I’m amazed by how many developers don’t image or clone their machines. I can’t tell you how many times someone has said to me “oh man, I wasted almost an entire day rebuilding my system”. I’ve said it many times, and I’ll say it again: it doesn’t have to be that way!
Simply backing up the file system on your machine helps when you need to restore various files. But…if your hard drive fails you still have to reinstall all software and reconfigure everything. And, I mean e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g: IDE’s, browsers, fiddler, plugins, and any application or operating system updates. This can be very time consuming and a real time waster.
An image or clone is a complete snapshot of your entire system at a point in time. Here’s an online article that explains what this means. I recommend using a combination of daily file backups and system snapshots. Rebuilding your system is as simple as copying over the image/clone/snapshot onto a new hard drive, and then reloading the latest file system backup. On my current machine that takes about 45 minutes or so to completely restore my system. So, the last time my hard drive failed, I plugged in the new drive then went and got a cup of coffee. The imaging software does all the hard work of rebuilding my system back to nearly the exact state it was in peviously.
On my physical machines I typically use Acronis. But, there are other choices out there, such as Ghost. On my Virtual Machines I simply create a clone once every week or two, or more often if I load a major operating system update.
Hard drives do fail. So, don’t let a simple failure ruin your productivity.