This page - How to make restorable backups of all kinds - offline and online
The following article should convince those of you who have valuable data on your computer(s) and don't do so to make backups of it in several ways to ensure that it is not lost forever:
The burglar didn't just take a laptop - he stole my life -
Increasingly, PC's, laptops in particular, are coming with SSD drives as their boot drives instead of standard hard disk drives. But you should be aware that SSD drives fail in different ways and can fail faster than standard hard drives, because their data storage cells made of flash RAM memory have a shorter lifespan than the magnetic platters used in hard drives, so making regular backups/system images is more vital if you don't want to lose valuable data.
Because wear-levelling and garbage collection is performed on an SSD continually, you won't be able to recover deleted files in the same ways as you can with the files stored on a standard hard disk drive, where the files remain intact until overwritten and only the entries addressing the files in the file system are removed, which makes SSD-drive backing up essential. For this reason, it's advisable to install the operating system (Windows, Linux, OS X, etc) on the boot SSD and store data, documents, music, images, videos, etc., on a standard internal hard drive or external hard drive or network attached storage device (NAS).
Before discussing full backups and creating system images, if you have deleted a file or folder and it is not in the Recycle Bin, you should be aware that you can still recover previous versions of files and folders in Windows Vista and Windows 7 (but not Windows XP) by using the Restore Previous Versions (RPV) feature. Note that this feature is linked to the System Restore feature. If a restore point created by System Restore on a specific date is still available that contains the file or folder that you want to restore, then it should be recoverable. However, Windows only reserves a certain number of restore points that depends on how much hard-disk space has been reserved for them. Windows deletes old restore points to free up space for new restore points, so, in order to give this feature as much scope as possible means having to give System Restore as much reserved disk space as possible.
In fact, the main reason that System Restore and Restore Previous Versions fail to work is because not enough disk space has been reserved for them to function properly.
System Restore and the RPV feature must be enabled in Vista and Windows 7, so, in Windows 7, if you are not sure press the Windows key (the keys with a Windows flag on them) and Pause/Break keys , click the System Protection link (in the left-hand navigation bar) then click the Configure button and make sure Restore system settings and previous versions of files is enabled by activating its radio button. Click the Apply and OK buttons. If System Restore wasn't turned on, turn it on for the applicable drive and click the Create button to create a new Restore Point (RP) that is used to restore all of the system files in use at the time of its creation. If, for some reason, you need to recover a lost or corrupted file, all you have to do is open Windows Explorer by right-clicking with the mouse pointer on the Start button, click on Open Windows Explorer, right click on the folder where it is/was kept and select Restore Previous Versions. After a few moments it should list by date all of the saved versions of the file in question.
How much disk space does System Restore require? [Win7] -
Previous versions of files: frequently asked questions -
Windows 7 and Windows Vista have the best backup options provided by any operating system, which, if used properly, should mean that a user never has to rely on alternative means of restoring or recovering Windows itself or individual files or folders. When a user makes use of the Backup and Restore feature is Win7, preferably saving the backups to an external hard drive that can be disconnected from the system, it creates a standard full backup and a system image. Individual files cannot be recovered from a system image, it can only restore the whole system, but individual files can be restored from a standard backup. The restoration processes for both types of restoration (whole system or individual files/folders) are very user-friendly (self-explanatory), but anyone who needs illustrated assistance to use them can find articles on the web. Search for How to use Windows 7 Backup and Restore. (Microsoft keeps changing its page links.) More information on backing up with the different versions of Windows is provided further down in this article.
I have a 4TB Seagate external hard drive but only half of the drive is available for use and I wasn't able to make Windows 7 create a system image or backup on it. Seagate support advised me to download their DiscWizard tool in order to be able to use the whole drive. Is that correct or is there a better way of solving this problem? Also, if and when I can make backups, how much disk space will be required for a full system-image backup? The computer is using 220GB of its 500GB internal hard drive. I want to save system images and backups of four computers - two desktops and two laptops - on the drive, so I need to know the best way of not mixing them up. In the event of an irrecoverable problem on one of them, I don't want to restore the wrong system image to a computer.
To read the answer on the PC Buyer Beware! website, click the following link:
1. - The backup program as well as the backup image files, must not be on the C: drive that Windows is usually on, or even on a partition on the same hard disk drive that includes the C: drive. It could be on another internal hard disk drive, which would make it vulnerable to theft, lightning strikes, fire, etc, so the best place is on an external hard drive or SSD drive kept elsewhere in a safe place such as a fireproof safe. The backup program itself should be either on a bootable CD/DVD or USB flash drive. Note that Backup and Restore in Windows 7 runs from within Windows and places the backup where it has been set to do so. This is not ideal because Windows itself is running when the backup or system image is being made. It is much better to use a boot disc or bootable flash drive with the backup program on it to create backups because Windows is not using its files, which can create errors in the backup. With Windows 7 you must create a Repair Disc, which is used to boot the system and restore a backup or system image. Have a recordable CD/DVD ready and enter the words repair disc in the Start => Search... box to be presented with a link that when clicked on will create the disc. Note that the system's BIOS setup program has to have the CD/DVD drive set at the first boot device in order to boot the system from a boot disc.
2. - The backup must incorporate everything on the C: drive, including boot sector, master directory, etc., so that the backup can be restored to a blank hard disk drive that will then be able to boot into Windows at startup. A system image is a restorable image of the entire system. Restoring it successfully restores the entire system.
3. - Every reputable backup program remembers where it has placed its backup files, therefore never move them or the backup program will be unable to locate them, which it must be able to do to perform a restore operation.
4. - After creating a backup, you must use the backup program's verification option to verify that the files have been backed up properly. Every reputable backup program provides an option to verify what it has created.
5. - The backup files must be located away from the computer that they were created on in case of fire, theft, lightning strikes, etc. Do not use an external hard disk drive to store backups on and leave it near or connected to the computer that the backups were created from. Note that many problems have been reported with people trying to backup and restore Windows 7 with Windows 7's Backup and Restore program, so if you have valuable data it's best to use a less problematic backup tool, such as Acronis True Image. The free version of Macrium Reflect is very well-regarded. It is difficult to find on its developer's website. Here is the link:
If you're using Windows 7's Backup and Restore, the backup will be located in a folder called "WindowsDiskImage" on the drive to which the the backup or image was saved. Note that if you create a new system image, the previous image is overwritten. If you want to keep a previous image, rename the folder, say, by dating it - e.g., WindowsDiskImage-16-July-2012. The backup program will recreate the WindowsDiskImage folder for the latest backup/image. I have three computers backed up into that folder. Each computer has its own folder within that folder. It is a good idea to keep the previous backup/image in case something goes wrong with the latest one. Acronis True Image and other backup programs allow the creation of a new image without overwriting the previous one.
