Category Archives: Hard Drive Imaging

Tomorrow Is World Backup Day – So, Are You Going To? Backup, That Is.

imageI have some bad news – sad news – for you this morning. Those graduation pictures you treasured, the pictures of your toddler’s first steps, this year’s income tax return which was just about ready to be filed, that resume you just finished updating – GONE – ALL GONE.

Your Hard Drive just quit overnight – never to be booted again. I know I should feel some measure of sympathy for you – but, I don’t.

I’m not trying to be a big meanie* here but, it seems to me, that you are the architect of your own misfortune. A little pre-planning to safeguard your irreplaceable data; documents, digital photos, email messages, personal and business related work, and important private data – could have saved you considerable distress.

If only you had a backup – but, you don’t – do you? I suspect that it’s little consolation but, you’re not alone. Despite the importance of Hard Drive and individual file backups, most computer technicians will tell you that typically, computer users’ do not backup their irreplaceable data.

It’s a little late to tell you this but, if you had been one of the few, out of the ordinary, computer users, who regularly and faithfully backup, you would have had some work ahead of you – but, you would have recovered your data.

All of the above of course, is an imaginary scenario – in fact, your system did boot up his morning. But, that’s hardly cause for complacency.

Redundant information: Just like death and taxes are a certainty, the fact that your computer’s Hard Drive will crash one day and refuse to respond, is every bit as certain.

If you don’t yet have a backup plan, it’s time you thought seriously about developing one. The effort involved in learning how to protect your data, by developing and implementing a backup plan in today’s computing age, is minimal. Much easier than it was, even as little as two or three years ago.

The best backup strategy includes imaging your Hard Drives and partitions, since that allows you to restore your important data, your complete operating system, as well as your installed applications, user settings, etc.

There are loads of free applications out in the wild blue that, used properly and regularly, will speed to the rescue. One of the best free program – one that I have no difficulty recommending is – EASEUS Todo Backup.

This is a brilliant application which will allow you to backup, recover your backups, image your Hard Drives, clone your Hard Drives, and a host of additional features. All of this, in a “follow the bouncing ball” simple, user interface.

If there’s an easier way to backup critical data, I have yet to find it.

The user interface has been designed so that a user with minimum computing experience, should have no difficulty.

image

The following screen captures illustrate the simple process of backing up a particular folder.

image

In this case, I choose the task name, selected the folder to be backed up, selected the backup media/location, and …..

image

Done!

Bonus: You can copy backup images to your personal cloud for data double protection. More info here.

image

A ton of options so that you can set the parameters of the task to suit your particular needs.

image

Recovery, is point and click simple.

image

Additional functions and features are available under the “Tools” menu.

In the following example I’ve run a check on the test backup to verify readability.

image

Finding that an image file is unreadable when called upon, ranks with one of life’s low points – well, sort of.    Smile

A quick initial check is a prudent move.

image

You’ll have the option of creating a system boot disk. You should do so.

image

The “emergency disk” will allow you to boot into EASEUS Todo Backup and then choose from a number of options.

image

  Fast facts:

System Backup and Recovery – One-click system backup. Backs up entire system state including the operating system and installed applications on-the-fly without interrupting your work to get the system up in time after crash.

File and Folder Backup – Backs up specified files, network shared files, files in use, folders or file types in case of virus attack, hard disk failure, or deletion by accident, etc.

Disk & partition Backup – Full backup disk(s)/partition(s), dynamic volume(s), or GPT disk(s)/volume(s) to image. It ensures PC security and instant data recovery in case of any data loss.

Incremental Backup – Provide alternatives to perform full backups each time by offering incremental backup. To capture changes saving time & disk space.

Backup Schedule – To run backup automatically at a predefined time. By scheduling a backup task, your system and important data can be backed up now, daily, weekly, monthly.

Disk Clone Tool – Clone or transfer all the data on a hard disk to another. Clone disk is especially useful to upgrade your hard drive to a new one without reinstalling operating systems and applications.

System requirements: Windows 2000, XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8. (32 bit, 64 bit).

Download at: EASEUS

If you’re looking for a free application to handle all of your backup needs, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed in EASEUS Todo Backup. Give it a try.

* In recent years, I’ve written 20+ articles on the importance of backing up critical data and, it distresses me somewhat that they have been amongst the least read articles I’ve written.

Good buddy TeX, summed up the backup issue neatly in a comment to a previous backup article sometime back, when he wrote – There are so many good programs out there for backing up, the problem is getting people to take that whole step seriously. It’s like dying,  “That always happens to someone else” theory.

It’s a point worth considering.

For additional reading on this important task, you might consider dropping by the World Backup Day site – DON’T BE AN APRIL FOOL. Backup your files. Check your restores.

24 Comments

Filed under 64 Bit Software, Backup Applications, downloads, Freeware, Hard Drive Cloning, Hard Drive Imaging

Paragon Virtualization Manager 12 Compact for FREE! – Save $29.95 On This 3 Day Giveaway

Virtualization is all the rage. With good reason – this very cool technology, if used correctly, has the power to control malware intrusion through the use of a ‘”virtual” environment, rather than operating in a “real” environment.

