse, Windows Backup remembers the last names you used and displays them by default; it's easy to overwrite an existing routine or back-up file when creating a second back-up operation. Take care to ensure you don't accidentally overwrite an old back-up file or mistakenly alter an existing back-up operation when configuring new backups.

When using the Backup Or Restore Wizard, the first name you specify is for the back-up file itself. This is the data file the back-up operation creates. It's entered on the wizard's Backup Type, Destination, And Name screen.

Scheduling a backup triggers the Job Name box, found on the wizard's When To Back Up menu. The name you enter there determines the job name used to administer the back-up operation.

#4: Advanced options are key

Advanced Options, accessed using the Advanced button found on the Backup Or Restore Wizard's summary screen, shown in Figure C, provides access to critical settings. In addition to configuring the back-up type as described above, you use Advanced options to specify whether backups append or replace older backups and whether a backup is scheduled to run regularly.

When scheduling back-up routines, the Set Schedule button provides access to yet another set of tabs. The Schedule tab enables configuring the backup's frequency, while the Settings tab, shown in Figure D, permits customizing Scheduled Task completion parameters, managing the system's idle time, and setting power management.

Figure D

Critical power management and idle time settings are configured using the Settings tab reached by clicking the Set Schedule button from within Advanced options.

#5: You needn't overcomplicate schedules/types

Microsoft exams and practice test companies love quizzing you on how you best recover from a disk failure if you've got a six-day-old Normal backup and five days of Incremental or Differential backups. Although such practices work well in theory, they're more difficult to complete as intended in the real world. Office managers forget to replace the tapes or Rev Disks in a system and copy a Tuesday Differential over a Monday Differential. Disks get lost; tapes fail over time.

I recommend simply talking with clients or reviewing with corporate staff how much data you can afford to lose. Can you get by without a week's worth of data? Then configure weekly Normal backups, ensure they complete properly, and get them off site. Regularly recover backups to ensure all necessary data is being properly protected.

However, some organizations need data backed up every day. In those cases, I recommend setting Windows Backup to complete Normal backups daily. Just be sure to keep several copies (at least a week's worth, if not more) and rotate them. That way, if a user accidentally deletes a needed customer file on Monday and you don't discover the problem until Friday, you still have a week-old backup from which you can obtain the file.

Still other companies can't afford to lose even a half-day's data. Microsoft Backup isn't the solution for them. That's when it's time to turn to high-availability data provisioning services (such as RAID arrays and on-line backups).

#6: You likely need to replace--not append--backups

In most small and medium businesses, there's no need to obtain more than a week or two's worth of backups. Although for some it makes sense to keep master quarterly back-up copies forever, typically just replacing Normal backups works well as part of a regular rotation. Thus, many will elect to use the Windows Replace feature rather than the Append feature when configuring scheduled backups.

If circumstances require, you can append backups or add them to your media as opposed to replacing an existing backup. But more often than not, you'll run out of storage space quickly. Most midsize businesses and many small businesses will be best served by maintaining fresh sets of operative Normal backups. Therefore, these organizations can simply replace existing backups.

Larger organizations requiring more complex data back-up regimens will be best served using a more sophisticated backup system. Because of Windows Backup's simplicity, it quickly becomes unwieldy when trying to manage multiple back-up sets in small organizations. And trying to scale appending Incremental or Differential backups in addition to weekly Normal backups simply isn't worth the effort in large enterprises, where more sophisticated systems help ease the tediousness of the process.

#7: Data compression is weak, so plan accordingly

If you need to back up 30GB daily, as I often do for everyone from one- or two physician-practice health care providers (due to patient records and x-ray images) to realty firms wishing to retain copies of various blueprints, contracts, and show house images, your backup requires a lot of storage space. Windows Backup works well for these businesses, but don't expect the backup to compress data effectively.

Third-party tools typically outperform the compression capacities Windows Backup boasts. In larger backups I've configured for clients, I see little data compression result from Windows Backup (using standard removal hard drives, Rev Disks, and the like). Using tape technologies, additional compression benefits emerge.

