I have the creeping feeling that my laptop is going to kick the bucket (in some way or another) soon. I've had two laptops die on me, both times it was something breaking inside the HDDs and I ended up loosing almost all of my data in both cases.

This time I want to be prepared. How do you guys back up your stuff? Is there a way to take a complete image of all my files? (for windows) or should I manually sift through my files and save them in an organized manner on an external disk?

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    Boot a live Linux and clone the whole disk as image to an external drive using Clonezilla. Don't trust any solution that backs up a Windows file system while Windows is running, except if you only save individual files as file copy of course.

    I've used that to change my 160 GB HDD in my netbook for a 500 GB one, put the image back and resized the partitioning afterwards.

    You can also save individual partitions, but there's one catch - restore works only onto a drive with the exact same partitioning. Which you only get if you have already a full disk image for restoring that aspect also.
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    Clonezilla if you want the whole installation, something else if you want something else.
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    you could get a raspberry pi and set up rsync via ssh. Everytime you turn on your computer in the network it's gonna make a back up of all additional new or changed files.

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    @heyheni the downside is that accidentally deleted or modified files are deleted from the backup if so configured
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    There's a 3-2-1 rule for backups.
    3 copies at
    2 different places with
    1 of them being off-site.

    Since the original data already counts as a copy, I'd recommend to make one copy on another physical drive and move one to the cloud.
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    @Treasure Cloud doesn't count as backup instance.
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    @Fast-Nop Why does cloud not count as backup? I genuinely want to know.
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    Seems like I should check out clonezilla. Thanks for the advices guys!
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    @Treasure Because "cloud" is usually short-hand for "somebody else's computer that you don't control".

    Can be OK as convenience solution if file encryption is supported and if the keys are not available to the cloud vendor - but counting that towards the required number of copies is careless.
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    @Fast-Nop Got it. Thanks for the explanation :)
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