You should Also backup your computer

 

(John steps up on his soapbox)
Last night I watched a segment on the ABC News about "Ransomware" - where malicious code gets on your computer and encrypts files and then informs you that you can only gets these files back by paying a ransom.

This kind of malicious software would be devastating to many people. Think of all things you have on your computer that you would not want to lose - not the least of which are pictures.

Note that malicious software is not the only way that you might be in danger of losing valuable information. Hard drives do fail - sometimes disastrously. A power surge can damage all kinds of electronic devices.

BUT - if you have backups (notice that I said backups) of your computer, you can recover from such occurrences. If you are very thorough, you might only lose the new files/pictures you worked on yesterday.

Backups can be easily set up and the cost can be limited to the purchase of a couple of external drives. There are any number of excellent backup software products that you can download for free. If you willing to pay a reasonable annual fee, you can get services - like Carbonite - that will backup up important files for you continuously requiring only that you take some time to specify what files you want backed up beyond their default set of files.

In my opinion, having backups of your computer files is orders of magnitude more important that having backups of your GPS devices - and you know how often we stress that you backup before you do anything to such devices.

I have an automatic system of backing up my computer using external USB drives. In addition to making "images" of my computer, I make a clone of my hard drive every month onto a bare hard drive (of the same size as the drive in my computer) using a USB 3.0 connection. Plus, I use Carbonite to back up these same files.

My hope is that you will consider doing more to backup your digital life.
(john gets down from soapbox)

Good Free Backup Programs

There are several excellent free backup programs. For instance. Macrium Reflect and EaseUS Todo are both highly rated and free. Macrium Reflect can be downloaded from http://www.macrium.com/reflectfree.aspx (click the green download button in the upper right. EaseUS Todo can be downloaded from http://www.todo-backup.com/products/home/download.htm You may have to provide your email address.

Those who are already doing backups can argue about which is best but what is important is that YOU start doing backups on a regular basis.

Myself, I use Macrium Reflect. At home, I use a paid version because I also do an "incremental" back up every night and felt the expenditure was worthwhile. At my church, where we have two computers for the Television Ministry (one for video capture and editing, the other for live streaming), we use the free version of Macrium. We make images of each computer to USB 3.0 external drives. We also make a "clone" of each computer once a month. The reason for the clones is that, should we come in some Sunday morning and be confronted with a hard drive failure (which happened years ago), we can yank the hard drive out and replace it with the clone so that we can make it through the day.

Several on this site prefer EaseUS Todo.

Please consider setting up a backup program.

Online Backup

There are several good online backup companies, like Carbonite or Mozy.

Carbonite can be reviewed at http://www.carbonite.com/en/cloud-backup/personal-solutions/...

Mozy can be reviewed at https://mozy.com/product/mozy/personal

Because I could not get my daughters to set up a backup program (and they used all of those excuses that you have been using - "I don't have time" or "I am not computer literate and would mess it up", etc.), so I gave them Christmas gifts of a subscription to Carbonite. Then, all they had to do was read the email that Carbonite sent to them and then click on the download link to get the software installed. Obviously, I wanted to make sure that all those pictures and videos of my grandkids were safe.

One of the features of Carbonite that I like is that it also backs up my phone's pictures and videos by installing the Carbonite app.

So - if you are not willing to do your own backups, why not consider spending $60 a year and let Carbonite or Mozy do it for you.

acronis

John, I have followed your advice and run Acronis TrueImage for several years, along with a USB 3 external drive.

An unknown problem caused a major crash and the PC was unable to start. Using the Acronis startup DVD, the PC was restored from backup and restarted in 30 minutes.

When migrating to a completely new PC, Acronis cloned the old hard drive and installed the image to the new Solid State Drive. It has run perfectly since then for two years. Needless to say, I am still running Acronis on the new PC!

The reason for the SSD is to avoid hard drive failure.

You are absolutely right in bringing this up!

dobs108 smile

Frequency

I often have people ask me how often they should do a backup. My answer is always the same. "How much data are you willing to lose?"

--
Garmin Nuvi 2450

Prefer uncompressed backup

I like a backup that backs up the file in the same form that was on the computer, with no compression or modification.

Do either or both these programs do this? I currently use an older Lacie backup program, that does that, but can't generate an automatic backup. Have to start myself each time.

