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Backup and Restore

10 Aug 2021

Backup and Restore

Developing a rigorously tested software backup and restore policy for your home or business is not a wish list item but an absolutely crucial necessity. Should hardware or software fail a well tested policy can save sleepless nights, unnecessary expenditure, and ensure minimum downtime.

Potential threats to your computing system come in both hardware and software forms. Likely sources of hardware failure are hard disks whether HDD or SSD. Software threats from malware, mail attachments, ransomware to name but a few.

Depending on use worthy of consideration is the use of a NAS (network attached storage) and or additional computers. Relying on just one computer can make life difficult. Suppose that there is failure on one machine but parts are not easily available or repair has to be carried out by a non local service centre. Or repair out weighs the cost of a new machine! With just one option getting back up and running could take a few weeks.

Contigous with a general poicy is the question of where to put what data and there is no rule against multiple backups. Some date of a static nature, for instance valuable pictures could be stored anywhere, locally USB stick, external hard disk, cloud storage.

Types of Backup

There are many methods to provide backup and recovery.

There are three basic types of backup; Full, Incremental, and Differential.

Full: A full backup backs up all the files in the back up target ( Whole disk image ).

Incremental: An incremental backup backs up all files that have changed since the last backup.

Differential: A differential backup backs up all files that have changed since the last full backup.

Operating Systems

Two common operating systems Windows and Linux, the methods of generate backups are completely different.

Linux Backup and Restore methods

Intended for system backup and restore although can be set to include home directory. Bear in mind the bigger the backup the longer it is going to take to restore. Timeshift requires a Linux file system to function so if you have purchased an external hard disk it will probably be formatted with NTFS. Here is an example of commands you could use to format ext4. Bear in mind this is just an example and you will probably need to adjust to your own setup.

Find the disk to re-format

sudo parted /dev/sda print devices /dev/sda (1000GB) /dev/sdb (500GB)

Create partition

parted /dev/sbd mklabel gpt sudo parted /dev/sdb mkpart primary 0% 100%

Format with ext4 file system

sudo mkfs.ext4 /dev/sdb

Deja Dup

Uses Duplicity which in turn uses rsync, comes ready installed on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS.


Graphicl interface for rsync which has the basic options, other options can be added to the command line within 'Additional options' within the 'Advanced options' tab.


Terminal based but yet very popular on Unix/Linux systems, full options can be read in the manual here. Very popular with web masters because it can copy multiple directories into one file while still preserving directory structure.

Windows 10

Windows systems are notariously fickle quite apart from earlier apparitions like the 'blue screend of death'. Linux systems on the other hand have a reputation for solid perforance.
There is a good likelihood that a some stage your Window system will misbehave in some way.

So, what does Windows 10 have to offer in the way of backups and restoration?

First up before doing anything obtain a copy of Windows.iso or create bootable USB static. To do so head over to the Microsoft download page. Download the build tool and double click on the .exe file. A window opens to gather data and generate the requested USB or .iso file. To convert the .iso image to bootable disk ownload rufus. Rufus is not 'installable' as such, simply double click on the .exe file and give permission for the program to run.

Rufus set up screen
rufus screen

Next, timewarp back to Windows 7 at Settings > Update & Security > Backup > Backup and Restore. There is creating the system image capability which is probably the most reliable between File History or Restore Point options. And the Recovery Drive will only generate a new systems sans your personal files.

System images tend to be big so an external hard disk will be required or a network location. USB flash drives curry no favour but it is possible to use DVD writer if available.
Microsoft does offer OneDrive with a 5 GB free tier but space requirements for a system image may require further space for purchase at $69.99 p/a for 1 TB.


Cloud Storage Providers

Provider    Comment
Icedrive    10GB free of charge, clean interface, encryption available, good download speeds
GoogleDrive    15GB capcaity shared with all other services per Google account
OneDrive something
pCloud    something
Box    something
MEGA    20GB+ free, good interface, encrypted, catastrophic download speeds which can drop to 0 B/s