Here are a few useful bits of information with regard to Backup and Restore in Win7. If your computer has been knocked out by a software (not hardware) failure, you will need a Repair Disc (CD/DVD) that you boot the system from in order to be able to restore a system image and your computer's BIOS must be set to boot first from its CD/DVD drive in order to boot from a disc, which it probably is by default. If not, you can always enter the BIOS by pressing its entry key at startup and set the boot order of devices (DVD drive, hard disk drive, USB flash drive, etc.) You must have that disc, which provides several recovery tools, such as Startup Repair. To make one, enter the words repair disc in the Start => Search programs and files box to be provided with a link that creates one for you on a recordable CD/DVD disc. Test it to make sure that it works. Sometimes they don't work. Third-party backup/imaging programs usually call their boot disc a rescue disc. If you have a netbook, which doesn't have an internal optical CD/DVD drive, you have to use an external optical drive or create the repair disc on a USB flash drive instead of burning it to a disc and your computer's BIOS must have the external drive set as the first boot device.
Note that the Home Premium versions of Windows Vista and Windows 7 Home Premium can back up to an external hard drive, but not to a network location (to a network storage device). For that feature you need the Professional or Ultimate versions of Win7. Vista's Business version is the equivalent of Win7's Professional version.
Using an online backup service is one of the available backup options. Such a service could be used as your off-site backup option in case an electrical spike, lightning strike or fire destroys your computer equipment. There are several services that provide a certain amount of free data storage space. An award-winning paid-for service is LiveDrive from livedrive.co.uk, which was priced at only £4.95 a month in September 2011 for unlimited storage for a single computer plus any external or network drives.
Google has just launched a free online backup service called GDrive that provides 5GB of free storage, but you have to ask yourself the question: "Is Google using this as a way to access all of the data on your computer?" - Because all of Google's other 'free' products and services do just that in order to add to the personal profile that it is building up on everyone who has a Google account, which is used to deliver personalised ads to that user within that account and across the web. Moreover, it is a startup program that places its icon in the bottom right Notification Area of the screen, which means that it can monitor your file use - and who knows what else?
Microsoft's SkyDrive online backup service used to provide a huge 25GB of free online storage, but, probably due to high demand, the free limit has changed to 7GB. However, for a limited time (which was limited on April 26, 2012 when I tried it), existing Windows Live accounts can keep the 25GB by following the click-through provided in their SkyDrive account.
If you have a Windows Live ID, which is provided when you create a Hotmail account, Xbox 360 user account, etc. For example, when you sign in to any Microsoft service using your Windows Live ID, such as Hotmail, it will have a SkyDrive tab that gives you access to it. It allows free use of the online versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote, which can also be accessed by using a Windows-based smartphone. The amount of free storage space is provided there (currently 25GB). How much space you have left is provided. If you make use of the Public folder any files you enter in it are shared with everyone, so don't put anything in there that you want kept private. To add files just select the folder that you ant to use and click on Add files. You can add extra folders by using New folder.
More information on SkyDrive is provided here:
The free AVG LiveKive online backup service provided 5GB of free storage. For unlimited storage you pay an $80 one-off charge. The system operates in a similar way to ZoneAlarm IDrive dealt with below. You download and install its software and then configure what you want to back up. Both services provide scheduled backups. Both of these companies are trusted security-software developers.
ZoneAlarm IDrive provides 5GB of free online storage space. Extra space has to be paid for. The data is encrypted so that it is useless to anyone who doesn't know your encryption key. You can choose the default encryption key during setup or your own encryption key (recommended). The key can be anything you like made up of letters and numbers. If you use a wireless router to access the web, using its encryption key - what you have to enter to log on with a wireless connection to a wireless network for the first time - is a good idea. I find the easy-of-use of its interface preferable to AVG's LiveKive.
The first backup takes quite a long time, how long depending on how much of the 2GB space your selection of files uses, but the subsequent backups - scheduled or executed manually at any time - only back up the files that have changed or new files that have been added, which is called an incremental backup.
Note that if you restore an old backup and you have the Sync option enabled, it will overwrite your current backup files with the files restored from the old backup. I discovered that the hard way when I had to resort to installing a backup a year old. When I went to restore the latest files from ZoneAlarm Backup, they had been replaced by the old files. Fortunately, I keep several different types of backup, so I could put things right. You should also disable the backup schedule if you restore an out-of-date backup or system image to prevent it form running and replacing the latest backup with old files.
ZoneAlarm Backup - http://zonealarm.idrive.com/online-backup-demo.htm
Expert Reviews gave Lastdrive Backup, the online backup provider a five-star Best Buy award in July 2010. You can find the other reviews by entering the search term online backup on the Expert Reviews website.
Livedrive Backup review -
Note well that if the online backup provider goes bankrupt, it means that the service will go offline and you will almost certainly lose access to your data unless the business concern is purchased and its new owner allows its customers access to their data, so make sure that backing up online is not your only source of backups of important material. In any case, you should always have several types of backups for important data that you can't afford to lose. There is also the remote possibility that your online backups could be corrupted or lost.
It is possible to restore a backup of the system or system image made on a different computer from the one it was made on. However, it should only be done to recover files, because when Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7 starts up for the first time, it will be expecting to find its previous hardware components - motherboard, graphics card, processor, etc. - but it will find completely different hardware components. As Windows loads, you will be presented with many New Hardware Found … messages from the bottom right Notification Area. Some of the new hardware might work poorly or not at all. When Windows is finally fully loaded the setup will have a mixture of old and new system information. The Windows Registry, the database that keeps track of everything, will be a mess of old and new entries.
Moreover, the Windows Product Activation system will detect that the hardware has changed and depending on whether you have an OEM copy of Windows that can only be installed on its original hardware or a retail packaged copy, which can be installed on another computer if the previous one is no longer being used, Windows will require to be reactivated within 30 days. Visit the Product Activation page on this website for more information on it. An OEM licence will have to be reactivated by obtaining a reactivation key from Microsoft over the phone. The same might be the case with a retail copy, but it might allow you to reactivate it over the web.