When calculating media storage required to manage back-up routines, I recommend planning at least 12 months ahead. Thus, if you're using Windows Backup and you must back up 12GB worth of data weekly, and the organization adds 500MB of new data a month, I'd recommend working with at least a 20GB tape or disk.

#8: Data verification can take forever

Windows Backup offers a data verification feature, which helps confirm that backups complete properly. Almost everyone advises that you use it. The option should be selected with care when creating larger backups, however, as the confirmation process can add an inordinate amount of time to the back-up operation. In one example I've seen in the field, a 32GB backup regularly and consistently failed to complete in eight hours due to the verification feature taking too long; when data verification was turned off, the backup completed much more quickly.

If you're completing smaller (5GB or less) backups, consider selecting data verification (the Verify Data After Backup check box) from the Backup Or Restore Wizard's How To Back Up screen. For larger backups, I recommend periodically verifying backups complete properly firsthand instead, by opening a backup and checking its uniformity.

#9: When scheduling backups, once is the default

It's important to note that the default setting for the Schedule is Once. This is true even though you can set the backup to begin a week or months in advance. As a result, it's easy to configure a Normal backup to occur on Friday at 11:00 p.m. and forget to select Weekly from the Scheduled Task drop-down box. If you don't confirm that you've selected the appropriate frequency, you'll wind up configuring a scheduled backup to run only once. When you create a new back-up routine using Windows backup, always be sure you specify that it run Later and click Set Schedule.

#10: You need to limit Backup's default run time

Backups can easily suck up a system's resources, not to mention network bandwidth (when backing up files from network shares). Add in the fact users are constantly making changes to files during regular business hours, and it's easy to see why backups are traditionally programmed to occur during off hours.

When configuring Windows Backup, be sure to review the timeframe Windows allots the routine to complete. The default setting (reached by selecting Set Schedule and clicking the Settings tab from Advanced options) is 72 hours. That's an incredibly long time, especially in the event that a back-up routine becomes stuck, confused, or locked in an endless access, read, or write cycle. You don't want users rendered unable to access the server, network data, or the network. Configure reasonable run times and make it a habit to review backups and confirm that they're completing within the allotted time.

About

Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president o...

44 comments
oddacorn
oddacorn

Erik, I just wanted to mention that it's nice to see somebody out there who understands the difference between the noun "backup" (as in, "Did you make a backup of those files?") and the phrasal verb "to back up" (as in, "Did you back up those files?"). It's a rare thing indeed to find this written correctly and consistently, especially on the internet. Everyone else, Just remember that if you can conjugate it and/or split it into pieces with other words in the middle, it's a verb. For example, "Did you back up those files?" has the words split because you can answer, "Yes, I backed those files up!". Anyway, I'm glad I finally found an appropriate place (I hope!) to rant about that. It's been driving me nuts for years because it's a pet peeve of mine. Now I just need to find somewhere to rant about when and when not to use an apostrophe in the word "its" (see previous sentence for an example).

dsblock
dsblock

Restoring is tricky. The catalog of the backup cannot be extracted from the .bkf file

ronsteiner
ronsteiner

I've used Ghost and have recently switched to Acronis True Image. The last time I reviewed available free software it didn't compare in ease of use and features. Anyone care to suggest a free package that they use?

mike_patburgess
mike_patburgess

I went out and bought Acronis to back up my system really never knew that this was there. Learned something today. Anyone know of a disk mirror utility that will replicate a disk drive for XP Professional? I know of Ghost but last time I used this it did not like USB drives for some reason. I want to make sure that if my HDD goes bad, I want to have a bullet-proof copy so that I can restore. Will the XP backup utility give this peace of mind?

