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PRACTICE a bare-metal recovery

By mdhealy ·
Many people learn their backups don't work at the worst possible time: when they have had a major failure. You must validate your backups before you need them.

Something I have done several times and recommend very highly is the following, which can easily be done over a weekend (and with disks as cheap as they are nowadays won't cost you very much money either):

1. Get a new hard drive.

2. Make a full backup, by whatever is your current preferred method.

3. Remove the boot drive and put it in a safe place. If all goes well, this drive will never again be powered-up.

4. Install the new hard drive.

5. Do a full restore from the backup made in step 2.

This is the best way I know to be completely sure that:

1. Your backup method works. Of course your backup routine should include data verification, just in case a new problem should occur, but you know at least once the whole procedure worked end-to-end.

2. You have actual practice doing a full restore at a time when you do not have urgent work on hold until you fix the computer

3. If this does not work for some reason, you can simply put the old drive back and it's as though nothing happened -- except now you will know you need to fix your backup procedure before you really need it.

As an added bonus, you get two major benefits:

1. Most likely the new hard drive will be faster and/or have more capacity than the one it replaced.

2. The old drive is available as an emergency disk in case of need -- much better than just an emergency CD because it will give you a complete working system as of whenever it was last used.

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