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I've recently started to look into backup options for my windows boxes, but am having a difficult time to find quite what i'm looking for. So i thought it'd be best to ask the professionals:

I want to be able to have a USB drive plugged into my laptop at night, with the software making a full image copy of my internal hdd at a predefined time, so that if i suffer catastrophic failure in the laptop i can just swap the hdds and keep on rolling.

Is this even possible?

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The technology is called shadow copy. If you google that you should find various backup utilities that use it ranging from command line to full blown network backup. You'll need to decide which one is appropriate to your skills and situation.

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