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Tips on backing up your computer

A jeweler on Polygon asked for suggestions on backing up his computer. Cloud vs. external discs, my answer to him:

Firstly don’t rely 100% on external hard disks, although I own 5. They are great, until lightening hits the computer & BACKUP drive and now you are screwed

About every 2 years I buy a new external disk and replace the old one.

I also have a cloud account with

100 megs for free or can buy one terabyte $99 a year
I copy things there of importance, its not a backup service. I backup my QuickBooks to dropbox as well as the external hard disc. My price book has a copy there. Anything of importance.

MOSt backup/cloud services backup my Documents & My Pictures only.

If the computer blows up and you buy a new one you now have to get a new copy of windows (comes with computer) and install any old programs you had on that dead computer The DATAFILE will be saved and reinstalled but you’ll have to reinstall the QB disk. Don’t have have it? Buy anew copy. Yuk!


So I suggest buying backup.
They have a cloud service but I didn’t buy the cloud, it’s extra per year. Just the backup for the computer.

Here’s the difference.

Acronis will make a 100% backup of every frick’n thing on your computer
1.Windows with all settings
2.All programs
3.My Documents

So when first starting Acronis up it will make a rescue disc. Computer crashed/died/stolen?

Get a new hard disk installed or a new computer
Put rescue disk in drive, it will start the process and then reconnect the external drive.

it will restore everything and in no time your computer will be 100% like it was on your LAST BACKUP. No need to install anything but Acronis

Twice it saved my butt and I was back to work next day after a tech guy installed a new hard disc.

BTW, if you have a hard disk crash do not install the old fashion spinning hard disc. Install the newer solid state types. Like the hard disc on your phone. No spinning things to die. Last longer, doesn’t die as fast as old ones and are tons faster.

I had ALL 5 computers hard discs replaced 5 months ago before they even thought about dying. They all run faster now.
If you replace hard disc add more memory, this is the biggest reason for slow computers.

You can buy Acronis for ONE computer at Amazon for $37.00
I bought a 2014 copy that can be installed on THREE computers for only $24 if you buy the older 2014 version, I did and works just fine, thank you!

Acronis True Image Unlimited for PC and Mac - 1 Computer

Hope this helps

David Geller

1 Like

HI David,

I more-or-less agree with you, but I handle some bits a little differently.

I’ve got a pair of RAID boxes, each with 5 spinning HD’s, about 20 TB in all. The nice thing about the RAID boxes (Drobo 5’s) is that you can lose any two of the 5 drives and not lose any data. The box acts like one big hard drive as far as your computer’s concerned. But it spreads the data out across all 5 disks, so if any one (or two) go, it can still keep going while it waits for you to frantically run out to the store and get a new drive to slot into the place of the blown one. Once you give it a new (healthy) drive to use, it spreads everything back out, and you’re doubly redundant again.

This matters to me because I’ve somehow managed to toast three hard drives in the last month. One was part of RAID 1, and it was a complete non-issue. Pull old one, bash with hammer, throw in trash. Slot in new one, and we’re back. Total time, about an hour, counting the trip to Fry’s.
The other two were non-RAIDed working drives. One was a total loss, but I had most of the data elsewhere, I just need to reconstruct it. The other died slowly, so that I could salvage about 99% of the data.

For the moment, I still prefer spinning drives: (A) they’re much cheaper, byte-for-byte, and (B) when they do die, a lot of the time, they’re salvageable, or at least they give some warning. SDD’s just croak. Fine one minute, and stone dead the next. No salvage, no warning.

When you’ve got many Tb of graphics backup the way I do, having redundant SDD’s would be spectacularly expensive.

That said, I also have an offsite (Cloud-ish) backup service. It’s not really “cloud” but it is an internet based offsite backup. I use, because they have an unlimited plan that’s not too expensive. (Many Tb. Much more than you’ll get with Dropbox or others. )
The most important part of it is that the backup is encrypted. Heavily encrypted, with a local key. The data stream doesn’t leave my computer until encrypted, and crashplan doesn’t have the key. So even if they get hacked, they can’t give up the key they don’t have.

