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Windows 7: Backup and restore question...


13 Jan 2011   #1
Cr00zng

Windows 7 64-bit, Windows 8.1 64-bit, OSX Maverick
 
 
Backup and restore question...

I've been using Windows 7 for about two years now, including BETA testing, and just started to use the backup and imaging features of the OS. You could say that my knowledge in this area is lacking...

I've created system restore CD, image, and run backup on the weekly scheduled basis and manually, if there are major changes to the system. While doing this, it is not entirely clear how the restore would work if and when the OS drive would break? In another word, would it really restore the system if I replace the current disk 4 with a new one? Since I am not backing up the other drives, will the system restore process leave them alone?

These are the drives I have:

-dm.jpg

Disk 4 is the OS partition where the boot records reside and all applications, most games, etc installed. Both the image and the backup is made from the "C" drive only.

While I understand that both the user files and the image are created during backup, I don't understand why it would be different size? For example, managing disk space shows this:

Name:  backup.JPG
Views: 9
Size:  29.8 KB

The smaller backup was created by manually starting the schedule backup while the larger one is the result of a scheduled backup completed. It does seem that manual backup did create an image on my back drive, in the root directory.

Why is there such size difference between the backups and which one should I use for fully restoring the system?

Neither the image backup file/folder with the NetBIOS name, nor the "WindowsImageBackup" folder is accessible. While I could gain access to these folders, will it cause some issues during the restore process? Most certainly, I'd like to make a backup of the backup offline to have an archive for the backup. After all, disk 1 could break at the same time as well.

I did read the tutorials for this subject, they are very good describing the process of backing up and restoring the system. I am just looking for the feedback as to how reliable these process are and what is actually restored?
TIA...




My System SpecsSystem Spec
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14 Jan 2011   #2
mborner

Windows 7 Pro/32 Academic. Build 7600
 
 

If you've selected "Let Windows choose what to backup" a system image will be created automatically, along with your user data backup. The image you've posted above depicts your user data, not your images. If you look closely, you'll see that each of those two backups have a date range, the first being 1/3/2011 - 1/9/2011. That's important to note as this date range is called a backup "period". Data backups are incremental backups that appear within the date ranges shown. When you see another date range appear, Windows has done another full backup, called a "period. There will be differences in the sises of the files.

So far, in my experience, the Windows 7 backup utility has proven very reliable. I have no third party backup software installed on my system.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
14 Jan 2011   #3
Cr00zng

Windows 7 64-bit, Windows 8.1 64-bit, OSX Maverick
 
 

Maybe I am just having hard time understanding the difference between backup and image....

To my knowledge, having the image should be sufficient for restoring the system, that includes programs and the user data. If that is true, then in theory at least no backup is necessary. Provided that relatively frequent image is created, like when there are changes to the system, applications, etc, then this should be sufficient for my needs.

Since most, if not all data is stored on the traditional spindle based hard drive in my case, there would be little or no data lost, if the SSD drive is restored. Keep in mind that this system does not house any critical data that I'd miss, if the system drive breaks.

The backup partition has this, related to the Win 7 backup:

Name:  backupfolders.jpg
Views: 4
Size:  49.9 KB

The folder named "LT56" seems to be an image folder that had been created when the scheduled backup was initiated manually. The "WindowsImageBackup" has been created when the backup schedule was setup.

While I intend to keep the backup schedule in place, that will create a full backup on a weekly basis, it seems that keeping it might not be necessary. Again, provided that the image is sufficient for restoring the system, that would be correct.

Alternatively, if the system would need to be restored from the backup, this would be the proper order:

1. restore from the latest full backup
2. restore the incremental backup, if any

Would that be correct?
TIA...


My System SpecsSystem Spec
.


14 Jan 2011   #4
ignatzatsonic

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 SP1, Home Premium, 64-bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Cr00zng View Post
Maybe I am just having hard time understanding the difference between backup and image....


Alternatively, if the system would need to be restored from the backup, this would be the proper order:

1. restore from the latest full backup
2. restore the incremental backup, if any

Would that be correct?
TIA...
I'm not sure it is correct.

I don't use Windows for backup or imaging, but my understanding was that a SYSTEM (eg a Windows installation) cannot be restored from a "backup". You must use an image. I thought Windows "backup" referred to a file by file backup of each individual file--which cannot be used to restore anything other than those individual files.

An image, on the other hand, is a file. A mirror image of the entire partition. It is not a bunch of files.

But maybe I don't understand how Microsoft uses those terms.

