The importance of Backing Up


Well, after quite a long time, I am writing a post on Windows PC applications and tools that are required for successful and safe operation when it concerns your personal data.

I could convince no one at home as to the criticality of data. I was not surprised as it took companies many years to start dynamic backups and then start analyzing data for business benefit. At home, setting up a large backup disk operation is considered something that can be avoided for the “time being”. Over the years, I have tried setting up of backups for the MAC and the PC (multiple laptops). I would not say I have had a pleasant or a totally successful operation, when it comes to managing integrated and scheduled backups. Many a time, one is also expected to “straighten” up the data, clean up the junk on the laptp which gets accumulated, clean up the registry errors, partition the disks, format the disks, delete partitions, set up “active” bootable partitions on an external backup disk and carry out data recovery operations. Not an easy task, especially when you are an amateur, trying to learn things on the fly, by trial and error.

After our MAC was killed (yes, killed) by self-suicide of the motherboard, we abandoned the MAC (not Apple though) – I am not touching here the backup procedures for the iPADs, iPODS, and iPHONES, Android Phones – and embraced the Windows PC laptops. I have not completely given up on the Apple MACPro laptops though, and am watching how the priceline behaves vis-a-vis advanced laptops and might change my mind at a future time. For the moment, Windows XP Professional and Windows 7 seem to be doing well at home, though laptop crashes, slow laptop speed and data backup issues are routinely being raised with me by home folks who are not interested to learn how things work in this field (they seem to be more interested in Maths, Biology and Music !).

Having lost my own data several times (!), I am not to be misunderstood as a technical guy who could potentially fix any laptop problems, however. What I do possess, is a serious interest on how to fix things like these for free (I hate service centres) with free software tools. Real hardware problems, once isolated, are quickly informed to the user – please open your wallet and order online for a failing battery via Flipkart.com or Infibeam.com, etc., However, software-related issues can generally be attacked from the confines of the home.

I now have a set of tools for hard disk partitioning and data backup, that I believe are a good configuration to have on your laptop at any time. There are many “paid” software available which do have some better features, but I tried to list out the most commonly used features that would be needed in my kind of “fixing data”, and arrived at the following set of software, which can be freely downloaded:

1. MiniTool Partition Wizard Home Edition 7.1

2. EaseUS Partition Master 9.1.1 Home Edition

3. AOMEI Partition Assistant Home Edition 5.0

4. EaseUS Todo Backup Free 4.5

5. Advanced SystemCare 5

6. SlimCleaner / CCleaner

7. SugarSync

8. DoubleTwist

Some more tools are under evaluation, given the proliferation of mobile devices.

You can consider using #1, 2 or 3 in the list above for partitioning your external hard disk (I use a 1 TB iomega HD). All are good tools, but sometimes, creating a partition could be easier in one of the tools as compared to the rest. Play around with all the three and an empty disk partition, and you will see how easy it is to create a partition, format it, resize it, relabel it, etc.,

For backing up data, I have not discovered a software better than #4, though there are many software available. I originally used EaseUS, then changed over to some other tools, but finally came back to EaseUS – it is really a very good free software for backing up data.

For data cleaning, nothing works as good as #5, or #6 (#6 has two different software tools). If you wish to go with one, please try with #5. It is excellent. I keep playing around with others as well, but don’t if you wish to maintain your disk in pristine condition :).

#7 and #8 are new tools I am experimenting with for extracting my photos, videos and music from my Android phone to a cloud and to my laptop. Both appear to be working out well. However, since my experimentation on the Android has just started, I would wait for some time before giving a final verdict. For the moment, I am happy my phone data is safely on the laptop and on my cloud !

Well, that has been a long writeup, I would now close saying that there are many more things to be explained in a data backup operation, and I would get around to doing the same soon !

Cheers,

Vijay Srinivasan

Mumbai

23rd June 2012

 

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