But, running in a virtual environment, provides an opportunity to do so much more than simply building a buffer between you and the bad guys. Program files, data files, and application directory structures can all be stored on a Virtual Disk Drive.

So, what can you do with Virtualization Manager 12 Compact? As it turns out – quite a lot. To avoid any confusion – this application is a “Virtualization Manager”. You must have virtualization software such as, Oracle VirtualBox 4, Microsoft Virtual PC, VMware Workstation, VMware Fusion, already installed.

Usage Scenarios – From the site:

Scenario 1: Use different operating systems on one computer.

Virtualization allows parallel use of several incompatible operating systems on one computer. You can run Windows, Linux, Mac OS X inside of virtual machine on one host machine.

Scenario 2: Continue using your old PC’s applications – enjoy your favorite applications in a virtual environment on your new computer.

When it’s time to upgrade to a new PC and operating system, you may find that some of your favorite applications haven’t been updated yet to work with it. Using Virtualization Manager 12 Compact, you can make a virtual clone of your old system before migrating to a new computer. Take advantage of an up-to-date powerful computer while still having access to favorite applications from the old computer.

If your old computer is corrupted but you have a backup image of your old system made with Paragon software – you can virtualize it using Virtualization Manager installed on your new PC.

Scenario 3: Safely evaluate new software.

New software can be unintentionally harmful to your computer. You can easily avoid negative system conflicts by creating a virtual clone of your current physical system using Virtualization Manager 12 Compact.

Try new software in a safe environment and decide whether it works and is exactly what you need before making it a permanent addition to your collection.  If changes made on a virtual machine were successful you can just migrate your updated system from virtual environment to your PC.

Scenario 4: Make a system bootable on different virtual environment.

Virtualization Manager makes your system bootable when migrating to new hardware by automatically injecting the required drivers in your operating system. If you unsuccessfully virtualized your system with a 3rd party tool and it became unbootable, the problem can be resolved with Virtualization Manager.

I have not tested this application extensively (just heard about this free offer this morning) – but, I have installed it and taken it for a quick run. Based on my initial impression I’ll give it high marks for ease of setup, and ease of use. The bottom line – a reasonably solid virtualization manager.

Here’s a quick run through:

In the following example I’ve chosen to create a virtual disk.

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Clicking on this choice opens the “Create Virtual Disk Wizard” as shown below.

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I’ve set the initial size at 5 GB using Microsoft Virtual PC. You can download Microsoft Virtual PC – here.

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Done! How hard was that?

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System requirements: Windows 7 (32/64-bit), Vista (32/64-bit), XP Professional (32/64-bit), XP Home.

Supported Virtual Machines: Oracle VirtualBox 4, Microsoft Virtual PC, VMware Workstation, VMware Fusion.

This giveaway offer expires April 20th, 8 am (GMT-4).

How to get Paragon Virtualization Manager: Go to the Paragon Facebook page – click the like button – follow the instructions.

Here’s a sample of the process.

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Special thanks to regular reader Delenn13 for the heads up on this free offer.

6 Comments

Filed under Giveaways, Hard Drive Cloning, Hard Drive Imaging, Software, Virtualization

It’s World Backup Day – So What Are You Doing About It?

imageI have some bad news for you this morning. Those graduation pics you treasured, the pics of your toddler’s first steps, this year’s income tax return which was just about ready to be filed, that resume you just finished updating – GONE – ALL GONE. Your Hard Drive just quit overnight – never to be booted again. I know I should feel some measure of sympathy for you – but, I don’t.

I’m not trying to be a big *meanie here but, it seems to me, that you are the architect of your own misfortune. A little pre-planning to safeguard your irreplaceable data; documents, digital photos, email messages, personal and business related work, and important private data – could have saved you considerable distress.

If only you had a backup – but, you don’t – do you? I suspect that it’s little consolation but, you’re not alone. Despite the importance of Hard Drive backups, most computer technicians will tell you that typically, computer users’ do not backup their irreplaceable data.

It’s a little late to tell you this but, if you had been one of the few, out of the ordinary, computer users, who regularly and faithfully backup, you would have had some work ahead of you – but, you would have recovered your data.

All of the above of course, is an imaginary scenario – in fact, your system did boot up his morning. But, that’s hardly cause for complacency. Just like death and taxes are a certainty, the fact that your computer’s Hard Drive will crash one day and refuse to respond, is every bit as certain.

If you don’t yet have a backup plan, it’s time you thought seriously about developing one. The effort involved in learning how to protect your data, by developing and implementing a backup plan in today’s computing age, is minimal. Much easier than it was, even as little as two or three years ago.

The best backup strategy includes imaging your Hard Drives and partitions, since that allows you to restore your important data, your complete operating system, as well as your installed applications, user settings, etc.

There are loads of free applications out in the wild blue that, used properly and regularly, will speed to the rescue. One of the best free program – one that I have no difficulty recommending is – EASEUS Todo Backup.

