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Windows 7: Backup options...


10 Apr 2011   #1

Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit 1-Pack for System Builders - OEM
 
 
Backup options...

At the moment I have 3 HDDs, one 1.5tb internal (windows boots from this one), one 2tb internal hdd and one 1tb external hdd. I created a system image for both the 1.5tb and 1tb external and it takes up about 1 tb of space in the 2tb hdd. Now windows is running it's scheduled backup (copies files in libraries and personal folders for all users) and it's taking up alot more space than I expected. It's still running right now and there's 596.1GB left in my 2tb hdd. This pretty much means I have only one system image to work with. Is there a more efficient way to save space? Besides buying another HDD of course. Would creating only the system image without the weekly backup be enough?

Another slightly unrelated question is can I make the weekly windows backup include a system image of the external hdd? The only way I can make it create a system image of it is by manually creating an image myself.

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10 Apr 2011   #2

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 SP1, Home Premium, 64-bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by CC123 View Post
Would creating only the system image without the weekly backup be enough?
It certainly wouldn't be enough for me.

What if your primary drive fails and then you discover you can't restore your image, which is hardly rare around here?
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10 Apr 2011   #3

Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit 1-Pack for System Builders - OEM
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by ignatzatsonic View Post
Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by CC123 View Post
Would creating only the system image without the weekly backup be enough?
It certainly wouldn't be enough for me.

What if your primary drive fails and then you discover you can't restore your image, which is hardly rare around here?
So how would you go about backing up these 3 drives? I might as well tell you what I have on these drives. The 2tb is meant solely for saving backups, the external is contains movies and anime and the 1.5tb internal contains my music; there are other things such as games and programs but these are what I consider the most vital of what I want to backup.
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10 Apr 2011   #4

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 SP1, Home Premium, 64-bit
 
 

You may have to buy more drives. It just depends on what you are willing to lose. Most if not all movies can be replaced. Music may be more difficult to replace. Photographs and personal documents may be impossible to replace. You have to do some sort of triage and rank stuff in order of importance.

I would NOT rely on an image to back up anything other than my Windows installation unless I was entirely comfortable in losing it all.

Normally, an image takes up roughly half as much space as the occupied space on the imaged partition. File by file data backups take up as much space as the original.

If it were me, I'd probably have just 1 image: my Windows install. I'd make one every month or so and delete the earlier one. I'd have a small C partition of 50 or 100 gigs that contained NO personal data. That's how I do it, but it's all personal choice. You might not even image C at all. So what if you have to reinstall Windows? It's not a big deal and it may save you sufficient space to not image Windows at all.

I'd do file by file backups of the stuff I couldn't afford to lose or couldn't easily replace. You'd have to get out a calculator and add up the gigs. Compare the cost of another backup drive to the cost of re-obtaining your originals, particularly in the case of movies.
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10 Apr 2011   #5

Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit 1-Pack for System Builders - OEM
 
 

Well, If I go and do file by file backups is there even any need for windows backup then? I mean could I just dump my music, movie and anime folder into the drive every once a week instead. Any downsides to that?
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10 Apr 2011   #6

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 SP1, Home Premium, 64-bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by CC123 View Post
Well, If I go and do file by file backups is there even any need for windows backup then? I mean could I just dump my music, movie and anime folder into the drive every once a week instead. Any downsides to that?

File by file backups won't help you restore Windows with an image if you want to be able to do that. File by file backups are good for data backup, not restoring Windows.

The only downside is if Windows fails completely, you have to reinstall it--you have no image. But you still do have System Restore, which can bail you out of many tight spots. Not as good as an image, but way better than nothing. Imaging isn't foolproof either. File by file backups are almost foolproof---much less likely to go bad because you have not added the complexity of imaging.

That's a perfectly sane way to operate. You have backups of the important stuff. If Windows fails, you reinstall it. No problem as long as you have a Windows disc. It takes a few hours to get a basic install up and running and maybe longer to reinstall all of your apps.

Yeah, you could just manually copy your music, movie, and anime folder periodically. Or you could get a file by file backup program that will do it for you----Synctoy, Second Copy, Cobian, etc. No image involved. You poke one button and it backs up anything that is new or changed since the last backup.
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10 Apr 2011   #7

Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit 1-Pack for System Builders - OEM
 
 

Wow, Synctoy is a godsend. Thank you for introducing me to that. I assume I can make it run weekly from Task Scheduler?
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10 Apr 2011   #8

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 SP1, Home Premium, 64-bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by CC123 View Post
Wow, Synctoy is a godsend. Thank you for introducing me to that. I assume I can make it run weekly from Task Scheduler?
I've never used it, but I believe that is correct.

I use Second Copy, which has it's own scheduler built in.

Tip: do it manually. It should be only a button poke. You eliminate yet another layer of complexity if you eliminate scheduling. I do my backups every day, all manually. I choose what folders to exclude, what file extensions to exclude, etc. File by file backup programs give you a lot of control over what and when---imaging has no control over what.

Scheduling can lull you into a sense of complacency---you assume all is going well with your backups, but you haven't really checked lately.
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11 Apr 2011   #9

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

I would be wary of just one system image. They have been known to be corrupted and the restore to fail. Re-installing is not really an option for most of us with OEM systems without the original disks. There is also the problems of reinstalling all the programs you have and getting the installation set up the way you want it. Keep at least two recent images in case of problems.
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11 Apr 2011   #10

Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by kado897 View Post
I would be wary of just one system image. They have been known to be corrupted and the restore to fail. Re-installing is not really an option for most of us with OEM systems without the original disks. There is also the problems of reinstalling all the programs you have and getting the installation set up the way you want it. Keep at least two recent images in case of problems.
While agreeing that system images are not infallible, I have made well over a hundred images of my XP and Windows 7 systems with dozens of restores - using Acronis TrueImage and Macrium Reflect - and all have succeeded.

I have always tried to keep the OS partition as slim as possible and manage with 20GB of Windows 7 on a 60GB partition - all programs (kept to a minimum) installed here too but most related program data stored elsewhere. This images to about 12GB so I usually have half a dozen images or more available on two separate drives. Since I don't download a lot of music or videos I can make do with relatively small drives. Personal data is backed up using SyncBack and again is on two separate drives and also to external USB drives. I never use the system backup options as there can be problems when trying to retrieve backups in some compressed form or with different versions of backup software so all backups are simple file copies and are easily accessible even if they take up more space. Like other backup programs SyncBack does scheduling but I think a paid version is necessary to get the full range of options for Windows 7. I have the free version and used to use the scheduling on my XP system but just do it manually now when I have downloaded something worth backing up.

I think like many others I would not contemplate a reinstall of the OS unless it was on top of itself and retained all settings and programs - have done it only once I think in about 10 years. I usually make too many small but necessary changes to the system and programs for a wipe and clean install also and find that imaging using a reliable program like Acronis or macrium to suit me perfectly.

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