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Windows 7: Multiple system images with Windowsimagebackup


22 Dec 2011   #1

Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
 
 
Multiple system images with Windowsimagebackup

Greetings! I've done some searches on google and these forums, but haven't been able to find an answer really to my scenario of concern.

I have a hard drive exclusively for system image backups. After PC purchase and setup, I have renamed it WindowsimagebackupOriginal so that it's no longer overwritten. As the 'clean' image so to speak, before installing software.

This included a few 'incremental feature' system images (backup had run 3 times). So in the folder are various dates, like 8/26/11 for mediaID file, the first backup date, with the VHDs dated 10/2/11. That being the date of the last backup before I changed it, to preserve.

I now have a second, current Windowsimagebackup folder with many image points. If I wish to restore the system to the original Windowimagebackup (after renaming it back), will it not work? (i.e. Has the unseen 'shadow image' data been overwritten, meaning my original backup images are non-functional due to mystery shadow space increment data?) The drive has 90GB of data on it in the two folders, but says 630/930 GB free... the shadows are at work here...

Basically one of these is correct =D
It will still work, but will only restore the 8/26/11 date (all incremental shadowdata is lost)
It will still work, but will only restore the 9/5/11 date (highly unlikely)
It will still work, but will only restore the 10/2/11 date (all data but latest is lost)
Won't work at all (data is lost due to unseen shadow being overwritten)
Will work for all image points (shadow data isn't needed, it's all in the visible files)

Thanks!

My System SpecsSystem Spec
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22 Dec 2011   #2

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

If these are full system image backups then it shouldn't matter what the name of the backup location is or was. When you do a system image restore I believe it will let you select the directory where the images are stored and choose the one you want to use. I'm not sure what software you're using but I've used Symantec Ghost and a few others which all have worked this way
My System SpecsSystem Spec
22 Dec 2011   #3

 
 

1) it might be easier for you to manage your images if you keep them in the same WindowsImageBackup folder but rename the COMPUTER (2nd level directory node) directory. D:\WindowsImageBackup\yourPC-ORIGINAL\..........

2) when you pull up Recovery environment, when it shows the possible system images you can restore from, it shows the 2nd level node mentioned in #1 - If you rename the original \yourPC\ node to \yourPC-ORIGINAL\, the Win RE will shows yourPC-ORIGINAL as a valid system image.

Re: #2. I am NOT sure if Windows RE needs to have the ASSOCIATED shadow storage entry FOR a given WindowsImageBackup\yourPC.......\ for you to restore from it.

For example, if you originally did a system image with the targetdrive being E, and you MOVED that WindowsImageBackup to F, if you pull up win RE, I don't believe it will be seen since the shadow storage info says System Image from X date/time should reside on E, but I have no WindowsImageBackup on E.

In effect, since system restore points SHARE shadow storage, and shadow storage IS used to some degree for System Images (not sure about file Backups done via the Backup And Restore GUI), if a shadow copy entry needs to be deleted (to honor your setting max GB for the restore point/shadow storage for a TARGET volume - E in our case in #2 above), and the one it deleted is related to a system image, I don't think, even if the WindowsImageBackup is on the correct drive and named correctly, that Win RE will see it. My guess is the shadow storage entries are the "master" that determines system image validity. Maybe, if you choose the option "select another location for system images" and point it to your WindowsImageBackup (probably has to be named exactly that), then maybe you can restore that image even without the associated Shadow copy info.

I have a .bat script I wrote to automate all of this (renaming the 2nd level computername node under WindowsImageBackup) which also shows all the vssadmin and wbadmin Get Versions/Get Items info and interlinks it all to understand what you have. It has to have added an "informational" option so it won't do any of the renaming of the folders if you don't want. Anyway, as the script goes through the shadow volume information (vssadmin), if an associated WindowsImageBackup exists for that version ID: (date/time), I will show that associated folder info for that shadow entry.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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22 Dec 2011   #4

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by JimLewandowski View Post
For example, if you originally did a system image with the targetdrive being E, and you MOVED that WindowsImageBackup to F, if you pull up win RE, I don't believe it will be seen since the shadow storage info says System Image from X date/time should reside on E, but I have no WindowsImageBackup on E.
I would disagree. The drive letter of the system image shouldn't matter. In the case of Ghost, which I use frequently, images are saved in parts with one file that basically tells the software how to piece them back together. I suspect that the files associated with the Windows image backup are more like part files and have nothing to do with what drive they are stored on. I know this holds true because I have copied images off the server and onto an external HDD so that I could restore them using a Ghost recovery environment booted off the external HDD.