If you have created a standard backup, you can restore just the files (not the programs) that you want to recover to a clean installation of Windows, but restoring a full system backup or image of the whole system is bound to present many problems and is therefore far from ideal.
It is a rare occurrence, but it happened with Gmail, so it is possible for a provider of a webmail email account to fail and then not be able to restore its own backups of users archived mail and mail settings. Fortunately, you can back up web-based email accounts on the main computer that you use to access your webmail. If you value your stored emails then you must back up your webmail account. The method used can differ for each provider of a webmail service, but there are plenty of articles on the web on how to back up the most popular webmail services. You can make use of a search engine and use a search query such as this one: back up [gmail, hotmail, windows live, etc.] webmail account. Use only the name of the service that you use in the search term.
Backups created with your PC can be divided into three main types: master image, full backup and system and file (data) backups.
A master image is a backup created by backup software that creates a master image of an entire drive on a hard disk drive or everything on the hard disk drive, including the free space. When you restore a master image, you restore whatever was imaged exactly as it was when it was imaged. The best place to store it is on a large external hard disk drive that you keep disconnected so that a power spike can't destroy it. Note that external hard disk drives have a much shorter warranty than internal hard disk drives due to the fact that they can be rendered unusable by a drop, bad knock, etc.
I usually create an image my system partition (the C: drive) once or twice a year, having first defragmented the drive by using a third-party defrag utility or the Windows Disk Defragmenter (you can also use a third-party defragmenter). I restore the latest image, install any Windows updates, program updates and programs that have been added since the last image was created and then I re-image the partition. That way, I have a clean installation of Windows and all of my programs.
A full backup backs up everything on the computer, including the operating system(s) and applications. The backup utility in Windows XP called Windows Backup can create a full backup. Windows 7 has Backup and Restore, operated from the Backup and Restore Center in the Control Panel, which allows you to select the folders and drives that you want to back up and to set up a backup schedule. You can also use it to create a master image of the system.
You can back up to double-layer DVD discs (8.5GB per disc) and Blu-ray discs (50GB per disc), but, unless you want to use a big-business backup solution, such as the IBM System Storage TS7650 ProtecTIER Deduplication Appliance, you need an external hard disk drive (2TB per drive and increasing all the time) if you want to back up or create a master image of a PC's entire internal hard disk drive containing over 50GB of data.
When you connect an external hard drive into a USB port for the first time, Windows 7 should ask if you want to use it for backups. Just follow the simple setup instructions to schedule daily backups. If that doesn't happen, click Start => Control Panel => System and Security and click Back up your computer. Click the link called Set up backup and use the setup wizard. Only Windows 7 and Windows Vista (not earlier versions of Windows, such as Windows XP) can create restorable system images. To do that open the Control Panel => System and Security, click Back up your computer followed by Create system image.
Back up and restore: frequently asked questions -
Note that with the Windows Vista and Windows 7 backup system, you must create a bootable System Recovery Disk. It uses a single CD or DVD disc. By booting the system from it, you can restore a system image stored on an external hard disk drive, for example, even if you cannot boot into Windows. Creating the disc is automatic and initiated by a prompt. Remember that the system BIOS must be set to have the CD/DVD/Blu-ray optical drive set as the first boot device in order to boot from a disc. The BIOS section of this website explains how that is achieved. Most experienced Windows users will be able to work out how to use it themselves, but here is a illustrated article on how to use the Windows 7 backup program.
If the backup and imaging program in Windows Vista and Windows 7 fails as it did for the user who posted this computer-forum thread, there are free backup and imaging programs available that are just as good or better, such as this superb imaging program, which also supports Windows XP:
Macrium Reflect - Free version - "The fastest disk imaging software is now available as a free edition. Absolutely free! No strings! The only free XP, Vista and Windows 7 compatible disk imaging software with BartPE and Linux based recovery options." - http://www.macrium.com/reflectfree.asp
The following excellent very user-friendly, free backup and imaging program can restore to dissimilar hardware, which means that if the computer that you created the backup on is stolen or rendered unusable, you can restore the backup to a new computer that has different hardware components and device drivers.
EaseUS Todo Backup Free -
"Back4Sure is a simple backup application with which you can easily create copies of all your important files and folders. The program features a simple interface design with your system's folder structure on the left, and a series of tabs on the right to configure backup jobs." - http://back4sure.en.softonic.com/
Each backup created by Windows Backup in Windows XP must be named and is stored in a single file with a .bkf extension. Note that to restore a .bkf backup you have to reinstall Windows from its installation disc or recovery disc if the existing installation of Windows cannot be used. In short, you have to have a working installation of Windows up and going in order to be able to restore such a backup. Many third-party imaging and backup programs allow you to create a boot disc (floppy disk or CD/DVD) from which an image of backup can be restored.
A system backup, if properly verified, will enable the user to restore the operating system, which is usually a version of Windows or Linux, to the way it was before any kind of irrecoverable system crash occurred. Most backup software has the ability to verify the integrity of the backups it makes. If you value your data, you will value your backups, so you should only use backup software that can verify the integrity of its backups.
A data backup involves creating copies of the data files on the computer that you would want to restore in the event of a system failure. Windows Vista has a utility called Complete PC Backup that can create a master image of everything on a computer's hard disk drive. It is accessed via the Backup and Restore Center in the Control Panel. It is called Backup and Restore in Windows 7, as usual, accessed via te Control Panel or just by entering the name in the Search box and clicking the link that is provided.
For earlier versions of Windows (98, Me, 2000, XP) you need to use third-party software, such as Acronis True Image for disk-imaging, because those versions have a basic backup tool that can only back up on a folder-and-file basis. You need a version that works with your version of Windows. The 2011 version works with Windows 7, but previous version do not. Acronis True Image Home 2012 works with Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7.
Acronis True Image Home 2013 review [regarded as the best paid-for backup and imaging software by Expert Reviews] -
Note that some third-party backup software integrates itself into Windows and disables the Windows backup tool, which is Backup and Restore in Windows 7. Acronis True Image provides an option to disable the integration. Read the following Q&A on this website: Windows 7 Backup and Restore doesn't work - it won't even open, which was cause by Acronis Image integrating itself into Windows 7.
The following Q&A on this website deals with restoring backups made with Windows XP in a Windows 7 computer: How can a backup system image made with Acronis True image of a failed Windows XP PC/computer on an external hard drive be restored to a Windows 7 PC without overwriting Win7?
