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Windows 7: Win 7 64 bit Backup & Restore confusion

23 Aug 2011   #1

Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit
Win 7 64 bit Backup & Restore confusion


First off I'm a total newbie with very limited and patchy tech know how.

So I'm confused about all the info about the need to backup & restore files on my HP Compaq Presario CQ62 which has preinstalled Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit OS. Just in case it's relevant I also recently uninstalled the preinstalled NAV using Add/Remove and then the NRT 3 times after closing all windows, restarting each time and then installing MSE and MBAM Free version. Everything so far seems fine except sometimes I'm getting prompts to back up and restore files. Problem is I haven't got a clear understanding of the best way of doing that.

I've looked at the backup & restore tutorials, one of the stickies and some of the threads here and basically haven't got a clue what anyone's talking about.

I obviously understand that in principle it might be a good idea to save or back up files, documents etc in case of some kind of crash, but I can't find any info on the subject that takes it right from the start in understandable terms. Couldn't you just use a memory stick? (though I've never used one of them before either). When I used XP this issue never seemed to come up. Why is it so seemingly complicated an issue? External hard drives/DVD's/system imaging etc etc, sorry I just don't get it. Can anyone link me to some basic & comprehensible info that deals with this from the perspective of a beginner? (have of course tried Windows help/info but couldn't make head or tail of it)

My System SpecsSystem Spec

23 Aug 2011   #2

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient


information   Information
We always assume you have made your Recovery Disks using the OEM manufacturer's app the first day you had your new PC.
& made the Startup Repair CD.

Do you make your HP/Compaq Recovery Disks first?

How to make HP Recovery DVD disks:
Recover Windows Vista Operating System Using HP Recovery - HP Customer Care (United States - English)

How to make HP Recovery USB disk:
Creating a Recovery Disk on a USB Flash Disk HP Pavilion dv6700z CTO Entertainment Notebook PC - HP Customer Care (United States - English)

You can Order HP Recovery Disks from here:
Compaq Mini CQ10-500 PC series*-* HP Notebook PCs - Order Recovery Discs for Windows 7, Vista, or XP - c00810334 - HP Business Support Center
My System SpecsSystem Spec
23 Aug 2011   #3

Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 64-Bit

As theog points out, if you have created a set of HP recovery discs you can recover your computer to its factory state either from HP's recovery partition or from the recovery discs. (It is quicker to use the recovery partition).

However, you would then have to re-install all your applications and you would lose any data you hadn't backed up.

Windows 7's backup utility is very easy to use and can be used to create a system image on an external drive that can then be used to recover your computer to the state it was when the image was first created.

If you use that method you can create an image as often as you like until your external storage space is used up, and then you can delete the earliest image(s) to create more space for future backups.

A data backup is different in that all you are doing there is creating a backup of data and folders that you specify.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

23 Aug 2011   #4

W7 Ult desktop, W8.1 laptop, W7 Home netbook, W8.1 tablet, Win 10 TP VM

You could use a memory stick for backup but a memory stick is relatively expensive per gigabyte as compared to an external HDD, especially if you have significant amount of data to backup.

I personally never use the recovery disks or recovery partition on a machine since they will take you back to square one and you will not only have lost all your installed apps but also any customization, service packs and security updates and any data that wasn't backed up. In addition, you will need to "decrapify" your system again of the useless stuff that the mfrs install that you don't want. I always get my machine setup the way I like it with all updates, my apps installed and the crap removed then I create a system image. I also periodically make system images, especially after installing new apps or major OS updates like an SP.

It's fairly simple to attach an external HDD and then setup the Win 7 backup utility to do scheduled backups. You'll also want to create a System Repair disk in order to boot your machine and restore the backup should your machine not be bootable when you need to restore.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
23 Aug 2011   #5

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 SP1, Home Premium, 64-bit

Separate the idea of "backups" into 2 categories:

Personal data backup and Windows backup. They are 2 different ideas and are typically done with different methods.

Personal data backup is most commonly done with a "file by file" backup program such as Synctoy, Cobian, or Second Copy. The user chooses exactly what files to backup as well as when and where they will be backed up. Typically, a user might backup personal data every day to an external hard drive.

Windows backup is usually done through an imaging program such as Macrium, Acronis, EaseUS, or Windows own backup. The user chooses which hard drive partitions to include. An image backup will include EVERYTHING on the chosen partition. In the case of an image of the C partition, the image backup would include Windows. Personal data files would be included ONLY if they exist on the chosen partition. An image backup file can include more than one partition. Images are most commonly used for the C partition.

You cannot backup Windows with a file by file method. You have to use an image.

Most experienced users on this forum use both file by file and image backups. Image backups are normally made less frequently than file by file backups because personal data normally is more important than Windows itself and because personal data usually changes more frequently.

Neither imaging nor file by file backups are infallible, but file by file is less likely to be problematic and so is the preferred method for valuable personal data.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
25 Aug 2011   #6

Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit

Hi, thanks for replies. Not too keen on the sound of recovery disks, recovery partitions (whatever they are) etc, as I don't fancy having to reinstall everything from scratch. Perhaps gravitating towards system imaging and the Windows backup facility, external HDD. Are there any tutorials on this subject relevant to Win 7 64 bit specifically for beginners/newbies? Tried googling it but mostly came up with the Windows help which I'm afraid I can't quite get my head around.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
25 Aug 2011   #7

W7 Ult desktop, W8.1 laptop, W7 Home netbook, W8.1 tablet, Win 10 TP VM

Here's a backup tutorial by Brink: How to Create A System Image in Win 7

There really isn't anything different between backing up a 64-bit system vs 32-bit, works the same.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
25 Aug 2011   #8

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 SP1, Home Premium, 64-bit

A beginner is likely to find Windows 7 imaging a bit cryptic and confusing to grasp and operate.

Macrium Reflect Free edition and EaseUS Todo Backup Free edition are both much simpler to use and understand.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
28 Aug 2011   #9

Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit

Thanks, I'll check out that tutorial and do some research on Macrium soon.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

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