Monday, April 03, 2006


The Poor Man’s Back Up System

The Poor Man’s Back Up System

This is the second part of my ‘How to move Windows to a new Computer’ series.

Now, there are lots of ways to back up your computer. Hell, Windows even has one built right into it. But, I don’t want to just back up a few files. No, I want to back up everything.

If I decided to leave my laptop in a parking lot, I don’t want to buy a new one and install all the software again (Some of my software I don’t think I could even find anymore). Plus moving the files over never really works just right. What I want to do is buy the new laptop and Beam an exact replica of my old Laptop right on to it. Make sense?

The Hardware:

You’ll need one big ass external hard drive. This way you can back up all your computers in your home to it. If you’re like me you certainly have more than 1 computer. Now, External hard-drives can be very expensive compared to internal ones. But there is a sweet way around this.

Yes, someone was smart enough to invent an External Hard-Drive case. These things can be found at Comp USA for about $10. They are a simple plastic case where (as you probably guessed) can clamp an internal hard drive into. It comes with a USB cable and plugs nicely into your computer.

So with an internal Hard Drive you’ll save a bunch of money here. I paid about $80 FOR A 160 GIG drive, then added $10 for the case. So for $90 I got a 160 GB external drive. At the time of this writing they normally go for about twice this.

The Software:

Symantec always amazes me. Their Internet Security software sucks and hijacks your computer. But it seems to ship on just about every new PC. I won’t get started here. If you have this software, uninstall it. Use Microsoft’s anti-spyware instead. It’s free and works better.

Symantec made a program called Norton Ghost. It was pretty good. But there was an awesome out there called PowerQuest Drive Image. Symantec couldn’t compete with them so they bought them and relabled it Norton Ghost 10 (I think). For this reason, go buy Norton Ghost. I don’t buy much software at all, but this is one of the few I actually paid money for. The reason is because you’ll need the recover disk (CD ROM) if your computer crashes.

Here’s how it all works:

1.) Plug your External Drive into your PC
2.) Use Norton Ghost to Back up your PC to the external drive
3.) Disconnect the External Drive and turn it off. Store it in a cabinet or somewhere

Now why do you think step #3 is important?

One word: Security

I’m not a big security guy and I think it’s really really over-rated. But let’s suppose your computer got hacked. You’d be in a big mess if they managed to get to your external drive too. So it’s easy enough to just keep it turned off and tucked away.

I’ve done this for the last year and it works flawlessly.

So that’s it. The Backups go pretty smoothly. Next time I’ll write about how to use this ‘image’ (read back-up) to restore it to a new machine.
Oh yeah, one last tip: If you get a new computer, ghost an image of it right away. This way if you do have a problem down the road you can always bring it back to the day 1 installation. I always keep 2 copies around. One for the day I bought the computer, the other for the last time I backed it up.

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