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Windows 7: Another back up strategy question

17 Aug 2011   #1

Windows 7 Home Premium x64
 
 
Another back up strategy question

This is my first visit to the back up and restore forum so please go easy on me. I've searched the forums to try and get a view on the best way forward but there is so much information in here and so many differing opinions I thought it best to start a thread of my own.

This is what I need to back up on my Sony Vaio Laptop:

C Drive (Internal 100GB/250GB in use) - system image, working files and folders, favourites etc.
M Drive - (USB 500GB/640GB in use) - Music and pictures
V Drive - (USB 700/1TB in use) - Videos

I also have a 2TB external USB drive which I will use for back ups only (and I'll keep this at work to protect against theft or fire at home).

Since windows backup does an incremental backup I figured it should be as simple as plugging all the drives in once per week, setting the back up settings to take a system image and 'let windows choose' (all my M & V drive folders are added to the libraries so should be picked up by windows default setting) hit back up now and the back up should run pretty quickly because it will just pick out files and folders that have changed since the last backup.

Is this what I can expect? I wouldn't know because I've not had chance to try it yet because my initial backup is still running after 2 days lol

Having read the forum it seems that another option would be to use windows to create a system image and back up my working files and folders (weekly would be good for me) and then use Macrium Free version to do occasional backups of my M & V drives (monthly should suffice).


My System SpecsSystem Spec
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17 Aug 2011   #2

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

On the external drive, do you want to have multiple backup copies of your Music, Pictures and Videos...or is one point in time copy sufficient? For me, I find 1 copy of these things to be ok...I just want them in case my original hard drive takes a dump.

So, this is exactly how I handle my backups
1). I use robocopy to backup my data files (music, pictures and videos). I create a batch file called backup.bat that reads as follows
robocopy M:\music X:\backups\music /MIR /E
robocopy M:\pictures X:\backups\music /MIR /E
robocopy V:\videos X:\backups\music /MIR /E

2). I use an imaging software (I use Acronis at home, Macrium at work, but considering EaseUS ToDoBackup Free 3 to replace them both).
I use this to take regular full images of my C drive where my OS and my applications are stored. I usually image about once every 2 weeks.


The thing I like about robocopy is that the backups are not stored in any type of backup file. They are just sitting on the external drive. Thus, if you have a catastrophic failure of your system, you should be able to plug that external drive into any other computer and without needing any software of any kind, you can just copy the files back off. In addition, robocopy simply copies just the changes in the files beteween the source and the destination. Thus, the first copy takes a long time as it has to copy everything, but all future runs of the batch file are fast as it only copies the files that have changed.

In the above robocopy commands, the /MIR means to mirror the source and destination. Thus, if you have deleted the file from your source M drive...it will be deleted from the backup drive as well the next time you run the job. And the /E means to copy even empty subdirectories.

And I applaud your decision to keep that 2TB drive offsite. This makes things far safer. I keep 2 drives offsite with my backups. I stagger them, so technically I have 2 point in time backups.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
17 Aug 2011   #3

Windows 7 Professional 64bit
 
 

Ideally, you want to move all your data files, such as documents, pictures and etc, away from your system partition (c drive) that contains Windows. This way, you'll be able to backup/restore Windows without affecting your data. Once your programs are all installed, system partition hardly changes, so you can create system image every few months.

How often you do data backup depends on how often your files change and how important those files are to you. I'm lazy, I backup every month or sometimes longer . For smaller, important files, I backup to Dropbox, which provides 2GB free.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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17 Aug 2011   #4

Windows 7 Home Premium x64
 
 

Thanks for the comments guys.

Can anyone answer my question about the Windows 7 incremental back up? Could it be as simple as just plug all my drives in and click back up with the system image option included? I can see how that gives me a simple solution in a few clicks including a separate system image and file back up I can use to restore any individual files. Sounds simple so what's the catch? Would it take too long with the amounts of data I have ((my music, pics and video don't change that much).

