A New Tool Makes it Easy for you to Make Backups

by | Sep/12/2006

Are you protected if your hard drive crashes today?

Your newsletter this month is devoted to “backups” since audiences this month have been so interested in this topic. Let’s face it, although there are a lot of proactive people in the world, most people don’t get serious about backing up their computers until they have experienced the loss of their work. The pain of losing months (or years) of hard work can be devastating.

Of course, for your networks and your servers, you have RAID 5 striped sets with parity keeping your data safe. This e-zine is devoted to your desktop computers; there is a new personal backup tool on the block that is very impressive.

This newsletter last spoke of GHOST in February 2003 in the article “Help – The Computer Ate my Data.” You can review that article for a more in-depth look at backups.

Recently, Symantec released the new GHOST version 9 that is nothing short of amazing. Apparently drawing heavily on the recently purchased Drive Image from PowerQuest, this new version of GHOST is impressive.

The setup
About a week ago, I installed Symantec GHOST version 9 on my primary computer and was amazed that it backed up 20 Gigabytes in less than 20 minutes to the laptop’s external Iomega hard drive. That is fast!

The best part is that you never had to exit Windows XP in order to perform the backup (older versions of GHOST would restart the computer in system mode to perform the backup process). So fast and simple – this is the way backups need to be so everyone is willing to invest the time in performing daily backups.

System crash!
A couple days later, I was testing a new program on my computer that errantly scrambled the registry in Windows and led to a complete loss of access to all files on the hard drive. As always, I had made a full backup the night before, only this was to be the first time to restore (other than testing) with Symantec GHOST version 9.

I connected the external Hard drive, rebooted the computer using the GHOST CD, and about 20 minutes later the laptop was back to the exact point it was the night before. Breathing a deep sigh of relief, I went out to the local CompUSA and bought 3 more copies of GHOST 9 to replace the older versions of GHOST on the other computers in the office.

How to protect yourself
BE SURE you are backing up every day you store any useful information on your computer (and that includes receiving and/or replying to important e-mail). To accomplish that, there are three things you need to do:

  • First, you need a device for GHOST to store the backup on. I choose to use the Iomega� External Hard Drive models that connect to external USB v2.0 ports.
  • Second, get a copy of Symantec GHOST version 9. I recommend buying a “boxed” copy (instead of the download) so that you get the CD. The CD is important so that you can “boot” your computer in the event the hard drive is corrupted to a point that the operating system cannot boot.
  • Third, test the installation by saving a test file, performing a backup, deleting the test file, and then performing a restore to see if your test file comes back again. Remember, it is up to YOU to be testing your backups regularly to ensure they are working properly.

As always, I encourage you to have your local “computer expert” handy in case you run into trouble, and it is up to you how involved you want them to be in the process.

If you have more than one computer that you want to back up, then purchase a copy of GHOST for each machine. If you buy a large enough external hard drive, you could potentially use the same external drive to backup all of your computers, however your life will be simpler if you have a drive for each computer. Remember – the easier it is for you to perform daily backups, the more likely you are to do them regularly.