Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

It's best to use a backup program that you are sure will do the job: a program with a good reputation and recommendations.

Should I buy separate backup software or should I use the software that comes with the external hard drive?

In this excerpt from Answercast #28, I look at the kinds of software that may come with a backup drive and stick to my usual recommendation.

Backup drive software

That's a hard one for me to answer because I don't know what software comes with your external hard drive.

  • In some cases, it's actually not bad software.
  • In other cases, it's not something you want: it's a cut-rate version of a program that the backup software manufacturer gave to the hard disk manufacturer, along with some of kind an agreement (hoping you might pay for their software eventually later.)

So the short answer is, "Maybe."

Backup software

For example, if the backup software that came on that external hard drive happens to be Macrium Reflect, then go for it! You're done; you've got good backup software.

If it's something you've never heard of, then I have a hard time saying that I would recommend you use it.

Backing up needs to be effective

Backing up is so important! It is such a silver bullet for solving almost any problem that you might encounter on your PC... that I personally think the best thing to do is to invest a few dollars in a known, good, and recommended backup software package. And ignore what's on the hard disk.

That's what I would do.

Backup the backup drive...

Now I will say that I do archive what's on the hard disk; I basically back it up. I'll copy it off somewhere on my Zipit, just to save some space, and include it with my other backup archives.

In reality, I'll pretty much delete anything that's on the external hard drive and then immediately start using the backup program that I use.

So ultimately, I have to recommend that you choose a good backup program and don't rely on what boils down to a game of roulette; you have no idea what backup software you're getting on external hard drives. Get a good package.

End of Answercast #28 Back to – Audio Segment

Article C5501 - June 21, 2012 « »

Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

1 Comment
June 22, 2012 2:19 PM

Quite often the software packaged with hardware like this is pretty good. But not always; sometimes it's trash, sometimes it's malware. The first thing to do is to google:

[name of software] malware

If you get no serious hits then evaluate it (if you have the time and skills) or google further.

Hope this helps,

--- Derek

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