--
NUVI2555LMT, NUVI350

backup files

GPSgeek wrote:

I like a backup that backs up the file in the same form that was on the computer, with no compression or modification.

Do either or both these programs do this?

Acronis doesn't do this. The backup files are in a format that can be accessed by Acronis or Microsoft Backup.

Acronis can be scheduled. I use an incremental backup once a day with a full backup once a week.

dobs108 smile

Rsync for Windows. Excellent

Rsync for Windows. Excellent program that does incremental backs up on a schedule. http://www.aboutmyip.com/AboutMyXApp/DeltaCopy.jsp

--
Frank Nuvi 3597LMT 37.322760, -79.511267

Apple has excellent backup feature

It's called Time Machine, built into its operating system, and backs up the hard drive every hour, and retains backup files for each point in time for months. Great if you decide one day you would like that file you erased several weeks ago. I also use another app, SuperDuper, that keeps a total drive backup, updated according to a specified schedule. Either one is a life saver should a hard drive go belly up.

--
Tuckahoe Mike - Nuvi 3490LMT, Nuvi 260W, iPhone X, Mazda MX-5 Nav

I have a question for those

I have a question for those who have their (USB) backup disk connected to the computer all the time. How do you know ransomware has not encrypted your computer internal and (external) backup disk?

ransomware and other malware

chewbacca wrote:

I have a question for those who have their (USB) backup disk connected to the computer all the time. How do you know ransomware has not encrypted your computer internal and (external) backup disk?

The backup on the external drive is not the only security software running. Norton 360 takes care of internet security, malware, and viruses.

In spite of this, if ransomware was successful, the Acronis startup DVD would be used to restore the PC to an image previous to the arrival of the ransomware. This is not done while the operating system is running. It appears to be done in DOS using files onboard the Acronis startup DVD, and it has the capability of operating the external drive.

Worst case, if ransomware has locked the external drive, and it is not available in DOS, the Acronis startup DVD would restore the PC using the online backup.

In an even worse case, the internal and external drives could be formatted or even replaced with different drives, and the online backup would place an image on the hard drive previous to the ransomware, with the operating system and all software and settings intact.

dobs108 smile

SSDs

Sorry to say but ssd's do fail also. Folks usually buy them for the read/write speed. They are faster. Also somebody mentioned USB 3 , if your computer is not nearly new it probably doesn't have USB 3. Just means the external drive runs slower at USB 2.0 or 2.1 speeds.

I Don't

chewbacca wrote:

I have a question for those who have their (USB) backup disk connected to the computer all the time. How do you know ransomware has not encrypted your computer internal and (external) backup disk?

I don't leave mine connected full time for that very reason. I have Time Machine backing up hourly and connect a USB drive once every couple days and let Rsync back it up.

--
Frank Nuvi 3597LMT 37.322760, -79.511267

USB 3

stan393 wrote:

Sorry to say but ssd's do fail also. Folks usually buy them for the read/write speed. They are faster. Also somebody mentioned USB 3 , if your computer is not nearly new it probably doesn't have USB 3. Just means the external drive runs slower at USB 2.0 or 2.1 speeds.

Correct. I installed a USB 3 card just for the backup drive.

dobs108 smile

i do a full back up once a month

and that seems to work out for me, I have used acronis for years and I have ssd'd in all the putters and I have 4 other drives on the puter I use , back ups have saved my bun's many times I have quiet a few large games and I would have to have to reinstall them . lol

.

phranc wrote:
chewbacca wrote:

I have a question for those who have their (USB) backup disk connected to the computer all the time. How do you know ransomware has not encrypted your computer internal and (external) backup disk?

I don't leave mine connected full time for that very reason. I have Time Machine backing up hourly and connect a USB drive once every couple days and let Rsync back it up.

I don't leave my external HD connected 24/7 either. I do my backups on demand, when I want to backup my PC. Malware is one reason and another reason (which is more likely to happen) is hardware failure if I leave it connected all the time.

Computer Backups are Good Disaster Recovery Practices

Backing up your computer data is essential to have a good disaster recovery plan. In addition to a local backup you should consider an offsite backup such as cloud backup, or taking a second backed up HDD to a remote location like a lockbox, safe, work, or some other offsite location.

