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Windows 7: Advice/help with my backup strategy

13 Jun 2011   #1

Windows 7 64 bit
Advice/help with my backup strategy

I have been doing a lot of research on building a sufficient back system for my needs, and I have a couple questions and I am looking for some advice from others on how I should proceed.

I first started with the purchase of an external hard drive. Actually, I purchased an external enclosure (thermaktake max 5 active cooling) and placed 1 TB western digital hard drive in it (WD Caviar Green). The reason I put my own external hard drive together was because I read horrible reviews from the standard external hard drives you can pick up from the store, as they crash a lot or just flat our fail after a year or so of use. I also did not want the software that came with the drive and with the external enclosure I can use a eSATA wire which is faster than a USB 2.0

As a casual home user my most important documents are my music, photos, videos (and metadata that goes along with it) and financial documents that I store on my computer - some of which are active excel files that I use daily. Therefore I do not think that a daily system image is required, however, it would be nice to backup all of my files daily (at least new files or one that have been changed). I would think that system image once a week or once a month would suffice.

I have just started using the standard windows backup that comes with windows 7 and it seems to do the job, however, it is lacking some flexibility. I do not mind paying for a good backup program, yet, after reading literally hundreds of articles and forums on backup programs I hear many different opinions and it makes choosing a program difficult. For example, I was ready to purchase Acronis TI 2011, until I started reading about all the complaints of how it ruined some peoples systems and they could not even get windows 7 backup to work after the initial install (some complain it would not even install at all). Also, the fact that the new user interface is very buggy and that it puts a lot of strain on your computer. Two other programs that I have also looked into are Paragon and Macrium.

As I mentioned above, I like windows 7 backup, however the lack of flexibility is making me look into other options. I do not like the fact that I cannot have separate schedules for a system image and file backups. Also, I do not like the fact that I cannot see how many images my computer is currently holding as Windows will only use 30% of the external drive for system images and will delete them after that. I read some people will copy the system image from windows and place it into another folder on the drive so it will not interfere with the 30% and ensures that you can keep an system image you want. But I do not know if this will somehow mess up the image in the event I need to use it.

Can anyone throw some suggestions my way as to what would be a good backup strategy for me - whether its one program or a combination of programs. The main features I am looking for are:
  • scheduling ability (two different schedules, one for images, one for file backup)
  • ability to control my backups (keep the backups/images I want, delete the ones I no longer need)
  • computer usage (I do not want a program that will eat up all of my computing power)
  • ease of use
Some other features that would be nice are:
  • Ability to open image on another computer as if it were another drive (i think Paragon has this feature)
  • Ability to install image on different hardware or smaller hard drive
  • Compressed image file sizes
I have also read that Paragon and Macrium repair disc is designed for Linux which I know nothing about, so I don't know if those programs would even be an option for me. Any comments, suggestions or opinions will be appreciated. Thanks in advance

My System SpecsSystem Spec

14 Jun 2011   #2

Windows 7 Pro x64 SP1

Check out GoodSync. Seriously, I love it & it's never done me wrong.

The imaging you might be on your own with, as I don't think GoodSync offers that, but I could be wrong.

Whatever you go with, if it doesn't offer an automation ability, you could always make it yourself in Task Scheduler: Task Scheduler - Create New Task

The other tutorials there might be helpful to you as well: Backup & Restore
My System SpecsSystem Spec
14 Jun 2011   #3

Windows 7 64 bit

Thanks Miranova23 for the input - I checked out goodsync and it did not look like it had everything I am looking for. However, when looking at goodsync I happened to come across two other programs - 1 free, 1 paid.

NovaBackUp - which is about $50, it looks pretty good, flexible and easy to use from what i can tell. It has the scheduling options I am looking for, ability to name backups and images (from what I can tell), and it even gives you the option to backup to an online storage site and they have a few vendors you can use.

Comodo Backup 2.0 - looks like a better option than windows backup and it is also free.

Can anyone shed some light on these programs, does anyone use them.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

14 Jun 2011   #4

Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit

Acronis, if you do not mind purchasing as it is not free, will do all your wanting and more.

You can set schedules to back the entire system weekly, or every day however you see fit.

As well as seperate backup tasks for a individual folder or folders. You can even have it back back them up once a hour if you choose.

It also does Incremental, and Differnential.

You can also recover everything from a back up, or just a single file from it if thats all you need.

As far as all the complaints ... Im not sure what to say..
Ive been using Acronis for a long time on 3 different PCs and have never had any major problems from it. Certainly nothing like decribed :-/
I know others have different preferences, for back ups ..
But personally Acronis is the 1st app I install on my machine. Wouldnt want to run a PC with out it.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
15 Jun 2011   #5

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

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

Give Macrium Reflect a try. Macrium Reflect Backup and Hard Disk Imaging for Windows 7, Vista, XP and Server 2003/2008 The free version can only do full images but the full version is very flexible. It can do full, incremental and differential images. Full, incremental and differential file backups. It is very flexible you can set up as many different backup schedules as you want to do different image or file selections as you need. A single user licence is around $40.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
15 Jun 2011   #6
Microsoft MVP

Windows 7 Ult. x64


There are a couple of options to have a look at to see if they meet your requirements:

1. Macrium Reflect for system images.
2. GFI Backup for data file backups

Both are free.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
15 Jun 2011   #7
Microsoft MVP

Vista, Windows7, Mint Mate, Zorin, Windows 8

I would vote with kado and Golden and go with Macrium Imaging with free Macrium Here is the scenario I suggest.

1. Put all your user data into a seperate Data Partition
2. Image the system partition weekly (I would not do any less)
3. Image the data partition daily

You can create 2 seperate XMLs for system and data. If you right click on an XML, go to "Schedule" an you can set individual schedules.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
15 Jun 2011   #8

Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit

I would certainly agree with whs, regardless which backup method you choose, having your DATA seperate from the OS partition is always a good thing.

It also make imaging & restoring the OS drive much faster, as well as restoring DATA.

One thing thats for sure, everyone should have some form of Backup in place ASAP, IMHO.
The biggest problem is finding one you are comfortable and happy with, as there are quite a few good choices out there.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
15 Jun 2011   #9

Windows 7 64 bit

I am little confused about how the Partion works. From what I understand it is simply breaking up your hard drive into different "parts" or drives. One being used for the OS and one for Data as you mentioned above. I attached a picture of how my computer came stock from Dell, can you guys tell me if this is set up correctly in regards to disk partions.

I am going to look into the two programs that Golden recommended along with whs strategy. However, I think i would rather go with the paid versions to have control over full, incremental and differential backups. Im sure every once in while I will want to do a full backup and use differential for the rest.

Attached Thumbnails
My System SpecsSystem Spec
15 Jun 2011   #10
Microsoft MVP

Vista, Windows7, Mint Mate, Zorin, Windows 8

You currently have an OS partition and a recovery partition (which contails a copy of the OS and from which you can reinstall the OS).

There is no Data Partition but you could easily create one as per the turorial I linked above. Just make sure it is an extended/logical partition and NOT another primary partition.

Generally there is no need to go for a pro version of the imaging programs - only if you want incremental/differential capability in Macrium. For that you need the pro version. You can, however, get differentials in free Paragon (which is a bit more complicated to use than Macrium - but doable).
My System SpecsSystem Spec

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