Another backup question. Sorry! Parttions or folders

  bristolgirl 12:47 18 Jun 2013

Hi all.

I wonder if you can help me yet again.

I wish to backup up my photos and music on my laptop and my photos and documents on my desktop.

I have purchased a Toshiba 1TB portable hard drive, with a plug and play operation. I am hoping that this will be enough memory!

Is it best to partition the hard drive or create separate folders on it? Or as it is "plug and play", which I really, really like, maybe I should buy another hard drive, so I can have one assigned to both my laptop and my desktop?

As always, I appreciate any help and support given.

  lotvic 14:04 18 Jun 2013

"Or as it is "plug and play", which I really, really like"

Not sure what you mean? do you mean the software program that comes built in with it that gives you 'Automatic Backup' ?

note: "plug and play" basically means that your OS will recognise the device is plugged in. For example Monitors are "plug and play" as well as 99% of all usb devices.

  bristolgirl 14:52 18 Jun 2013

Many thanks for your reply.

It is described on the box and website as , "Easy plug and play operation, ready to use with Microsoft Windows with no software installation required".

Reading the reviews of people who have already purchased it, it seems that you can just plug it into your laptop and the software is already in existence for you to just backup. I could very well be wrong of course! This is the bit I really like the sound of, as the easier it is for me, then so much the better. Which is why I am maybe thinking that I need two of these drives. One for my desktop and one for my laptop.

It also has, according to the box "drag and drop use".

  Ian in Northampton 15:14 18 Jun 2013

bristolgirl (my wife's a Bristol girl!) With many of the more recent external hard drives, you get software that can automate your backups. So long as the drive is attached to the PC you want to back up, it can happen automagically according to parameters you set. I have an HP drive that will do that.

However... I don't really like the backup programs that come with these drives (I don't know why). Thus, I use two strategies:

  1. I use Ocster (because it was free at the time) to automatically make backups each night at midnight. Octsre is just 'regular' backup software rather than software that comes with an external drive. There are many, many equivalents - I just found it, it was free, and it seems to work pretty well.

  2. Around every week, I do a manual 'drag and drop' from my PC to the external hard drive. I have a discipline which means that everything I create/save goes into my 'My Stuff' folder (this includes my Outlook files) on my PC so there's only the one folder to backup. If I save photos or music to 'My Stuff', every so often, I move them from the 'My Stuff' backup folder to the backup 'Music' or 'Photos' folder on my external drive.

Your situation sounds slightly more complicated in that you want/need to back up two PCs. If you can afford it, a dedicated external drive for each is by far the best approach.

However, there's no reason you couldn't use the same external drive for both PCs. Just create a separate folder for each on the drive - 'PC 1 Backup' and 'PC 2 Backup' - and take it from there. The downside is, of course, you need to constantly unplug and replug the drive. I'm also not sure how any automated software that comes with the drive would cope with backing up two PCs. The manual 'drag and drop' method might well be better.

Just to complicate matters further... I'm sufficiently paranoid that I backup my nackup drive to another external backup drive - and then back that up... If you decide to go the 'one external; drive for each PC' route, I'd suggest that you take the opportunity periodically to back the 'other' PC up on the drive, such that both external drives have backups of both PCs. You can never be too careful...

  bristolgirl 15:33 18 Jun 2013

Hi Ian

Many thanks for your reply! I believe that you have helped me before and your answer is so very thorough and helpful, I really appreciate it.

I do have other backups online in place and some to memory sticks etc but I think I need to be more disciplined. Hence the 1tb hard drive purchase. I think that for now, I will just backup my laptop to it and later purchase an additional one for my desktop. To be honest, my photos are backed up too, as I always upload my camera photos to both my desktop and my laptop and I also use Picasa. However, my laptop is now struggling a bit with all the photos on it.

I like the idea of just plugging it in and backing up automatically, so I will have a look at that program you suggested. I just don't want to confuse myself, which is easily done!

Does this sound like a good plan? Wish I were married to someone technically savvy but my husband always leaves these things to me).

  Jollyjohn 16:12 18 Jun 2013


On your new 1TB hard drive I would create 6 folders. Laptop photos, Laptop music,Laptop Documents and PC music,PC photos, PC documents.

Copy and paste the contents of each of the appropriate folders onto the 1TB hard drive folder.

This requires no back up software so you could plug this 1TB hard drive into any computer and access the files.

Having carefully read your post I believe you will then end up with 4 sets of Photos. On the PC, on the laptop and a copy from the PC and a copy from the laptop. One of the last two is unnecessary since they will be on the same hard drive.

A note on Backups - they require software to create and the sane software to recover. Also they go back to where they were, If you buy a W8 pc for example, your W7 backup will not restore. A simple copy as I suggest could be copied over.

Final point, once you have copied stuff to the 1TB hard drive consider storing well away from your PC / Laptop in case of fire. flood, theft etc.

  bristolgirl 16:30 18 Jun 2013

Thank you for your reply JollyJohn.

That sounds like a good plan for me! Doesn't sound too complicated to copy and paste. At least I hope so! I also hope, that if I go down this route, that no software will kick in once I connect the drive. Otherwise, I am going to be in a bit panic!

Thanks for the extra tip too!

  Jollyjohn 11:22 19 Jun 2013

When you plug the drive in an "Autoplay" box will pop up, as the drive fills this will take a little longer, select "Open folder to view files using Windows Explorer"

In the toolbar across the top is a "Folders" icon, click on this and a sidebar opens with a list of all drives and folders.

Th first time you plug the 1TB hard drive in go "My Computer" Right click on the drive select Rename and give it a name, makes it easier to find when plugged into different computers.

  bristolgirl 12:12 20 Jun 2013

Thank you so much JollyJohn for your detailed reply!

I have backuped everything I wanted to now and loads of room left! I didn't do Picasa though, as I guess that the photos I have on my photos folder are the same as the ones in Picasa.

Interestingly enough, Autoplay didn't kick in.

Thank you to everybody for their help and support they have given me again!

  Aitchbee 23:00 20 Jun 2013

bristolgirl - I hope you don't mind me mentioning that Ocster Backup Pro 8 is on offer at half price [about £15] until June24. It's about £9 extra for installs on another 4 computers 'in the same household'.

I recommend it as I have used version 7 on all of my computers.

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