Windows 7 has the best ever built-in Windows backup system, which includes disk/drive imaging. You also access it in the Backup and Restore Center that is in the Control Panel.
Windows 7 backup provides three different backup types - creating a system image, which is best for backing up the entire system - a standard folder and file backup, which is best for daily or weekly or even monthly file backups - and a bootable System Repair Disk, which you create that allows selective repairs or the restoration of an image of the system. Enter system repair disk in the Start => Search programs and files box to be provided with a clickable link that starts the process.
The following steps are advisable when creating backups and system images:
1. - If the computer has one or more hard disk drives of very high capacity, you should partition it or them to make disk management as easy as possible.
2. - Use the drive-imaging utility in Windows 7 to make a whole-system backup. If you have just done a clean installation, install everything you need and then create the image, which is best saved to an external hard disk drive or to DVD/Blu-ray discs. The drive should not be left connected to a computer in case an electrical spike takes the whole lot out. Discs should be stored in a fireproof place, preferably offsite. If you don't have Windows 7, use a third-party imaging utility, such as Acronis.
3. - You should make traditional data folder/file backups to save any data you create after you created the disk image of the entire system, so that it can be restored after you restore the disk image if you have a major system failure. If you make major changes to the system, create a new disk image of the entire system. You should scan the entire system for malware using anti-virus and spyware scanners before you create a master image so that it is clean.
Explore the features: Windows Backup and Restore Center -
Building a Standard Image of Windows 7 Step-by-Step Guide -
The following article provides the information you need to know about creating backups.
Backing up: What, how, where -
"There are many ways to lose information from a computer: A child playing the keyboard like a piano, a power surge, lightning, floods, and sometimes equipment just fails. If you regularly make backup copies of your files and keep them in a separate place, you can get some, if not all, of your information back if something happens to the originals on your computer." - http://www.microsoft.com/protect/data/backup/about.aspx
The Storage Team at Microsoft has created the following page that provides information on backup problems that occur with Windows backup software:
Common causes and solutions to Backup, System Restore, and Complete PC Backup problems - http://blogs.technet.com/filecab/pages/...
It is always a good idea to back up you computer so that it can be restore in the event of a failure - if necessary to a new computer or hard disk drive. The backup program in Windows 7 allows you to create an image of the system that can be restored - either by reinstalling Win7 or by making use of the System Repair Disc, information about which was provided earlier on this page. It is advisable to create this disc as soon as possible. To do so, just enter repair in the Search programs and files box and click on Create a System Repair Disc.
It is best to make use of an external hard disk drive to back up to. You can now buy USB external hard drives inexpensively. I recently bought a 500GB drive for £50. I use made an image of the whole system (two partitions containing Windows XP and Win7), but there are the usual options to make full, differential and incremental backups.
You have to enable the backup feature by clicking Start => Control Panel => System and Security => Back up your Computer => Backup and Restore. Alternatively, just enter backup in the Start => Search programs and files box.
Note that Windows Vista Home Premium and Windows 7 Home Premium versions cannot be used to back up to a NAS device, because those versions of Windows can't be used to back up to a network share. You can only use Vista Business and Ultimate and Windows 7 Professional and Ultimate versions. However, you can use free third-party software. Here are two suitable programs I found:
Freebyte Backup - http://www.freebyte.com/fbbackup/
Microsoft SyncToy 2.1 -
Alternatively, you can use a home server. The following articles provide an introduction to servers.
Servers under the stairs -
Windows Home Server -
"Windows Home Server is a new way to help your family simplify how you keep and share photos, videos and music - all in one central place. For families with multiple PCs, now it's easy to protect, connect, and organize the way you keep and share your family's most important memories..." - http://www.microsoft.com/windows/...default.mspx
Review: Windows Home Server is a powerful networking tool -
"For once, Microsoft hasn't 'dumbed down' a software package, says Preston Gralla" -
You may have installed the latest device drivers for a desktop or laptop PC. If you have not make a restorable backup of the whole system or the computer didn't come with a Windows installation disc or you no longer have the Driver CD/DVD that came with the computer or the drivers are not available online, you may have to use a Recovery CD/DVD to restore Windows, which could be several years old, so backing up the device drivers will allow you to restore the latest drivers should the need arise. The following free service can be used to back up the drivers:
Double Driver - http://www.boozet.org/dd.htm
How to Save Drivers for Windows XP to Backup CD [Applicable to Windows Vista and Windows 7] -
There are other ways of recovering an installation of Windows XP or Windows Vista or Windows 7 that you should try before you restore a system backup, because some of them can be implemented much faster than restoring a backup. The methods of recovering Windows XP are dealt with on the Recovering Windows XP section of this website. The methods of recovering Windows Vista are dealt with on the Recovering Windows Vista section of this website. For Windows 7 it is this page: Install, repair and recover Windows 7.
The following page provides information on the backup options provided by Windows Vista.
Windows Backup and Restore Center -
Backups can be restored by booting the system from the Vista installation DVD and running the recovery options. If your computer only came with an recovery disc, not a genuine Vista installation disc, visit the Recovering Windows Vista section of this website for a valid alternative to a Vista installation disc.
If you value the software and data stored on your computer, the most important requirement is having restorable back-ups of it, because the only alternative - using a professional data-recovery service - is extremely expensive.
There are several ways of making backups and several sources to which backups can be made. Most users back up to recordable DVD discs (DVD-R, DVD+R, DVD+RW, DVD-RW discs) and recordable Blu-ray discs (BD-R and BD-RE discs). Blu-ray discs can hold up to 50GB of data, which is enough to backup most entire PC systems to a single disc, but you will usually have to use two or more lower-capacity DVD discs to do that, depending how many programs are installed and how much data is saved. If you have plenty of programs and files to back up, using an external hard disk drive, which can provide 1TB (1024GB) of disc space is the most popular method. Another method is to use a Network Attached Storage (NAS) device that is used on a computer network to store backups and data. Another popular method is online storage, provided by a file hosting service, to which the user uploads the backup files or data files. Some online storage is free up to a point, but if very large amounts of data are involved then the user will usually have to pay the organisation that is providing the service.
A Lesson In Backup: Taking Care Of Your Data : External Storage For Consumers -
The backup programs provided by Windows itself, usually just called Backup - under Start => All Programs => Accessories => System Tools in Windows XP/Vista/Windows 7 - have been relatively limited and poor up to the backup program included with Windows XP, so you are advised to make use of a third-party product, some of which are discussed in more detail further down this page.