This is a brilliant application which will allow you to backup, recover your backups, image your Hard Drives, clone your Hard Drives, and a host of additional features. All of this, in a “follow the bouncing ball” simple, user interface. If there’s an easier way to backup critical data, I have yet to find it.

The user interface has been designed so that a user with minimum computing experience, should have no difficulty.

image

The following screen captures illustrate the simple process of backing up a particular folder.

image

In this case, I choose the task name, selected the folder to be backed up, selected the backup media/location, and …..

image

Done!

image

Recovery, is point and click simple.

image

Additional functions and features are available under the “Tools” menu.

image

For example – you’ll have the option of creating a system boot disk. You should do so.

image

Fast facts:

System Backup and Recovery – One-click system backup. Backs up entire system state including the operating system and installed applications on-the-fly without interrupting your work to get the system up in time after crash.

Restore System to Dissimilar Hardware – The feature of “recover to dissimilar hardware” can simplify system migration with restoring system to dissimilar hardware configuration for hardware replacement under WinPE recovery environment.

File and Folder Backup – Backs up specified files, network shared files, files in use, folders or file types in case of virus attack, hard disk failure, or deletion by accident, etc.

Disk & partition Backup – Full backup disk(s)/partition(s), dynamic volume(s), or GPT disk(s)/volume(s) to image. It ensures PC security and instant data recovery in case of any data loss.

Incremental/Differential Backup – Provide alternatives to perform full backups each time by offering incremental backup and differential backup. To capture changes with saving time & disk space.

Backup Schedule – To run backup automatically at a predefined time. By scheduling a backup task, your system and important data can be backed up now, daily, weekly, monthly.

Network Data Protection – Easy way to full backup network data, including network shared files on NAS and Windows, with full backup, incremental backup, differential backup and schedule backup, etc.

Disk Clone Tool – Clone or transfer all the data on a hard disk to another. Clone disk is especially useful to upgrade your hard drive to a new one without reinstalling operating systems and applications.

System requirements: Windows 2000, XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8.

Download at: EASEUS

If you’re looking for a free application to handle all of your backup needs, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed in EASEUS Todo Backup. Give it a try.

* In recent years, I’ve written 20+ articles on the importance of backing up critical data and, it distresses me somewhat that they have been amongst the least read articles I’ve written.

Good buddy TeX, summed up the backup issue neatly in a comment to a previous backup article when he wrote – There are so many good programs out there for backing up, the problem is getting people to take that whole step seriously. It’s like dying,  “That always happens to someone else” theory.

It’s a point worth considering.

4 Comments

Filed under 64 Bit Software, Backup Applications, downloads, Freeware, Hard Drive Cloning, Hard Drive Imaging, Software

One More New Year’s Resolution – I Will Learn To Backup My PC

imageTHIS is one resolution you MUST keep. And, to make it a snap to stick with this resolution – featured elsewhere in this post, you’ll find an updated review of arguably the best free (and dead easy to run), backup app around – EASEUS Todo Backup 4.

Here’s why I’d like to push you in that direction. Let’s start with a quote from my good buddy Dave Brooks, an A+ certified professional computer technician, and a popular guest writer here on Tech Thoughts:

“You don’t need to know how a PC works to use it, just like your car, if you have problems you visit a mechanic, you don’t need to know how it does what it does.

One thing you DO need to know is – you MUST back up your computer if you have anything of even remote value to you on it.”

Dave knows what he’s talking about. After fifteen years in the industry, Dave knows, that at some point, your computer will suffer system, or hardware failure.

What are you going to do then – if you don’t have a current (and tested) backup of your critical data, system/device drivers (something many of us forget), and user operating system settings?

Most important of all – how are you going to recover your irreplaceable data; documents, digital photos, email messages, personal and business related work, and important private data?

So backups are important – critically important. Despite the critical importance of Hard Drive backups, most computer technicians (including Dave), will tell you; typically, computer users’ do not backup their irreplaceable data.

If you should suffer catastrophic Hard Drive failure and you are one of the few, out of the ordinary, computer users who regularly and faithfully backup, you will have work ahead of you, but you will recover. But without a plan, your data becomes a hostage to fortune. Your Hard Drive might be damaged by malware – it might not. Your Hard Drive might fail – it might not. But why take the risk?

If you don’t yet have a backup plan, it’s time you thought seriously about developing one. Make developing and implementing a backup strategy, a New Years resolution you intend to keep.

The effort involved in learning how to protect your data, by developing and implementing a backup plan in today’s computing age, is minimal. Much easier than it was, even as little as two or three years ago.

The best backup strategy includes imaging your Hard Drives and partitions, since that allows you to restore your important data, your complete operating system, as well as your installed applications, user settings, etc.

There are loads of free applications out in the wild blue that, used properly and regularly, will speed to the rescue. One of the best free program, that I have no difficulty recommending, is EASEUS Todo Backup.

Free EASEUS Todo Backup 4 – Easy Backup For The Rest Of Us

This is a brilliant application that will allow you to backup, recover your backups, image your Hard Drives, clone your Hard Drives, and a host of additional features. All of this, in a “follow the bouncing ball” simple, user interface. If there’s an easier way to backup critical data, I have yet to find it.

