Advice hard discs and back-up for silver surfer

  Ellen G 16:15 02 Jun 2007

I wonder if someone could advise me on a reliable, quiet external hard disc (with a company which will provide free telephone support for a year, so not IOMEGA), to keep a complete copy of my hard disc (250 GB but only 15 GB used), plus simple but reliable software to do incremental back-ups after the ghost image. Which? recommends Nortons's Save and Restore though I read that it's slow and not always reliable. Acronis is reliable but too complicated for senior citizens with only limited IT knowledge.

I read good reviews about Western Digital My book Essential 320 GB e.g. on Dabs site, but no shop near me stocks this make. Only Maxtor, Seagate and Iomega. Also read that when one WD drive bought from Amazon developed a fault, they were difficult. Person could loose all docs, or get only a 20% refund. If something goes wrong, I don't want to deal with difficult people. (Verbatim taught me that. Batch of faulty floppies. No explanation, no refund, no replacement, though promised etc).

I want a relatively stress-free computing life, so I can restore my OS, programmes and documents with the least fuss.

All ideas will be most gratefully received.


  johndrew 16:39 02 Jun 2007

I presume you would only have the external hard drive operative for backup purposes, say weekly, and therefore its use would be small compared to the PC. In this case most hard drives of about 250GB size or above would suit your purpose and provide plenty of room for backups of photos, videos, documents and of course your operating system plus programs installed to it.

I use an Icy Box with a 320GB Maxtor drive, my son uses the same enclosure with a 250GB Western Digital and my daughter uses a 250GB Iomega. All have proved satisfactory. If you wish to buy a ready assembled external hard drive there are many on the market; for example PC world sells these click here which cover a whole range of sizes and manufacturers.

As for a refund for lost documents or other data, I know of no manufacturer that will provide this as no manufacturer is in a position to know exactly what you may lose at any given time.

For backup software I use Acronis True Image which I find simple and very user friendly. I believe most others that use it would tell you much the same. Certainly it provides a simple user interface and walks you through the backup process with excellent help files if you need them. In the unlikely event of a catastrophic failure in your PC`s hard drive, re-installation is as simple as the backup process.

Hope this helps.

  howard64 16:45 02 Jun 2007

as a fellow silver surfer I understand what you are saying. I really do not think any warranty is worth having. Most things either work perfectly or show faults almost immediately. I have a Maxtor 300GB usb hard drive. I back up to this and also about every 3 months copy my documents to a cd or dvd. I also have a second pc networked to my main pc and again I copy my documents to this ones hard drive. I think I am reasonably covered. I can remember backing up to floppies once and then discovering that the back up prog was faulty - never again. You do save all your info in 'my documents'? if not you will have to include wherever else you store info to the back up destination. I never worry about backing up my progs as I have all the installation disks.Hope this helps.

  Diemmess 17:28 02 Jun 2007

johndrew and howard64 have indicated that there is no finite choice of HD.

Your idea of an external disk in a suitable powered case, boils down to price, convenience and most trusted retailer, is sound.
Most HDs outlast the life of the computer and those that fail seem to do so regardless of their brand name.

Using the new HD as a backup in case the primary one should fail, is best served in my view by installing Acronis which in version 10 does all the work for you - quickly and accurately.

I bought my copy quite recently on Amazon. It seemed much cheaper than other retailers.

  Diemmess 17:47 02 Jun 2007

Huge primary disks devoted to drive C: entirely, worry me.

I know that only a few months back the wiser heads said dividing the primary drive into smaller partitions was bad, a waste of time, and added to some users confusion.

At that time the starter capacities varied around 40 - 80 Gb.

My feeling is that anything over 80GB is going to be awkward to backup and need still more space on the backup drive internal or external, just to save a lot of jumbled up OS, applications and Data.

I still keep data quite separately from the rest because a corrupted operating system is much more likely than a HD failure.
Backup drive images can then be stored in smaller and so faster to restore files.
In fact a recovered working system can be in place in far less time than it takes to re-install XP alone.
Ergo, all those applications have to be reinstalled and reconfigured as well if you choose that route.

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