Quick Easy Questions

I bought an external hard drive recently to serve as a backup. I'm using Windows Backup and Restore and have a few very basic questions about backups. Yes, I have no experience with backups.
1. I'm assuming that any file that is backed up will remain in the drive unless deleted, as in, it won't be erased during the next backup even if removed from the source drive. Is this correct?
2. When a backup happens, does it read the entire drive again or only the files that have changed since the last backup?
3. Is Windows Backup and Restore reliable? Are other backup programs better or do they simply offer more features?


Essential Member
Microsoft Community Contributor

Here's my advice, it may be different then others but it's the way I've done it for a zillion years.

Create a Disk Image of your C:\ drive, use what ever software you trust but make sure you can run it from a boot-able disk.

A backup doesn't do you a lot of good if you need it to restore a Windows crash, and you have to be in Windows to start it.

Save the Disk Image to your external drive or at least another partition, and update or create another one every 2 or 3 months.

What I do is create a new one each time and save the last one I did too.
When I add a third one I delete the oldest one, so there are always 2.

I use Paragon Backup and Recovery, it's free, it works and you can run it from a disk.
It has saved me twice.

For your really important files don't back them up using a backup utility.

Put all of your Photos etc. in folders on you computer (for example "Master Photo Folder" etc, use as many sub folders as you want) then copy the Master Folder to your external hard drive uncompressed.

Do the same thing for Music, Job Files, Personal Files, etc.

All you have to do to update is to copy the parent folder to the external drive and tell it to only copy the new files.

It will add the new files in the same locations in the Master Folder on you external drive.

The reason for doing it this way is that back up files do get corrupted sometimes.

I know I've had it happen twice, and I couldn't recover anything using the backup program because it wouldn't open the file.

Better yet, you don't need any software to get them back, all you have to do is copy them back to your computer. It's easier then using a separate program to recover them.

When you are done backing up your files turn off the external drive, unplug it, and don't turn it back on until you are going to use it again.

I only turn mine on about once a month or when I've added something important I want protected.

And last, if you really want to still have all these files in twenty years buy a second external dive and do it over again.

I have 3 external drives and everything I have is backed up to at least two of them.

I've only had one external hard drive fail, I got hit by lightning when it was plugged in, fortunately the other one wasn't.

I have many of my Graphic Design job files going back to when I first started using a computer to create them almost 20 years ago. Many are on DVDs.

I have photos that are that old and every music file I ever downloaded.

The other thing you should do is leave one of the hard drives with a friend in case you house burns down.

I haven't done that. But I'm considering an online storage site for the really, really important stuff. LOL

It sounds paranoid but when you lose that once in a lifetime photo or the clients job file when he comes back for changes 5 years later. Well you can't be too safe.


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Extraordinary Member
Premium Supporter
Anything automatic is highly vulnerable. The concept of just pushing a button and getting everything done is like, having your dog or cat live forever - won't work, simply.

Windows backups are, as such, sure and safe. But then, not.

Mike H. gives, in my opinion, some good advice. You need to have important info saved in as many places as possible, not quite agreeing with his statement "In case your house burns down", we wouldn't want that, would we? Of course, what we don't want, may still happen. Bingo.

Basically, I would recommend what I constantly recommend, have your personal files in a separate partition, not in the C of Windows. It's inevitable that you need to re-install or upgrade Windows and, the true way to do it is to get rid of it all, and make a clean install. Having your personal files in a separate partition, or another disk, means, they won't be affected. It's like having your underpants in one drawer, it burns, but your socks will not be affected, as they were in another drawer.

Did I go tasteless?

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