Not A Viable Solution

for me. Considering that I live 25 miles from the nearest Walmart, you can see how far out in the sticks I live, and how hard it makes it to find a good offsite storage that is convenient to access.

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Frank Nuvi 3597LMT 37.322760, -79.511267

Fireproof safe

phranc wrote:

[Not a viable solution] for me. Considering that I live 25 miles from the nearest Walmart, you can see how far out in the sticks I live, and how hard it makes it to find a good offsite storage that is convenient to access.

Assuming that you do not have a family member within easy driving distance - you could use then for "offsite" - or, that you do not bank nearby - a safety deposit box will easily hold a "passport" USB drive - then you might consider buying a fireproof safe in which you could store your USB drive.

Amazon has one - see http://www.amazon.com/SentrySafe-SFW123DSB-Combination-Fire-...

I bought this for my daughter so she could store the birth certificates, SS cards, marriage certificate, passports, car titles, etc.

Besides, where are you storing the valuable documents that you would want to survive a fire?

gezzzz..

I've hunted all over my computer for the reverse position (that's what I putmycar into when I want to back it up) and can't find it.

Can someone help me find the backup button?

razz

--
Never argue with a pig. It makes you look foolish and it anoys the hell out of the pig!

ESC

It's the escape key.

dobs108 razz

Safe

jgermann wrote:
phranc wrote:

[Not a viable solution] for me. Considering that I live 25 miles from the nearest Walmart, you can see how far out in the sticks I live, and how hard it makes it to find a good offsite storage that is convenient to access.

Assuming that you do not have a family member within easy driving distance - you could use then for "offsite" - or, that you do not bank nearby - a safety deposit box will easily hold a "passport" USB drive - then you might consider buying a fireproof safe in which you could store your USB drive.

Amazon has one - see http://www.amazon.com/SentrySafe-SFW123DSB-Combination-Fire-...

I bought this for my daughter so she could store the birth certificates, SS cards, marriage certificate, passports, car titles, etc.

Besides, where are you storing the valuable documents that you would want to survive a fire?

Oh, I have a Fire Proof Safe. But that doesn't qualify as an "Off Site" storage. But, at the worst, I wouldn't lose anything that doesn't already exist in another form, somewhere else. All is good info. One just has to pick the best solutions to meet one's own needs and requirements.

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Frank Nuvi 3597LMT 37.322760, -79.511267

Will second this.

I agree this makes a perfect backup procedure. The only thing better is to have 2 backups. I like the new WD" My Passport for Mac" that I got for my new MacBook Air. Small and easy to carry since I mostly use this computer while traveling.

--
NUVI 660, Late 2012 iMac, Macbook 2.1 Fall 2008, iPhone6 , Nuvi 3790, iPad2

Agree with this also

Especially on the MacBook Air I do not leave it always connected.

--
NUVI 660, Late 2012 iMac, Macbook 2.1 Fall 2008, iPhone6 , Nuvi 3790, iPad2

Fireproof safe in fruit cellar

Keep mine in the fruit cellar. All concrete except for door, but also lots of liquid in jars to help cool things.

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NUVI2555LMT, NUVI350

USB 3

Yup i have been running a USB 3 card for a year or 2. The first was 2 port and later a 4 port. Had problems with 4 port kept disappearing from device manager. Put 2 port back in yesterday

Please take the time to read this

.

BarneyBadass wrote:

I've hunted all over my computer for the reverse position (that's what I putmycar into when I want to back it up) and can't find it.

Can someone help me find the backup button?

razz

Make sure there's no one behind you before you press that backup button.

thank you

chewbacca wrote:
BarneyBadass wrote:

I've hunted all over my computer for the reverse position (that's what I putmycar into when I want to back it up) and can't find it.

Can someone help me find the backup button?

razz

Make sure there's no one behind you before you press that backup button.

I'll try to backup safely!

--
Never argue with a pig. It makes you look foolish and it anoys the hell out of the pig!

One point to add to all the

One point to add to all the suggestions about the importance of backing up, and I know jgermann understands this based on his post, but some others might not until they have certain problems and find that their backups aren't as complete as they thought.

If you *just* back up your "important files" (like your hard drive copy of photos and key documents) and everything works as intended, in the event of disaster such as malware, hard drive failure, theft, or a fire (and assuming you haven't lost your backups as well), you'll be able to recover those files to another computer. It's much better than no backup, of course.

