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Old August 18, 2011, 12:38 PM
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francisw19 francisw19 is offline
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Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Alberta
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OK...lot's of questions in there...I'll take a stab and see if I can answer a few. :)

I'm quite paranoid about losing my data, so I've got a setup that's working very well for me and I feel is quite reliable.

Firstly, if I understood you correctly about restoring from the hidden partition on your system drive, I'm guessing this is the factory restore image for your PC? Regardless, NEVER store a disk image on another partition on the same drive. The only thing you'll really be protected from is just accidentally deleting a file, for instance. But, if your drive dies, then your backup goes along with it.

Personally, I'm not a fan of using optical storage for backups (such as a DVD, for example). The disks are quite fragile and I don't like to keep things that important on them. It gets worse if the image archive is too large to fit on one DVD. If having a reliable backup solution is important to you, get another external hard drive. You can make a partition to keep several backups of your data in one place. Keeping your backup images on another separate hard drive is the best way to go...even better if you have a few drives in RAID1 for redundancy.

On my system, I use the 2x 1.5TB WD Caviar Greens to store my backups. They are in a RAID1 setup so that if one drive fails, there is still a second drive to fall back on. To take the images, I use Image For Windows: Drive Image Backup Software for Windows :: Image for Windows.

I've tried a lot of imaging software and Image for Windows is easily one of the most reliable, IMO. After literally hundreds of restores, I've never had a bad image. The only down-side I can think of is that the Image for Linux restore disk (if you had to restore your system image) can be a bit intimidating for a novice. So, that's just something to keep in mind.

I've also used Shadow Protect Desktop: Windows backup, disaster recovery and drive image software. It's also very reliable, easy to use and has very good management of incremental backups. It can be set to automatically take incremental backups as little as 15 minutes apart and then merge them to daily, weekly, and monthly images. The only major complaint I have is their product activation if you want to install it in Windows. I got a lot of hassle from them if I reinstalled Windows and wanted to re-activate the software...this is what eventually pushed me to Image for Windows. Also, you didn't mention a budget, but if you want to keep this on the cheap, this is not your software as it's quite expensive. But, again I do stand by it's reliability...when I used this, it was absolutely flawless - no problems whatsoever.

I've tried out the built-in imaging too in Windows and while it seemed to work OK, I really didn't like the lack of options. Also, IIRC, you must always capture the system partition in the Image which was something that didn't jive with my method. I've also tried out O&O Disk Image, Macrium Free, and Acronis True Image. I used to really like Acronis back in the version 8 and 9 days, but newer versions seemed to not work as well for me. I've been burned a few times using Acronis and had a few issues with the restore disk detecting my hardware. That's not to say that it won't work for you, but I don't have the same trust in it as I do with my other favorites.

I hope this clears up a few things. Be sure to post back if you have any more questions.
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