My drumbeat. Backup with Images folks!

Once again I’ve had the frustration of dealing with failed hardware. The system was highly customized with special settings and configurations to enable unique line of business applications and data, plus the ‘regular’ business applications such as MS Office (with custom CRM databases) multiple email accounts and other applications installed after the system was first ‘fired up’. It was an HDD drive failure on a two month old HP laptop.

HP’s solution is to ‘just send the whole thing back and we’ll put the new HDD in with the ‘factory image’. A ‘factory image’ is what the new Laptop ships with; as if you just bought it. None of my installed applications, settings or files would/will be there. Meaning I’d have to finish the initial setup, update the Operating System to a Windows 8 Pro version (the ship version was Home Premium), install MS Office 2013 Pro (again from the MS Store – it didn’t come with system), install all the other business applications required for this user – 4+ separate ones each requiring special configurations to work with Windows 8, AND then get all the files and settings (like email accounts etc.) configured. Oh and of course there would be about a day and half worth of Windows and Application Updates and Patches to apply. Then hope that it all works as it did.

Had this system been IMAGED, I would have been able to remove the dying/dead drive, run down to the local PC store (Fry’s) and buy a replacement drive, install a clean/new one and restore that image to the new drive. The system would then be as it was when the image was created, apps, files, settings and all. Only time would have been the physical HDD removal and replacement and the time it takes for the image restore – that total time would probably have been only one day more or less.

I propose this to all of my clients. But for some reason they often don’t see the value till it’s too late. No matter my insistence. It is usually a, ‘yea, we’ll do that soon..just not now….. Sometimes it’s the capital cost (actually less than $200.00) or time (really very little – to install and setup). But in the end I guarantee that it will always cost more if they are out of business.

However in this case there was no image backup. The system was as a point where it was un-repairable via HP or MS Windows recovery tools and would not boot. I had to remove the HDD, place it in one of my HDD docks and use advanced disk recovery (forensic) tools just to get access to the data. I was then able to copy off nearly all the data to another drive. Note that I recovered data NOT the working system. So all the documents and files this person had are still accessible. But otherwise quite useless with out the applications and Operating system to use them.

I constantly hear the commercials for the many online backup services and their BS promises on the TV and radio. My clients do too. And they like most people do NOT understand that there is a WORLD of difference between a file backup and a full system backup that will enable complete system recovery; Operating System, Applications, Settings and all. It’s good to use some of these services to backup your documents and files (I do and recommend some – see my previous articles on cloud storage). But you must understand that if you SYSTEM fails you need some kind of system recovery, not just files.

I cannot state it emphatically or enough, PLEASE USE SOME KIND OF DISK IMAGING SOFTWARE TO CREATE YOUR BACKUPS!!

I have written many, many times about this. You can read here and here.

My go to imaging software is Acronis True Image. The cost is nominal (right now only $79.00 U.S. for the Home Premium version that includes ‘Universal Restore’. You can check out there deals here. Add to that the low cost of External USB HDDs – less than $100.00 U.S. in most cases, and you can assure that you will NOT be out of business longer than a day or two at most. VS having a to wait for a manufacturer to send out replacement part( s) , re-install and configure everything and HOPE it all works as it did.

Well there you go just another rant after spending a few whole days working my tail off to help one of my clients. Sigh..

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