What is a bootable backup and do i need one? what are partitions good for?

hello,
please excuse my ignorance...
i just got a new lacie external firewire hard drive and it has some software which i was wandering if i have any use for... - SilverKeeper and LaCie Backup Software. i'm not sure if they can give me anything that time machine doesn't do better... SilverKeeper gives the option of cloning a bootable backup. i'm not exactly sure what's the advantage of this and in what case i may need it.
when i got my last computer i was able to transfer everything from the old computer, including applications, to the new one without having to find all the serial numbers and reinstall them. i thought that time machine will be able to do the same thing if i lose all the data on my computer. is that not so? is that what a bootable clone is for? or what is it for?...
my other question is what are the advantages of making partitions in my new drive (i understand i have to if i want a bootable backup, but is there any reason to partition otherwise?
thanks!
dannah

SilverKeeper gives the option of cloning a bootable backup. i'm not exactly sure what's the advantage of this and in what case i may need it.
A bootable backup is an exact copy of your hard drive's contents on another drive, that can be used for booting up the machine. The advantage of a bootable backup is that, in the event something bad happens to your internal drive, you can very quickly get up and running with the backup drive, and can copy that back to a replaced/fixed internal drive very quickly. Time Machine backups are not bootable.
The disadvantage of a clone of any kind, bootable or not, is that there's only one version of any particular file stored. So if a file gets damaged and then backed up, you're pretty well screwed with the clone, while Time Machine stores many versions of the file, so you just "roll back" to the last working copy.
when i got my last computer i was able to transfer everything from the old computer, including applications, to the new one without having to find all the serial numbers and reinstall them.
Bad idea... while this will work for most apps, different machines have different architectures, so some apps may not be installed correctly for the new machine, plus you may not have properly copied some components. You should have reinstalled them.
i thought that time machine will be able to do the same thing if i lose all the data on my computer. is that not so?
If you have Time Machine back up the entire hard drive, without excluding anything, then Time Machine should be able to restore your drive to exactly the way it was at any particular moment in time at which it made a backup, including apps, system files, preferences, etc.
my other question is what are the advantages of making partitions in my new drive (i understand i have to if i want a bootable backup, but is there any reason to partition otherwise?
You do not have to partition to make a bootable backup. However, you'll be using the entire drive... trying to store additional files on the same drive as a bootable clone is confusing at best. Using a partition allows you to create multiple "virtual" drives... say, one for a bootable backup, one for a Time Machine backup, one for movie files, etc. Of course, this is only advisable if the drive is much larger than the one you're backing up, and note that if you store original files on a partition (like a bunch of movie files), you need a backup of those somewhere else.
Time Machine will want it's own full drive or partition to play with, which should be larger than the drive being backed up, and will eventually fill it. A bootable clone probably also should go onto its own partition, but you wouldn't need to make this partition larger than the drive being cloned. Other than that, don't worry about partitioning unless you have a specific need.

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