The user interface has been designed so that a user with minimum computing experience, should have no difficulty.

image

The following screen captures illustrate the simple process of backing up a particular folder.

image

In this case, I choose the task name, selected the folder to be backed up, selected the backup media/location, and …..

image

Done!

image

Recovery, is point and click simple.

image

Additional functions and features are available under the “Tools” menu.

image

For example – you’ll have the option of creating a system boot disk. You should do so.

image

Fast facts:

System Backup and Recovery – One-click system backup. Backs up entire system state including the operating system and installed applications on-the-fly without interrupting your work to get the system up in time after crash.

Restore System to Dissimilar Hardware – The feature of “recover to dissimilar hardware” can simplify system migration with restoring system to dissimilar hardware configuration for hardware replacement under WinPE recovery environment.

File and Folder Backup – Backs up specified files, network shared files, files in use, folders or file types in case of virus attack, hard disk failure, or deletion by accident, etc.

Disk & partition Backup – Full backup disk(s)/partition(s), dynamic volume(s), or GPT disk(s)/volume(s) to image. It ensures PC security and instant data recovery in case of any data loss.

Incremental/Differential Backup – Provide alternatives to perform full backups each time by offering incremental backup and differential backup. To capture changes with saving time & disk space.

Backup Schedule – To run backup automatically at a predefined time. By scheduling a backup task, your system and important data can be backed up now, daily, weekly, monthly.

Network Data Protection – Easy way to full backup network data, including network shared files on NAS and Windows, with full backup, incremental backup, differential backup and schedule backup, etc.

Disk Clone Tool – Clone or transfer all the data on a hard disk to another. Clone disk is especially useful to upgrade your hard drive to a new one without reinstalling operating systems and applications.

Full list of features here.

System requirements: Windows 2000, XP, Vista, and Win 7 (32 and 64 bit).

Download at: EASEUS

If you’re looking for a free application to handle all of your backup needs, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed in EASEUS Todo Backup. Give it a try.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

10 Comments

Filed under Backup Tools, downloads, Freeware, Hard Drive Cloning, Hard Drive Imaging, Windows Tips and Tools

Free EASEUS Todo Backup 2.5.1

imageIf you don’t yet have a backup plan, it’s time you thought seriously about developing one. The effort involved in learning how to protect your data, by developing and implementing a backup plan in today’s computing age, is minimal. Much easier than it was, even as little as two or three years ago.

The best backup strategy includes imaging your Hard Drives and partitions, since that allows you to restore your important data, your complete operating system, as well as your installed applications, user settings, etc.

There are loads of free applications out in the wild blue that, used properly and regularly, will speed to the rescue. One of the best free program, that I have no difficulty recommending, is EASEUS Todo Backup 2.5.1.

This is a brilliant application that will allow you to backup, recover your backups, image your Hard Drives, clone your Hard Drives, and a host of additional features. All of this, in a “follow the bouncing ball” simple, user interface. If there’s an easier way to backup critical data, I have yet to find it.

Following installation, a restart is required.

image

The user interface has been designed so that a user with minimum computing experience, should have no difficulty.

image

The following screen captures illustrate the simple process of backing up a particular folder.

image

In this case, I choose the task name, selected the folder to be backed up, selected the backup media/location, and ….. Done!

image

image

Recovery, is point and click simple.

image

Additional functions and features are available under the “Tools” menu.

image

Fast facts:

Backup Management – By Managing backup tasks and plans, you can change a backup task or plan and execute the changes immediately, delete image files, and even convert a disk image.

Mount and Unmount – Mount a disk and partition image to a virtual partition (working as ordinary, logical drives) to explore or copy files in it.

Image Splitting – Split an image file into several files of specified size to fit different storage devices. This feature is helpful to burn the backup file to CD/DVD.

Image Compression – Compress a backup image to save disk space. The higher compression level, the smaller image is.

Check Image – Check the integrate of backup image. You can validate whether you will be able to recover from the backup image.

Disaster Recovery – Restore important files from backed up image and perform disaster recovery just by simple clicks. It ensures quick recovery from system crash, a personal error, hardware or software failure, virus attack or hacker’s intrusive destruction, etc.

Disk and Partition Clone – Migrate or copy all the data on a hard disk or partition to another.

Wipe Data – With this feature, you can erase all the sensitive data on a disk or partition to protect your privacy.

Bootable Media – Run EASEUS Todo Backup from an emergency disk to perform recovery in case of system crash, etc. USB drive, CD or DVD Bootable media can be created.

System requirements: Windows 2000, XP, Vista, and Win 7 (32 and 64 bit).

Download at: Download.com

If you’re looking for a free application to handle all of your backup needs, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed in EASEUS Todo Backup. Give it a try.

Note: EASEUS Todo Backup 3.0 is scheduled for release in Mid- August 2011. In the meantime, if you’re the experimental type you can download the Beta release – here.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

2 Comments

Filed under 64 Bit Software, Backup Applications, Backup Tools, downloads, Free Backup Applications, Freeware, Hard Drive Cloning, Hard Drive Imaging, New Computer User Software Tools, Software, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools

Free EASEUS Todo Backup – Easy Backup For The Rest Of Us

imageHere’s a quote from Dave Brooks, an A+ certified professional computer technician, and a popular guest writer here on Tech Thoughts:

“You don’t need to know how a PC works to use it, just like your car, if you have problems you visit a mechanic, you don’t need to know how it does what it does.