I like things easy and simple and don't really want to start partitioning my VAIO drive just to keep documents separate. Just a simple and quick back up procedure is what I'm after.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
17 Aug 2011   #5

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 SP1, Home Premium, 64-bit
 
 

Personally, I would not use incremental images. I'd use full images only. Seems to me we see problems arising from the use of incrementals more often in these forums. They just add complexity and can lead to confusion.

I'd use an imaging program to back up C (Macrium, Acronis, EaseUS) and a different traditional file by file backup program (Robocopy, Second Copy, Synctoy, etc) to back up the V and M drives. Two separate programs and most likely two different schedules.

I'd be reluctant to completely rely on an automated schedule until I was highly familiar with the programs. There's few things worse than being deluded into a false sense of security because you don't fully understand what a backup program is (or is not) doing---only to be disappointed when you have a catastrophic disk failure and find out that your backup isn't quite what you thought it would be.

A full backup of data probably wouldn't take more than 2 minutes, although the first backup can take hours. A full image backup of C alone normally takes under 10 minutes.


But don't get complacent.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
17 Aug 2011   #6

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Riggers View Post
Can anyone answer my question about the Windows 7 incremental back up? Could it be as simple as just plug all my drives in and click back up with the system image option included?
I think with the built in imaging tool, it's 1 or the other. I don't think you can do an image, and a file backup type at the same time.

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Riggers View Post
I like things easy and simple and don't really want to start partitioning my VAIO drive just to keep documents separate. Just a simple and quick back up procedure is what I'm after.
You don't have to partition your drive to keep things separate. You already sorted out your Music, Pictures and Videos. If you simply moved your document style files to another drive...you should be all set.

As far as staying simple, this seems simple to me;
--A quick robocopy job whenever you want to backup documents, videos, music and pictures to your external drive.
--Another quick system image from time to time to save your OS and applications.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
17 Aug 2011   #7

Windows 7 Home Premium x64
 
 

Quote:
I think with the built in imaging tool, it's 1 or the other. I don't think you can do an image, and a file backup type at the same time.
You can kick it all off as part of the same operation. Windows creates a system image file and also a file back up file.

Quote:
You don't have to partition your drive to keep things separate. You already sorted out your Music, Pictures and Videos. If you simply moved your document style files to another drive...you should be all set.
This is a laptop that I use on the go all the time, mostly not requiring USB drives to be attached as I don't usually need access to pictures and music so it's not really convenient moving all my documents to a spare drive.

I just want to know if Windows Backup performs ok for what i described above.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
17 Aug 2011   #8

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

I would think that Windows backup should be fine for what you mention. I used the built-in imager a couple of times and it was fine for me. But it was limited, couldn't easily be moved or renamed, so I dumped it in favor of something with some more features like Acronis.

Honestly, check out EaseUs ToDoBackup Free version 3. I've been testing it a bit for a few days and it seems really solid. It images, it backs up files, it can be scheduled, it can offsite stuff...it's very full featured for a freebie app. And it's quite intuitive.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
17 Aug 2011   #9
mjf

Windows 7x64 Home Premium SP1
 
 

I have used Windows imaging on 2 PCs many times without problem. Probably reimaged ~20 times with it. You can easily move and rename images. See these tutorials
Backup Complete Computer - Create an Image Backup
System Image Recovery
I never include imaging in a Windows Backup & Restore schedule. It will make difference images in shadow storage. I think this is very risky and I make images manually one at a time by clicking on the "Create a system image" button.

I also use Macrium Reflect as a supplementary imaging program in case Windows imaging fouls up. It's a very well regarded program and more flexible.

However, I am tempted to try the new Easeus product since it appears to have some additional nice free features.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
17 Aug 2011   #10

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

I just don't like the fact that you have to jump through hoops renaming and moving the built in system image tool. Seems it would be just easier to let the user call the file what they want and prompt for it during a restore, rather than being totally dependent on the folder having a specific name.

In the end, I just wanted more features. Ability to create more restore points, the Acronis Try & Decide feature, etc. And I only paid $23.99 for Acronis...so I think it was worth that. But right now, the new EaseUS ToDo has my attention. It's very solid for a free app, and very intuitive...especially for those new to imaging.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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