I have completed the setup of my new development laptop. It took roughly 16 hours and countless DVD swaps to get all of the development software that I use installed. (Quick list: Visual Studio.net, SQL Server 2008, Adobe Creative Suite 4, Office 2007 Enterprise, every web browser known to man and a long list of misc. items to boot.) Why does the list matter? I am hoping you can relate to the amount of effort it takes to set up a solid workstation. If your hard drive crashes, the prospect of going through all that setup again is really frustrating.
Enter the Acronis TrueImage Home 2010 Backup software. Acronis has been in the business of backing up workstations and servers (running various operating systems) for many years. They are a highly respected company and their products get strong reviews from CNet.com, PC Magazine, etc.
I purchased, installed and configured Acronis TrueImage Home 2010 on my new laptop. (This software is fantastic and I have tested the recovery mode and versioning control.) I also purchased a 1 TB external hard drive to hold the backup files (I chose the Fantom GreenDrive II 1TB drive at NewEgg.com for $100)
Not just file backups!
The key concept here is that many backup solutions do just file based backups. This is great if you accidentally delete a file and need to recover it, or if you update a file and need to roll back to a previous version. These kinds of backups do not address the question of what to do when the entire workstation stops working. How do you recover your files then? You have to rebuild your computer first and then restore the files. What a hassle.
Entire Hard Drive Image based backups
Acronis TrueImage Home 2010 takes an entire snapshot of your entire partition (C: drive). You create a bootable recovery CD or DVD using the software as well. If your computer completely dies due to a hard drive failure or other major hardware failure, here is what you do:
– Replace the failed hardware component (usually the hard drive)
– Insert the bootable recovery CD or DVD you created and make sure the external hard drive with your backup images is connected
– Start up the machine
– The Acronis recovery media will start the machine, recognize your external hard drive and recreate the entire C: drive for you from the backup set. Once this is complete, you reboot machine and continue where you left off.
Continuous Data Protection with versioning
The other great option with this software is that you can turn on Continuous Data Protection. Every 5 minutes, any changes to the file system are stored as an incremental backup. (This only backs up changed bits in the file, not the entire file, so it is a fast process that won’t slow your computer down) You can go back in time to grab a specific version of any file on your hard drive and restore that version. This would be really helpful if a file became corrupted, or if you accidentally made major changes to a document that were incorrect and you need to backtrack to an earlier version.