One thing you DO need to know is – you MUST back up your computer if you have anything of even remote value to you on it.”

Dave Brooks knows what he’s talking about. After fifteen years in the industry, Dave knows, that at some point, your computer will suffer system, or hardware failure.

What are you going to do then – if you don’t have a current backup of your critical data, system/device drivers (something many of us forget), and user operating system settings?

How are you going to recover your irreplaceable data; documents, digital photos, email messages, personal and business related work, and important private data?

So backups are important – critically important. Despite the critical importance of Hard Drive backups, most computer technicians (including Dave), will tell you; typically, computer users’ do not backup their irreplaceable data.

If you should suffer catastrophic Hard Drive failure and you are one of the few, out of the ordinary, computer users who regularly and faithfully backup, you will have work ahead of you, but you will recover. But without a plan, your data becomes a hostage to fortune. Your Hard Drive might be damaged by malware – it might not. Your Hard Drive might fail – it might not. But why take the risk?

If you don’t yet have a backup plan, it’s time you thought seriously about developing one. Make developing and implementing a backup strategy, a New Years resolution you intend to keep.

The effort involved in learning how to protect your data, by developing and implementing a backup plan in today’s computing age, is minimal. Much easier than it was, even as little as two or three years ago.

The best backup strategy includes imaging your Hard Drives and partitions, since that allows you to restore your important data, your complete operating system, as well as your installed applications, user settings, etc.

There are loads of free applications out in the wild blue that, used properly and regularly, will speed to the rescue. One of the best free program, that I have no difficulty recommending, is EASEUS Todo Backup.

This is a brilliant application that will allow you to backup, recover your backups, image your Hard Drives, clone your Hard Drives, and a host of additional features. All of this, in a “follow the bouncing ball” simple, user interface. If there’s an easier way to backup critical data, I have yet to find it.

The application requires installation of driver software so just say “yes”. Following installation, a restart is required.

image

The user interface has been designed so that a user with minimum computing experience, should have no difficulty.

image

The following screen captures illustrate the simple process of backing up a particular folder.

image

In this case, I choose the task name, selected the folder to be backed up, selected the backup media/location, and ….. Done!

image

Recovery, is point and click simple.

image

Additional functions and features are available under the “Tools” menu.

image

Fast facts:

Backup Management – By Managing backup tasks and plans, you can change a backup task or plan and execute the changes immediately, delete image files, and even convert a disk image.

Mount and Unmount – Mount a disk and partition image to a virtual partition (working as ordinary, logical drives) to explore or copy files in it.

Image Splitting – Split an image file into several files of specified size to fit different storage devices. This feature is helpful to burn the backup file to CD/DVD.

Image Compression – Compress a backup image to save disk space. The higher compression level, the smaller image is.

Check Image – Check the integrate of backup image. You can validate whether you will be able to recover from the backup image.

Disaster Recovery – Restore important files from backed up image and perform disaster recovery just by simple clicks. It ensures quick recovery from system crash, a personal error, hardware or software failure, virus attack or hacker’s intrusive destruction, etc.

Disk and Partition Clone – Migrate or copy all the data on a hard disk or partition to another.

Wipe Data – With this feature, you can erase all the sensitive data on a disk or partition to protect your privacy.

Bootable Media – Run EASEUS Todo Backup from an emergency disk to perform recovery in case of system crash, etc. USB drive, CD or DVD Bootable media can be created.

System requirements: Windows 2000, XP, Vista, and Win 7 (32 and 64 bit).

Download at: EASEUS

If you’re looking for a free application to handle all of your backup needs, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed in EASEUS Todo Backup. Give it a try.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

11 Comments

Filed under 64 Bit Software, Backup Applications, Backup Tools, Computer Tools, downloads, Freeware, Hard Drive Cloning, Hard Drive Imaging, Software, Windows Tips and Tools

A Computer Technician’s Advice – Backup Your Files Now!

Dave Brooks a professional computer technician from New Hampshire, has written this article to emphasize, once again, and it can’t be repeated too often – the importance of data back up on a regular and consistent basis.

Let’s Talk About Backups

backup My Name is Dave Brooks, I’m an A+ certified technician currently employed in a small shop in New Hampshire. I’ve been in the computer industry for about 15 years, playing with computers even longer. Other than a brief introductory class many years ago, I am completely self taught.

Bill has generously donated space for wanna be novelists (I’m not a writer by any stretch) to share their thoughts, so I figured I’d take him up on the offer.

Much of the operation of a computer seems to amaze the average user; that they can do what they do even amazes me sometimes. You don’t need to know how a PC works to use it, just like your car, if you have problems you visit a mechanic, you don’t need to know how it does what it does.

