Saturday, March 10, 2012

Backup Material

It has been quite a while since I specifically visited the subject of Sync & Backup Tools (freeware).

Since then there have been lots of new tools and applications developed so I thought I would return with a link-dump of sorts.

Generally, my own personal backup strategy remains a bit pragmatic. Wish I could be much more organized like ComptuerZen’s Scott Hanselman.

Here then are a few simple routines I use for different purposes, followed by a list-of-lists of various freeware backup programs.

Collections to USB

I have a few “production” folders on my main system that contain a deep collection of portable applications, how-to documents, reference materials, common third-party browser plugin updates, and incident response checklists and guides. These are replicated to a number of USB sticks and portable USB hard-drives for use in the field.

For this type of situation, what I need more is a synchronization program rather than a true “backup” application.

The one I always reach for is DSYNCHRONIZE from Dimo’s Tools. It has lots of options and is quite fast. AddictiveTips blog has recent post going over its finer points: Perform Real Time Sync, Backup Large Storage Mediums With DSynchronize.

This is the easiest by far type of “backup” process I have. I’m just replicating the master set of folders and files onto the USB sticks as needed and DSynchronize cleans up the changes I make in the main folders to the replicated spawn quite nicely.

“My Documents” to USB HDD Storage

The next set of things I have to back up are the “My Documents” folder for myself and the girls, as well as related personal files and folders.

This is where things get a bit more complicated.

I have a few USB hard-disk drives for backup duties. Each one is formatted into two partitions. The first partition is usually just around 100 MB or less. The second volume is the remaining GB’s.

I format the first partition NFTS and load it with a few critical portable software applications; most important of which is TrueCrypt.

The idea behind this first volume is that in the event I ever have to grab-n-get with the drive, all the tools I need to restore data from the drive to another system are on the drive itself. No hunting around.

I then use TrueCrypt to create an encrypted partition out of that second volume. The first partition is relatively tiny as it only needs to keep a few tools in the clear and helps keep me from being tempted with putting any important docs in the free and clear there. The second volume is fully encrypted and that’s where all the good stuff stays. I also put a copy of my portable backup application on it as well.

I then just need to attach the USB device to my system(s), allow it to find the first partition, run TrueCrypt and mount the second volume and attach to it. Then I can run my backup tool and put the backup files into the encrypted volume.

For the backup program itself, I’ve come to rely upon Back4Sure by Ulrich Krebs.

TinyApps recommended Back4Sure some time ago and that was good enough for me to check it out. I’ve become very pleased with it’s ease of use and reliability.  If I had to go with a second, Create Synchronicity might be a close second also recommended by TinyApps: Backup to drive label instead of drive letter.

Whole System Backup

This is kinda cheating, but once in blue-moon I will also use ImageX to create a full-disk image of my primary system and dump the image file into one of those TrueCrypt volumes as well.

This takes lots longer but is a good option for a catastrophic system failure.

Although I could use one of the more regular data backups to get another system going again, this allows me to hunt down and extract any bits-n-pieces of data that get scattered sometimes in weird places if the need ever arises.

List of Backup/Sync Tools

Here below is a list of additional freeware backup tools, programs, utilities and the like. Some are quite new and others are quite old. They are not really listed in any particular order. Take some time and click around. Sometimes the trick is finding one that has the right balance of ease-of-use with options needed for a particular job. Like me, you may find that using a combo of tools for different purposes may be the best solution.

These first ones are more in the class of focused file set backups. Though some could probably handle a system-wide backup job, they mostly would be better suited for backing up a specific subset of files/folders from a system rather than the whole enchilada.

These next ones are more of the specialty enchilada menu-fare. These will cover more of a whole-drive backup rather than limited file/folder sets. That said, they still primarily run within the existing Windows system so should be familiar and dependable for geeks and grannies alike.

Finally, we can step off the well tread path and go to more geeky options that are system-backup and imaging tools for the tech-crowd.

I suppose if you were super-geeky or a forensicator, you could also use any of the various tools you probably are aware of for making sector-based drive images. However for personal “backups” I prefer to use file-based backup methods as having a forensically sound exact duplicate of my drive isn’t as critical as having the files I need available for easy restore or off-loading.

More information:

Back it up,

Encrypt it if it’s personal (or even it it isn’t),


--Claus V.

1 comment:

Carole said...

For a bit of light relief you might like this cartoon about a disaster recovery plan.