Leo’s Answers #311 – November 29, 2011

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Leo Notenboom

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*** New Articles

Macrium Reflect 1: Downloading and Installing

The first step to backing up is selecting and installing backup software.

As a result, in this first step in our series about backing up with Macrium Reflect, I'll do just that - download and install the current version of Macrium Reflect 5.0.

Continue reading: Macrium Reflect 1: Downloading and Installing
http://ask-leo.com/C4986

* * *

Macrium Reflect 2: Creating Rescue Media

After installing backup software, the very first step that many people unfortunately overlook is to create what's called bootable rescue media.

Rescue media is typically a CD that you can use to boot your machine in the case that the machine's own operating system installation has been rendered corrupt or un-bootable. The rescue media is a copy of the backup program that can then be used to restore a backup image to your machine.

Once installed, Macrium Reflect includes a built-in tool to create rescue media.

Continue reading: Macrium Reflect 2: Creating Rescue Media
http://ask-leo.com/C4988

* * *

Macrium Reflect 3: Creating a Backup Image

The system image (or image backup) of a computer includes everything on the primary hard drive that would be required to restore a working system to a completely empty replacement drive.

Or put more simply - an image backup backs up everything.

I'll walk you through creating an image backup using Macrium Reflect.

Continue reading: Macrium Reflect 3: Creating a Backup Image
http://ask-leo.com/C4989

* * *

Macrium Reflect 4: Creating an Incremental Backup Image

Once you have a full image backup of your computer, which includes everything on the hard drive, a series of subsequent backups can be significantly quicker and smaller.

Incremental backups backup only those files that have changed since the immediately preceding backup. Because many of the files on our computers are essentially unchanging, this can represent a significant saving in both time and space.

I'll walk you through creating an incremental image backup using Macrium Reflect.

Continue reading: Macrium Reflect 4: Creating an Incremental Backup Image
http://ask-leo.com/C4990

* * *

Macrium Reflect 5: Scheduling Backups

Now that we've installed Macrium Reflect and created some backups, it's time for the computer to take over the task.

Scheduling backups to happen automatically without you having to do a thing is critical for ongoing protection.

I'll walk you through setting up a scheduled backup using Macrium Reflect.

Continue reading: Macrium Reflect 5: Scheduling Backups
http://ask-leo.com/C4991

* * *

Macrium Reflect 6: Restoring an Image

Backups are one of those things that you absolutely must do regularly...

And yet, you hope that you'll never, ever need them.

The reality is that chances are you will.

I'll walk you through the steps required to restore a backup system image to your system.

Continue reading: Macrium Reflect 6: Restoring an Image
http://ask-leo.com/C4992

* * *

Macrium Reflect 7: Restoring a File from an Image Backup

Image backups are great for a couple of reasons.

One reason is that, if your hard drive fails or something else renders what's on your hard drive unusable, an image backup contains everything that you need to restore that drive to its state at the time that the backup was taken.

The other good thing is that an image backup contains everything. Should you need even only one file, you can get it from an image backup.

Continue reading: Macrium Reflect 7: Restoring a File from an Image Backup
http://ask-leo.com/C4993

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*** Last Week's Articles

*** Comments

How do I recover from a bad virus infection?

Ken B writes:

I have to disagree with your suggestion to turn off "System Restore". I don't think I've ever seen an infected system where System Restore caused any problems. I have, however, seen numerous systems where removing the infections corrupts the registry in some manner, leaving the system unbootable. (Most likely, the registry is still pointing to the now-removed infection.) On those systems with System Restore, it's about 10-15 minutes to get the system back to a running state, whereas those without it require the backup/wipe/reinstall approach at that point.

And, on a few very-rare occasions, I've seen a driver update leave the system in a "boot to BSOD" state, which is quickly remedied by a System Restore. (The system won't boot, so you can't get to the "rollback driver" option.)

*

How do I safely backup an infected drive?

Ken B writes:

"This entire article becomes completely moot if you could instead simply restore to, say, last night's uninfected system backup."

