Software To Backup Hard Drive

Hi Elizabeth,

longtime subscriber, Love your site.

I saw in today’s newsletter in the first question response — that a virus or other malware can cause so much trouble it’s better to just backup your hard drive files and do a clean install of windows. You mentioned this is what you do often in your computer repair business.

I’d like to try this on my computer but so I don’t make a mistake, I was wondering what software you use to backup the hard drive?

I figure you must have a tried-and-true program you use so as not to lose your customers’ files.

Thank you so much.

All best, David

Dear David,

Actually, I don’t use a software program to backup my customer’s files.

There are so many variations in where people keep their information, and what types of data they have, that I wouldn’t trust a backup program to get all the important stuff.

Instead, I sit down with my customer and ask questions until I have a good understanding of what it is that they store on their computer, what is important to them, and usually where it is on the computer.

If Windows is still working on the computer, I will use Windows Explorer to drag the folders to my external hard drive.

If Windows is not working, (and sometimes even when it is) I will boot the computer using a Linux CD and use the Linux operating system to copy the files to my external hard drive.

If you are looking to backup your own computer, the most important thing is to know where your important information is stored. Some things like pictures and documents should be pretty easy if you have stored them in the usualy locations, but other things like email messages and financial data are a bit harder to find.

Once you know where everything is, any file management program like Windows Explorer will do the job.



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Elizabeth Boston is a Web designer, Social Media Consultant and managing editor of, “Ask The Computer Lady”.
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    • sj_kac
    • June 10, 2013

    Hi Elizabeth,

    Reading your reply made me wonder if I am backing up everything? I use Windows 7 on a Dell Inspiron notebook. To backup my data, weekly I just copy the “Libraries” onto a USB flash drive. Then monthly I do a Windows 7 image backup to a Segate external drive. Is there a chance of data being somewhere other than in the folders in the “Libraries” folders?
    Twice I have had computer problems and after copying my data to a USB flash drive, I re-installed my computer from the last image backup. Then deleted all the data in the folders, and copied the folders back form the USB flash drive. I don’t seem to have lost anything. But now you have me wondering!

    Thanks for your newsletter,
    Ken in San Jose

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