orthopedic pain management

Backup your photos — CLONING your hard drive

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.

Comments

  1. Clement (ZENON5940) says:

    Hi Marko. Thanks a lot for this great post !
    I just got Acro­nis True Image and I’m so pleased with it I had to tell you.

    First for those that think “back­ups” suit them best, well Acro­nis is a VERY good piece of soft­ware for that pur­pose. It’ll do back­ups every which way you think is suit­able for you.

    Sec­ond, con­trary to what you say in your post, Marko, you don’t have to have a disk with the exact same size as your C drive to be able to “clone” it.It will clone your disk to a larger drive, leav­ing you with more “free” space on it.

    This is a very inter­est­ing point as it allows you to upgrade your drive with­out hav­ing the prob­lems asso­ci­ated with the re-installation of all the pro­grams you use. You save this way unbe­liev­able amounts of time.

    The way to do it is to install a new drive (here you can install a much larger vol­ume than your actual C drive)in your PC and clone your actual C drive to it. You then remove your c drive and con­nect the new drive in its place. Your com­puter will reboot directly on the new drive and you will have all your pro­grams run­ning as well as more space if you chose a larger new drive.

    I tried this and it works just fine. $50 is really not much for all Acro­nis can do in ways of cloning or doing back­ups plus many other utilities.

    The cloning of your drive is, in my opin­ion, a very supe­rior way to a backup to keep copies of all your data as it allows you to have the data ready to be used, with­out the has­sle of a restore operation.

    By the way, disk rot is maybe pos­si­ble.… but if you keep your hard-disks in the same con­di­tions as you keep your CD/DVD’s your hard-disks will become use­less BEFORE any of you CD/DVD.

    DVD’s did not exist 10 years ago but CD’s did and I have some more than 20 years old with absolutely NO sign of rot… The info on them is still very intact.

    Thanks again Marko for all this good infor­ma­tion you give. It is really appreciated.

    Clement

    • admin says:

      Thanks for shar­ing your expe­ri­ence on this Clement!

      Sec­ond, con­trary to what you say in your post, Marko, you donžt have to have a disk with the exact same size as your C drive to be able to …œclone‚ it.It will clone your disk to a larger drive, leav­ing you with more …œfree‚ space on it.

      This is a very inter­est­ing point as it allows you to upgrade your drive with­out hav­ing the prob­lems asso­ci­ated with the re-installation of all the pro­grams you use. You save this way unbe­liev­able amounts of time.

      The way to do it is to install a new drive (here you can install a much larger vol­ume than your actual C drive)in your PC and clone your actual C drive to it. You then remove your c drive and con­nect the new drive in its place. Your com­puter will reboot directly on the new drive and you will have all your pro­grams run­ning as well as more space if you chose a larger new drive.

      That’s cool Clement — I did not know that. Although it prob­a­bly works as you sug­gest, 99% of peo­ple will not remove HDs from their com­puter and boot from another. I’ll include myself there. And with exter­nal dri­ves being SO cheap, I think it’s just eas­ier to buy an exter­nal HD that matches the capac­ity of the inter­nal HD. I am happy you are happy with Acro­nis though — I love it and use it every week.

  2. First, thanks for a great post. Sec­ond, well spo­ken Yves! Cloning and back­ups are two dif­fer­ent things, and I con­sider back­ups far more impor­tant. I’m using SyncBack and that will take me about 10 min­utes to make sure my 60 GB of pho­tos are stored also on my sec­ond inter­nal hard drive. As SyncBack keeps track of my cur­rent files at the sec­ond hard drive does it iden­tify the new files very fast. I run SyncBack **at least** once a day. I also backup when I import to Light­room, which I can delete as soon as I’ve run SyncBack. The sec­ond hard drive gets copied once a week to an exter­nal hard drive that i cir­cu­late off site (as you know we have fre­quent wild fires here in San Diego so off site stor­age is a must).

  3. admin says:

    Thanks for that car­bonite link John! I have been mean­ing to inves­ti­gate their ser­vice at some point. I won­der how many gigs you get for 50/yr though.

    Yves — thanks SO much for that great expla­na­tion. I think what is obvi­ous is that there is no ‘best’ solu­tion for every­one. For sure you are not an aver­age com­puter user.

    Cloning disks is only fea­si­ble if your com­puter only has one hard drive (mine has four).” I would be will­ing to bet that 99% of all com­puter users have only 1 inter­nal HD.

    As I men­tioned in the post, I do backup up using the chunks method via incre­men­tal backup as well. But I LOVE feel­ing secure that there is an easy clone of my HD at arms length.

    It goes with­out say­ing though as john pointed out that back­ing up in mul­ti­ple ways is best.

    What I did not know and am very sur­prised to hear is disc rot. I have cd’s that are over 12 years old that ‘seem’ perfect.…but now I’m going back to check them. Why would a disk rot if you don’t live in a swamp or a flod­ded base­ment? HMMM

    Thanks Yves!
    Marko

  4. John Watts says:

    Another thought — –there is no such thing as too much backup/redundancy!!!