Back up early, back up often, back up redundantly.

Just by way of example: I once lost 50 Gb of personal pictures. I burned them all to blue-ray DVD’s. I even burned three duplicate copies of each disk. Did a byte-by-byte comparison with the source data on all disks before I deleted the source. And about 6 months later, the media went sour. All the disks, all the copies. Poof. Because it was the same batch of media.
So now, I also make a habit of populating the HD’s in my RAID boxes with drives from different manufacturers, installed at different points (months apart). Because what normally happens with a RAID box is that you buy the box, and 5 identical drives to go into it, all at the same time. Which means that they all get to the end of their lifespans at about the same time. So you suddenly lose several in a hurry, which can cause problems. Not so much if you spread out the install times, and make sure they’re different manufacturers.



Many thanks for your advice David and Brian. This is a very interesting topic.

I would like to highlight the need to have offsite backup. RAID solutions are great, but no useful in case of malware/virus infection or massive disasters (fires, floods, etc.).

There are very affordable cloud solutions right now that need no human intervention after first set-up. Better safe than sorry, you know…

I was the jeweller who really initiated this topic. I’ve just finished copying over 4.5 TB’s of setting essays & thousands of photographs. No small task but I’m now happy every file/folder is where I can find them at a moment’s notice.:wink:

Gerry Lewy!..just sent from my iPhone!

Be careful with “one touch” solutions. Out of site, out of mind, is bad
mojo for backups. If it works automatically and doesn’t get looked at, you
may or may not have error reporting services, so you may not know if your
backup is in good shape until you need it (which is of course too late).

If you can afford RAID enclosures, I’d highly recommend them. But bear in
mind you should still have an online and an offline backup. One PSU
failure in the PC can take out any connected device, including your RAID
array. So having an offline, disconnected copy will save you. If you have a
shop that is not in or attached to your home, keeping an offline copy there
is a great idea. Rotate them every week and you’ll only lose at most two
week’s worth of data with a catastrophic failure. RAID 10 or RAID 5 helps
avoid catastrophic failures by mirroring (or striping and mirroring) your
data so that individual drive failures don’t cause loss.

One thing to consider, is full disk versus user profile/data backup. User
profile/data backup will take much less space, but does not backup your
operating system or applications. Also any files outside of the user
profile will get missed. Some of us have some pretty expensive
applications, and losing them would cause us significant issues.

I will tell you from personal experience that you should never setup your
onsite backup to backup to your offsite backup. If you get bad data to the
onsite, it will write that same bad data to your remote. (someone that I
worked with did that once and flatlined 2 of our SANs due to multiple disk
failure in the primary backup).


I likely don’t have the amount of files many of you do, but I run a fairly simple setup. 1 ssd for OS, 1 hdd for files and programming, 1 hdd for media.

I run 2 separate hdd backups utilizing at least 2 different backup programs (non RAID, personal choice), a USB containing 2 different backup programs, and I’m soon going to set up a sync. The backups are full file/disk backups…the whole shebang.

The 2 hdds I use for backups (I won’t use an ssd for backups) are disconnected when not in use, but the backup programs are located on my file drive and backup drives. I don’t use offsite primarily because I don’t trust them and I don’t want to make a key I’ll likely loose. I run at least 2 different programs with backups because I’ve had outages where Acronis became corrupt and it wouldn’t open the program to read, luckily I had a freeware that saved my butt. I’ve also had programs open, but not read off the same drives, so I keep them staggered. I’ve had more luck with freeware than paid, fwiw. Backing up doesn’t have to be complicated, just as long as you keep to a solid system because all things that can fail, will fail…eventually.

Oh, I love computer stuff. (Cold meds may be at work here.)

My macs always have Time Machine set up from the get-go.

I also use the service CrashPlan (there are others, but I haven’t used them). In my case, I have them backup to the cloud (i.e., off-site), but there’s a free component that allows you to automatically backup to another of your computers (or someone else’s with their permission).

