Data Backup on the T430s

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Data Backup on the ThinkPad

The backup of your data is perhaps one of the most important tasks you can perform on your Thinkpad. You are solely responsible for your own data on the Thinkpad, including backups. This is just not something anyone else can do for you.

General Recommendations for Any Backup Solution:

  • The most important aspect of any backup solution is that the data you copy or backup is actually there when you need it. This sounds much simpler than it actually is.
    • Never underestimate the power of a RESTORE TEST! Lots of people say they test their backup system, but if they only tested the backup part of the system, they really don’t have any assurance the data they backed up will actually be there when they need it most. In other words, sure the backup worked, but will the RESTORE work when you rely on it?
    • There is no worse feeling that being confident you have a good backup and finding out you do not!
  • Always consider the main purpose(s) of your backup:
    • Disaster Planning:  You want to be sure if your hard drive crashes or you suffer other computer failures, you will have your data securely backed up and ready to restore to your new hard drive.
      • This is where you just start asking yourself what happens in your worst case scenarios and what you would do in each of those scenarios. For example, “What do I do if my computer is stolen?”, “What do I do if I back up over my computer with my car?”, “What do I do if my backup software I’ve been relying on actually corrupts the files it was backing up?”.  Just start listing those and do some checking, even some actual testing to make sure you can get your data in those cases.
      • How often to backup? This should be an easy question for you – how much work can you / are you willing to do over?
    • Versioning:  You want to have older versions of documents, etc. to fall back on if you make changes to the current version that cannot be redone – or the current document/file becomes corrupt.
      • For this, you will need to have multiple copies (the number depending on the number of versions you require). Just keep in mind the storage space requirement goes up incrementally with the number of backups you require – for example if you backup 100GB of data and want to keep 10 versions of all those files, you will need around 1TB of storage space.
Three Main Types of Backups:
  • External Drive: This is the recommended choice for your Thinkpad.
    • The drives are extremely reasonable in price for large amounts of storage.
    • Many times your new external hard drive will include some sort of free backup/sync application to keep your data synced up with the drive. Use these at your own risk – we have found issues with many of these applications.
    • We do not recommend the use of USB Flash Drives for backup purposes as they are too small, too easily lost and too fragile to rely on as your fallback copy of important data.
  • Cloud Storage: There are many online (cloud) storage vendors out there as well.
    • The issue to keep in mind when considering a cloud solution is security and privacy. If you have protected student or other data on your Thinkpad, you very well may not want to have it stored with one of these cloud vendors.
    • One vendor, Spider Oak, has undergone limited testing on campus and appears to be a very good solution at this point. They have an impressive security model they refer to as a “zero-knowledge” model. This means that the only knowledge they maintain about your data is how many data blocks your data is taking up on their servers. Your password is never stored as part of your data on their servers. While proving to be a promising secured online storage system, SpiderOak is not officially recommended by Wake Forest at this time.
  • Optical Media Storage: This is using your DVD drive and writable DVD discs for your backup.
    • While this used to be the recommended option here at Wake Forest, the typical amount of userdata stored by faculty and staff has quickly made this one of the least common options. It simply requires too many discs and too much time.
    • This is still a very good method to keep a “permanent” copy of your data.
    • Use DVD-R discs and make sure they are closed (sessions not left open) – this is set in your burning software. If the sessions are left open, the discs will not be readable in other computers.

Generally, Wake Forest University does not provide storage for your backups. This means it’s all up to you or your department to provide that storage space.

Instructions for Backing Up To External Hard Drive:

1.  Close ALL applications on your Thinkpad. If you have an application or file open, chances are it will not be backed up successfully.

2.  Open Windows Explorer (not Internet Explorer) on your Thinkpad. Holding down the WIN key (between left CTRL and left ALT) and pressing E is a great shortcut to open your folders/files.

3.  Once you are in your Windows Explorer window, use the left pane to navigate to your data location (D:\USERDATA).

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4.  Use CTRL+A to select all folders & files in the D:\USERDATA folder.

5.  Copy all folders & files to the clipboard. You can either right-click on the selected folders and select COPY or you can just use CTRL+C to copy the selected folders & files.

6.  Navigate to your external hard drive in Windows Explorer (see below).

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7.  Create a folder that includes today’s date in the title (for example, “Userdata_backup_062112”).
8.  To create a folder, right-click on an empty space in the right pane and select NEW –> FOLDER, then just give it a name.
9.  Open the folder you just created by double-clicking on it.
10.  Paste all the folders/files you copied to the clipboard earlier here.

  • Right-click and select PASTE.
  • Or use CTRL-V to paste folders/files.
Additional Folder to Backup:
There is another folder that is very important to consider backing up. This is the “C:\USERS\WFU2012” folder. This folder is a default for many Windows applications and very well may contain files you need. To back it up, just follow the steps above for this location. Just copy the entire contents of C:\USERS\WFU2012 to your external hard drive as well. This will ensure that you have all the data you need in the event of a computer emergency.
You may get warnings about files that cannot be backed up in this folder. There are several system files in this folder that cannot be backed up. When the warnings come up, just have it SKIP those files. 




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