Tirib - A lot of that doesn’t apply to my laptop, like simply switching in and out new hard drives and having a complete clone ready to go in case of failure. As I said, I plan on upgrading the entire computer once it dies. I also don’t have a server to save to (for free, anyway; I learned of some places you can pay to back stuff up).
I got a copy of Acronis True Image last night and created a full image of C: on my USB external HD. It took about 45 min and 30GB. So now hypothetically, if Lappy got run over by a dump truck, I could buy a brand spankin new laptop, install Acronis True Image, and run a restore. This would either A: get me back to exactly where I was, pre-destruction, or B: if the setup of the new computer wasn’t identical to the old one, would at least allow me to recover all my data files, and I would manually reinstall everything. Is that correct? At this point I was going to run Acronis to backup just data, too, because I was leary of option B.
Another question I was wondering - if my back up took 30GB on my external, how do people write back ups to CD’s and DVD’s? It would be a huge number of discs to fit it all on there, no?[/quote]
I’ve only ever used Ghost in DOS for drive imaging, but as I understand it the image you now have on the external drive should be able to accomplish the same thing with Acronis. They will probably have given you a utility of some kind to create a bootable cd with. You would boot the machine to that cd with the new drive in the laptop and the external drive attached. This is assuming the machine is new enough to recognize usb devices at the bios level which it probably is. If not then things get more complicated, but it probably is.
The Acronis docs will give you the details, but once in the program you point it at the image as the source and the new drive as the destination, confirm the operation and tell it to go. When it finishes you take out the cd and boot the machine to the new drive. If all went as planned it should be identical to what it was before except now running on the new drive.
A couple things though. I don’t know if the operation you did cloned the old drive to the external one or created an image file of the old drive ON the external one. There is a difference, but either way should get the same result except you’ll have to be sure to know that when restoring the new drive and tell it which way to go. If it’s an image file and you tell it to use the external drive itself as the source you will wind up with a new drive with that one file on it which obviously will not work.
The reason your backup is so big (which it really isn’t relatively anyway) is because you backed up the entire drive including the OS and all the program files. Your personal data is a fraction of that. Most people can get most of what is REALLY important to them on one DVD and maybe even a cd depending on the person because that usually means photos and documents of various types of which thousands can usually fit on a single DVD especially. Large music or video collections can multiply that by dozens of times instantly, but I don’t consider those to be vital in the same way irreplaceable documents and family photos are.
If you made an image file then hopefully Acronis has an image management app that will allow you to open it in an explorer type interface thus accessing the information it contains. I imagine that would be the case. If it were me I’d backup your entire account profile separately just in case. For Windows 2000 and XP that will be in C:\documents and settings\your profile. Or at least backup the my documents folder and favorites (if you use IE). If you use Firefox definitely grab application data\mozilla as well. In the event of a reload you can copy that folder over the new OS install and at least Firefox will be just like it was.
Also if you use Outlook or Outlook Express (shame on you) be sure to backup your mail stuff as well if you don’t get the whole profile. If I remember right at the moment OE will be in C:\documants and settings\your profile\local settings\identities\microsoft\outlook express. For Outlook do a search for *.pst and copy everything it finds for now.
Be aware that if buy a new laptop it’s practically guaranteed to come preloaded with Vista which is a downer in my opinion. Depending on what you have, some more memory and a fresh drive may keep you humming along for a few more years actually.