For photos, there’s the whole Lightroom process / routine, with a couple of extra hard drives, all of which I have copied to backups using an app called ChronoSync. (Again, there are many similar out there.)

And the Synology…

I’m a long-time computer nerd, so have been doing this awhile. You don’t need to be hyper-geeky to keep your info safe, but here are a few things I’ve noticed people doing wrong most often:

  • People make the mistake of not setting up an auto-backup. For instance, Time Machine is every hour, CrashPlan once a day (at the time I’ve scheduled it). Thinking you’ll back up at the end of the day, or every Friday, or even once a month often devolves into “maybe six months ago…?”

  • Copy and re-copy any important files that are on old media to new on a fairly regular basis. The cloud is now making this easier, but do you really want to discover you have a box of old documents stored on 5 1/4" floppies and no 5 1/4" floppy drive? (You can pay to have the documents retrieved, but it is expensive, and there’s a security issue.)

  • However, I always recommend a cloud+ approach: have a cloud solution (Apple’s Cloud, Google, Amazon (there is some freebie storage available with Prime membership), etc.) AND have a local solution (Time Machine, NAS, just hard drives you copy info to regularly, etc.).

  • The system gets too elaborate and ends up abandoned (or not updated). It’s easier, and safer, in the long run to have as much set up to automatically backup as possible. You can’t abrogate all your responsibility, of course, but it really does help to not have to always be thinking about it.

And, lastly, a side note on backup up: Make sure your loved-ones, lawyer, executor, etc., have some way of retrieving your passwords, so they can access what is necessary when you aren’t there. It’s fine that some things just go dormant — not everything needs to be tidily closed down — but it’s vital that those who need access can get it.

If you’ve read this far, thank you! I hope I’ve helped. Usually people ignore advice and then, you know… regret it. Start simple.

But, we all make our own choices.

(Well, except I don’t remember choosing to catch this horrible cold.)

Time for more meds.

Happy Holidays to all!


I’m so-o OC-paranoid I usually back-up all of my “Diamond Setting Essays"
circa 2002 to the present day, at least 3x over. Which I just did!! Years
ago, I used to print-out everything, but the technology has jumped at the
speed of light, or Warp-9. (BTW, The Speed of Light is measured at
186,865,696,000,000 miles per second!) But we’re going off on a tangent.
The speed of technology is that what I thought is modern today, is by
tomorrow, ancient-history. I now have almost 5-TB’s of 'saved’
information…including all my multitude of (55) Diamond Setting video’s!
My decision is now to to transfer any file, or folder directly to my
"SEAGATE External H.D.” on a daily rate. No more waiting till I remember to
do this tomorrow! If my PC crashes, I’m not too worried, as it has done in
the past, my H.D. is then immediately disconnected as soon as it has done
it’s ‘saving’. To me, this is a good habit to get into!
Gerry Lewy

Just what is it you are going to be storing? The 100 megs and 1 terabyte is the amount of data. It does not tell you the bandwidth to get it there and off. What you want to store could be such a size detail wise that you will think dial up is fast. Also they too can be hit with malware and viruses. The cloud can have just as many problems of being hit as any other type of company. Then there is the question of lightening. Get a a surge protector with battery backup will help, but nothing is fool proof. But you would have to take a direct hit on a main line in to your power. As to your own disks, or hard drive, they are good only if you back up often, Then you would not lose much. That is why most companies of any size back up periodically during the day. The hard drive and disc’s are also not something that will last for ever. Rule of thumb on them is to back up the data every year onto a new disc or hard drive. Have you ever seen a moldy disc? I have. Have you ever seen a cat pee on a hard drive? I have. NOTHING IS SAFE! unless you take precautions. Do not rely just on the cloud. Do not rely just on discs/harddrives for back up. Learn just like we do to make jewelry there are many steps to the work. You forget to backup, you can have a problem. You rely solely on a cloud based receptor, you can lose it all. Hubby who is one of the top IT people here in Orlando at a very large global company I’m sure you know which one I’m talk of, suggested redundancy. If you think the cloud is safe, he could tell you horror stories. DO NOT rely on just one! Get a good surge protector! Get a battery backup for power outages. Then there is the old fashioned old school version, called paper.

