The Facts- Imaging Backup

hard-drive-1508507Ask yourself, how would you feel, and what would you do if your hard drive crashed and you lost your data?

Can you to recover your pc and data in the event of a disaster?

One thing that you can be certain of is, as Windows user,that at some time, you will have a problem.

This isn’t because Windows is bad, but it has always been a fact of life for computer users.

What can be done to prevent and mitigate any future problem.

The conventional wisdom, has always been backup your data frequently to multiple locations.

  Most fixes for serious issues involve   a  backup,reinstall of windows and applications,  and  restoration of  datadata.

It could take a long time, but if  had the backups, you never  lost data.

Because we almost all connect to the Internet, and Windows (and many other programs) are constantly updating the Internet, the chances that these updates  will cause some significant problem.

The truth remains the same as it always has been, we all need to backup.

Technology has changed and we have the cloud- used properly, cloud-based services can create backups and store our essential data.- even so, it is still possible to lose data.

Some cloud  based  data backup services are not friendly when it comes to getting your data  back off the cload and onto your pc.

Alternatively you could use system imaging  software to  take a full copy of your hard drive to an external disk.( sort of like a photocopy of your hard drive)

This exact copy can be used either restore the whole drive, or just selected files that have been lost .

The only issue with this, is that it is only as good as when it was last made.

This type of backup can work quite well when used with a cloud synchronised real-time backup product such as Google drive or dropbox.

I have set my computer so that all the most important as the lead change every day are stored in dropbox and are updated online every time a change them.

This works very well if the files you are saving are small in size.

So if I take an image backup every week and I have a problem, I can restore last weeks image and ,as soon dropbox comes online it will update my data on the local drive.

This is just one solution – but it works for me.

The big problem with this method, (and any other) is that if I forget to make the backup and I have a loss, I would have to use a much older backup file to restore my system.

For me, this would not be a problem as dropbox still has my back.

If a Windows update, or anything else messes up my system, all I have to do, is restore from one of my backup images.

The software that I use can be configured to automatically make a backup on a schedule of my choice.

It can be configured to send me an email when either the backup has failed or completed.

I have the  paid version of the software which has three more tricks up its sleeve.

If I make backup files and store them on a hard drive, network or cloud storage that is available to Windows (can be seen in file manager), a malicious program installed onto my hard drive could affect  all my data -even my backups.

Remember, if your PC is infected with ransomware .and you plug in a new drive containing a backup, the ransomware will again have access to the drive and you  could lose a backup.

You could backup to    DVD-ROM which would then be read only,Although this is impractical .

The software which I use has a feature known as image Guardian.

The backup files software creates are called images.

Image Guardian is a special driver that prevents backup images from being modified or deleted without permission. In fact when I delete images that I no longer need, I have to turn image Guardian off temporarily to do so.

The second feature, is that when I click a backup image, the software will offer to open the backup and allocate it to a drive letter. This is in read-only mode, but does enable me to be able to copy any files from the backup as if it was an external hard drive.

Finally one of the most useful features (for me) is the ability to virtualise backup image.

This means that I can take an image of your system, loaded into the software and boot into the image with your version of Windows as if it was your PC,

this is extremely useful in my job as it enables me to do my work without having further access to your physical hard drive.

Just to be clear, software that I am using is available free of charge to home users.

It can be used freely to backup system to an image, to restore from an image, to open an image to extract files.

It will not do the other clever stuff, nor does it allow backup scheduling with email confirmation.

These features are restored when a licence is purchased.

How to install and use the software.

The software we have been discussing is called Macrum Reflect-I will post the download link is.

You can download it for free, and install it to your PC.

Assuming that you have somewhere to store your backup image, you can use it straight away.

Few clicks of a mouse and a confirmation and the software will make your image backup.

The software provides the tools needed to create a bootable USB or DVD.

Providing you can make your Windows PC boot from this stick Macrum will load a PE based recovery environment independently of your local hard disk.

I frequently use my USB stick to boot clients PC when it arrives and make the image without needing to access is operating system or desktop.

This is useful as it means that I can have the security of an image that can be restored should anything ever go wrong. More frequently, images are used to restore some obscure data that I didn’t even know was there.