For comprehensive information about Windows Backup within your copy of Windows, click Start => Help and Support, enter backup into the search box at the top of the window and press Enter. You can also find plenty of information on the web. You can try entering the search term windows xp backup or windows vista backup as a search query in a search engine.
This Q&A on this site deals with a problem that many users have experienced when using Vista's Backup: When I run Windows Backup in Windows Vista to copy files to a DVD I get a "The request could not be performed because of an I/O device error 0x8007045D" error message.
Windows Vista Tip: Excluding Directories From Vista's Built-In Backup -
"Vista's built-in backup utility can be very useful, but it's got some serious limitations. Here's how to get around one of the most annoying." -
You might prefer to use an alternative backup program.
Here are two good free backup programs:
"EASEUS Todo Backup is a completely free solution for your operating system and data backup to protect them away from unexpected damage or loss. It provides backup, restore, disk-clone functions based on Windows operating systems with ease and reliability." - Supports Windows 2000/XP/Vista/Windows 7 and Windows Server 2000/2003/2008. - http://www.todo-backup.com/
Drive Backup 9.0 Express -
"Easy new steps for total PC protection. FREE! Backing up your data is like an insurance, you never have to worry if disaster strikes. Now there's no more excuse for lost data - this insurance costs you nothing! If your system and data are safe now, keep them that way with Drive Backup 9.0 Express. This simple easy to use software doesn't ask you bewildering questions - it just backs up your data when and where you tell it, and recovers whenever disaster happens." -
AIS Backup from http://www.aiscl.co.uk/ is inexpensive. It has a trial period of 30 days.
"AISBackup works with the following Microsoft Operating System's: Windows Vista (all versions), Windows XP (all versions), Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2008 RC0 (see below), Windows 2000 client and server, Windows NT4, Windows ME, Windows 98SE, Windows 98 and Windows 95 (Release 1 and 2). Some earlier versions of Microsoft Windows Operating system's do not support all the featues in AISBackup."
Here is another useful product:
FileBack PC - "Backup and synchronize files with media you are already familiar with: hard drives, removable drives, or network drives. Backup, mirror disks, or add file versioning capability to Windows." - http://www.fileback-pc.com/
Here is a good backup sticky on the SysOpt forum:
Back up your PC for disaster recovery -
A good tip: Most brand-name PCs, such as Dells, have a hidden recovery partition, which the backup program you are using should display graphically that comes ahead of the C: drive. If you are not backing up the entire system, you must back it up as well as the C: drive and any other partitions, because when you come to restore the backup, it will be removed. Windows XP/Vista recognises it and includes it in the boot path to start Windows. Therefore, when you reinstall Windows in order to restore the backup, Windows includes the hidden partition in its boot path. If it is not there, the path is no longer valid, and Windows won't be able to find itself and the computer won't boot no matter what you do.
After having completely installed all of the software and data files on a computer, you should immediately create a master image of the installation, update it at regular intervals, and burn the image to recordable CD/DVD disks each time you update it. Then, if the hard disk drive fails or dies completely, you should have no problem restoring the system to a fully operational condition in between thirty and sixty minutes after having installed a new hard disk drive. Doing that is certainly very much cheaper than having to resort to using a costly data- recovery service.
If the utility that is being used to create a master image or clone of the system doesn't do so, it's advisable to run integrity checks on the hard disk drive that you're creating a master image of, because if the drive has bad sectors, these can make the master image unusable.
Use Scandisk to run a time-consuming thorough check (not the standard check) in Windows 95/98/Me. Windows XP only has Chkdsk, which is run from within Windows, from the Command Prompt, or from the Recovery Console.
Alternatively, identify the make and model of the hard drive that you want to check in the Device Manager under Disk drives, and then download the free diagnostic utility provided from its manufacturer's website. You can find the site by entering the make of the drive in a search engine.
The computer supplier/vendor/manufacturer might not include CDs or DVDs of all of the software loaded into the computer. If that is the case, unless you have a suitable back-up device - a CD writer, tape drive, removable hard disk drive, a large-capacity flash drive, etc. - that can hold a back-up of the whole system, you will probably have to pay a small fortune for the back-up CDs or DVDs.
If back-up CDs/DVDs of the software on the system are not provided but are available, they will probably be expensive. Probably not as expensive as the retail products, but expensive enough to make it worthwhile investing in a suitable back-up device such as a CD/DVD writer and a stack of discs.
Note that a CD-RW drive can usually write to CD-R disks (record once) as well as rewritable disks, and most DVD recorders can burn data to CD-R and CD-RW disks.
"We chose Verbatim as our choice for all of the CD-R test discs that we burned in our testing [of the available makes of disks]. Because we burned so many discs, we had to opt for the 50 pack spindle. Verbatim has been producing media that we have found to reliably give us great results in our testing. TDK was chosen to supply all of the High Speed CD-RW discs that we used for testing in this article. We used one disc per drive and fully erased the disc between each test. CD-RW media can be very useful for troubleshooting possible problems with your set up before committing the final back up to a CD-R disc." - Tom's Hardware.
Moreover, if a vendor is selling computers with pre-installed software that is not supplied on CD/DVD disks, it is worth asking the vendor to supply the computer without any software, and to adjust the price accordingly. You can then purchase retail copies of the software you want to use, and in the event of a total system failure, you will be able to restore the software. And when you upgrade it, you will also be able to sell the software through any channel of your choosing, including on-line auction sites such as eBay.
If you have a DVD writer, it's a good idea is to format the drive, reinstall Windows, and then install the most necessary programs, utilities, etc., and then create a master image of the whole system and burn it to record-once CD/DVD-R or CD/DVD+R discs or rewritable CD/DVD+RW and CD/DVD-RW discs. In the event of a system failure, the master image can be restored. After the image is restored and Windows is running, you can then install any additional programs, updates, etc., that weren't on the image.
Norton Ghost is a very popular program used to create and restore master image files of a PC system.
Note well that Symantec, its developer, is discontinuing sales of Ghost after April 30, 2013. No version of Ghost supports Windows 8, so, if you upgrade Vista or Win7 to Win8, uninstall Ghost first. Windows XP cannot be upgraded to Win8; a clean installation is required.
Win8 still provides Windows 7's excellent backup and imaging tools, but Microsoft has renamed them and made them difficult to find, mainly, I think, because it wants users to use Windows 8's File History for backups. Windows makes mini-backups at 10-minute intervals and saves them to its cloud-based SkyDrive storage space or to another location outside Win8, such as an external or network drive.
