Backing Up Critical Computer Files

Backup is important. (Backup is important.) Here, CAD pros explain simple, effective, and thorough backup methods. September 24, 2006

Having just had some recent computer tragedies, I am wondering what methods, formats or media you are using to backup your work? I am setting up a new CPU and got a 1 gig memory stick. I am thinking about placing "My Documents" on it and having that be my dedicated backup. Anyone see any problems with this?

Forum Responses
(CAD Forum)
From contributor A:
Technically your solution will work, but I don't like to have back ups that are dependant upon me having to be diligent about remembering to make the backup. After a week or so I tend to forget. I'd recommend PC back up software and an external hard drive. You can set it up to do automatic backups in the middle of the night if you leave the PC on.

From contributor B:
One gig isn't much. I agree with the poster about an external hard drive on an auto back up. I have a Maxtor OneTouch set to back up Tues, Thurs and Sat. nights. Actually I have two. One is on the home computer. Every week or so I take one home so that I have an one off-site in case of storm or fire. On Friday, 12/30 my hard drive went down. How nice when the new drive was installed to load the Maxtor software, click on the restore point (Thurs 12/29) and see all the files pop back up just like they'd been. The few hundred bucks spent on the drives sure looks cheap now.

From contributor C:
I had a major crash last year, and that cost me over $2500 to get the data back. It was a hard lesson to learn, but now I have two external hard drives that are swapped out weekly and one is stored off premises at all times. I use Norton Ghost to take a picture of my C drive three times a day and it does it while I am working. I have had to restore files from the Ghost backup since the big crash so the way I see it, money well spent - no more worries if the computer doesn't come on in the morning.

From contributor D:
The expert who helped me get my life back after a major crash also set me up with an external hard drive as contributor A has stated. To take that one step further, I also keep my software program disks and one backup set of disks off site at my home and not at the shop. You could lose everything to a fire as well as a computer virus and this would let you get a new computer and start over again.

From contributor E:
If you setting up a new computer then you may want to consider RAIDing your drives on RAID1. All data will be mirrored to two drives, and in case one fails you have it on another one.

From contributor F:
One step further, if you have a lot of customization in Autocad, backup the entire Acad directory. If you ever need it setup the same way, reinstall and overwrite the install with your backup.

From the original questioner:
Thanks for the advice. I just have a few follow up questions.
1 )Is a "Raid" a program or hardware to link two computers together?
2) Is the Acad directory everything listed under C:>Program Files>Autocad?

I am looking at the prospect of recreating all of my Acad buttons/comands. I have the images saved but am unsure how to set them into the new commands. Is is a good idea to use a second computer as a backup? Apparently my information was still in the old hard drive until my computer friend reloaded Windows XP for me.

From contributor D:
Although I'm computer illiterate, it sounds very expensive to me to have 2 computers, with one as a back-up. You will need to have identical software on both computers to make everything work the same, wouldn't you?

From contributor H:
Backup strategy depends on company size, type of media and how you value that information. All of our servers are backed up nightly on a single tape. All engineering data is on a server as well as shared settings. The most reliable tape backup method is to do a full backup every night. We rotate our tapes using this schedule.
M T W T EOW1-4 ( end of Week 1-4 ), EOM, EOY.

Last night’s tape leaves the building today and goes off site until Monday. EOY goes in a safe deposit box at the bank as well as a copy on-site. We also back up client machines over the network to tape as well as our CNC machines. Backups that do not bit level verify files may not be valid copies of the files or data. For a small company you can get an external hard drive and remove it from site. I would recommend using commercially available backup software and tape drives. Raid (Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks) is a hardware system that keeps the same data on multiple drives so if a drive fails you do not lose data. Hot swappable raid allows you to unplug a faulty drive and replace it with system running. If all your business intelligence information is saved on computers then the value you place on that information should determine how much you are willing to spend to not lose it.

When we had a fire 9+ years ago the first thing I did when I got to the building was grab the tape out of the tape drive. 10,000 gallons of water went through our offices and computers. We lost 3 pages of paper that we got copies from the customers. Had the tape burned we would have lost 1 day of work.

From contributor I:
I have a few questions that should be answered:
1. Home system or work?
2. If work, are you on a network? How many users or machines require backup?

From your post, it sounds like you only want to backup one machine. Give me a little more information, because IMO it makes a big difference for backup strategy.

From contributor E:
RAID is not two computers, it is one computer with two identical hard drives(redundant array of inexpensive drives). You can upgrade your existing computer to RAID by adding raid controller card and second drive, or rebuild it to new RAID ready motherboard with new SATA drives.

No special program is required, but you have to reload your operating system and before installing windows BIOS have to be configured to raid. After installing windows only one drive will appear on your computer's directory. The size of your two drives will be joined into one. Back up will be automated at all the times. In case of failure you have to do nothing, good drive will take over and all you have to do take bad drive out and replace it with good one. System will recognize and reconfigure with little help. This is very nice system and it used widely in corporate servers with more expensive SCSI drives.

Also having external hard drive is not bad idea, once a week back up will be good. Now to restore your custom setting in AutoCAD you have to do following:

My Computer
Local C
Documents and Settings
Your user Name
Application Data
AutoCAD 200(4, 5 or 6)
R16 (R16.1 or R16.2)
copy this ENU to removable media(memory stick prefferebly, not CD)
After reinstalling AutoCAD replace AutoCADs ENU with enu that you have on your removable media. All you custom settings will pop up after loading the program.