One thing you DO need to know is that you MUST back up your computer if you have anything of even remote value to you on it. Hard drives (the device that actually stores your data) are amazing things, their capacity is growing by leaps and bounds and the price per Mega Byte is dropping about as fast.

Hard Drive Diag One of the biggest problems with them is, they can fail at pretty much any time with no notice at all, one minute your working away, the next the drive has developed a catastrophic problem and your years of work and photos have gone to that great recycle bin in the sky.

Depending on the problem the drive has developed it can be relatively inexpensive to recovery your data or it can cost thousands of dollars to send it off to a company specializing in data recovery.

Planning ahead, you can reduce this cost to a mere hundred or two dollars and a minimal amount of downtime. How you ask? An external hard drive and some imaging software. Acronis True Image is a great application and one I recommend to all my home clients.

It is really as simple as installing the software, connecting your external drive, and going through a wizard which will perform a full backup of your hard drive and help schedule recurring backups. When your hard drive fails, it’s a simple matter of installing a replacement, and restoring your recent backup back to the new drive, and you’re up and running with minimal downtime and aggravation.

I’ve had many a customer lose many a file because they had no backup, they usually implement a routine after they experience data loss, but the loss could have been prevented, it’s not a matter of if your hard drive will fail, but when.

In closing I’ll leave you with this thought; BACKUP, BACKUP, BACKUP!!!

Driveimage XML

(Click pic for larger)

Checkout the review of DriveImage XML, a free, easy to use, and reliable data back up program, from Runtime Software, on this site.

Dave is a very popular guest writer here, and his articles are always a huge hit – but he’s far too modest. Earlier this year, Microsoft’s TechNet Security Blog, linked back Dave’s  guest article, here on Tech Thoughts, “Think You’re Immune from Online Fraud? Maybe Not!”. Now that’s recognition for a job well done!

Pay a visit to Dave’s site at Tech-N-Go, and checkout the Security Alerts.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

9 Comments

Filed under Backup Applications, Backup Tools, downloads, Freeware, Guest Writers, Hard Drive Imaging, Software, Technicians Advise, Windows Tips and Tools

New Hard Drive? – Clone Your Old Hard Drive with Free Easeus Disk Copy

A great tip from guest writer Mark Schneider on how to clone your hard drive using free Easeus Disk Copy.

image Upgrading your hard drive can be a rewarding and simple procedure for the everyday computer user. Cloning your hard drive, or making a exact copy, is the easiest way to get your new hard drive up and running quickly.

It’s also a popular tool for many professional IT people to backup a computer setup to be instantly restored in case of a disaster.

There are a number of paid commercial programs that serve this purpose; Norton Ghost is very popular as is my favorite, Acronis True Image. Both do a great job and have a number of useful options besides the cloning function.

They are great programs but they cost money, and money is tight right now, so I decided to try out a few free cloning programs that do the job just as well – albeit, without the options the paid programs include.

The first program I tried successfully was Easeus Disk Copy. Easeus Disk Copy allows a user to replicate their hard drive on to an external hard drive; the only option besides the full copy option is to copy an individual partition – a useful feature that I didn’t test.

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Easeus Disk Copy is simple to use. Just download the program and burn the ISO image to a CD. Then boot to the CD and follow a simple set of windows guiding you through the process. Once your target disks are selected you simply wait for the process to take place.

This is where Easeus falls short of the paid programs I’ve used. The entire operation took over 3 hours to clone a drive with about 140GBs of data to the new drive. Not a big deal for most situations but if you’re in a hurry, you’ll want a different program.

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Another issue which was no big deal but could be for some people, was that out of the 3 drives I cloned, 2 required me to repair the Windows Boot Loader using an install disk. No big deal for me, but if you don’t have an install disk for your operating system, or don’t feel comfortable doing this, it could be a real hassle.

Overall, I think Easeus Disk Copy did a fine job; it’s free and relatively simple. Since hard drives have become so inexpensive, it seems silly to pay for software if you’re only using it on rare occasions. I give it a conditional “fully recommend” rating’ – the condition being, the user knows how to burn an ISO file, and is able to repair the boot loader if needed.

Fast facts:

Copy all of your hard drive: Creating a bootable CD/DVD, it allows you to copy entire disk in case of unknown/proprietary file systems.

Partition copy: Enables you to copy one partition to another partition you want.

Disk copy: Enables you to clone one disk to another sector by sector.

Sector by sector copy: Makes physical 1:1 copies (clones) of hard disks and partitions. This ensures 100% identity to the original.

Safe, simple and fast: It is a very fast and easy way to copy all or part of a hard drive to another hard drive with Disk Copy.

Supports inaccessible disk copy

Supports booting from CD/DVD

Friendly graphical user interface

Relay disk space for insufficient destination

Support hard disks up to 1 TB

Download at: Download.com

This is a guest post by Mark Schneider of the Techwalker Blog, who brings a background as a high level super user, to the blogging world.

