There is no computer malfunction as devastating as losing the contents of your hard drive. This can happen due to a virus, or a hardware or software malfunction. Backing up your computer regularly is a must and there are several ways to do it. The most common way is to use a program that breaks up the contents of your hard drive into chunks and save it on another external hard drive. In case of hard drive failure, you can rebuild your old drive with those chunks.
Thatžs not the way I like to do it as my first line of defense. I confess, I still do backup that way as well, but itžs not my primary way. Call me neurotic or squeamish but I donžt like chunks.
If my hard drive fails and I have something important to do, I want to have an EXACT COPY of my hard drive already saved. I donžt want to have to rebuild anything or look for a disk to reboot my computer with the saved chunked data. It should still work of course (as long as the internal hard drive is not irreparably damaged) and eventually you have to deal with the computeržs problem internal drive, but who wants an ulcer? Frankly Ižll pay a wee bit for piece of mind.
The answer is to make a clone, a copy, or an exact intact image of your hard drive. That way, I can just take my external drive (which is a clone of my desktop) attach it to old 50 dollar laptop via USB and boom ‚” my whole computer shows up as a new drive on my laptop. No need to look for any disks or reassemble chunks and ZERO downtime and zero lost files.‚
Herežs how I do it. I buy an external drive that is the exact same size as my computeržs internal drive. That way when I clone the drive, I clone it exactly. You should know that that backup external drive can ONLY be used for backup in this way. You canžt save other files on that external drive, you can only save the clone of your internal hard drive. Each time you re-backup your computer onto that external, it deletes the previous backup. My 500 gig internal drive takes about 1.5 hours to clone onto the Western Digital 500 gig external drive (which costs $130.00 dollars 3 monts ago) via firewire (you can of course use USB).
There are many programs that can do this but the one I use and like best is Acronis True Image 11. It costs about 50 dollars and you can try it for free. When you load it up youžll see different choices on how to backup. To clone your hard drive DO NOT CHOOSE BACKUP AND RESTORE. That option backs up your hard drive in chunks. Instead choose DISK UTILITIES and then Clone Disk. I use manual mode after that and follow the prompts carefully and I MAKE SURE TO ‹“KEEP DATAž WHEN IT ASKS HOW I WANT TO MODIFY MY OLD DRIVE AND I CHOOSE ‹“AS ISž (because both drives are the exact same size) when it asks how I want to move data from the old to new drive.
The other program I am somewhat familiar with that does just about the same thing is Norton Ghost. Again to make an exact copy of your drive (non-chunk) donžt choose Back it up now, instead choose Copy My Hard drive (advanced) and follow the prompts very carefully.
Using either of these methods gives you the peace of mind that even if your hard drive crashes in a terrible way, you can still work from a new computer by plugging your external into it. Obviously, youžll need to copy or clone your internal drive regularly to have the freshest copy. If you have irreplaceable photos and other files on your internal hard drive, it is also safest to burn them to CD or DVD.