I use a product called Acronis true image to make daily backups of my entire computer to my external terabyte hard drive.  Whenever something goes wrong with my computer I can just roll back one or two days to fix the problem.  For example if I accidentally visit some porn website and get a virus (  virtual STDs?  ) I can do one of two things… spend hours and hours trying to figure out a way to kill the virus or use Acronis true image to revert my computer to a state when the virus did not exist.  Clearly the latter method is less time-consuming and therefore better.

So I started backing up my computer which has an 80 GB hard drive in October 2007 and have been making daily backups (  incremental backups  ) for this computer as well as another computer for about six months.  1 TB is 1000 GB and I am surprised that I didn’t fill it up faster than I did.  This external drive is finally full after 1 1/2 years of daily incremental backups and now I am wondering what to do.

The simplest route would be to delete all of the old backup files and start fresh again.

The problem with this route is that I have periodically restored certain files from dates that were several months old.  Deleting all of the old backup files would deny me that luxury.

Incremental backups are smaller in size and take less time to backup when compared to differential backups.  Incremental backups also require the entire chain of incremental backups to restore successfully.  I “think” you can delete the latest incremental backups to regain disk space without a problem.  This would just mean that you would have a blank spot in your backup history that you would not be able to restore from.  Incremental backups do not allow you to delete the original full backup or any of the incremental backups that occur in between any backup points you would like to have access to.  In other words you must have the full chain of incremental backups in order to make a restoration.

I think the best option would be to order another terabyte disk and create new full backups of all drives and computers and continue from there.  Of course this option is $300 more expensive than the other option.  Wait a second… the price has come down to $129 plus shipping.  That is an attractive offer.

The only things that I have gone back in time to restore have been some voice-recognition files… and some historical search engine optimization data… if I can live without those two things and then I am probably safe to go about deleting everything and starting fresh.

Acronis recommends that I defrag my hard drive before making the first backup… I guess I will do this tonight and then delete my old backups in the morning before starting on a new full backup.  Using differential backups from this point on is worth a try.  I’m wondering how long they take and how big they are.  Bothering with this kind of stuff starts to make the $129 drive sound better and better.