Why not pay a visit to Mark’s site today.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

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Filed under Backup Applications, Backup Tools, downloads, Freeware, Hard Drive Cloning, Hard Drive Imaging, Software, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP

Backup Logical Drives and Partitions Free With DriveImage XML V2.14

Hard Drive Diag We talk a lot on this Blog about how important it is to have a current backup of all of your critical data, and given the state of the Internet today with its epidemic of malware, there’s a good chance, that at some point, you may well need this backup.

If you’re not too worried about the malware threat to your data, then consider this. Just like death and taxes are a certainty, the fact that your computer’s Hard Drive will crash one day and refuse to respond, is every bit as certain.

What are you going to do then – if you don’t have a current backup of your critical data, system/device drivers (something many of us forget), and user operating system settings?

How are you going to recover your irreplaceable data; documents, digital photos, email messages, personal and business related work, and important private data?

So backups are important – critically important. Despite the importance of Hard Drive backups, most computer technicians will tell you that typically, computer users’ do not backup their irreplaceable data.

frustrated 2 If you should suffer catastrophic Hard Drive failure and you are one of the few, out of the ordinary, computer users who regularly and faithfully backup, you will have a lot of work ahead of you, but you will recover.

If you do not have a backup plan, it’s time you thought seriously about developing one.

Yes, I know there is effort involved in learning how to protect your data by developing and implementing a backup plan. But without a plan, your data becomes a hostage to fortune. Your Hard Drive might be damaged by malware – it might not. Your Hard Drive might fail – it might not. But why take the risk?

The best backup strategy includes imaging your Hard Drives and partitions, since that allows you to restore your important data, your complete operating system, as well as your installed applications, user settings, etc.

There are loads of free applications out in the wild blue that, used properly and regularly, will speed to the rescue. One such free program, that I have no difficulty recommending, is DriveImage XML from Runtime Software.

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DriveImage XML uses Microsoft’s Volume Shadow Services (VSS) to create images, allowing you to create safe “hot images”, even from drives currently in use. Images are then stored in XML files, which allows you to process those files with third party tools.

The real benefit in imaging your full drives and partitions is, you now have the ability to restore your complete operating system, as well as your installed applications, user settings, and the registry. Better yet, you can restore the image to a replacement drive.

An added feature of DriveImage XML is, the included image explorer that permits access to previously created backup images and the extraction of individual files.

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Since this program is currently distributed as freeware, there is no technical support offered. Instead, refer to the program’s help file and documentation. If you need additional help, you can refer to the program’s frequently asked questions (FAQ).

Quick facts:

Backup logical drives and partitions to image files

Browse these images, view and extract files

Restore these images to the same, or a different drive

Copy directly from drive to drive

Schedule automatic backups with Task Scheduler

Restore images to drives without rebooting

Free for home use only

Runs from a WinPE boot CD-ROM

Backup, image and restore on FAT 12, 16, 32 and NTFS drives

User comments – from CNET user reviews:

“Excellent utility!”

Pros: Easy to use; does a thorough job.

Cons: Nothing at all.

Summary: This utility is easy to use and does exactly what it claims. I imaged my Vista laptop, installed a new, larger HD and copied the imaged old drive to the new drive with absolutely no problems. No need to reinstall Vista.

“Amazingly simple to use and does everything promised”

Pros: Easy to use and very useful to save disk images and restore. Never had a problem in the past year.

Cons: None that I experienced.

Summary: Great for regular backups too.

I wouldn’t normally insert review comments from users, but backing up is so critically important that hopefully these comment will lend credibility to just how easy it is to back up.

System Requirements: Windows XP, 2003, Vista, or Windows 7.

Watch the DriveImage XML video tutorial on YouTube

Latest version: July 2010 – DriveImage XML V2.14

Download at: Runtime Software

Another terrific free application definitely worth checking out is Macrium Reflect. For a through understanding of the advantages of this free application check out Make An Exact Copy of Your Hard Drive, on Rick Robinette’s site. You’ll be glad you did.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

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Filed under Backup Applications, Backup Tools, downloads, Freeware, Hard Drive Imaging, Software, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP

Tips On A Layered Security Approach To Internet Safety

image Unfortunately, finding a balance between computer security and functionality can often be a question of “hit and miss”. By protecting your computer using the layered approach laid out here, you will reduce the chances of malware infections significantly without impacting convenience, and functionality, unduly.

Cybercriminals design malware to exploit vulnerable systems without user interaction being required – on the one hand, and craft attacks that take advantage of unaware computer users, in which user interaction is required – on the other hand.

The second part, of this two part attack approach, can only be defeated if the computer user is aware of current Internet threats. So, knowledge and experience, are critical ingredients in the never ending, and escalating battle, against cybercriminals.

In order to defeat attacks which rely on exploiting vulnerable systems, the preferred method to do so, is the implementation of a layered security approach. Employing layered security should ensure the swift detection of malware, before any damage occurs on the targeted system.

We live in a world in which we are surrounded by “buzz words”, and it seems that I’m occasionally guilty of using buzz words in writing this Blog. Buzz words which don’t always adequately explain a point, or which interfere with a readers understanding of a concept.

This was brought home to me recently when a regular reader emailed me privately; asking that I explain layered security. As I considered this, it occurred to me that this was a very legitimate question. From a reader’s perspective – just what is “layered security”?