pgit
pgit

What is the consequence of the difference between incremental and differential backup? It says one is marked as backed, the other not. But what does the end user see with this difference? I only recommend Windows backup for people who otherwise would be doing no backup. The first time I came across someone asking for just one accidentally deleted file is when I realized that if you want to do that you will be paying a third party for the software. Why MS can't read their own archives is, alas, another glaring example of the MS business model: build it and they will pay, especially when they hit a critical wall. The importance and size of the mission vs budget obviously precludes "one size fits all," but I have the closest thing going in a number of locations. When some smaller outfits caught wind of this setup, esp.that all the software is free, they wanted it. I set up a Linux server to sync each user's /Documents and Settings/user folder to a directory on the Linux machine. I have scripts that log in to the windows machines with sshfs, which makes the file system appear local to the Linux system's eyes. Then I run rsync, the most efficient tool for this task to be had. The script unmounts the windows boxes between syncs, but that's not really necessary. Then other scripts rotate the sync on the Linux machine, copying to an archive folder, deleting the two week old copy, renaming the last week's to ".old," (eg wed.old) renames the new copy (which is the user name at this point) to "wed" in this eg, and so on. That gets done once at the end of the day. The other runs are as often as the users want, usually once an hour. The only drawback is storage, but that's gotten cheap enough that for the peace of mind everybody's been willing to shell out for whatever they needed. The upside is there are plenty of copies (incl burned to DVD for off-site) and the file systems are uncompressed... you CAN get that one file, and for free... I even have one that also syncs to a remote server, also over sshfs... encrypted that is. =) And best of all it's 100% automated and doesn't consume tones of bandwith or clock cycles. The ONLY thing the user needs to do is check that the backups are running. We have a clever method for this, too. In my documents we have a file called "1" When the party charged with a given computer thinks of it they edit this file to reflect the current date and time. It will show on the server after a successful sync, so checking is open the network share (the root of the main sync copy), descend into my documents and read the contents of "1."

hawiko
hawiko

Question: My computer (with Windows and HP)does not have the backup utility installed why might this be ? and how can I get it ? hawiko

ljanderson
ljanderson

In regard to the comment "The same holds for technology professionals in small or medium-size businesses who opt for using Microsoft tools." So many people got burned by using the MS DOS based backup that was not supported by Windows, nor Windows 3.x backup not supported by '98, and '98 backup not supported by XP that most reasonable people moved on the 3rd party or home grown methods. If there was proof that XP Backup is supported by Vista and will be supported by the next big OS for those sitting out of the Vista swamp, then this blog tip might be worthy of attention. But to say that "The same holds for technology professionals in small or medium-size businesses who opt for using Microsoft tools." just isn't so.

bernardmorey
bernardmorey

NTBackup is what I use to replace the overly-simple Vista Home Premium backup. Works well but you do have to check the 'disable shadow copy' box.

ubwete
ubwete

I'll never be a fan of backing up data over LAN/WAN links. I would rather have a server-located user profile implementation. You could also have expounded a bit more about selecting the data for backing up, and the RESTORE routine.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

Windows Backup is one possible solution for backing up sensitive data, but it is by no means the only application available. What is your preferred data backup application? How often do you back up? Do your clients and/or users back up their data regularly or do they lapse from time to time?

JCitizen
JCitizen

but I am trying to cure myself of my anal retentive ways, as I found it didn't get the mission accomplished. Now I just "Git'er done" and pretty things up later. You'll see lots of bad grammar, spelling, and punctuation, from me and my cohorts. In fact my message here is riddled with them!

stabp
stabp

"It's as used by you is incorrect english. "It's stands for "it is". To say "it is been driving me nuts" would not be good english. I of course assume you mean "it has been ....". You should make sure you rant about correct things.

stabp
stabp

Having been burned by XP backup. I used it to backup my data (data only) and when my HD crashed even though I kept windows XP when I installed the new HD, Windows XP did not seem to recognise its own backup. Fortunately I was able to have the data recovered from the dead HD. I have since bought Genie Backup Manager Home Edition V8.0. Does anyone here have experience with this. So far it has been running the backups. I just hope that if I have to restore I do not have a problem. I know some of you might think it is a bit late to ask but better late then never. I am a home user.

