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I just bought a Toshiba stor.e canvio external hard disk, but the pre-installed software is giving me all sorts of problems. I just want to back up my important music and video files, documents, and maybe system files as well, but I don't want them on cloud or elsewhere in cyberspace, just on the new hardware. If I delete all the pre-installed files from the hard disk so that I can just manually copy and transfer files to it via Windows Explorer, will I risk running into problems?
Florio: I'm sure you've thought of this but - if they're important files, make sure the ones on your external drive aren't the only copies. I was looking at external drives on Amazon, and the number of reviews there were of people who'd entrusted all their beloved photos, music and so on to just one drive - and then it had failed, leaving them with nothing - is truly astonishing. But then, I'm super paranoid: I back up my files to three external drives...
Ian in Northampton
"But then, I'm super paranoid: I back up my files to three external drives..."
Pah, that's nothing.
Try 2 external hard drives and 3 USB pen drives. With some also scattered around other PCs and DVD-RWs.
Batch: ah, well, if we're counting files on other PCs for extra secure back-up... :-) But you probably win anyway. Better safe than sorry, right? (Plus, the number of times I've had to reinstall XP, my life was transformed when I gave up having the operating system and my personal files on the same drive and put all my personal stuff - including my .pst file - on an external drive. I can't recommend doing that highly enough. Reinstalling doesn't hold half the dread for me it used to.)
Like a number of others, I have my hard drive partitioned with all my data (well everything that I can reasonably move) on D: and so re-installation of the OS is pretty much equally easy. And I agree, once you're practised at reinstalling life becomes a whole lot less stressful.
But I'd say the real transformative "event" for me was (quite) a number of years ago when I stared imaging my partitions as well. Avoids any real need to re-install the OS - just restore a (well backed-up) image. And incredibly quick to restore C: if all it has got on it is the OS & PGMs (mine takes 2 or 3 minutes).
Batch: what do you use for imaging? That sounds like it could be my next step forward...
Macrium reflect free is an easy to use imaging program
These days (since I moved to Win7) I use Macrium Reflect Free. With XP I used Acronis True Image (a now very old version 8). I switched to Macrium as I wasn't sure that the old ATI V8 was up to the job.
At the time (early 2013) I looked around at the main free competition (e.g. Easeus ToDo, Paragon Backup & Recovery, plus Macrium).
Macrium worked best for me. Easeus was temperamental and would not always work. Paragon's boot CD was crude and basic. Whereas I found the whole Macrium user interface to be slicker and the boot CD (when created with the Windows PE enviroment supplied) reflected the normal Windows experience ('cos that's pretty much what it is). Plus Macrium allows me (within normal Windows) to mount images and retrieve individual files off them).
Of course, things could have moved on since then.
In case you don't know, you'll need to create a boot CD so that you can restore the system partition (i.e. you can't restore to the current active system partition for obvious reasons). Plus it is an emergency standby if the PC won't boot normally at all.
I always create full images (i.e. not incremental). That way there are no ifs and buts in a restore re-assembling partial images from over an extended time period. It's all or nothing.
It's the up to you what images you create and keep. Some just keep the most recent 2 or 3. For my system partition I still have a few taken from during and just after I installed Win7. That way If I want to go back to a very clean install state, I can very quickly without reinstalling Windows. But, in practice, I've never done that.
I've restored my system partition loads of times and never had an issue with Macrium (it was the same previously with ATI) and feel very confident about it.
Mostly I find the images useful in that if I have and doubts about the stability / security etc. of my system I can rollback to the last image very quickly.
Not only that, having the images and the ability to rollback quickly gives me the confidence to try things knowing that if things go pear shaped I can be back where I was in a trice.
It's these last three points above that make me say 'the real transformative "event" for me was (quite) a number of years ago when I stared imaging my partitions as well'.
One last point. Because I use imaging I turn off System Restore entirely. I've never found it reliable (and the postings of others on this forum serve to back that up) and imaging does the job (very well) for me.
That's fantastic, Batch - very many thanks for the huge amount of time you've taken to reply.
One further point - all to do with "confidence".
I think it's fair to say that the first time one goes to do a restore (especially of the system partition) there is a certain amount of trepidation. Will it work or not? And, in particular, will it crap out part way through and leave one with a non-bootable system.
The solution to this, when first starting out, is to use a spare hard disk to restore to. I.e. take out the original disk out of the PC and replace it with the spare. Then do the restore to the spare. That way nothing is lost and one has the opportunity to get the hang of it. Alternatively, be prepared to do a Windows re-install if it really does blow up in your face (but as I say, I've never had such issues).
BTW, I've only ever used traditional hard disks (i.e. never used SSDs) so can't comment on how well this all works with SSDs and whether it is a good idea to repeatedly do restores to SSDs given the nature of the technology.
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