What is layered security?

Let’s take the “buzz” out of layered security. Layered security, in its simplest form, consists of stacking security solutions, one on top of the other, to protect a computer from current, and zero day malware attacks (malware for which there is yet, no programmed defense).

Why do you need it?

The answer is pretty simple – gap management (words that are well know to consultants). In other words, no single security application is capable (nor should we expect a single application to be capable), of providing adequate computer system protection. Gaps exist in protection capabilities in even the most sophisticated security applications.

Layering (or stacking) security applications, offers the best chance of remaining infection free, by closing these gaps. Keep in mind however, that even the best layered protection strategy will not make up for the lack of experience, and intuitiveness, of many computer users. So, I’ll repeat what I said earlier “knowledge, awareness, and experience are critical ingredients in the escalating battle, against cybercriminals”

A consumer layered security approach: recommendations.

Backup – While you may not think that a backup strategy forms part of a layered security approach to Internet security, it is, without exception, a most crucial part.

Consider where you would be if your layered security strategy failed. If you’ve ever lost critical data to a malware infection, no doubt you already consider it of primary importance.

Free backup utilities are readily available – see “Hard Drive Cloning is Easy with Free Easeus Disk Copy” and “Free DriveImage XML – “The Best Way to Backup Data?”, on this site.

Operating System and Application Patch Management – Again, this is an area that is often not considered as critical by many users. In a recent survey, Secunia, the Danish computer security service provider, well known for tracking vulnerabilities in software and operating systems, concluded that less than one in 50 Windows driven computers, are totally patched.

To stay ahead of the curve in this critical area consider downloading, and installing, the free Secunia Personal Software Inspector, which will constantly monitor your system for insecure software installations, notify you when an insecure application is installed, and even provide you with detailed instructions for updating the application, when available.

Firewall – Simply put,  a firewall is an application, or a hardware appliance, designed to block unauthorized access to your computer from the Internet, at the same time permitting authorized communications.

There are many free Firewalls available, but many can be intrusive and not really appropriate for casual computer users. Zone Alarm offers a very robust, uncomplicated, free Firewall, and more information is available here, “Download ZoneAlarm Free Firewall 2010 – Windows 7 Compatible”.

Antimalware – A front line antimalware application is absolutely critical to avoid system infection. Your primary application should be supplemented by an on-demand scanner (part of the stacking approach).

There is no harm in downloading more than one antimalware application to be used as a secondary scanner. In fact, doing so can be advantageous. However, be sure NOT to allow more than one application to autostart, in order to prevent conflicts. For a list and download links to recommended free antimalware applications, including secondary scanners, see “Tech Thoughts Top 8 Free Antimalware Applications”, on this site.

Antivirus – An antivirus application is another critical component in a layered defense strategy to ensure that if a malicious program is detected, it will be stopped dead in its tracks!

Avira AntiVir Personal (see “Free Avira AntiVir Personal Protection – Get the Real Deal!” on this site), is a very effective application which offers scans for viruses, Trojans, backdoor programs, hoaxes, worms, dialers and other malicious programs.

It’s simple interface provides access to a command structure, that makes it easy to repair, delete, block, rename and quarantine programs, or files.

Web Browser Security – Install a free Internet Browser add-on such as WOT (my personal favorite). WOT tests web sites you are visiting for spyware, spam, viruses, browser exploits, unreliable online shops, phishing, and online scams, helping you avoid unsafe web sites.

Please read “An IT Professional’s Must Have Firefox and Chrome Add-ons” on this site, which lists additional critical Browser add-ons.

System Isolation – An isolator is a security application which dynamically isolates Internet applications including Web Browsers, Chat Clients, Email Clients, and so on. Isolators, or sandbox applications, prevent damage from intrusions and malicious software: viruses, worms, spyware, key loggers etc., including disallowing rogue software from being installed. To understand this concept more thoroughly, please see “Free GeSWall Isolates You From Cybercriminals”, on this site.

Zero Day Protection – Since most viruses, worms, Trojans and other types of Internet threats only last 24 hours, how do security applications that rely on a definition database to identify malware files (most anti-malware applications), keep up with this onslaught? The simple answer is; they don’t.

Threatfire, from PC Tools is a terrific security application which covers the vulnerability gap with respect to zero-day threats. ThreatFire blocks malware (including zero-day threats) by analyzing program behavior (heuristics), based on the theory that if it looks like a crook and acts like a crook, then it must be a crook, instead of relying only on a signature based database.

For additional information and a download link please see – “Protect Yourself Against Zero Day Internet Threats with Free ThreatFire From PC Tools”, on this site.

Unfortunately, finding a balance between security and functionality can often be difficult. By protecting your computer using the layered approach laid out here, you will reduce the chances of malware infections significantly without impacting convenience, and functionality, unduly.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

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Filed under Anti-Malware Tools, Antivirus Applications, Browser add-ons, Browser Plug-ins, cybercrime, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Free Anti-malware Software, Free Internet Protection, Free Security Programs, Freeware, Hard Drive Imaging, Internet Safety Tools, Software, System Security, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP