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Welcome to an Article on Recovery.

Backup is the best Recovery.

If you have followed the best process for completing your backup then Recovery is easy.
All you need to is to copy back all your back up files. The worst scenario though is when your hard drive dies. And lets be honest every hard drive will die at some point, they all have moving parts that eventually wear out. At that point you only have one choice and that is to put in a new hard drive. In terms of recovery there are two things that matter here. First once you have installed and formatted your new hard drive you need an operating system - the most common of which is Windows. Hopefully, when you bought your computer you insisted on the vendor providing you with a cd or dvd to reinstall your windows system. They hate doing this because they will tell you that every computer comes with a restore to factory settings options. Just ask them how this works once the hard drive dies. If they can't answer (and they won't be able to) then ask them how you restore your system to a new replacement hard drive. The only way is from a cd or dvd. Of course if you are buying a netbook or tablet without a cd drive then there is a problem.
Here you have the option of taking a mirror of your drive onto a portable drive as your backup. A number of friends have used Cloneilla very successfully for this purpose.
The solution I have ended up with is to dump Windows as my operating system, ok, so it has a few advantages, particularly in terms of online media. If anyone disagrees and has a solution for watching video on demand online that uses Silverlight and you have a solution for Linux then please let me know. But at the moment the only thing I use Windows for is to access my iTunes films and catchup TV.
So, having dumped Windows where does that leave me. Well the solution I have is not Apple Mac, I am afraid I can't justify the price. I use a Linux operating system called Saluki. Try it Here. For a full discussion on the benefits of Linux please see the separate Linux article.
Returning to Backups though. Once you have your operating system restored, if you follow the triple backup process of keeping all your personal data, and I mean documents, photos, video and music on two separate backup devices then it is just a matter of copying your "My Documents" folder back onto your brand new hard drive.