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Nov 22, 2009
The Jungles of Canada
I've been through the internet and talk to various people in the real world and found nothing, so here is my question to the computer savvy on the forum. What can I do or don't do when I'm backing up my laptop to an external hard drive? So far, it's been 3 hours and I'm half done. Normally I don't use it until it's finished but some said today that as long as I don't open the folders I'm backing up. Many thanks in advance.

If you're doing a full system backup, it's best to start it and let it run uninterrupted for the duration.

Anytime you open a browser or call up a file, it changes system files (not to mention pulling on system resources) like log files, internal cache, etc etc...
Ok guys that sounds great. Quick question(remember, you are talking to me, a total computer dork). When doing a full system backup, do I leave the laptop open, hit backup and leave it? I've adjusted my settings so it won't power down unless I manually do it. I really appreciate this and thanks in advance.

A few tips:
- if possible, use a usb3 interface and harddisk. Modern laptops usually have that. Usb3 is much faster than usb2.
- make just one full system backup and then start making incremental backups of your data (usually your user's directory). Incremental backups only store delta's which mean it only stores the differences with the last backup, is much quicker.
- use software that can make "snapshots"
- make your backup on a least 2 external disks and store them in different places.
- as Dave said, don't touch your computer during backup and turn off internet connection. Close all running programs.

Good backups take time.
I myself use a NAS ( network attached storage ) to make dayly incremental backups which per day don't take much time. As the NAS is in my network, so I can always do the backup when I please, even over the internet when I'm abroad every week, the NAS is manually backupped on an external harddisk which is stored at my work.
I back up my laptop every time I get home. I don't take a back up drive with me as if I lost the laptop (in a physical sense) I'd probably lose the back up too.

I just plug in the external drive for a day, continue using my computer as usual, and allow the back up software to sort itself out. It doesn't back up the system files every time unless I ask it to. It just backs up my documents, music, pictures, mail etc.

Works for me and I do check the backed up files occasionally. I have also used a back up to restore all my valuable stuff to a new computer.


Great info. What is your take on backing up your computer to the Cloud? I am leery of it myself with all the hacking going on but I am interested in others' opinions.

I've been looking into that, but here it is very expensive per gb and, as you say, you park your sensitive data somewhere else. If you trust the company, it's not a big problem, but remember that is they get bought by another company, someone else will get hold on your data. I decided on making my own cloud by buying a NAS. I've got a cloud of 4 TB which I cannot afford at a cloud service. Disadvantage is that I have to maintain it myself, but with a good NAS, almost everything is taken care of for you and maintaining is easy.

Geo, bottomline is, make one systemwide backup and do you regular data only on the real data (my documents). Preferably use a dedicated backup program instead of copying as they only save the changes with the last backup (incremental backup), which will be so much faster. I think Steve's method would be great for you.

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