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Hard Drive Backup

We know the usual song and it says to back up your files often. Tutorials on how to backup files on your computer are everywhere, but how do you backup your entire hard drive? We will be looking at how to backup hard drives. Letís cut to the chase and dive right into some info.

Backing up the OS and Programs

Okay, your operating system has failed and you wish you had made a backup copy of your drivers and applications. Maybe you didn't know how to do that before, but right now we are going to teach you how.

If you don't have your operating system installation disc and your computer is fairly new, now is the right time to back up your operating system. If your operating system is old but stable, you should also go ahead and make backup of it. You should backup your hard drive when your computer is stable.

To back up your entire hard drive, you will have to make a clone or image of it. Several applications can help you do that. Norton Ghost is a good tool. Acronis True Image does a great job as well. Right now, these tools offer a free trial.

Cloning Versus Imaging

Keep in mind that cloning a hard drive is not the same as creating an image of a hard drive. Cloning is when you create an identical copy of a hard drive and it has to be stored on another hard drive. With an Image, you are creating a copy of the hard drive. This copy can be stored on a DVD, USB device, or another hard drive. In really techy terms, the clone will copy the Master Boot Record (MBR) from the old hard drive to the new hard drive. A hard drive image will not copy or save the Master Boot Record.

Generally, you will want to use the cloning option when trying to upgrade or change from one hard drive to another. When backing up an existing drive, you most likely want to use the Imaging option. This will allow you to restore the Image to the same hard drive if you should encounter a problem in which a backup is needed.

Create a Recovery Disk

Along with this image, we would recommend creating a bootable CD/DVD too. This can be done in Windows. In Windows 7, for example, you can create a recovery disk by Clicking Start and going to the Control Panel. From Here, select Back up your computer under the System and Security option. Doing this in Vista and XP are similar to the above steps as well.

Restoring an Image

Now that you have an image, how do you use it if need be. If your system is having problems and you can still get into Windows, then you simply need to open Acronis True Image or Norton Ghost and then restore from the Image. If you cannot start up Windows, then you will need the recovery CD/DVD you created. You will need to use the recovery disk to start up Windows. After you have Windows started, you can use Acronis True Image or Norton Ghost to restore your hard drive to the past Image.

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