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Disaster Preparedness & Recovery with Creator

Posted: Monday, August 27, 2007

With tornados, hurricanes, floods, fires and earthquakes seeming to occur with alarming regularity, not to mention bridge collapses and steam pipe explosions, it's clear that no part of the country is exempt from possible disaster. Most of us perform some type of hard disk backup, but are you prepared if your entire home office should be destroyed in a fire or flood? If your backup discs go up along with your computer, they aren't of much use. Imagine the total catastrophe of losing not only your precious family photo albums, but all your digital versions as well.

And even if you have an offsite backup, do you have easy access to it? Would you be able to get your business or Web server back up and running on short order?

If the answer to any of these questions is no, you need a disaster plan. It doesn't need to be overwhelming. For example, a basic plan might be to simply burn a DVD of your entire digital photo library and mail it to a few relatives. You'll spread the risk over several disparate locations, and let others enjoy your photos too. Do the same for any large archives of material you don't want to lose, such as your email folder, iTunes library, Documents folder, and so on. If some material is private, use Creator's encryption option to burn a password-protected disc, and put it in a sealed envelope to be opened in the event of need. Repeat this process once a year or so, perhaps at holidays where your relatives are all in one place.

Now that you have some basic protection against losing the bulk of your files, it's time to turn to the regular daily and weekly backups. You are making these, right? Okay, well, if you haven't yet gotten the habit, here's how:

Creator 9 offers two main ways to keep your data safe. First, it includes BackOnTrack, a system rollback utility that undoes the damage caused by software conflicts, accidents and malware. With BackOnTrack, you simply click a button to record a "snapshot" of your system at a point where it is working cleanly. Then if things go wrong, you just press the Restore button to roll things back. It's that easy! For a full tutorial on using BackOnTrack, click here.

The second key utility is Backup MyPC, a powerful, yet easy-to-use program for Windows XP/2000 that helps you schedule automatic backups to a second hard drive, a network server, or to blank CDs or DVDs. For everyday quick-and-dirty backups or file transfers, you can of course just drag and drop selected files or folders into the Creator Drag-to-Disc window on the desktop.

A good backup plan might include both of these methods. For example, you might keep a CD-RW or DVD-RW handy for quick Drag-to-Disc backups of key files on a daily basis, and use Backup MyPC to schedule weekly backups of all your documents, or even your entire hard disk.

Here's an introduction to using Backup MyPC.

Starting Up

Opening Backup MyPC displays the Welcome screen, from which you can choose one of four key step-by-step guided "Quick Start" tasks, or one of the three main function buttons on the left (Backup, Restore, Compare). Beginners should choose the Backup Wizard or Automatic Data Protection to start, depending on whether you want to perform a one-time backup job, or schedule ongoing automated backups. We recommend setting up a schedule, assuming you have a second hard disk or CD/DVD drive available to back things up to on a regular basis. Backup MyPC also supports tape and other removeable media drives, as well as networked hard drives.

Clicking on Automatic Data Protection takes you through a simple three-step wizard where you choose the time of the backup, select the drive to back up to, and enter your Windows username and password. That's all there is to it! Your entire drive will be backed up weekly at the time you specify, and frequently changed files and folders can also be backed up daily. The process could not be easier.

To just back up specific files and folders on a one-time basis, choose the Backup Wizard, which leads you through five simple steps in similar fashion. You'll see a progress screen showing how your backup is going, and prompting you to insert new media if needed. There is full support (of course!) for CD/DVD drives, including double-layer 8.5GB DVD media, which makes it much easier to back up big hard disks.

Creating a Disaster Recovery Disk Set

One of the most valuable features of Backup MyPC is the ability to create disaster recovery disks for your system, in the event of a catastrophic failure where you are unable to boot your machine. These disks, along with your backup set and Windows installation CDs, can be used to perform a complete restoration of your system. In one easy step, Backup MyPC will analyze your system and hardware, and prompt you to insert blank media to create the disks. Then you can put them aside secure in the knowledge that your system is safe. You should redo the disaster disks after major system updates or hardware changes.

Customized Backups

After you've used Backup MyPC for a bit, you may want to customize your backup jobs. Clicking on the Backup button on the left brings up the backup window, from which you can configure all backup options, such as incremental backups, and choose options like compression (to save valuable backup disk space), passworded backups (to keep your data private), and verify (to immediately check all files in the backup to be sure it was successful). Backup job settings can be saved for repeated use.

Now that you know just how easy it is to back up with Creator, we're sure you will be the most prepared person on your block.