How to use File History -
Here is how to find what was called Backup and Restore in Windows 7:
On the Windows 8 Start screen just type the word Recovery. Doing that makes the Search screen appear. Select Settings if it isnít selected by default. Windows 7 File Recovery, the new name for the same tool, should appear in the list of results.
Norton Ghost 15 [review] -
Visit http://www.symantec.com/norton/ghost for the developer's information on the latest version.
Many users of Windows Vista have made complaints about slow file-copying, particularly across a network, but also to external hard drives. Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1) improved matters. However, note that in both Windows XP and Windows Vista, copying files using the xcopy command from the Command Prompt will always be much faster than copying files using Windows Explorer.
Note the the version of Robocopy provided by Windows 7 can copy files across multiple threads, making for much faster data transfers. Otherwise it is much the same as the version provided by Windows Vista.
Perform Multithreaded File Copies with Robocopy in Windows 7 -
To open a Command Prompt in Windows XP enter cmd in the Start => Run box. Then just enter xcopy /? beside the flashing underscore to find out what the full range of switches are that can be used with that command. You can then enter xcopy followed by the switch of your choice to run that command. In Windows Vista enter that cmd command in the Start => Start Search box. To find out how to use the xcopy command in Windows XP, enter xcopy + xp, as is, as the search query in a search engine. Note that Windows Vista and Windows 7 have replaced xcopy with the superior robocopy (Robust File Copy) , which has powerful backup options in addition to its copy options. To find out how to use the robocopy command in Windows Vista or Windows 7, enter robocopy + vista [or windows 7], as is, as the search query in a search engine.
Get to Know Robocopy for More Powerful File Management -
Note also that you can add robocopy to Windows XP. It is part of the Windows Server 2003 Resource Kit Tools that are free to download from:
When you have it installed in Windows XP (it is part of Windows Vista, so doesn't have to be installed), you can copy the long help file to a text file by entering the command robocopy /? > robocopy.txt. I take it that the file is saved to the root directory C:\. You can use the Start => Search in Windows XP and the Start => Start Search box in Windows Vista to locate it.
You can also run it with a graphical user interface (GUI) instead of from the command line.
Utility Spotlight: Robocopy GUI -
Backup images are now called recovery points. After its installation, Ghost 10 runs its Easy Setup routine that creates the initial recovery point, which can be saved to an internal or external hard drive, to another computer on a network, or be burned to one or multiple recordable optical CD/DVD discs. The process copies the entire contents of the boot hard drive, which contains Windows, so it can take a long time even though Ghost 10 compresses the files. You should have plenty of recordable CD/DVD discs available if you can't work out approximately how many will be required. If you're using recordable CDs, you'll need many more of them than would be the case if you're using recordable DVDs because they have so much less storage space.
You can use your computer while Ghost 10 creates the master image in the background. This version differs from the previous versions in that it only creates incremental recovery points of the files that have changed after the first recovery point was created, which speeds the process up considerably. This means that if you want to restore the system, you have to restore the first recovery point and then restore all of the incremental recovery points. After a while of creating incremental recovery points, you should create a full recovery point and start the process over again so that you don't have to restore too many incremental recovery points in order to recover the system. The software schedules incremental recovery points to be made daily by default, but the user can change the schedule or opt to do it manually.
It's possible to restore individual files, folders, or the entire partition of a hard drive, which means an entire hard drive if it hasn't been partitioned into several drives. If Windows won't start up, the user can boot the system from the Ghost 10 CD. (Remember that booting from a CD/DVD means having the CD/DVD drive set as the first boot device in the BIOS setup program.)
Ghost 10 is powerful, easy to use, and comes with a good user manual.
If you want to find out what earlier versions can do and how to use them, visit the following pages.
Easy Norton Ghost User Guide - http://www.neilslade.com/Papers/NortonGhost.html
Radified Guide to Norton Ghost - http://ghost.radified.com/ghost_1y.htm
Those guides shows how easy it is to use Norton Ghost to create a master image of the system, burn it to CD/DVD discs, and restore it.
However read this Q&A on this site if it is applicable to your situation:
Norton Ghost and Acronis TrueImage (information is provided on it below) come with recovery CDs, or, if you download them from their developers' sites, provide the utilities that create them.
Such a recovery CD contains a basic operating system that is used to boot a PC that can't boot Windows for one reason or another. After the system is running, you use the features provided on the CD to locate a master image that has been saved somewhere on the hard drive, or burned to another CD. Note that in order to boot the system from such a recovery CD, or even from the Windows CD, the CD/DVD drive must be enabled as the first boot drive in the PC's BIOS setup program.
You can make use of a search engine to locate other such guides. I found those guides with this search query: norton ghost guide xp [vista or windows 7].
You will need the 2003 version of Ghost or higher versions for proper support of NTFS (New Technology File System) - the native file system used by Windows 2000 and Windows XP - and for the improved CD-writer support. Note that Windows XP can use the FAT32 file system if you have upgraded from a Windows 95/98/Me system (that uses it as its native file system). But if you perform a clean installation of Windows XP, it will install NTFS by default unless you choose the FAT32 system instead. In other words, Ghost 2002 doesn't support Windows XP properly, so don't attempt to use it if Windows XP is your operating system and it is using the NTFS file system.
"The Free Edition of HDClone is the ideal tool for moving contents of entire hard disk drives onto bigger newer ones. This Edition can be downloaded for free from our homepage and fits easily on a diskette. It ships with its own operating system - Sphere SP - and is therefore not depending on other installed systems. When buying a new larger disk, HDClone copies the data for you, you only have to add the gained space on the disk via some partitioning tool, and in an instant you have the same environment as before on a larger (and faster) disk." - http://www.miray.de/products/sat.hdclone.html
An excellent free back-up/cloning/synchronising program, the Replicator from karenware.com, can be used to make scheduled backups of any program or folder, and can update a clone of the system that exists on another hard drive or partition that was created with XXCopy.
After a computer has been compromised by one or more viruses, worms, spyware, etc., consider carefully if you should risk recovering its operating system and programs by restoring back-up copies or a master disk image. It is very easy to overlook the fact that the infection occurred long before the back-ups or master disk image were created. Some malware can exist for a relatively long time before it its identified by the developers of the virus and spyware scanners. If that was the case, restoring infected back-ups will restore the malware that compromised the system in the first place. This also applies to using the System Restore feature in Windows Me, Windows XP, and Windows Vista. For instance, it is possible for a virus scanner to detect a virus in the System Restore files after a virus has been cleared from the rest of the system.