But... and this is the point that needs to be made more clearly... you need something much more involved, called an "image backup," to get your computer relatively painlessly back to where it was if there is a severe malware problem or hard drive failure. (And keep in mind: EVERY hard drive will fail eventually. Maybe you'll be lucky and your hard drives won't fail in your lifetime, but you're pushing your luck to use hard drives more than five or so years old, and even new ones fail without warning.)

Image backups aren't necessary if you're going to have to replace your entire computer because of a disaster. But if the computer is intact except for a damaged hard drive or damaged-beyond-repair operating system, as can happen with ransomware or other malware, an "important files" backup won't restore the operating system, registry, or your programs. You would have to reinstall all that stuff from scratch before restoring the backed up important files, and reinstalling all of it often takes eight hours or more, in many cases much more, of painstaking work. The image backup is a snapshot of your entire computer system at any point in time. It includes the operating system, registry, programs, and data files. It takes awhile to restore (two or three hours is not unusual), but it can run without your further intervention, once you start it. It's far easier than a reinstallation of all your programs from scratch.

Also know that copying your entire C: drive to a backup drive is *not* the same as making an image backup. Most of what you're copying when you do that is not helpful in recovering from a disaster, because copying your backup back to your hard drive will not get Windows or iOS working correctly again. Just copying your C: drive copies the operating system, the programs, and the data there but not, for example, The Windows Registry, and the computer won't even boot without the Registry which it must do to allow you to restore your C: drive backup copy. You'll still be stuck without a working computer. If you just had a C: drive copy backed up, you would have your data files to restore once you got your computer working again, but you'd have to get your computer working again from scratch starting with finding your copy of Windows or iOS to install, activating it with Microsoft or Apple, getting all the OS updates since your OS was released, and then reinstalling all your software applications one program at a time, if you don't have an image backup.

Only some backup programs and services do image backup specifically, and you must specifically run that sometimes to get the benefit of having it. You want image backup for best protection. Even better is backup software that makes an image backup and then does "incremental" backup of changed files until you run your next image backup.

--
JMoo On

Thank You

I have been getting ready to upgrade two of our computers to the new Windows 10. After reading all the previous comments, the first thing I need to do is do quality back ups!

Thank you for all the information.

Suggestions

SilverRhino wrote:

I have been getting ready to upgrade two of our computers to the new Windows 10. After reading all the previous comments, the first thing I need to do is do quality back ups!
...

I am assuming that you have a USB port on each of your computers - hopefully USB 3. What might be worthwhile would be to go to a computer store like Best Buy and purchase a USB drive like these:
http://www.bestbuy.com/site/searchpage.jsp?st=passport&_dync...

Make sure whatever you get is capable of running USB 3.0 because the will also accept USB 2.0.

Also, based on the money that you have to spend, I suggest getting several 1TB drives rather that a single, say, 3TB. The reason is that you should be "cycling" your backups, so that at least one of them is off-site (say in safety deposit box or with a trusted relative/friend).

Does not have to be a Passport but I show you these only because I have bought a bunch of these for myself and for my church. Note that they will easily fit into most safety deposit boxes. I think a passport-like USB drive with an "image backup" of your computer should be placed in your safety deposit box at least once every year. A more current USB drive with an "image backup" should be placed in a "fireproof safe" in your house every month.

Unless your computers are special, I would expect that you could get an "image backup" of both of them on a single 1TB USB drive.

You can download a free version of Macrium Reflect from
http://www.macrium.com/reflectfree.aspx.

There are others but this works well and at no cost to you.

USB 3

When restoring an image of the hard drive after a major failure, USB 2 is too slow. USB 3 is needed.

dobs108 smile

Multiple Backups

For years, I have faithfully backed up 3 ways:

1. Documents, photos, music, email & important settings files to an external USB HDD using SyncBackFree daily, sometimes more frequently. I do NOT leave this HDD connected all the time just in case I get infected.

2. Drive image using Macrium Reflect weekly. I use a different external USB 3.0 HDD for this backup and only connect it while performing the image.

3. Backup cloud storage of documents, photos & music daily using SOS Online Backup.

My wife is POA for her elderly parents and we have thousands of their personal documents, some from decades ago, scanned to PDFs, that would be irreplaceable.

