Computer Backup Recommendations

This is the first in a series of reference articles that answer frequently asked questions from friends, family, and clients.  I will update these articles as required. 
Feel free to let me know if you have any questions or recommendations.

Required hardware and software
    Software – Acronis TrueImage 2012
    Hardware – external hard drive – USB, eSATA, Firewire

Overview
I recommend imaging all PC systems.  Imaging the system is easy, and fast (1GB/min typically).  Imaging software takes a ‘snapshot’ of your computer.  This snapshot can be used to restore your system automatically.  By restore, I mean if your hard drive dies, you can install a new drive (same size or larger), and restore *everything* in one operation – Operating System (Windows), applications, and data.  After the restore, your system will be *exactly* where it was when you performed the backup.

In addition, the image can be used to restore individual files and folders, but more importantly, if your system is compromised due to a virus or system problem, you can restore the entire system back to a known, good state.

Acronis (and other imaging software) can be configured to image your system on a schedule (Friday nights for example).  You can also setup the software to automatically shut down your computer after the backup is completed.  I typically do this monthly on all our computers, setting up the jobs before I got to bed and having the system shut down.

We have three external USB drives – one reserved for my business systems, and two for home systems.  All my backup drives are encrypted (I use Bitlocker).  I recommend selecting a hard drive with enough capacity to hold at least two backup images for all your systems.

Reference links
Rosewill RX-358 V2 BLK (Black) 3.5″ SATA to USB & eSATA Enclosure w/Int.80mm fan
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817173042

Acronis True Image Home 2012 – upgrade and special offers often available from Acronis
http://www.acronis.com/homecomputing/products/trueimage/

Acronis TrueImage Home 2012 from Newegg
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16832200030