The free version of SyncBack offers more options than Replicator, and is much faster. A backup sets involving comparing/copying 10GB of data (about 65,000 files) takes Replicator 6 to 7 minutes to complete. SyncBack does the job in under a minute and a half! The paid-for SyncbackSE version costs $15, and offers a very high-speed option. Full information, including a comparison of the free and paid-for versions can be found at http://www.2BrightSparks.com/.
The nine-page guide covers copying an existing Windows XP installation to a new hard disk drive. It has pages on using Norton Ghost, HDClone, and the Ranish Partition Manager. - http://www.pcstats.com/articleview.cfm?articleID=418
Operating-system independent back-up and imaging solution, partition manager, and boot manager, BootIt Next Generation from http://www.terabyteunlimited.com/ costs only $35. It can be used with Windows and Linux systems. It supports both CD-R and CD-RW disks, and DVD-R, DVD+R, DVD-R, DVD+R, and DVD-RAM disks.
If Windows or Linux is rendered unbootable and the drive it is installed on contains valuable files that you haven't backed up, before you try any recovery, you can use a self-contained backup option such as BootIt, which can run from a floppy disk and can access most CD/DVD drives on its own.
New compact portable backup storage devices called flash drives that use permanent flash memory and which plug into USB ports are now available. This kind of peripheral device looks much like a wireless USB network adapter that you just plug into a USB port. You can take it out and plug it into any other computer that can install the required Plug and Play (PnP) device drivers, such as a PC running Windows XP.
Click here! to go to the information on flash memory and flash drives on this site.
Backup software reviews: http://www.backup-software-reviews.com/
When you create a backup or a master image, how can you be sure that it can be restored successfully?
This is a vital question, because you can't be sure that the backup or image you created can be restored unless you actually restore it, which is impractical due to the time doing so would take even if you have a test computer available, and especially so if you only have one computer at your disposal. To be absolutely sure that they will work, you could have a test computer that you use only to verify that your backups and images can be restored, but you should never attempt to restore a backup if you only have one computer, because if it goes wrong, you will probably have wiped out the data on your computer that you backed up.
That said, there are methods which allow you to be reasonably sure that your backups can be restored when you need them. Most CD/DVD burning and imaging and backup software provides a data verification option that you can run when a CD or DVD is burned or an image or backup is first created.
For example, the Nero Express the CD/DVD burning program provides an option that checks the validity of data that has been burned to disc, and the NTbackup backup program that can be installed in Windows XP (there is more information on it further down this page), provides a Verify data after backup option under its Advanced menu.
However, with regard to backups and images, such verification can double the time the whole process takes, and so may not be worth doing every time. It is advisable to use a verification option when you first set a computer up, or when you change brands or types of CDs or DVDs in order to make sure that the new media is working properly, because some brands of CD and DVD don't work properly on some makes and models of CD/DVD drives. You should also always make a backup or master image of the system before you make major software changes, such as the installation of a Service Pack, such as Windows XP SP2, and it is advisable to verify it.
Since most backup and imaging software allows you to extract single or multiple files from it, you can use it to read files from the beginning, middle, and end of a backup/image. If the files restore properly, you can be reasonably sure the entire backup is valid, especially if you have also verified the integrity of the data.
After you've upgraded Windows on your computer, you obviously wouldn't want to restore a master image of the previous system, because doing that would restore the previous system in its entirety, from the first down to the last file, including the previous version of Windows.
Fortunately, the better imaging utilities, such as Norton Ghost, Acronis True Image, and BootIt NG, can restore a full master image, or allow a user to restore files and folder selectively to the same location, or to a location of the user's choosing. Therefore, if you have imaging software that has that feature and you want to retrieve information from an old version of a file recorded in a master image of the system, but you don't want to lose the current copy of the same file, you would restore the old file to an alternative location so as not to overwrite the current version. Most good backup software also allows the user to restore folders selectively instead of restoring an entire backup, but it doesn't allow the user to restore individual files, or to change the location of the files, so using such imaging software is a more powerful option.
The Files and Settings Transfer Wizard is a very handy tool that can be used to save files and/or settings in order to transfer them from any computer running a version of Windows 95/98/Me to a computer running Windows XP. It is possible to create custom FAST files, so the utility can be used to create what are effectively custom back-ups of files and settings. But note that the destination of a file and/or setting transfer has has to be a computer running Windows XP. You can use it to save files and/or settings for your copy of Windows XP and then restore them if the computer suffers from an incurable system crash.
Help and Support in Windows XP has next to no information on this very useful tool. Visit the How to use the Files and Settings Transfer Wizard page on this site for all the information on it.
System Restore is a utility available in Windows Me, Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7. Click here! to go to the information on it on this website.
You should have it enabled, because it can restore the system to its former condition in the event of a system failure. When enabled, it creates restore points (dated back-ups of the system files) on a regular basis. You can also create a restore point manually just before you make a change to the system. Its inferior equivalent in Windows 98 is the Scanreg utility that restores back-ups of the four main system files that are stored in five CAB files (covering five days) that can be used by booting in DOS mode and entering the scanreg /restore command.
Windows XP also creates a restore point whenever you install an unsigned driver, a software program that controls a hardware device but which hasn't been certified by the driver labs at Microsoft as being Windows-XP compliant.
You enable System Restore by opening the Control Panel, and double-clicking System. In the System Properties window, click the System Restore tab, and use your mouse to uncheck the Turn off System Restore option. Use your mouse to move the Disk space slider as close to the maximum setting as it will go, because the more space you allocate, the more restore points Windows is able to accommodate. To run System Restore, click Start => Programs => Accessories => System Tools. It should be obvious how to create restore points. The Restore option allows you to choose a restore point to restore. If you need them, there are full instructions on how to use this feature under Help/Help and Support, depending in the version of Windows being used.
You can also back up specific parts of the Windows Registry, or individual Registry keys, by entering regedit in the Start => Run. You use the Export feature under the File menu.
If you connect an external hard disk drive to the PC chosen as the backup server, you can disconnect it and store it in a safe place, such as a fireproof safe, or take it off the premises for safekeeping.
Another option is to make use of a network attached storage (NAS) device. This is a hard disk drive that works as a network server, which makes itself available to all of the other PCs on the network. Using such a device, it is possible to have all of the PCs on the network switched off and still back up a laptop/notebook computer from a remote location via a wireless router to the NAS device.