I have a surge protector that has it’s own built-in battery. I never leave my external H.D connected to the main P.C. I, too have heard of the “Cloud” having problems. It’s on only for a few minutes then it’s fully disconnected. Your idea of getting a new external H.D. twice a year seems like a safer idea…by then, the second purchase could be even cheaper than what I paid for this little item. I, as well, use virus scanning programs, but that is another topic. One topic for discussion, for now.!! Overly safe & concerned…Gerry!

I’ve been watching this thread and there are some very good ideas, but here’s a bit of advice from someone with over 30+ years in information systems which is my 9-5 corporate job while the lapidary and jewelry is my wife and mine hobby business which we plan on retiring in you.

That being said, take it from an old systems programmer. Make a back up and make a copy of that back up. But being through many disaster recovery drills, both test and actual (remember 9/11?), store that backup in a secure location off site. RAID, removable hard drives, CD backups won’t save you in case of fire or natural disaster.

Backing up to the “cloud” or a site on the internet is good. Be sure you understand how to recover that data if you have to replace your computer.

You can do a DIY secure storage by burning a copy to CD or a removable drive and rent a lockbox in a bank and store it there or mail it to a trusted friend in a different geographic location.

I’ve heard many times when someone loses their house to fire or other natural disaster that the thing they can’t replace is family photos. Well scan your photos and store them with your data backup.

Rick Copeland

1 Like

“DropBox” files & Folders!
FINALLY, I took the plunge & now have all of my essays being downloaded into “DropBox”. This will take approximately 5 hours at last count, Then no more requesting emails from everyone! I’d like to arrange it that everyone on Orchid has that “entrance key”. Imagine 129 folders with 1,450 files.This is an immense project? I still have about 5 more emails to send out today.
Fondest regards to the folks who are celebrating their Easter and we, who are enjoying our lovely non-caloric Matzah…OY!..Gerry Lewy!

Hi Gerry,

Thanks for your thoughtful work on behalf of the Ganoskin members by
posting all your “lectures” on setting etc.

Dropbox is the perfect solution!

Best wishes, Taf

Hi Taf and everyone!
If I had to count all of the actual pages in my vast collection of setting notes, I’ll be needing a computer to count them for me. For example, I wrote an essay that fully describes all of the setting tools I used to work with…the “Bench Essay” as it’s called, is only 29 pages. That is just one article…some of the others are about 3-4 pages in length.
Bradney Simon of the long past “Bench” magazine drove to my home here in Toronto from North Carolina
& saw what I had on hand. He wanted me to write a few setting articles…well 18 essays later, my writing started & you folks on Orchid will be reading them once my DropBox is finished downloading sometime tonight. I have 6 GB’s of very useful information, only pertaining to Diamond Setting.
I’ll keep everyone updated once the DropBox program finishes it’s work!!!

Ref using dropbox for backing up your computer……

Yes it will protect you against a hard drive failure…

Yes it is really designed for sharing files…

BUT do not count on it has your total backup….

Because of the way a number of Ransomware programs work, and dropbox works… the ransomware will encrypt all your files on your computer, including the ones in your dropbox. Dropbox will then overwrite your files in the cloud with the encrypted ones making them just has unreadable as the ones on the computer.

Yes I know Dropbox has a “go-back” feature if you use the web interface, but it’s not 100%. If you have irreplaceable files; fine use dropbox, but also use a offline backup on a regular basis, preferably with multiple generations. (This means for example having 2 or 3 external hard drives that you use in rotation so that if something happens, you don’t notice it and copy over hard drive 1, you still haver a chance of recovering it from one of the older backups.)



Those are very important facts you pointed out.

I use Dropbox to share, an Apple Airport for automatic back-ups and an external hard drive for additional back up coverage…can’t be too careful.

Thanks, Taf