--
Tampa, FL - Garmin nüvi 660 (Software Ver 4.90), 2019.30 CN NA NT maps | Magellan Meridian Gold

Case in point.

I had a hard drive failure on my W7 desktop just a couple of days ago and was able to use my Acronis image backup to restore the system to a new drive, so all is well now. Fortuately, the old drive started posting temporary read errors, so I was able to get a fresh backup just before it failed, so I didn't lose anything. My previous backup was about a month old, so I was glad I didn't need to use that one. I have a Iomega 2TB external drive for backup that has both eSata and USB2 interfaces. I used the eSata cable for both the backup and recovery.

--
Alan - Android Auto, DriveLuxe 50LMTHD, Nuvi 3597LMTHD, Oregon 550T, Nuvi 855, Nuvi 755T, Lowrance Endura Sierra, Bosch Nyon

USB 3

dobs108 wrote:

When restoring an image of the hard drive after a major failure, USB 2 is too slow. USB 3 is needed.

dobs108 smile

USB 3 is faster, but having a USB 3 drive won't give you any extra speed if the ports on your computer are USB 2 or the older USB. The USB 3 drive will work on a USB 2 or USB port but will be just as slow as a USB 2 or USB drive--the data transfer will occur at the rate of the slowest link in the chain. Of course if you're going to get a new computer in the near future, it will probably come with USB 3 ports, and then you would see the benefit of having bought a faster USB 3 drive now.

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JMoo On

Backups...

grumble, grumble -- monday morning morning (well, afternoon) rant...

You are *really* doing backups if you:

(1) have verified a backup taken in the last 3 months or so

(2) have successfully restored a file from a previous backup

(3) have successfully restored a directory from a previous backup

(4) have successfully restored a disk image that actually boots and runs, from a previous backup

Extra bonus points if you:

(5) keep multiple backups so you can back up more than one step when (not IF) you make a backup of a corrupted system

(6) keep at least one set of backup media NOT CONNECTED to the device being backed up except while the backup is being made/updated

(7) can explain the differences among image backups, full file system backups, and incremental backups.

If you can't at least do (1) - (4) you may be going through the motions, but you might not be doing backups. Guess when you're going to find out? Wouldn't you really like to find out before it hits the fan?

And no, I'm not infallible on this -- I learned (the hard way, of course) that backups I was making of some of my Raspberry Pi systems were practically worthless (but looked and smelled fine) if the original system image was created in a certain way. I ended up rebuilding some system images, and checking those backups along the lines of (1) through (4).

End of rant. A backup strategy (and process) is more than merely checking boxes.

--
Nuvi 2460, 680, DATUM Tymserve 2100, Trimble Thunderbolt, Ham radio, Macintosh, Linux, Windows

Don't Disagree

dobs108 wrote:

When restoring an image of the hard drive after a major failure, USB 2 is too slow. USB 3 is needed.

dobs108 smile

BUT - the computers must have USB 3.0 ports built-in (or added later as I did) to gain the speed. The computer runs at the speed of its port.

Exactly

k6rtm wrote:

grumble, grumble -- monday morning morning (well, afternoon) rant......
End of rant. A backup strategy (and process) is more than merely checking boxes.

right you are.

I'm afraid those of us who have been through such trials are the only ones who can really appreciate those comments.

If we can only persuade a few more people to back up on a regular basis, we will have accomplished a lot.

I personally use CrashPlan

Code 42's CrashPlan software is free, unless you want to use their paid cloud solution. The selling point for me is that you can use other machines to backup to. Friends, relatives, yours in a different location. For free. I have a server in my basement that I am backing all my machines up to as well as some friends and relatives. I back that server up to a NAS which is remotely located. All automated. No CRS in this mix. The server and NAS are RAID5 devices, so a single drive failure in them is recoverable. Alerting is on, so I get an email and a text to my phone if a drive hiccups. The server drives aren't mapped, so ransomware won't affect it. The backups are encrypted, so they cannot be executed on the server itself. Pretty bulletproof to me. (yes, I have restored files and folders from it in the past). It's not one of the imaging/snapshot backup programs, so restoring the entire platter isn't gonna happen. If the PC goes that far south, rebuild a new one, and copy all those files from the server to the new refreshed machine (which is automated, to a degree).

My two pennies

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Striving to make the NYC Metro area project the best.