How do I back up my system to a mobile (external) hard disk, and then recover from it when necessary?

I'm using windows XP

Also, does most ghost software back up only C: or all disks?


For an excellent, easy to use interface, I highly recommend Easeus Todo Backup. You can make backup images of all of your drives and save them to your external hard drive very easily. Depending on how damaged the system is, you may need to make a bootable disk.

The method to create a bootable disk is outlined in Easeus' article, How to Restore System after Crash?

Best of all, Todo Backup is free.


Ghost software makes an image of the entire computer, which you can then use to recover the entire computer EXACTLY how it was.

Using Windows Backup (under accessories system tools) you can make nightly incremental jobs.


An alternative to windows backup would be one of the tools like SecondCopy that will copy your data directories to the external drive.

EDIT: SyncBack is one that I hear mentioned a lot, they have a free version. There's also rsync if you're from a Unix background, or Robocopy if you want something direct from Microsoft.

  • Can you recommend a free one that works well? – PHP Feb 3 '10 at 5:19

Acronis True Backup will mirror your disks to an external (or other disk) and can do incremental backups and lots of other neat tricks. If you have a Seagate hard drive you can get a cut down version that's re-badged as Seagate Disk Wizard which is free.

  • Is Acronis True Backup free? – PHP Feb 3 '10 at 5:38
  • No, you have to pay for it, but if you have a Seagate (or Western Digital or Maxstor) hard drive you can run the Seagate version for free. – Dan Feb 3 '10 at 6:10

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