Trails End Computer Club

Lesson 3 - - - Backup your hard drive

Manual, Automatic, Image, Clone, Online, Incremental

How much data is on a typical drive:

There are many ways to protect your computer data from disasters as there are potential disasters. The amount of data that may be on a hard drive today, often to 3 Terabyte. A TB equals 1,000,000,000,000 bytes of data. One byte is a single character. One page type written may contain about 2000 characters. It takes 500,000,000 sheets of paper to hold 1 TB. 3,000 sheets of paper is one foot thick. It takes a stack of paper 167,000 feet high or 3.2 miles high to hold all that data.

Understand how data is stored on your hard drive

    Local Drive (C:)     Where your data, programs, operating system, etc. is stored.
    User                     Where accounts are stored.
    (your name)         Where your files are stored< style="font-family: Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif;"> Under your name you will find Desktop, Documents, Music, Pictures, Videos and other folders having to do with you. If you backup all the files under User, you have backed up all of your data and other users on your computer.

Organize the data on your hard drive

Directly under the (your name) folder you will find Documents, Music, Pictures etc. Here you may set up other folders to place your files into. Folders will help you organize your files so they are easy to find in the future.

Other folders on your hard drive, you have no business making any changes to. The Windows folder contains the operating system for the computer. Changes there may make your computer inoperative. Program folders also must not be changed in any way by you.

What can we backup to:

It's easy to make a copy of all your data on another hard disk sitting next to your computer. We can do this manually using Windows Explorer, using on line service, or Windows has an automatic backup system that is easy to set up. With Windows backup or online service, you are depending on others to be there if and when you need them, do you really have a useble backup? You do not have control as to how it may be used to restore or an easy way to confirm the backup really exists.

If we lost the original data within our computer due to a disk failure, we could still have our copy.

If the loss is due to a fire, we probably lost all our data. If we had a fire, we would have bigger problems than computer data.

If we had another copy elsewhere, we may still have a backup.

We can subscribe to an on line, automatic backup service for less than $100.00 per year. It's best to maintain a high speed internet connection (DSL or cable) for this to work well. Using this, you are depending on a company to be there and able to serve you whenever needed.

We can use a thumb drive to easily transfer data or even installation programs onto another computer but overall a thumb drive is considered temporary storage.

IMAGE or CLONE backup

Image and Clone backup can be a very useful tool. It will read one hard drive, bit by bit and transfer each bit to a second hard drive. The image backup will skip over all the blank spaces on the drive but a clone will write all data and blank spots on the drive.

You can end up with a hard disk that may be placed in your computer, ready to go just as the old disk was when the new disk was made. It will boot (start up your computer), your programs and data is there and ready to go to work.

It may not be practical to do such a backup every day, week or month, therefore incremental backup on a regular schedule of your data is in order


Many desktop computers and/or servers have the capability to support several hard drives. It may be set up to have redundancy by having all information duplicated on 2 or more hard disks. With a RAID system, when a disk fails, you may remove it and plug in another and the new disk will quickly catch up and be fully operational.

I personally use an external USB hard drive and copy everything under User on my hard drive. I also use a thumb drive for short term backup of files I often work with. My thumb drive may be used several times a week.

Windows operating system

Did you get a Windows DVD with your new computer? Probably not! Most often there is a partition on your hard drive labeled RECOVERY (D:). It does contain all the information your computer needs to start up and/or recover Windows in case you cannot start up your computer the regular way.

If your hard drive still works after a catastrophe, you may be able to recover Windows but normally all of your data, settings and installed programs will no longer be there.

With Windows 7 and 8, while you were setting up your new computer, you were given an opportunity to create a boot-able DVD containing all of the information your computer needs to start up or reinstall Windows.

You can still create such a DVD if you did not then:

Go to: Control panel, Recovery, Create a recovery drive. It may be placed on a DVD or a thumb drive.

What works for me:

I use an external hard drive of 2 TB with a USB-3 connector. To copy my files using Windows Explorer.

Plug the external hard drive into your computer (USB) and the power cord into power.

To ensure programs on your computer arent using your files, restart your computer and go to Windows Explorer.

1. The drive you will copy to is listed in the left panel near the bottom. Click on that drive and if it contained data, the folder or file name will be listed in the right panel.

2. Create a folder on the external drive by clicking “New Folder”, The New Folder will appear in the right panel and is ready to be named. I use “YYMMDD” as 131211. 13 is the year, 12 is the month and 11 is the day.

3. There is a small down arrow next to the external drive in the left panel. Click on the down arrow and the folder “131211” appears below it. This is where we copy to.

4. Your data files are located in “Local Disk (C:) found in the left panel.

    Click the words,” Local Disc C:” in the left panel and below will be “Users”

    All users are listed in the right panel.

5. Now click on a blank area in the right panel, hold down ctrl key (lower left corner of your keyboard) and tap the “A” key. That selected all the users in the right panel.

    Right click on the selected users. A window opens where you may select “copy”

6. In the left panel right click the “YYMMDD” . A window opens where you can click “Paste”

    Your backup will begin and take from 10 minutes to an hour to complete. The progress will be displayed on your screen.

More information at:,2817,2288745,00.asp

Trails End Computer Club, Harold Buechly Revised 12/10/13