402 When you get a new backup drive, do this first

by
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

You just got a brand new portable/external drive to back up your important computer files. Do you know the first thing you should do with it?

usb portable drive

 

What a lot of people do is just take it out of the package, and plug it in to their computer. Then a window pops up asking them to run a program that came already on the drive, and they just run it. I don’t recommend this. Most drives like this do come with their own software, but when I set up a backup, I never use that software. With some of those programs there is a password created at the time of the installation, and if you don’t know it or forget it, that drive can become no longer usable. How bad would that be – you could be in a situation where you need the data from that drive, but you can’t get to it. My process avoids that problem.

When I’m setting up a new portable drive for an ongoing regular backup, the first thing I do is this: format the drive.

This wipes everything from that drive, including the software that came with it, so that we’re starting with a completely empty drive.

Then I go an download the software called Macrium Reflect. This is the software I use to back up everything on the computer – not just your important files and folders, but all your programs as well. It backs up the entire hard drive. This way, if your drive fails, we can just replace the bad one with a new (empty) drive, and restore the last backup. Within an hour or two, everything is back like it was before the problem. It’s the quickest way for your computer to be back up and running after a hard drive failure. Macrium has saved me twice, and it has saved my clients countless times.

Setting up Macrium Reflect the first time – getting it configured to do what we need it to do – is a little tricky and there are a few steps involved. I can do this for you remotely though. But once it’s set up, backing up your computer is easy – you just plug in the portable drive at night, then the next morning you check the date and unplug it. You don’t necessarily need to do it every night, but for me I’ve just made it part of my nightly routine so I never have to worry about losing anything important.

Share this post

11 comments Add your comment »

Get updates when new comments are added. Subscribe to the comments RSS Feed

Mike Martin
July 4th, 2022

First of all, I want to thank you for your weekly emails. I find most of them to be quite informative. As an aside, I Winter near you in St Pete.

Am I right to assume Macrium would be installed on the back-up drive? Otherwise, how would you be able to restore to the new hard drive?

I have been using Macrium for many years doing an incremental back-up of data only every other night onto a different partition. I realize this would be of no value should the disk drive crash but what it does do is let me retrieve an older version of a data file that I might have messed up. Fortunately, I have never had to fall back on that. But, I know Murphy says, if I didn’t do it I would need it.

For the convenience of the data back-ups, I save all my data (app data excepted) onto a separate partition (“F” in this case). The data is also synced on a combination of Google Drive and Dropbox. For the external back-up, which I admittedly do not do near frequently enough, would that be an image copy of both C and F drives?

Scott Johnson
July 4th, 2022

Hi Mike –

Macrium does not get installed on the backup drive. Inside the Macrium program, you’ll see an option to create “Macrium Rescue Media” on a flash drive. So you can create that, and keep it somewhere safe, and that’s what you would use to boot up a new (blank) drive and then restore the last backup.
For the other questions, I’d really need to see specifically what you’re doing currently and what you’re asking. I rarely do incremental backups; instead, I do a full backup each time and have the backup drive keep the last 3.

Harlem Hobbit
July 4th, 2022

I’m with you Scott, highly recommended. Even though the free version of Macrium Reflect is superb, I forked over the shekels out of simple gratitude for a superb program. Macrium Reflect has saved my bacon more times times I can count.

Scott Johnson
July 4th, 2022

100% agree! I have the paid version too, although most people don’t need any features beyond what the free version offers.

Marge Teilhaber
July 4th, 2022

Good advice, Scott. Thanks. I love and have used for many years Second Copy for my nightly backup. Do you not use that anymore?

Scott Johnson
July 5th, 2022

I remember Second Copy. It’s a good program but I no longer use it, as I think my current backup process is more thorough.

Marge Teilhaber
July 5th, 2022

My thought has been that as long as I back up my data, I’m good. In a pickle or with new computer, programs/apps get reinstalled with saved exe files (like Picasa). I use Microsoft 365. Stopped using Outlook and use Gmail exclusively. Operating system, since I paid for W10, I should have something available to reinstall. Obviously on a new computer, I don’t need to worry about that.
What might I be missing which would convince me to learn more about Macrium?

Scott Johnson
July 5th, 2022

Scenario: your hard drive fails. So you replace the drive. But it’s blank to start with. So you have to first reinstall Windows and all the Windows updates. Then you have to reinstall whatever programs you use – Office, web browsers, all the other programs. Then you start restoring all your files and folders – Documents, Pictures, Music, Videos, website bookmarks, etc. You could be down for a day or two while you’re getting your computer back to a usable state.

When you have a Macrium backup, you instead put in the new blank drive, and you restore the last backup. Within and hour or two, everything is EXACTLY like it was before the crash. Nothing to install or configure, all your icons are on your desktop like they were before, all your programs are already there. It’s like the crash never happened. That’s the advantage.

Marge Teilhaber
July 6th, 2022

Thanks so much for your great info, Scott. Since my PC is 12 years old believe it or not, I’ll hold off on dealing with Macrium because if I have a hard drive failure, that’ll be the time to get a new machine with W11. It started off with W7, and 2 years ago I got new hard drive, bought W10, and had a friend install it. When I get that new machine is when I’ll start with Macrium. In the meantime I’ll continue my nightly backups with Second Copy. I really appreciate you and all I learn from you.

Nancy Peters
July 15th, 2022

When you format your backup drive, should it be NTFS or FAT32? I have read that it should be NTFS for Windows environment. Then I just read it should be Fat32. Which one?
Thanks

Scott Johnson
July 15th, 2022

NTFS