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When a Back Up is Just Not Enough

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Numerous computer issues this month have again reminded us of the importance of taking regular system images. Everyone fears a mass failure of his or her computer system, data loss is sometimes irreplaceable and getting the system up and running can take hours of tedious work - updating, adding access codes, product keys and such like.

 For frequent travellers, this fear is often even more acute, as free time on a business trip is a rare commodity, and limited tools mean that we do not always have the right ones with us with which to solve a serious issue with a laptop. Most travellers prepare for such an issue by travelling with what they feel to be a must-have list of essentials that should come to the rescue if some kind of failure were to happen.

Most new laptops also now come with a recovery disk option on the hard drive which allows a user to reinstall the system just as it was when you first received it. This is a very useful option, and as long as you were taking regular back ups of critical files, then you should not have lost too much. The problem with such a recovery, is that all your settings, including product keys for some software need to be reinstalled and those few files that you forgot to back up have also been lost for good.

This is where taking regular system images pays off. A system image is exactly what it sounds like, it is an exact image of the entire system, programmes, files, settings - basically everything on your laptop, exactly the way it is, or was, when you created the system image.

Before Windows 7 a computer user would have to buy software such as Acronis True Image or Norton Ghost, or alternatively use one of the numerous free options available for download. But with Windows 7 such a utility is already included and easy to use - both to create and repair from.

Taking a system image can take time, but it is well worth the effort, and you can store it on pretty much any type of external media, which makes it highly portable too. The safety net it provides means that when we travel there is always now one extra item in the luggage that we travel with, and that is, in addition to the system image, a recovery disk.

A recovery disk is what you should have been given when you first purchased the laptop, and is basically the windows installation disk. It allows you to completely reinstall windows and more importantly if you have a system image with you, it allows you to do a full repair using that image to return your system to exactly the way it was when the image was created.

Why would you need the recovery disk when there is already a recovery disk option installed on the laptop itself? Well normally you wouldn't, but sometimes if that file were to end up corrupted - something which is very easy to do - then the windows installation disk may be your only option.

So, for a little added security and peace of mind, continue backing up your critical files but also make sure you are taking regular system images, they could save you a lot of time and worry.

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