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That's a lot of CDs to juggle! Backing up to that many discs can easily fail from the mechanics of handling those CDs, or from using backup software that isn't reliable.

Microsoft tries to backup but after 13 discs, it says, "failed". Help!

In this excerpt from Answercast #98 I look at the hazards of trying to back up a computer to dozens of CDs or DVDs. There is a better way!

Backup to discs fail

So I'm going to assume what you mean is Microsoft's backup program.

I actually recommend that you use Macrium Reflect. You haven't indicated what version of Windows you're running but I strongly recommend against Windows included backup programs in any version of Windows prior to Windows 7. Even with Windows 7, I'd give it a second thought. I still prefer Macrium Reflect as backup software.

A lot of CDs

Now, 13 discs! My guess is you're probably backing up to CDs or DVDs.

Yeah, you can do that. If you get a better backup software, you will probably get a much more descriptive error message as to why it might be failing - or it will just work. But in reality, for your own sanity, I strongly recommend that instead you purchase an external hard drive.

They don't have to be expensive; they just have to be big enough to contain a couple of images of your computer.

External drive for backups

If your computer has a 100 GB hard drive then make sure you get an external hard drive that's at least two or three hundred GB.

Using the backup program then, you can just backup directly to that external hard drive without having to do all the shuffling of blank CDs, or DVDs, or whatever it is you're using.

Thirteen is about... well that's actually past my patience level. I would give up much sooner than that! And I strongly encourage you to do the same.

Reliable and regular backups

To move to what, ultimately, will be a more reliable solution anyway (simply because you're not having to do this juggling of all these different discs and keeping all these different discs), replace that with a single external drive. In general I think you'll be a lot happier.

(Transcript lightly edited for readability.)

Article C6352 - March 17, 2013 « »

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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.

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4 Comments
Ronny
March 18, 2013 11:41 AM

And buy quality CD's. I used to buy the cheapest I could find and had lots of problems. When I started buying name brands ones and paying a little more, my problems went away.

Reid
March 19, 2013 9:20 AM

Yikes! Unless you're archiving some data forever, don't use CDs or DVDs for backups at all. Follow Leo's great advice ASAP and eliminate that headache. An external USB drive will do the trick if you can't put another drive in your computer. Heck, I've purchased 2TB drives for $99.

Phil
March 19, 2013 7:57 PM

On my XP desktop, Macrium Reflect gives me a quick error message in red, then goes to blue screen during the backup process.
I've tried several times over the past few months, always with the same result.
The MS backup program works just fine, tho...

Alex Dow
March 21, 2013 7:17 AM

A free/cheap source of HDDs is older PC's etc.

I have recently extracted a 500GB HDD from a Satellite TV Recorder; aand a 160 GB HDD from a Netbook, both iitems being scrapped.

the 500 GB HDD is particularly interesting in that It is apparently robustly designed for continuous running 24x7, so apparently should be more reliable.

Caddies over here in the UK cost less than UKĀ£10, ie under US$15, yielding very cheap Back-up Drives, which can be either external as described, internal or on networks, via the Broadband Router.

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