    The online backup ser­vices such as http://www.carbonite.com and http;//www.mozy.com look like a deal — $50 a year for com­plete backup!!!

    Unfor­tu­nately, these ser­vices are not avail­able for Mac yet, but when they are, I’m sign­ing up — cheap insurance…

    No, I will not rely solely on one method/strategy of pro­tect­ing my valu­able files– I’ll use more than one — REDUNDANCY, REDUNDANCY, REDUNDANCY!!!

    Cheers,

    John :-)

  5. Yves says:

    Well Marko, I am not too sure about this as a backup strat­egy. As far as I am con­cerned, the pur­pose of back­ing up is to restore. There are a few things impor­tant when select­ing a method to back up data, which are your RTO and your RPO and RPD. These are respec­tively your Recov­ery Time Objec­tive, Recov­ery Point Objec­tive and Recov­ery Depth Objec­tive. The RTO is the max­i­mum time it may take for you to restore your sys­tem to an oper­a­tional state. The RPO is the point in time to which you fall back when restor­ing a backup, which is the data you lose even though you backed up. (For instance, if you backup every Sun­day and your hard drive crashes on Wednes­day, you have lost every­thing new or changed since the last good backup copy from Sun­day). Your RDO says some­thing about how many steps you can go back in select­ing data back­ups to restore from.

    Now, if you make a backup every day with a cloned image of your entire hard disk, your recov­ery point is a max­i­mum of 24 hours old, which is good. But, by over­writ­ing this image your RDO is only 1. This means that if you deleted some pho­tographs by acci­dent, the next day they will be gone out of your backup as well, you will have no way to restore them. As you say your RPO is quite fast, the image can prob­a­bly be restored in less than an hour, which is great.

    There are some side notes though:

    – You keep back­ing up the same old data every time, which is slow and cum­ber­some. Very likely 95% of the data in your backup is exactly the same from the day before.

    – Cloning disks is only fea­si­ble if your com­puter only has one hard drive (mine has four).

    – You may not want to mix oper­at­ing sys­tem and pro­gram files with your actual data for backup. It is very likely you will want your pho­tos in a few years from now, but you donžt care about the mil­lions of .dll files you have backed up every day.

    A solu­tion to most of these issues is doing an incre­men­tal or dif­fer­en­tial backup. What I do myself is inte­grate back­ing up my pho­tographs with my pho­tog­ra­phy work­flow in Light­room. Upon import­ing a backup copy of my RAW files is made to three places:

    – The tar­get import loca­tion on an inter­nal disk

    – A backup loca­tion on another phys­i­cal inter­nal disk (incremental)

    – A backup loca­tion on an exter­nal disk (incre­men­tal) which I dis­con­nect and store safely every night.

    I also make backup copies of the Light­room meta­data cat­a­logue data­base to two dif­fer­ent places as well, sep­a­rate from the actual photos.

    This way when I come home from a shoot, and I import 60 pho­tos, only those 60 pho­tos are backed up. I could­nžt care less about los­ing my oper­at­ing sys­tem, because rein­stalling that is peanuts com­pared to los­ing my data. This way, for me, I have a secure backup strat­egy which allows for fast and selec­tive restores, inde­pen­dent of my oper­at­ing sys­tem (I run Ubuntu most of the time, but use Win­dows XP for Light­room, and am going to buy a Mac some­time soon‚¦ (wait­ing for the new Mac­book Prožs)).

    Just a reminder in case you don’t know: burn­ing to CD or DVD is much less future­proof than stor­ing data on a hard­disk. Unless you have per­fect archiv­ing con­di­tions (cool, dry, no sun­light), burn at the low­est pos­si­ble speed and buy the best CD+/-R(W) or DVD+/-R(W) avail­able; your CD/DVD will no longer be read­able after sev­eral years (6–8 years on aver­age) due to disk rot. A solu­tion for this is to reburn the disks every few years.

    Just my 2 cts.

  6. admin says:

    Thanks so much for those com­ments John and Nico! I should have men­tioned that I use this method on a PC…but I’m sure most peo­ple fig­ured it out. I have been con­sid­er­ing a Mac as my next lap­top. Good to know there are easy solu­tions for macs!

  7. John Watts says:

    An excel­lent post — -

    To me, this is the weak­est link in all of Dig­i­tal Imag­ing: the fact that you can lose all of your images/data in a heart­beat with­out a proper backup strategy — -

    I also just blogged on this:

    http://www.wattsdigital.com/blog1

    I like your strat­egy — - I employ it also by copy­ing my whole com­puter, not just one hard drive…I’m on a Mac, and am using the lat­est upgrade from them, OS 10.5 Leopard…It includes a pro­gram called “Time Machine” that does exactly that — copies your entire com­puter to an exter­nal drive…

    Cheers,

    John :-)

  8. Nico says:

    I use SuperDuper for Mac. New Macs come with Time Machine, but I really like how SD works. I have a 250GB drive with a par­ti­tion for back­ups and one for stor­ing other files. So far I haven’t had to use it (knock on wood), but it’s bet­ter to be ready!

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