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Continuing Your Backup


Sylvia from NY, NY writes  “I used a 512 MB flash drive awhile ago to back up my computer. Since then, there is more to back up so how do I know how full that flashdrive is and how does it know to start backing up from where it left off before? I’m an 83 yr old lady and not too technical. Would appreciate your advice. Thanks.”

Hi, Sylvia.

First off, congratulations on even knowing terms like “flash drive” and “backup”.  So many people that I know who are my age or older (I’m pushing 50 up the hill) use their age as an excuse not to be technologically literate.  I have to tell you that you are MUCH more technical than a lot of other people your age.  The great Douglas Adams, technophile, humorist and environmentalist once said “Anything invented before you’re born is a part of nature.  Anything invented between the time that you’re born and the time that you’re thirty is an amazing technological advancement and you’ll probably have a career in it.  Anything invented after you’re thirty is obviously the work of the devil.”  Bravo to you for not using your age as an excuse to fall into that trap.

On to your question.

For the first part, how do you know if your flash drive is full, is fairly easy.  The hard way… the way that you DON’T want to find out if your hard drive is full, is that you get an error that looks something like this:

The easy way is to look at your drive.  In order to do this, you first click your START icon, and then COMPUTER.

Locate your flash drive (in this example, mine is “G”).  Underneath the drive, it will show you how large your drive is, and how much space you have available on it.

As far as the second part of your question goes, as far as I know (important disclaimer) a backup never picks up where it left off and simply adds the new information.  Instead, it simply backs up all of the information in your chosen drives.  This is really what you want anyway, since that will insure that any changes that you’ve made to any files will be backed up.

I hope that this helps!

~ Randal Schaffer

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12 Responses to “Continuing Your Backup”

  1. Nancy says:

    Thanks to Sylvia for asking. I’ve always wondered this myself and you answered very clearly!

  2. LouiseLathram says:

    If it recopies everything you designate on the drive, do you have double copies of all data? Is it necessary to delete all info on the flash drive before backing up each time?

  3. Pat says:

    I think Sylvia and I are at the same school for age. I liked her question and I do save some of the answers for reference from you guys from time to time. Thanks for being so patient with us older folks everything is a help.

  4. Jeanette says:

    I have the same question Louise has. Does that mean you need to delete everything each time you backup from a drive?

  5. Henry Desser says:

    I am 82 yrs old and still want to learn. During back-up, what happens to a file I deleted on the original disk. Will it still be on the back-up disk from a previous back-up or will it be also deleted automatically during the current back-up ? Thanks for the lesson !

  6. Randal says:

    Nancy and Pat, thanks for the great compliment. It’s always nice to know that my writing hits what it aims at.

    Henry, if you mean your original files, they’re still where you left them. If you mean duplicate files on your backup disc, you’ll get a prompt on files that haven’t changed that asks what you’d like to do, keep them or overwrite them. There’s also a check box that will allow you to automatically do the same to every file. I recommend overwriting them and checking the box.

    Louise and Jeanette, i recommend formatting your backup drive every time that you do a backup. You can check the box that says “quick format”. This will allow a nice clean disc with no junk on it for your backup. I intend on writing an article on how to format a removable drive, so stay tuned.

    Thanks for the great comments, and thanks for keeping up with technology. I hope that i addressed all of your questions.


  7. jimdandy45 says:

    I question how much of a backup you could be doing on a 512 mb flash drive. Perhaps your documents and a few pics. The question was – how do you know how full it is? That has been answered, but let’s look closer at the word “backup”.

    Backup software comes in many flavors and will do different things based on what it was designed to do.
    Full backup = basically an image backup. copies everything including programs, documents, etc. This type of backup WOULD NOT FIT on a 512 mb flash drive!

    Incremental backup = backs up everything that has changed since the last backup. files are tagged with the “A” bit meaning they have already been archived (backed up) so the rest of the files are copied to the incremental.

    Differential backup – backs up everything from the last FULL backup.

    Then there is software that will “sync” the data on your computer. If you add a file, it will add the file to your output device (flash drive). If you delete a file, it will delete it from the flash drive. If you change a file, it will copy the changed file to the flash drive. Some software will keep both the old and changed versions of the file(s).

    You’ll have to check the documentation for the software as to what it actually does or is doing. Be proactive and make sure it is doing what you want it to do, or you may find that the file you wanted to “restore” from the backup (and the very reason you were doing the backup in the first place) is no longer there.

    Acronis TI will do the incremental part, as well as the FULL or image backup. Windows 7/8 have a built-in backup program (finally). Many external hard drives have their own software to do the backup already installed on it. Again, make sure that the software is doing what YOU want it to do.

  8. Bill Leach says:

    Jimdandy45, excellent response! I was going to post something similar as many backup programs do not automagically delete files from the existing backup but just ‘mark’ the file as deleted in such a fashion that during a restore you will be notified that the file was deleted but still offered the opportunity to restore such a file.

  9. Pat says:

    Thanks to Sylvia, I am close to that age and so many times have questions that us older folks were never taught because we are before the computer age. I keep trying but I wish I had a book of answers.
    Thanks for your help

  10. Olive Harrison says:

    I am 79 yrs have my XP computer & the computer i’m useing is windows 7 but my HP windows XP is my pride & joy has lightscribe & is so easy for me. My question is I have a 1tb back up new, your PCmover & Windows 7 upgrade do you think i can upgrade my XP computer myself ? Both computers are conected to Verizon network. Very sincerely Olive Harrison PS I am a member of Worldstart.

  11. Jerry says:

    I needed this discussion. My backup is not up to date. I’ll tag this and review it when i get time to complete my back up THANKS.

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