Computer Users’ Group

March 21, 2012

Computer Backup. There are a variety of approaches to backing up a computer. The most straight forward is to create a backup disk that preserves everything on your computer and then follow up with saving just the data that you change each time you use the computer. There are several ways to do that and several types of backup devices that you can use to store what data that you do save.

Let’s briefly look at what some of the above is all about.

System Image: A good starting point is creating a system image. That is an exact copy of everything that is on your hard drive. It does not copy file by file from one disk to another but from disk sector to disk sector so that the disk can be fully restored to the exact condition that it now is in.

Full Backup. A full backup is a copy of all of the files or folders that you choose to backup. What you choose may depend on the Windows version that you are using. But if all of your documents are stored in a My Documents folder and your pictures in your My Pictures folder, then those are the folders that you want to backup. A full backup, then, is a starting point and subsequent backups need only copy what files have changed. A more complete backup in Windows 7 would be to backup your user name under Users/Your Name.

Incremental Backup. An incremental backup backups up the files that have changed since the last backup. The first incremental backup would backup the files that have changed since the last full backup; the second incremental backup would backup only the files that have changed since the first incremental backup and so on. A full restore would then be restoring files from the full backup and each of the incremental backups.

Differential Backup. A differential backup backs up the data that has changed since the last full backup each time that it is run. Thus, each differential backup grows larger than the one before since it includes all those files previously backed up. A restore, however only requires the full backup and the last differential backup. Thus, restoration is easier but at the expense of more storage space.

Simultaneous Backup. There are backup programs that can copy everything that you do as you do it, creating a simultaneous backup. Western Digital Essentials is a drive that comes with software that will accomplish this. Since the drive has to stay plugged in to record what’s changing, it’s best for a desktop but also useful for a laptop that doesn’t move very often. If the drive is removed, it will catch up on what it missed. 

Backup Media. Where do we store these backups that we create? A portable hard drive is probably the best solution to a backup media. A 500 gigabyte (GB) drive can be had for about $80 and a 1 Terabyte (TB) drive for about $120. Both are probably larger than most people’s needs but those with more than one computer can use the drive on both. Such a drive is necessary for a full System Image backup but is not necessary for a full backup or differential or incremental backups. A CD or DVD can be used in most cases, a DVD holding much more than a CD. Better yet is a flash drive that you can use for all backups except the System Image and it’s extremely convenient for a laptop. Depending on how much data you have and what you backup, a full backup may be several GB and differential or incremental backups may be only a MB or two. So a 16 or 32 GB flash drive should be more than adequate. Saving more than the last two full backups and the attendant interval backups is not necessary.

Network Attached Storage (NAS). If you have a wireless or wired network, then NAS allows you to use the network to backup your system so that you don’t have to worry about plugging in a hard drive into your laptop. Some drives have it built in but for most, you’ll need a NAS adapter. Some include a printer port so that you can print over the network as well. This can be very handy for a laptop on a wireless network. Create a schedule and just leave the laptop on for the scheduled backup time. Insure that the drive on the network is on.

Online Backup. If you have a high speed Internet connection, you may opt for online storage where for a few dollars a month you can get more that enough space to back up what you need to backup and the program provided makes scheduling easy. Carbonite offers unlimited storage for $59 a year. Idrive offers a 5GB account for free. Top 10 lists myPCbackup as no1. It offers unlimited storage for free. You can sign up for it here There’s a long agreement that you have to accept and it’s not clear how long “Free” will last. The main advantage of online backup aside from it’s always there no matter where you are is that it provides off site storage that protects your data from fire, lightning and hurricanes. I did not like the agreement and didn’t try out the service. Paying a few dollars a month may be a better deal.

Software: Windows offers backup software in Windows 7. The home premium edition, however does not permit network or online backups. The EASUS Todo software is free and it does everything that you want. It’s on the Pastfinders’ flash drive or you can download it from here: There are many other free programs that you can find by entering Free Backup into Google or Bing. There are reviews of free software with discussions and ratings that will help you decide. Mnay online backup sites provide software when you sign up.