ctrogers
ctrogers

Just click Tools->"Catalog a backup file"

blaise
blaise

BESR 2010 is the imaging software which is the best. It is based on the old Powerquest V2I program which has been around for many years. Symantec purchased it a few years ago, but it is basically V2I and it works great. It is fast, allows complex scheduling, allows you to create custom recovery boot CD's to restore and even will do bare metal restore (to a different computer) in some cases. It will back up locally or across a network. We tried Acronis last year and found it to be clumsy and very slow compared to BESR 2010. We have used this software many times to restore individual files or complete drives and it is fast and easy to use. I highly recommend that you purchase a USB hard drive, use this to image your drive and sleep well at night. There is nothing like knowing that you have a recent image of your entire computer when your hard drive fails, you get a serious infection, or your computer will not boot. Just restore and go. Most restores take under an hour on even the largest drives. There are desktop and server versions.

craigc
craigc

Beware. I purchased True Image for my laptop's Vista backups. One of the selling features was the ability for Acronis to manage a Backup Space by deleting oldest backups when necessary. This feature is not currently working for me. I opened a support ticket to Acronis, and at first received email responses. The last response I got (9/18/2008) indicated "I have esclated this matter to my senior level support and they will get in touch with you directly." I have not heard a thing since. I have sent more emails - nothing. I have tried phoning their head office; it has an automated attendant I have been unable to get past. I even tried their pre-sales Online Chat. They dropped me after my initial message describing my problem. I can find no way to resolve this technical issue. I have to wonder if the company is going under? This utter lack of being able to reach a human (any human, in any department) is deeply worrying. They have my money, and I have a product that does not work as advertised. Use extreme caution if you select their product. Good Luck, -craig

JCitizen
JCitizen

many of the hard drive manufacturers have imaging programs in their installation disks; one thing that can be said about that is that at least this utility conforms to the particular geometry of the hard disk that the image is being stored on. This assuming the utility and the disk come from the same company of course. In the event of a catastrophic failure of the entire system including the backup location, at least forensic software will have an easier time finding the files. This has been my experience at least.

PCComputerSupport
PCComputerSupport

Have never had a prolem with USB drives. Make sure they are connected BEFORE booting otherwise they might not be recognized. We image about 1200 workstations a year. We use Bart PE to boot with.

Lost Cause?
Lost Cause?

I use ATI for images...at least until I started receiving SATA drives in the desktops that I install. Something about ATI does not like the Serial Drives.

tcunningham4
tcunningham4

You can restore a full drive from the XP backup. if you include the system state. The restore process starts with a clean install of XP, then restoring from the backup files, including system state. At the end, you are forced to reboot, and the system looks just like the backup. Depending on how critical your data is, you definitely want to keep more than one backup copy. Also of note -- some of the backup programs which are free or included with USB drives use a different approach. They copy changed files to the backup disk individually. This may or may not meet your needs, since a full restore would include re-installing all of your programs before copying the files (documents, etc.) back to the system. The advantage is that many of them keep historical data, and the files can be retrieved on another system without restoring the entire backup. MS backup can restore a single file, but it can be time consuming waiting as the program scans a large file of 20 GB or more.

eblank
eblank

Unfortunately Windows Backup is NOT a disk imaging package like Ghost or PQImageCenter (Now supposedly defunct/purchased by the Ghost people). There are a number of other freeware packages that can do disk imaging. I would suggest you look at the various freeware sites for a list under their disk utility areas.

wdewey@cityofsalem.net
wdewey@cityofsalem.net

"In my documents we have a file called "1" When the party charged with a given computer thinks of it..." The copy process may be automated, but your method for verification isn't. I would think that logging they rsync process would be better. Bill

stdo57
stdo57

LINUX TO BACKUP WIN MACHINES WORKS WONDERFULLY. AND IS ALOT MORE CONTROLABLE AND SCALABLE. ALSO MOST COMPLETE BECAUSE I HAVE IT IN REALTIME AS USERS CHANGE FILES, THEY CHANGE THE DAY BACKUP. THE STORAGE IS USED FOR ARCHIVES AND IS RETREIVABLE INCREMENTLY = COOL.