I do know that "backup" is tossed around very loosely--on this forum and elsewhere. You often don't know what is meant when you see the term.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
14 Jan 2011   #5
mborner

Windows 7 Pro/32 Academic. Build 7600
 
 

Unfortunately, Windows 7's backup utility will not let you do a "full" backup on your schedule. Windows decides if and when a full backup is necessary. Generally, a simple backup plan would be to run your incremental backups everyday, or, perhaps once a week, then, run a system image backup once a month or once every other month. In case of catastrophe, you would restore your PC using your most recent image, then, restore your data using your most recent data backup. In most cases, you could bring your PC back to within a day or two of your disk failure. Keep in mind, if you let Windows decide what to backup (recommended) it will create a system image automatically, along with the backup.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
14 Jan 2011   #6
kado897

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit 7601 Multiprocessor Free Service Pack 1
 
 

If LT56 is the name of your computer then that is where the data backups are stored. The WindowsImageBackup folder is where your images are stored. If you are allowing windows to do this backup along with your data backup it limits the number of images to that which will fit into approximately one third of the size of the disk you are backing up to. I do thing rather differently.

1. I schedule a data backup daily. The data backup is configured to specific folders which I need to be up to date (documents, images and videos mainly). The imaging is excluded from this backup.

2. I manually do an image backup weekly. To avoid overwriting the previous image I rename the folder before I run the image backup.

3. I generally keep about a months worth of images and a few weeks worth of backup sets in the data backup.


If I ever need to restore I would restore the previous image (or an earlier one by renaming the folder back to WindowsImageBackup before the restore, it has to be called that for the restore program to find it). The data would then be restored to the latest from the data backup. In this way it is never more than a day out of date.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
14 Jan 2011   #7
mjf

Windows 7x64 Home Premium SP1
 
 

I manage images myself and have the "include image" box under the general backup and restore automatic work flow permanently unticked. I rename images using the date they were created eg WindowsImageBackup_1_1_11 and periodically delete excess images. Windows imaging ignores renamed images. You can also move them to folders.
Provided the move is not across disk partitions it is a directory/MFT change only and very safe and "instant". A move across partitions is a physical move like a copy - I would only do this under exceptional circumstances.

Windows restore wants to see a folder named precisely WindowsImageBackup in a root of a partition for recovery. If you cannot rename from Windows you can do it after a boot from the System Repair disk. Some changes have been made to the tutorial I suggest you have a read if you haven't read it recently.
System Image Recovery
Be careful in selecting the "reformat disk" if it's presented as an option.

Because images are so important I also use Macrium Reflect free (just in case) plus Macrium is more flexible for some jobs.

I also use the Windows file/folder backup which uses .zips (images uses vhds).
A full backup can be SLOW but incrementals for me a quite quick. These backups are good for keeping files in between images.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
14 Jan 2011   #8
Cr00zng

Windows 7 64-bit, Windows 8.1 64-bit, OSX Maverick
 
 

That has been helpful, thanks guys...

Now I know more about Windows 7 backup, image and sort of understand what needs to be done...

Just run the image creation on a weekly basis and run another one between, if there's an important software that had been installed. Important, as in licensed and would be a pain reinstalling it on a new drive with the one-time license keys nowadays. The folder can be renamed and that will basically allow creating different versions for the image. At the time of restoring the image, just make sure that the latest version's folder is named "WindowsImageBackup", or whichever version I'd decide to restore. This folder can be anywhere, internal or external as long as the system repair disk can find it.

The image in itself is similar, at least in principal, to Symantec Ghost which I am somewhat more familiar with. Basically, the image includes all of the content for the drive at the time it had been created. That includes the OS, programs, users' data, and whatever the drive had at the time. If the root-kit was on the drive, Windows would restore it as well. That's not to say I have it, just an example; that's what I think and sticking to it...
As stated in my earlier post, there isn't any data that would need to be backed up on a daily basis from the "C" drive. Pictures, videos, and websites that I work on are stored on conventional drives.

The question is, will the license become invalid if and when the image is restored to new drive? Like the Windows 7, Office 2010, Visio, etc? While I still have one or two license keys for them, I'd hate to use them up unless I'd have to.

mjf... Since Windows 7 includes image creation and restore, I didn't really want to install anything else. I have access to Ghost and Apricorn ez-gig III, but it seems that Windows 7 will do just fine for me..

kado... Yes, the LT56 is the NetBIOS name of the system, it's kind of given for Giants fans...
My System SpecsSystem Spec
14 Jan 2011   #9
mjf

Windows 7x64 Home Premium SP1
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Cr00zng View Post

mjf... Since Windows 7 includes image creation and restore, I didn't really want to install anything else. I have access to Ghost and Apricorn ez-gig III, but it seems that Windows 7 will do just fine for me..
My View:
I use Windows imaging all the time and it hasn't let me down. The reality is it has let others down at times. Even though I use it I don't trust it 100%. I keep Macrium Reflect (free) images as well - maybe not as many.
You only appreciate images I think when you first recover using one.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
14 Jan 2011   #10
Cr00zng

Windows 7 64-bit, Windows 8.1 64-bit, OSX Maverick
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by mjf View Post
My View:
I use Windows imaging all the time and it hasn't let me down. The reality is it has let others down at times. Even though I use it I don't trust it 100%. I keep Macrium Reflect (free) images as well - maybe not as many.
You only appreciate images I think when you first recover using one.
Now, you are scaring me...

Is there one that you'd trust 100%? Ghost had never let me down back in the days I've used to work with it...
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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