Windows XP Professional version supports a back-up and recovery feature called Automated System Recovery - ASR - that makes use of a floppy disk to recover the system's configuration files, but you should note well that the Home edition of Windows XP does not support it fully. It allows the creation and saving of the system-state back-up file, which is usually over a gigabyte in size, but cannot restore it. This is probably why Microsoft has hidden NTbackup (NTBackup.exe) program on the Windows XP Home CD, because it is used to create the ASR back-up file.
Note that only the configuration files such as the Windows Registry files are backed up or restored, not ordinary data or program files, which should be stored on recordable CDs or DVDs, Therefore, since all of the programs and data files have to be restored after the operating system itself has been restored, it should only be used in an emergency when all other options have failed to recover the system.
The ASR feature in the Professional edition of Windows XP allows the back-up to be restored without reinstalling Windows, but you can also format the hard drive, reinstall Windows XP, and then run ASR to restore the settings.
1. - Click Start => Programs => Accessories => System Tools => Backup. Switch to Advanced Mode. Click the Automated System Recovery Wizard button. Click Next, select where to store the ASR files, and click Finish.
A floppy disk is required on which to store the setup information so that the restoration process can boot the system from it and access the main ASR files. The main ASR files, which take up quite a lot of disk space (too much space to be stored on a 650MB recordable CD), have to be stored somewhere on the main boot hard disk drive, on subsidiary hard disk drives, or on a DVD+R / DVD-R / DVD-RW disk.
2. - To use ASR to recover the system, boot the system with the Windows XP Professional CD. To do that you may have to set the CD-ROM drive as the first boot drive in the BIOS. When prompted, press the F2 key to run Automated System Recovery. The floppy disk created in Step 1 is required. There will be a delay while ASR loads the required drivers. It then formats the hard disk drive automatically and installs a plain copy of Windows XP. After that is completed, the ASR Wizard runs, and you have 90 seconds to direct it to where you made it store the back-up files the first time you ran it. The system is then restored with all of the settings that it had before a recovery was made necessary, but you have to restore the data and program files from other back-ups, or from the program manufacturers' CDs or DVDs.
If you want to restore a much larger back-up of actual system and program files made with NTbackup in the Home edition of Windows XP, you would have to reinstall Windows manually in order to restore it. This is an inferior back-up solution because being able to restore the system and program files without reinstalling Windows and your applications is ideally what you would want to achieve.
NTbackup doesn't support disk-spanning, and you cannot use it to back-up directly to a CD-R/CD-RW or DVD-R / DVD+R / DVD-RW disks. So, you have to create a back-up set that is less then the capacity of a single CD-R/RW disk (usually 650MB), and then burn the back-up file to the disk, or use a recordable DVD disk, all of the types of which have a much greater capacity. Click here! to go to the third Disk Drives page on this site for more information on CD and DVD drives and disk capacities.
The smaller of the high-speed USB CompactFlash drives(64MB, 128MB, 256MB), known by several names such as thumb and pen drives, have enough permanent flash memory to make them a viable on- and off-site back-up option for data files. The drives with the highest capacities now have enough flash memory to store an entire system made up of the operating system, the applications it runs, and the data files that the applications generate. Current drives offer capacities between 1GB and 4GB, with 8GB capacities on the way, with, of course, the promise of still larger drives in the future.
Crucial, Corsair, Kingston, and other memory manufacturers have brought out lines of inexpensive second generation USB 2.0 thumb drives that are smaller, faster, and weigh less than the previous generation. The pen drives are no wider than their USB 2.0 connector, which is accessed by removing the drive's cap.
Visit crucial.com website to see examples of the flash drives Crucial sells.
To lose data on burned CD/DVD disks only requires the disk to be damaged or scratched, and it is known that recorded disks have a limited shelf life that can be as low a five years for cheaper makes of disk.
However, Flash drives are very durable, and the data stored in one will remain intact as long as the drive can be accessed, which is effectively for as long as there are computers that have USB 1.1 or USB 2.0 ports, because the drives can work on the earlier and slower USB 1.1 ports. It is known that the drives can survive and still be accessed after having gone through a full washing cycle in a domestic washing machine.
Tha data reading and writing rates vary from drive to drive, but they are fast. For example, Kingston's Data Traveler Elite has nearly a 20MB/s (20 megabytes per second) reading rate, and up to 12MB/s writing rate, and has integrated data protection by providing optional 128-bit DES hardware encryption. Corair's Flash drives have a reading rate of almost 20MB/s, a writing rate of 14MB/s. Moreover, the rubber cladding around them makes them waterproof and well suited for outdoor use.
Click here! to go to more information on this site on Flash memory and the devices that use it.
Pen drives, thumb drives, jump drives, keychain drives, they carry many different labels, and they can employ varied technologies, but they all have a few features in common: they're compact, removable drives that attach to a computer via a USB port to add anywhere from 16MB to over 4GB of portable back-up storage to a computer.
Click here! to go directly to more information about these drives on the USB section of this website.
Iomega REV drives offer a cheap easy to restore back-up solution, hold up to 90GB of compressed data on a single disk, and come as internal or external removable versions for the PC and Mac that look much like USB floppy disk drives.
Click here! to read more about them on this site.
CD/DVD disks containing a back-up or a master image of the system can be rendered unusable if they become deeply scratched. Therefore, if the security of back-ups or archiving data is of crucial importance, using a magneto-optical drive would be the safest option.
The data is recorded magnetically, but the data cannot be destroyed by an external magnetic source, as is the case with HDDs and floppy disks, because it can only be removed or recorded if the disk is heated to a specifically high temperature by its formatting/recording laser. That is why it is called a magneto-optical drive. Moreover, if the disks were lost or stolen, they could only be accessed by using a magneto-optical drive, because the disks cannot be read by a CD/DVD drive. A thief is unlikely to possess such a drive, because at present they are not rarely used in this country. There is also no limit to the number of times a disk can be wiped and re-recorded, whereas CD/DVD writers can usually only be used about a thousand times.
The downside is the cost of the drives and the disks, which are much more expensive than CD/DVD writers and media.
If you want to make your own searches of the web for software or information about software, create a search query using its name and any other term, depending on what you are looking for, such as libreoffice review to find reviews of that free office application (capital letters are not necessary in a search).
This page - How to make restorable backups of all kinds - offline and online