Deciding what data to back up

Operating systems and application software become ever larger (for example, Windows Vista x64 requires 15GB of free space on a hard disk). It will take you several hours to reinstall your operating system and application software from original CDs or DVDs on a new hard disk.

Furthermore, the practice of buying application software by downloading from the Internet is becoming more and more popular. If you lose your registration information, which is usually sent by e-mail, you may have problems with restoring your right to use the application.

So making a backup of your entire system disk (making a disk image) will save you a lot of valuable time in case of a disaster. It will also safeguard you against other possible problems.

Backing up the entire system disk takes more disk space, but enables you to recover the system in minutes in case of a system crash or hardware failure. Moreover, the imaging procedure is much faster than copying files.

Because images can save you a lot of time when you need to recover the operating system or data, we recommend that you make them part of your backup strategy.

If you have multiple partitions on a drive, it is advisable to include all of them in the image. Failure of the hard drive in most cases will mean that all the partitions it contains also fail.

Although we strongly recommend you to create images of your hard disk on a regular basis, it should only be a part of a reliable backup strategy.

Do you have bank records, family photos, videos, etc. you accumulated on your computer for several years? Hardware and software can be replaced; your personal data cannot, because it is unique. So you should also safeguard your personal data using file and folder backups. This is true even if your image backup contains that data.

After the initial full backup, file backups usually take little time to run, making it easy to back up your data once (or even several times) a day. This ensures that your most recent backup is never more than a day old. But file and folder backups alone are not sufficient for two main reasons:

1) If your startup hard drive completely fails, you will not be able to do any work until you’ve replaced it; and 2) Reinstalling an operating system and applications from their original CDs or DVDs is a lengthy and tedious procedure. You could avoid it with an image of your hard disk.

Summing up the above, the optimal backup strategy for most users will consist in backing up both the system disk (or at least the system partition) and personal data. To facilitate implementation of this strategy, Acronis True Image Home 2011 provides the Acronis One-Click Backup feature. By default Acronis One-Click Backup backs up both your system partition and your personal data.

Deciding what data to back up