NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article, July 2008
Backup Data and Program Files Separately
By Gene Barlow
User Group Relations, Copyrighted June 2008
gene@ugr.com
(click to email author)


Every computer user needs to do regular backups of their computerís hard drive. This is the most important service that needs to be done on your computer. If you are not doing regular backups, then you need to watch my tutorial on the Perfect Backup Approach (http://www.ugr.com/tutorials.html) and get started doing backups today. Users that are doing regular backups should consider ways to improve on how they do their backups. This paper describes a better way to do backups that will give you flexibility in how often you do backups and how long you keep your backup files.

Separating Your Data Files from Your Program Files
Your computerís hard drive contains two general types of files. One type is computer programs that make your computer run, including your Windows operating system and your application programs. The other type is data files that you create in running your program files, including your spreadsheets, documents, email messages, digital photographs, etc. Both types of files are important to the proper running of your computer, but each type has different backup needs.

When you got your computer, it probably came with one hard drive and on this hard drive was one large c: partition. This is not the best way to organize your hard drive, but it was the easiest way for the manufacturer to set it up. This places all of your program files and data files together in a single partition making it difficult to back them up on a different schedule. So, you are forced to backup all of your files at the same time.

Most users do not know that they can change the way their hard drives are setup. This is easy to do using a partitioning utility, likeAcronis Disk Director Suite 10 . The best way to organize your main hard drive is to divide it into two partitions Ė one for your program files and one for your data files. This excellent program will let you reduce the size of your c: drive so that it does not take all of the space on your main hard drive. Then you can use this program to create a new data partition in the space freed up by resizing your c: drive. Once you commit these two steps to your hard drive, then you can start to find and move all of your data files from the c: partition to your new data partition. Finally, you can change the settings in each of your applications to point to the new data partition as the default location of your data files.

Look for an expanded version of this article at www.ugr.com/nl0608.html that will cover all of the detailed steps on making these changes to your main hard drive.

Backup Frequency of Program and Data Partitions
Once you separate your data files from your program files into two different partitions, then you can backup each partition on a different frequency that best suits the type of files in each partition.

Your data files are the most important type of files on your computer and need to be backed up more frequently than your program files.

Fortunately, your data partition will typically be less than half the size of your program partition, so the backups will process quickly and take up less room on your backup hard drive. I recommend doing a full backup image of your data files in the data partition once a week. Then each day in the week you would do an incremental backup image of the changes to your data partition since the last backup. This gives you an excellent backup of these important data files.

You do not need to backup your program files as often as you need to backup your data files. I recommend doing a full backup image of your program files in your program partition once a month. Then each week in the month you would do an incremental backup image of the changes to your program partition since the last backup. This will give you adequate protection of your program files, but not eat up space on your backup hard drive or take lots of time to backup.

Backup Retention of Program and Data Partitions
Next, you should consider how long to keep your backup images depending on what types of files are in the backups.

Your important data files should be kept for a much longer period of time than your program files. I would keep many months of data backup images before considering deleting any of the older backups. This will let you dig into your documents or email folders from months ago even if they are no longer on your main hard drive. It also gives you a historical archive of these important data files. Personally, when my data backup hard drive fills up, I buy a new one and save the old backup drive on the shelf. Program files are less important to have many months worth of backups on them. Typically, three months worth of backups of your program files is enough to give you protection from corrupted programs. So, have a plan to delete any program partition backups after three months. Delete the oldest month first to make room for any new backups of your program partition.

Acronis Software Utilities to Use
Acronis Disk Director Suite 10 (list price $50) is the program you need to create a separate data partition from your program partition (c: drive). Use this program to set up your separate data partition on your computer. You can order this program from us at the user group discount price of just $29 as a download or $33 plus $5 shipping on a CD. Go to www.ugr.com/DiskDirector.html to order this partitioning software so that you can create your new data partition.

Acronis True Image 11 Home (list price $50) is the program that many of you use to backup your main hard drive to an external hard drive. This is what I recommend in the Perfect Backup Approach tutorial. You can order this excellent backup utility from us at the user group discount price of just $29 as a download or $33 plus $5 shipping on a CD. Go to www.ugr.com/TrueImage.html to order this backup software and get started doing backups today.

Special offer of both Acronis True Image 11 Home plus Acronis Disk Director Suite 10 for just $49 as a download or $53 plus $5 shipping on two CDs. Go to either www.ugr.com/TrueImage.html or www.ugr.com/DiskDirector.html to order this Acronis Bundle package of these two outstanding hard drive utilities. This is an outstanding price for two excellent hard drive utilities from Acronis.

When ordering any of the products mentioned in this article, please use the special order code of UGNL0608 when submitting your order. This code will permit you to purchase at these special discount prices.

I hope this helps you discover a better way to do your backups of your computer system. If you have questions about this article or the products, send them to gene@ugr.com and I will try to assist you. I hope this article helps you improve how you backup your computer.

Gene Barlow
User Group Relations
PO Box 911600
St George, UT 84791-1600
gene@ugr.com
http://www.ugr.com

This is one of a series of monthly technical articles that I distribute to those that have subscribed to this newsletter. You can subscribe at www.ugr.com/newsletters.html.

Watch for them and learn more about your computer and its hard drive. If you do not want to receive these newsletters, simply reply and ask to have your name removed from the list and I will do so immediately. User group newsletter editors may print this article in their monthly newsletter as long as the article is printed in its entirety and not cut or edited. Please send me a copy of the newsletter containing the article so that I can see what groups are running the articles.

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