trutter
trutter

I loved the built-in windows backup of Windows 95 which seems to be the same as the one in XP, but one cannot read each other's backup files. I have backup tapes by Iomega that are worthless now. I used Windows 95 religiously. My Windows 95 computer crashed and moved on to Windows 98, but at the time, my tape drive by iomega crashed and they stopped making them. You have to face the music and realize that if you use anything Microsoft for backup, it's only good for that point in time. I love Novabackup, but after using them for over a decade, moved to Windows Vista. Sad thing, their older version wouldn't run properly on Vista and second, their new software wouldn't read the old version's backup!!!! I did manage to get it to work once where I was able to restore the files, but after that, the older novabackup software cratered and stopped working. It frustrates me that there's no compatibility between old and new with a lot of these backups and you don't know it until you are in that situation. The best type of backup is one that can backup to a DVD or Blue-Ray as zip files. Think ahead when you are wanting to replace your backup software and if you have anything old, think about converting the old backups into the new migrated format. If they are on tape, restore to a spare HD and re-backp with the new software. Do this while you have the chance to! My words speak volumes, but most people, including myself, don't have the time to heed these words because of the massive amount of time it takes to backup data. The ONLY way around this is if the computer industry would put more emphasis on speed between devices rather than CPU speed. I know tape backup drives have made significant changes, but these drives are costly and something you don't upgrade every time a new model comes out.

JCitizen
JCitizen

Its like they don't want to admit they don't know how or something. I must admit it has been so long for me that I can't even remember; I don't do LAN backs anymore so my memory is just gone on that. At home I just use copy for folders and ghost entire images for the OS. All that is straight forward on recovery. A simple google search will tell you how to restore using Windows backup for LAN environments. This includes both server folders and exchange subjects. Testing to a dummy account or standalone lab machine is a must.

coco212
coco212

I don't think the backup application on Windows XP is enough to me. Especially I want to transfer the older smaller disk to a newer bigger one. Now I use a free software named EASEUS Todo Backup (www.todo-backup.com), it could clone disk and do the transformation.

OnTheRopes
OnTheRopes

Ghost and Cobian backup. I use Ghost on my machine monthly and on my two other family machines every six months or so. Very little changes on those two machines and for the folders that do change we run Cobian backup to a separate drive everyday. Note: I'm just a home user who has learned the value of having backups. For some data that doesn't change, our 143GB music collection for instance, we have that copied to another drive, a Ghost image stored and also have it stored on DVD's. I update the DVD's as I add music but don't necessarily grab a new Ghost image though I do update the separate drive.

bobprickett
bobprickett

Perhaps someone can explain why it's necessary for all these steps. I have a second drive and every 11 pm, C copies to D with CasperXP or ViceVersa Pro or any number of programs. And Casper takes about 6 minutes on a 20gb drive. A third external drive is copied once a week or so, depending on new installs. It just seems that backup methods are way too complex compared to a live, bootable, real copy.

ronsteiner
ronsteiner

I use Karen's Replicator and recommend it. Very flexible and easy to use.

StealthWiFi
StealthWiFi

I currently implement NT backup for a small buisness. 2 servers 30 GB backups each done Monthly with System State every week and incrementals done daily. All backups are moved to offsite storeage immideatly and onto Blu Ray disks (3 totaling 150 GB for the whole shebang). Shadow Copy is in place for users to recover there own files for a period of time (save's many headaches once they can do that, I sure don't have the time to recover every file Joe the accountant accidently deletes) I have used other apps but NTbackup actaully works and for recovering it's allready installed (one less step) The Exchange store is also backed up on a good schedule as a day without emails for these guys would mean a huge loss of income. Cheers,

JCitizen
JCitizen

with 2000 professional and XP, never could get the backup to restore. I went to Partician magic, but found that when you don't use the original manufactures hard disk installation utility- recovery can be foiled at any step. I now format every hard disk using the geometry provided by the hard disk manufacturer. I never rely on Windows partitioning or formating software. The original PowerQuest utility on the Partition Magic CD boot file is more reliable than Norton's crap; but I am resigned to using Acronis at the eariest convenience as I understand they are one of the best third party vendors.

