I diligently backup my data between homePc/officePc and an externalHDD. I use a product called AllwaySync to keep everything in sync.

If i move out of the country, i know longer will be using my officePc and my homePc is essentially inaccessible, which leaves me entirely dependent on my external HDD. Call me paranoid but experience has taught me that this isn't a good idea. Is there some free software out there that would let me take backups of my External HDD onto more reliable sources like say DVD(s). Assuming i drop my extHDD i have an image of it to restore from.

1) Not sure if the much recommended Acronis backs up ext-HDDs? 2)considering i'm going to be doing this once in 3 months or even 6 months, would prefer a free alternative.

Thanks. KG

P.S any other recommendations of good practices will be much appreciated. I've got ~120Gb of stuff, so online backup not entirely practical.

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May be you should look at this forum where they discuss alternatives to Norton Ghost. They offer several free alternatives.


Two things,

  1. DVD backup is not really reliable -- would suggest you do not bother with that
    • If you want to leave a full-copy of your 'backup' drive at home,
      you could invest in another similar drive to be kept home.
      All you need to do is regularly 'rsync' from your first drive to the second one.
      To do that, you could just wire the two drives to any system that can be booted with (say) a Ubuntu LiveCD.
  • rsync works in windows as well - deltacopy is one implimentation. – Journeyman Geek Jan 7 '10 at 8:06

have you considered a off site backup solution like carbonite or backblaze. Sure they cost money, but to be honest they are likely to be more reliable. My brother has uploaded way more than 120gb to backblaze.


I would recommend online backup first, and there are places that offer unlimited backups for a fee. (120GB or even more) They don't usually support external drives, do all the data would need to be located on a local hard drive.

Next if you have access to a computer at home (i.e. you have a laptop with you and a desktop at home) you can backup your laptop to your desktop. Kind of online backup but no fee.

If I was going to choose a backup medium, I would choose hard drive over DVD. If I did go with DVD, I would probably choose two copies in case something happened to the disc. If I was going to travel with them, I would put one in my checked bag and one in my carry on. If I was going to use hard drives, I would choose a external that was designed for with a laptop drive which would probably be slower.

Now to the backup. To answer your Acronis answer, yes it will work with hard drives, and I they have a trial edition you can kick the tires. Depending if you want to backup some files or the whole computer is if you want to use an hard drive image backup program like Acronis. Some people say just copy the files over, others say zip the files. Both can be scripted to happen automatically to an external drive. 7-Zip has good compression in reasonable time. RAR (and others) allow you to add extra recovery information to the archive in case it gets damaged.

There is many free software out there that do their jobs well. You just need to pick the right tool for the job.

That said about any backup is better than no backup and you are the wiser for considering it now.

Finally, test your backup process and backups. Someone told me an untested backup (or process) is no backup.

I hope this helps, good luck.

  • Online backups work if you're in a place that has high-speed, low-cost bandwidth - eg, most parts of Asia, and even the US has reasonable speed/cost. If you're somewhere where costs are too high (I'm in Australia) or reliable high-speed connections are hard to find (Kaushik is in Chennai; my experience with Indian internet connections has been that they're prone to frequent small dropouts) they just don't work. – James Polley Jan 7 '10 at 8:48
  • @Scott: Thanks mate, helpful info. But James' comment pins my exact problem. Ideally, yes nothing as reliable as an online backup(among the alternatives), but that's just not too feasible with the kind of internet connections we have here. – Kaushik Gopal Jan 8 '10 at 12:27

It can be done quite painlessly with a live cd.

Check Here


The first question i'd ask myself is if i want an image or file based backup, and what OS i'm using.

File level backups can be done with rsync (on linux) or synctoy, cobian backup or various other apps on windows.

For disk imaging you can use various dd frontends (I've used the ubuntu liveusb tool to image and restore thumbdrives - no reason it wouldn't work on an external), something like fsarchiver or various ghosty tools - acronis, clonezilla and such.


Maybe a heavy duty external hard drive is for you. I know Olixir makes some top of the line products when it comes to heavy duty external hard drives. They aren't the cheapest drives on the market, but the investment may be worth it for you if you fear dropping your drive. Here's what one of their images claims:

alt text

Over 75 drops from about average waist height. Seems reliable to me! Reviews seem to agree with their claims.

If you are going to backup to DVD's though, I'd recommend compressing the data first unless you want to go through stacks of DVDs in no time. Using a tool like 7-zip, you can compress and split your data into chunks that will fit nicely onto a DVD. You can even automate the compression with scheduled tasks and 7-zip's command-line features. Then you can use a freely available burning tool such as CDBurnerXP (if you're on Windows, which it seems by your other questions) to burn the data to DVDs.

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