Backup/Restore Procedures (as done by RolandJS)
Have been paying closer attention to my external USB HDs, I am much more aware that rather than ATI (Acronis) or Macrium failure -- it has been several times an explorer.exe not communing with respective external HD failure. It might be within any one particular external HD, it might be conflicting drive-letter assignments, it might be "explorer.exe and company" needs to be dropkicked or punted into better performance.
In order to maximize the idea of restorable backups, minimize the idea of failures in backup and/or restores, I've been doing the following...
Long ago, because drive letters differ when booting external media for backups & restores, I labeled all my OS partitions S0x(ddd)C, data partitions S0x(ddd)D, x being computer number (1 2 or 3), ddd being three unique digits/letters from HD ID/serial number. Each external backup/restore HD's labeled: Hitachis Kitty & Katty(*), the four Seagate HDs labeled SeaEPD, SeaBPD, SeaKIT, SeaKAT. WDE1, WDE2. At all times, I know exactly which partition is being backed up to what ext HD, what ext HD is going to restore to what partition C or D, regardless of what the drive letters are. (* - My two cats are more famous than me, on Facebook & Twitter.)
Before beginning backup routine, I plan to test explorer & ext HD operations by a quick-copy into & out of attached ext HD, if bi-direction copy fails, the backup or restore will fail, it's time to fix the explorer-ext HD relationship. If bi-direction copy succeeds, backup begins. I no longer assign drive letters to any ext HD, causes problems down the road. And, 2nd internal HD's C-partition & D-partition will no longer be drive-letter assigned.
YYYYMMDD(ext HD name)_(partition letter)_S0x -- that's the XML file and the high-compressed backup file name I use within Macrium Reflect Pro. Acronis keep its log files differently, I can name the backup file only. Hours, days, weeks, later -- I know where each backup is.
If a particular backup is really critical, I can do both a Macrium and an Acronis backup of C-(OS)-partition on each external HD.
Full [entire] drive images.
"I only do full drive back ups. Eliminates several backup steps if the drive needs restored. With selective partitions, if the full drive has to be restored it requires several separate operations." Fireberd [sevenforums]
Even though separate OS and data partition full images have served me well, thinking it over, I realize Fireberd has a great idea, and I'm adding his idea into my present HD [hard-drive] backup routine.
Consider: a catastrophic HD failure and the HD replacement, or a catastrophic OS boot & OS operations failure and facing the need to do a complete software ReInstall. In order to restore any and all partitions onto the original or replacement HD, at least one full image of the entire internal HD containing the OS, factory recovery, OS boot, and data partitions needs to exist.
If you're not also making separate full images of OS and data partitions, stop reading, you're done.
If you are also making separate full images of OS and data partitions, if you ever have to restore the full [entire] drive image, then, afterwards, simply follow through with the separate OS and data partition restores, if such partition images are newer than your full [entire] drive image. For my purposes, In order to take less time restoring full [entire] drive and the separate OS and data partitions, I'm going to test an idea: delete all data partition's folders and files from within the full [entire] drive image.
"Take care of thy backups and thy restores will take care of thee." Ben Franklin revisited