wdewey@cityofsalem.net
wdewey@cityofsalem.net

I occasionally restore individual files using NT backup. If the restore is off of a tape drive then it can take a great deal of time (well because it's a linear storage method), but off of a HD it only takes a couple of minutes (depending on the size of the file being restored). I have restored individual files from data stores ranging from 30 to 190 GB. Bill

mike_patburgess
mike_patburgess

Thanks. Do you remember NT? NT used to come with a disk mirror utility. Would be nice if MS kept that utility moving forward instead of us trying to find something that works.

pgit
pgit

But there MUST be a laying on of eyes, at one point or another. Logs fail. Emails fail, etc. Nothing can be totally automated. The "1" is the easiest thing I've come up with for the final, human contact. Of course they could browse around the files to see that the document they created yesterday is in the backup. This just seems easiest. People will do easy. As for sys files, they get picked up at the end of day. If someone is working late some files like mail dbs will be skipped. I can live with 'it'll back up tomorrow.' For those who can't a desktop icon gives them access to their full backup script. I only had one fellow ask for any more than one or two syncs per day. He's one of the "knows enough to be dangerous" types. If it can e done, he wants it done, whether it makes sense or not.

wdewey@cityofsalem.net
wdewey@cityofsalem.net

Is the linux backup capable of backing up in use files such as the registry or emails stores? If not then it is of limited capability and in many cases (or I would personally say most cases) would not be sufficient for business needs. Minute by minutes backup may be cool, but is usually unnecessary for most small and medium businesses. Bill

Realvdude
Realvdude

I think the pains you are talking about are the difference between backups and archives. I see backups having a finite life span, but archives are for the long haul. I've seen brand new hard drives from the early 90's just loose data. You had to use a utility rewrite each bit to keep them good. The trouble of third party backups is exchanging information; we would have clients reformat a 4mm DAT using Windows Backup, so we could read the backup they sent to us. We'd also have them shut off compression for the same reason. Of course those backups were not full system, just application data.

wdewey@cityofsalem.net
wdewey@cityofsalem.net

A simple copy will not backup system files such as the registry that are constantly in use. With a simple copy it would be necessary to completely rebuild a system before restoring the data. Bill

chaneys
chaneys

In a business environment you have to deal with open file issues. An open file won't copy. Also there's the email issue. You can't copy the Information Store in Exchange with the services running. Nevermind trying to bakcup individual mailboxes. For a single-user, copying is certainly a viable option though. It all depends on what your needs are.

Lost Cause?
Lost Cause?

I use Karens Replicator 3 times per week. It will even complete if there are errors and then it will show you where the errors are.

DJF
DJF

somehow it was included in my sp 2 update

tcunningham4
tcunningham4

This may be off topic, but the first line of defense in backup is to use a reliable disk environment - mirroring or other RAID. The best way to avoid the consequences of a disk failure is to avoind the failure in the first place. Having redundant disks is not that expensive for any business, and is well worth the effort. Most new motherboards have disk mirroring capability, which makes it pretty easy and not very expensive to make disk storage more reliable. That being said -- things other than disks fail, and every business needs a recovery plan - not just for computers, but for other eventualities -- fire, electrical failure, loss of internet connection, etc. How important is your business and what types of failures can you stand? On the other hand, for home use, being without a computer for a day or more is probably tolerable, and backups may be sufficient to keep frustration in check. I recommend all important files, paper and electronic, be duplicated offsite at a friend or family member's house, if not in a safe-deposit box. CD/DVD storage is cheap, and how much is really critical to our life, anyway. I personally have over a terabyte of fiels on my home computer, between video and audio files, and programs I'm playing with (my version of games). I have a RAID card and four 500GB drives, and I backup tax information, etc to CDs periodically. Most of the music and videos are on CD/DVD, as well, or are just temporary and could be re-done. Your needs are probely different, but a few minutes of thought and planning makes a big difference.

quark
quark

This free backup utility is fast and furious in backing up a copy of, say, your entire C:\ Drive to an external HDD (mine is I:\) The settings are simply, and include a daily backup of everything new since the last full backup. An excellent and very uncomplicated way of making copy backups. Highly recommended.

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