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BobT

External hard drives

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I was looking at maybe picking up a hard drive for backing up my home PC system and a couple questions came up.

Is there a difference between an external hard drive and a portable hard drive?

One of the features noted by some of the products is their application software will provide continuous backup. They say whenever a file is changed it will be backed up immediately. Isn't malware protection security part of the reason for having an extra hard drive for backing up your system and therefore if you leave it connected all the time you are leaving it vulnerable and defeating the purpose?

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Price and maybe the form factor of the drive they put in the enclosure. I wouldn't use any software just copy and paste all the important files.

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Have both types of external HD. Portable HD tends to be smaller using only the USB2 cord to power the drive. External drives tend to be larger in size

and require a separate power supply you must plug into an outlet. I have

4 portable drives that I use to transfer files between computers. Seagate

and Western Digital make some good ones, 320gb to 500gb for less then $100

make them great deals.

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I have a nice WD one, however as mentioned above, don't use the software. We installed it and it totally bogged down the system.

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If I do this my goal is to be able to have one of two things.

1. Fully functional duplicate of my PC hard drive, operating system and all. This way, in the event of a hard drive crash or nasty malware I can run my PC on the external, format or replace the internal, and restore it.

2. Full and complete backup of my PC hard drive with operating system and boot files so I can restore a replacement or reformatted internal drive.

This brings up another question. What is the difference between a clone and a hard drive image?

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For what you want to do you should look into Norton Ghost. There is a lot of different software available to backup your computer, but as others have stated they don't always work the greatest. Ghost has been around for a long time and it'll do most, if not all of what you are looking for. Just go to your local computer store and tell them you want an external backup drive and recovery solution like I've mentioned. Any computer geek will have heard of Ghost. Most stores would probably set this up for free if you buy it from them. If you want to do it youself then you could call Norton to assist you if you need help, but it is easy use. Lastly if you have a decent internet connection there are many online backup solutions that work over the internet. The advantage of this type of backup is that it is off site, meaning not in your home. So when your computer gets hit by lighting and blows up not only your hard drive, but also your back up drive, all your data is gone. If you go with an internet backup solution you'd still have access to your data after this worst case scenario I just mentioned.

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I've been looking at some of the freeware out there too such as Macrium Reflect, Acronis True Image, and Norton Ghost. What are your thoughts about these?

What I'm finding is that Norton Ghost doesn't seem to rank very high in user reviews.

Also, some of these indicate they offer continuous backup of files. If I would leave the external drive connected to my PC am I not leaving it vulnerable to attack from viruses?

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Yes everybody has their opinions on what is the best, the important thing is to know how to use what you have.

Also yes you would leave it vulnerable to virus'. That is why the idea of having multiple backups dating back maybe 1-2 weeks or more is good. Because if you got a virus on Monday and discovered it on Wednesday, then you would use Sunday's backup to recover from.

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I think the external hard drive and back up software are a better solution for you Bob, that is if I understand what you want.

Norton Ghost is really good for those people that format their system often or have to build multiple systems with the exact same software setup. Most corporate IT groups it or something similar so that they don't have to load multiple pieces of sw over and over again. They set up one machine the way it needs to be, make a ghost image and then use the CD to load it all at the same time. Huge time savings.

My personal opinion for you Bob would be to get the external hard drive, get a good anti-virus / malware software program (and keep it updated), run the sw to make sure everything is clean to start off with then run the backup sw.

You don't have to keep the HD connected all the time as long you make sure you plug it in and do your backups. Whether thats once a day, week or month is up to you.

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