At the beginning of June, I got a new computer. It was high time: Enna is more than four years old now, and she’s pretty sluggish, and Windows XP is getting just a tiny bit outdated, though I preferred it to Vista.
The new machine is a thing of beauty: a 17.3” ASUS G72GX with 6 GB RAM and a bunch of other drool-inspiring specs, plus flash gamer details like a backlit keyboard (the Ur-Guru especially liked that one) and a glowing blue Republic of Games logo on the back. Seen in the sunlight (a rare occurrence), the paint reflects blue sparkles.
And, of course, it comes with a whole new operating system: Windows 7. So far I quite like it, but it’s a big jump from XP, and I’ve just checked Windows 7 Annoyances: Tips, Secrets, and Solutions (affiliate link) out of the library to help me find my way around.
The new OS isn’t the only reason to re-evaluate my existing backup system. Enna had two physical 80 GB drives, C and D. I used the C drive for both programs and data/documents, and backed up data and documents from the C drive to the D drive using SyncBack Freeware. I also backed the C drive up to both a USB drive (Ruby) using Karen’s Replicator and to a NAS drive (Teratides) using the built-in Maxtor backup software. I backed the D drive up to my Buffalo Quattro (Qualora) using SyncBack, and likewise backed Ruby up to my second NAS drive, Lachesis. (Confused yet? I posted a map in February 2009, when I was still using Freya instead of Ruby.)
The new machine, Auset (that’s how scholars think Egyptians pronounced the name of the goddess we know as Isis), has one drive of 500 GB. It’s partitioned into a recovery area (50 GB, no drive letter) , the C drive (116 GB) for the operating system and program files, and the D drive (334 GB) for my data.
There would be no point backing up from my C drive to my D drive on Auset, because they’re actually the same hardware. Backups all have to go somewhere else. On the other hand, the new folder structure has made my Replicator Jobs List very short. Instead of a dozen separate jobs backing up different folders, I only have to back up the “data” folder and the “docs” folder to appropriate places on Ruby, and all the subfolders will take care of themselves.
I’m going to have to add at least one more job, I think, unless I can persuade Microsoft that it really doesn’t want to keep any documents on the C drive. (I did figure out how to set the “Docs” folder on D:\ as the default location in the library, even though I’m not really sure what this library business is about.)
I won’t say any more about Replicator here because I’ve written about this handy free tool ad infinitum, starting in 2004.
I also decided to check out the new Windows 7 Backup and Restore program. It’s been a long time since I looked at Windows Backup—probably not since my first days with XP. It left rather a lot to be desired at that point. I figured it was worth checking out, even though the Ur-Guru had already set me up with Acronis Backup & Recovery 10 for disk images. (I’ll talk about that in detail in a future post.)
You can find Windows Backup and Restore in the control panel—at least, you can if you switch to the icon view. If you view the control panel by category, you may be hunting around for a while.
As you can see (at least if you click through to the full-size version of this image), when I went in to inspect, I found that my last backup hadn’t completed. This was probably because I’d elected to make a system image but not turned off all my programs when running the backup. (Oops.) I changed my settings to leave out the system image (it’s that checkbox down at the bottom.)
Then I shut down all my programs anyway, just to be safe. Some things, like your Outlook PST file and your Quicken data, can’t be backed up while the program is running. You can schedule automatic backups, but if they’re going to work, you have to remember to have those programs shut down at that time.
This time the backup completed successfully, and in a fairly short period of time. If I want to restore only some of the files, I can click the “browse for files” button after clicking the “restore my files” button.
Note: the “Recover system settings” op
tion sends you to System Restore.
(Notice that it does versioning, since it offers you multiple dates to restore the files to.)
Once you pick a file to restore, you get a choice of destinations:
And then (if you’re just testing, and didn’t actually lose the file) you get the Win 7 file overwrite dialog:
What the heck, at least it’s prettier than the Windows XP version of the same message, as well as having one more option.
As backup programs go, this one has come a long way since the first time I looked at the built-in Windows Backup tool. I haven’t tested the system image against other imaging tools (perhaps I’ll include that in the Acronis writeup next issue), but as file backup programs go, it’s perfectly adequate. It doesn’t have the flexibility of a SyncBack, where I can create several jobs and schedule them to run on system idle, but an initial examination suggests it’s the equal of several products I’ve covered here.
And just to make me glad I had backups, less than a month after I’d bought her, Auset experienced the Black Screen of Death. When I turned her on, nothing happened. No drive light. No drive sounds. Nothing on the screen. I mean, nothing. Naturally I panicked and called the Ur-Guru, while digging out the info I’d need for a warranty return. (We—he—found the solution, which was to unplug the machine, remove the battery, and press the power button for 45 seconds.) Throughout the whole harrowing scenario, there was one comforting thought: at least I had backups.