Q: I continuously backed up my old PC to an external hard drive. Now that my old PC’s hard drive has failed, I’m trying to restore the backed-up data to my new PC’s hard drive. It’s nearly impossible because I’ve forgotten the name of the backup program I used. (There is a folder on the external drive called “Seagate Dashboard 2.0” that contains the backups and the dates they were made, but I can’t get Dashboard to do anything.) As a result, I’ve been manually copying and pasting data from the external drive’s backups to the new PC. It’s slow work; I’ve only restored four months-worth of the four years of backup data. Is there a better way to do this?

Keith Carlson, Roseville


A: Yes. You can automatically restore all your backed-up files at once, provided that you use the same software that created the backups — which appears to be Seagate Dashboard. To make it work, go to tinyurl.com/y3zeqro8 and follow the “installation” and “restore” instructions.

But before you restore your backed-up data, consider how much of it you really need. It sounds as if you are trying to restore everything that was backed up over four years. But you don’t need that mountain of data. You only need the most recent backup of each data folder.

When you look inside the Seagate Dashboard 2.0 folder, it will list all four years of backups by date. Simply restore the backup with the most recent date. This will have two possible outcomes:

• All your data folders will appear on your PC’s hard drive.

• Some of your data folders will appear, but others will be missing. Why? Not every file folder was included in every backup — only the folders in which data had changed. So, go to the second most recent backup, and if the missing data folders are there, check them to be restored to your PC. If you are still missing some folders, go to the third most recent backup, and so on.

In the end, you should have just one copy of each data folder on your new PC — the most recent one.


Q: Over the years, I’ve accumulated several portable hard drives on which I backed up my PC’s thousands of photos. However, I can’t remember which drive has the most recent version of all my photos. (I dragged and dropped photos to the external drives instead of using a backup program, so I don’t have a date for the most recent backup.) Is there an easy way to determine which external drive contains the most recent backup of my photos?

Greg Bergstrom, Plymouth


A: Yes. Windows time-stamps its files and folders each time they are “modified” (stored), and you can use that information to figure out which external drive has the most recent data on it.

Choose a recent photo, or a folder containing photos, that’s on each of the external drives. The drive whose file or folder has most recent “modified” date will be the one most recently used for backups.

Note: If you dragged and dropped individual pictures, use the “modified” date on each file. (Find it by going to File Explorer, right-clicking a file and choosing “properties” from the drop-down menu.) If you dragged and dropped folders containing photos, check the “modified’ date of the folder. (Find it by viewing the folder in File Explorer, then going to the search box at top right. Type “datemodified:” without the quotation marks and click the search box arrow.


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