Ever since I purchased an HP dv9700t CTO notebook PC, I’ve had to reformat this computer over 3 times now. The reason is simple: I like to try out new things on the computer and that more often than not, include alpha, beta and even gamma software. I’d like to say that I’ve learned and reformatting my PC (as a last solution) is a thing of the past. Alas! I cannot guarantee that. So, here’s what I’ve learned from owning a computer that I deliberately introduce chaos into:
- If you don’t know what a virtual machine or virtualization means, learn it NOW. Invest an operating system (Linux or Microsoft) and learn how to run that operating system inside a virtual environment. This article is going to be short so go ahead and read my article about my experience with two virtual machines (Microsoft Virtual PC 2007 and VirtualBox) Both are free virtual machine managers and are widely recommended for regular users.
- Windows Complete Image backup is NOT the same as merely backing up your files. In fact, based on my experience with Windows Complete Image backup and Windows File Backup available to Vista Ultimate users, I will say this: it would really really be smart to have a full featured backup solution in addition to Windows built-in backup feature. I would recommend Acronis True Image 2009 which is not bad at the price tag of $49.99. I’ve used Acronis on my computer since they had Acronis True Image 10 and since I discovered that you can’t retrieve individual files/folders from a Windows Complete Image backup, I’ve returned to using Acronis True Image. The reason: each time I perform a complete PC backup using Windows Backup and Restore center, it’s over 70gbs in size. Guess how much it costs (in terms of space consumed on the hard disk) to create a file backup using Windows Backup and Restore Center? Roughly ~65gbs (leaving all the default settings checked because Windows doesn’t even give you the chance to pick & choose what files you want to backup)!!! So, like I always say, economics (of space) is the reason I’m switching back to Acronis True Image 2009. That way, I’ll have just one ~ 70GB backup file on my external hard drive AND be able to extract my individual files from it!
- Good old fashioned DVD-R or CD-R backups:- After my last disaster scenario (i.e. I lost close to 3 weeks worth of work), I have seen the light in having copies of precious files on disks. I was actually able to pare my loss down to 2 weeks because I had copied the “My Documents” folder on my laptop to a regular DVD (~ 4.3 GBs of data).