I could be wrong when it comes to Windows backup, but most image backup software is fundamentally the same

Even if it were the case that specific drive letters needed to be used, you could simply change the drive back to it's original letter. However, if this is the case I would seriously look into another backup solution
My System SpecsSystem Spec
22 Dec 2011   #5

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Vista x64 / 7 X64
 
 

Sounds interesting Jim,

Care to share your bat file?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
22 Dec 2011   #6

 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by SIW2 View Post
Sounds interesting Jim,

Care to share your bat file?
As mentioned, I have to add a new /I option that will only provide information and won't do any renaming, deleting of images, or starting a new backup.

System Image .bat script - allow multiple images - WindowsImageBackup
My System SpecsSystem Spec
23 Dec 2011   #7

Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
 
 

Thank you guys for the responses! I'm going to have to re-read what you said a few times Jim, as shadow data is a mystery to me (I thought it was 'system restore' hidden space on C: drive only). I'll try and reiterate more completely, but probably make less sense hehe.

I went through a lot of effort learning about the new OS over that month period. That's when I set up everything as best I could remember, and changed the Windowsimagebackup name when I had it all just right as I learned online. I even wrote for myself a page of notes (IRL .bat lol), on how to work in DOS should the need arise (such as renaming it back, in order for a restore environment to recognize it).

The hdd is labeled E: WD Backup. It's a Western Digital backup hdd =D Last PC with Vista died to a failed hdd (which taught me about motherboards to buy to build this machine with).

Anywho, I'm still really confused. Using Windows 7, my summer formatted E: hdd has 2 folders: WindowsimagebackupOriginal, and Windowsimagebackup. With my notes, I can rename Windowsimagebackup (today's system image) to lalahehe or something temporary in DOS space on a RE DVD boot. Then rename WindowsimagebackupOriginal, as Windowsimagebackup.

The issue I'm running into now, however, is learning about the 'incremental shadow data.' It's really weird that my C: drive has more space available than my E: backup drive (which has much less real space used... for the backups along with a tonne of hidden shadow data).

I wish it would have just saved all the complete system image data in the files. I think it does this if you use a few DVDs. But since I bought a hdd for it, now it's chosen to use shadow hidden data. So if I want to get my backup backup back >.< it's probably overwritten in the giant 300GB of shadows that 'makes it faster, makes life easier.' My current Windowsimagebackup has lots of software installed (Like 15+ C++ 2005/2008/2010 redistributable versions). So I want to restore to the clean, and lose all the programs I installed. But since it used the shadow...


"
I am NOT sure if Windows RE needs to have the ASSOCIATED shadow storage entry FOR a given WindowsImageBackup\yourPC.......\ for you to restore from it.
"

Is there any way to be sure? I would like to know this! I believe the answer to this question also holds the logic I am looking for that concerns me.

Happy Holidays!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
23 Dec 2011   #8
mjf

Windows 7x64 Home Premium SP1
 
 

I believe Windows 7 uses differencing vhd images. The parent is the current vhd image and the difference images are stored in shadow storage allowing you to revert to earlier images. Some tests I carried out a while ago allowed me to restore the parent vhd image after deleting shadow storage.

What I do:
1) I don't rely on shadow storage - ie,. difference images.
2) I make single Windows images manually. I then
- leave it in the partition root as the current image or
- rename it and/or
- move it out of the root into another folder but within the same
partition. This involves just a directory change and not a physical
file move.
- manually delete if not wanted.
By doing this I have never had a single problem after many images and restores.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
23 Dec 2011   #9

 
 

I agree with mjf.

Amy G. I am at a friends house, taking her first system image backup. I opened win RE and can see the single system image. I will manually delete its shadow entry and then try win RE again with the guess that windows will no longer be able to see that system image backup.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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 Multiple system images with Windowsimagebackup




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