Unfortunately, "last night's uninfected system backup" might actually be "last night's 'I didn't know yet that it was already infected' system backup", so I'd say that you should still do a thorough scan after restoring it.

*

How do I safely backup an infected drive?

Robin Clay writes:

You frequently say, "back-up data only". Well, yes, I do know what data *I* have stored - WORD files, EXCEL files, BitMaps, e-mail, etc.. But what about the "hidden" data, such as cookies - and (I'm sure) LOTS of other files, log files, etc., etc.. (a) Should these be included in a back-up? And (b) what files are these and where are they ?

Your question illustrated exactly why I much prefer image backups, which backup everything whether you need it or not. In a scenario like this you would then have the image backup - albeit itself infected - with every file that you could then recover individually if you discovered you needed them. When I talk about backup data only I do specifically mean the data you know about. That's typically the most critical of all.

-Leo

*

How should I protect my computer from natural disasters?

Claude Holloway writes:

I, too, agree that storing data on an external hard drive is the best way to backup data. I store the external drive in a safety deposit box at my bank, and my wife and grown son both have access to this box. That way, if something happens to my computer, me and my wife, my heirs have access to my financial records. Also, external drives are cheap. So in order to make the swap at the bank quicker and easier, I have two external drives. Each week, I do a complete backup on the drive I have at home, take it to the bank, and swap it with the one stored there.

*** Leo Recommends

Macrium Reflect - Powerful Windows Backup Software

I consider backing up to be one of the fundamental necessities for anyone who uses a computer.

As anyone with even a little experience will tell you, you will lose something important someday without a backup; it's not a matter of if, but a matter of when. And someone with more than a little experience will also be able to share horror stories of how and when they learned this important lesson.

In my opinion, that's why it's critical that you backup your computer and data regularly. As I've said repeatedly, if your data is in only one place, it's not backed up.

Over the years, I've developed a set of criteria - a set of features and characteristics - that I want out of a backup program before I recommend it.

Macrium Reflect makes the cut.

Continue reading: Macrium Reflect - Powerful Windows Backup Software
http://ask-leo.com/C4996

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Each week I recommend a specific product or resource that I've found valuable and that I think you may as well. What does my recommendation mean?

*** Popular Articles

If you're not using a backup program - any backup program - start now. Please.

What backup program should I use?

Doing backups is kind of like eating healthier; everyone agrees we should and yet very few of us actually do. Much like the heart attack victim who no longer visits McDonald's the most religious users of backup procedures are those who've been bitten hard by a failure in their past.

Asking what backup program to use is very much like asking "what's the best exercise program?" The best program for exercise or backup is whatever one you'll actually do.

So let me ask you this: do you know how you'd recover your data should everything on your computer suddenly disappear?

Continue reading...
What backup program should I use?
http://ask-leo.com/C1894

*** Thoughts and Comments

By now I hope it's obvious that this newsletter's theme is backups. Smile

Long time readers are probably wondering what happened to my recommendation of Acronis TrueImage.

Based on reader feedback as well as what I'm finding over in the Acronis support forums, I just don't feel comfortable continuing to recommend the latest version.

With that in mind some time ago I began looking for something I could recommend, and Macrium Reflect turns out to be it. I've been using it myself for a couple of months now, and am quite pleased. The support forum for those who purchase the product also looks very encouraging.

That's also why I created this week's series of articles with videos to help folks get started with Reflect. I've only scratched the surface in some ways, but by covering the basics I'm hoping to make backups less intimidating.

If you're using Acronis this doesn't mean you need to change. Acronis served me very well for many years, and I didn't experience any of the problems I've heard of with the 2011 and 2012 versions. As far as I'm concerned if it's working for you, keep on using it. (While I might recommend confirming that you can access the contents of your backed up files, that's a recommendation I make for all backup software, regardless of reputation.)

Next week: the results of the newsletter poll from a few weeks ago, and a preview of some changes coming in 2012.

'till next week...

Leo
Leo A. Notenboom
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