Scenarios: For a desktop computer, either add a second internal hard drive or connect a remote hard drive to the USB port of your computer. Start by going to Start/Control Panel and clicking on Backup and Restore. If you haven’t already done so, you can put a writable DVD in your disk drive and create a System Repair Disk. Then with your hard drive in place, click on Create System Image and an exact copy of your hard drive will be made. Then if you want to continue with Windows Backup, you can tell the program where to backup your data, what to back up and what schedule to back it up on. Then all you have to do is make sure that the hard drive and the computer are both on at the scheduled backup time.

For a laptop, it becomes a little harder because it’s inconvenient to have a cable plugged into your USB port all of the time. You can locate a drive on the desk or on the floor next to where you sit with your laptop. Or, you can establish a place in your home to use as a backup station where the drive resides and you move the laptop there on backup day. Whatever, follow the directions above for creating your backup.

There is a simpler way, however. Having created a System Image on a remote hard drive, you can use a flash drive to record your backups. Consider something like the following: schedule your backups to occur at midnight on Fridays. Before you go to bed, plug in your flash drive, leave the computer on and plugged in and go to bed. Depending on the backup software that you use, you may be able to say Turn off computer when done. How can it get any easier than that?

Pastfinders’ Flash Drive: The Pastfinders’ flash drive is stored in a white plastic box in the top drawer of the left hand file cabinet in the Special Collections Room. It now has the following setup programs on it. Clicking on any one will install that program on your computer. For some, you may have to have an Internet connection.

Ccleaner (ccsetup315.exe) We covered this program on October 19, 2011. It is a good way to clean unnecessary junk out of your computer. It first analyzes your computer and shows what it found. You can then proceed to have it remove the junk. You can elect the Cookies that you want to keep.

Irfanview (Iview428_setup.exe) We covered this program on February 21, 2002 and again on March 16, 2004. It’s a very good graphics program that allows batch processing. That’s very convenient for renaming a whole batch of photos from Img 12345 to Grand Canyon 1 etc.

Picasa (picasa38-setup.exe) We talked a little about it on Oct 19, 2011. It’s a graphics program that indexes every image on your computer with thumbnails so you can easily find any image that you want. It can modify and correct images and using facial recognition, it will find people who are the same but unnamed.

SlimCleaner (Slimcleaner-setup.exe) Like Ccleaner but with more options. PCWorld likes it better than Ccleaner.

Soluto (solutoinstaller.exe) This program can be run when you start your computor and it monitors programs and files that are loaded and recommends an action to take such as eliminate or delay. It measures how long it takes your computer to be ready and indicates how much time you saved by the actions taken.


Easus Todo (tb_free.exe) We covered this backup program today. It can backup files on a network where Windows 7 can’t except for enterprise editions.

When you use it, please sign out for it and return it as soon as possible. If you are using a laptop, you can use it here and not have to sign it out. All of the files are available free on the Internet, Just enter the name into a search engine to locate where to find it and download it.

Webinars: A webinar is a seminar held online where you can view a presentation live or view a video of a previous presentation. You can type Genealogy Webinar into Google or Bing and come up with many of them. We’ll look at one source where there are webinars in an archive where you can view the latest or purchase a DVD if the free period has expired. Webinars back to December are available free and you can listen to one live when it is presented. Go here to see what’s available: . If the subject is of interest, give it a try. You’ll probably get the best results if you use earphones especially with a laptop since built-in speakers may not be very clear.

Genealogical Search Engine: There’s a search engine created just for us genealogists. You can get it here: You can enter a name, place and a date or anything else that you can think of all on one line. I enter a name in “quotes”, leave a space and enter a place and then a range of dates as “Levi Pratt” Bridgewater 1750-1820. Experiment to see what works best for you. If you don’t find what you want at first, try something new such as a wife’s maiden name as well as the man’s name. I see no limit on how much you can enter. If there is more than one page of data, you will be asked to create a free account or sign in if you already have one to see the following pages. All that is required is your name, email and a password.