Family Backup Strategy Part II

This is a follow up to my other entry

Before you begin, tidy up your system and personal data to reduce the size and time of the backup. Here is a list of recommendations:

  1. Empty your temp files, cookies, browsing cache (for each browser you use), recycle bin (for all users).
  2. Remove unnecessary programs from “Programs and Features”.
  3. Remove all unnecessary shareware and trial games with their data.
  4. Tidy up your personal files, delete unnecessary ones, categorize them.
  5. Clean up your MSN history and downloaded files.
  6. Turn off all unnecessary system tray applications.
  7. Shrink your SQL Server database files.
  8. Delete created but never used SQL Server database files.
  9. Clean up old e-mails.
  10. Compact your Outlook PST file.
  11. Delete old videos downloaded from and expired.
  12. Check each and every folder for remaining things which are not removed by the un-installations.
  13. Remove MS Office cache sitting on C drive.
  14. Think before you delete a file, leave it if you are unsure.
  15. Empty the Recycle Bin again.
  16. Turn of unnecessary services for now like “IIS Manager”, “SQL Server” etc. (for developers).
  17. Ask to your wife to clean up unnecessary files, she will probably leave everything as it was before but worth to try.

If you think you have a clean and better system now we can proceed with the second step. We need to do a thorough check disk and a defrag to keep the computer running smoothly. This will ensure in some way that the backup will be as healthy as possible.

After Defrag, make sure computer reboots and rest of the applications are working normal.

By now, you have a faster computer I believe. Have a look at the size of your personal data and how much of the HD space you use. We need to make sure that the storage device for backup will have enough space to contain that much of data. Do a comparison (size of personal data + size of entire system <= your storage size).

Choosing your Backup Software

Amongst the trilllions of commercial and open source options you can either pay some money and get something like Acronis True Image or you can go DIY with a solution like RSync. There are pros and cons and differences in style. Whichever you choose, you have one basic requirement and that is the Continuation of the BAU.

As I am getting older with the increased responsibilities, I don’t want to spend valuable time of my life on installing Vista/Linux etc again and again. So the recovery should be quick and the business as usual should continue as normal. We have 2 backup options:

  1. Backing up only personal data.
  2. Backing up the full HD as an image in case of a catastrophic failure.

In the times of Blu-Ray disks you can have the full HD backup on a bootable Blu-Ray but the recovery process should be tested. Where as the personal files can be backed up to either a DVD or an external HD or USB keys etc. The key point is having a copy somewhere out of where your computers are (aunties house, bank safe, internet cloud etc) so that if a meteor hits or a disaster happens to be passing by on top of your house you will at least have the photoes of your last trip to Europe.

If you are a mainly Windows family, you can also use inbuilt MS Windows backup features and shadow copy options. If you have a rogue son who uses Linux and daughter who uses MAC, wife using Windows and you using an archaic Unix version… well good luck :-).

I am using ReadyNAS NV+ on our Windows/Linux hybrid network at home with RSync and Windows inbuilt backup software. A couple of batch files are fired up when there is a specific network connection available on the Windows Task Scheduler. And full HD backups are done once a week. ReadyNas is also backing up my blog accessing it via FTP and copying only the changed files. I need to backup my SQL Server databases on GoDaddy manually before. The only problem is I do not have an off-the-site backup of important files but I will get to that soon. ReadyNas has also Subversion installed and projects are on it.

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