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Windows 7: Backup or Image?

25 Jan 2012   #11
ignatzatsonic

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Home Premium SP1, 64-bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by jack1953 View Post

While I've got your attention Igna, can you explain to me, the difference between Imaging and Cloning, and examples of when it would be beneficial to use both?
Cloning: Not a backup. Used when things are going well, usually when you run out of space on C. You go buy a new internal drive and then clone from the existing C to the new drive, directly, in real-time (a half hour or so). Think of it as a simple copy of everything on C to a new C. Cloning does NOT create an "image" file that you put on an external and then "restore". When the cloning is done (assuming it worked), the new drive you just bought will boot and be entirely operational, just as the old C was.

Imaging: Is a backup, normally used to recover from a jam of some type, such as a badly fouled Windows install or a failed drive. An image CAN contain multiple partitions. When you make the image, an "image" file is made and stored on some other partition (preferably another drive). That "image" file is not bootable as it sits, but can be "restored" to another drive, at which point that drive would be bootable (if the imaging worked as expected). The image file takes up quite a bit of space. You need some sort of boot disk to restore the image file--usually a Linux or WinPE disk that is made within the imaging application before disaster strikes. Without a bootable recovery disk, you can't restore the image. An image file cannot be stored on any partition contained in the image file. Normally, you would make periodic images--weekly or monthly or so, depending on how often your system changes. An image made on July 19 can only restore you to the way you were on July 19, so if it is restored on October 24, the PC would no longer have any changes made after July 19.

Cloning and imaging can both be used when things are going well and you need to move to a new larger drive. Imaging can also be used to recover from a disaster, cloning cannot.

Imaging is more popular here because people here are backup-obsessed.

But for a simple transfer to a new drive when things are going well, cloning is a reasonable alternative.

Both can and do fail.

Don't get yourself in a situation where you are desperately counting on either of them. Have a fallback position for when they fail.

The primary reason to use them is to save time. You should always be able to survive without either.

I don't trust my data backups to imaging or cloning precisely because they are not foolproof. There are ways to backup data without imaging or cloning.


My System SpecsSystem Spec
.
25 Jan 2012   #12
jack1953

Windows 7
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by ignatzatsonic View Post
Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by jack1953 View Post

While I've got your attention Igna, can you explain to me, the difference between Imaging and Cloning, and examples of when it would be beneficial to use both?
Cloning: Not a backup. Used when things are going well, usually when you run out of space on C. You go buy a new internal drive and then clone from the existing C to the new drive, directly, in real-time (a half hour or so). Think of it as a simple copy of everything on C to a new C. Cloning does NOT create an "image" file that you put on an external and then "restore". When the cloning is done (assuming it worked), the new drive you just bought will boot and be entirely operational, just as the old C was.

Imaging: Is a backup, normally used to recover from a jam of some type, such as a badly fouled Windows install or a failed drive. An image CAN contain multiple partitions. When you make the image, an "image" file is made and stored on some other partition (preferably another drive). That "image" file is not bootable as it sits, but can be "restored" to another drive, at which point that drive would be bootable (if the imaging worked as expected). The image file takes up quite a bit of space. You need some sort of boot disk to restore the image file--usually a Linux or WinPE disk that is made within the imaging application before disaster strikes. Without a bootable recovery disk, you can't restore the image. An image file cannot be stored on any partition contained in the image file. Normally, you would make periodic images--weekly or monthly or so, depending on how often your system changes. An image made on July 19 can only restore you to the way you were on July 19, so if it is restored on October 24, the PC would no longer have any changes made after July 19.

Cloning and imaging can both be used when things are going well and you need to move to a new larger drive. Imaging can also be used to recover from a disaster, cloning cannot.

Imaging is more popular here because people here are backup-obsessed.

But for a simple transfer to a new drive when things are going well, cloning is a reasonable alternative.

Both can and do fail.

Don't get yourself in a situation where you are desperately counting on either of them. Have a fallback position for when they fail.

The primary reason to use them is to save time. You should always be able to survive without either.

I don't trust my data backups to imaging or cloning precisely because they are not foolproof. There are ways to backup data with imaging or cloning.
Well done! Even I understood that!!

Let me ask this. I have a daily backup scheduled in Acronis. Will each backup be a separate backup, or will it overwrite the same files?

Jack
My System SpecsSystem Spec
25 Jan 2012   #13
ignatzatsonic

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Home Premium SP1, 64-bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by jack1953 View Post
Let me ask this. I have a daily backup scheduled in Acronis. Will each backup be a separate backup, or will it overwrite the same files?

Jack
I quit using Acronis, so I don't recall if it does only full and separate backups. Some imaging applications also do "incremental" backups.

The consensus is that full backups are simpler, easier to manage, and less likely to cause complications.

You can always give an image a unique name to avoid over-writes, but that should happen by default anyway. Normally, you would want to be able to identify the date of an image file by sight--by looking at the name.

Daily backups of Windows is probably excessive unless you have an unusual situation. Full backups of 10 or 15 gigs each will quickly take up a lot of space.

Daily backups of personal data, on the other hand, is NOT excessive, but I wouldn't rely on images for that purpose.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
.

25 Jan 2012   #14
wanchoo

Windows 7 Pro with SP1 32bit
 
 

As for keeping images safely backed up, about once in six months or so I burn the latest image on spanned rerecordable CDs/DVDs. In the event of everything going for a six I can then at least fall back upon an up to six month old image. But there has to be an end to paranoia somewhere.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
25 Jan 2012   #15
jack1953

Windows 7
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by wanchoo View Post
As for keeping images safely backed up, about once in six months or so I burn the latest image on spanned rerecordable CDs/DVDs. In the event of everything going for a six I can then at least fall back upon an up to six month old image. But there has to be an end to paranoia somewhere.
I think I'm still reeling after my 8 year old Dell finally crashed, and it's been quite an adventure getting things restored. I have a small business and it's really critical that I can be better prepared for this, if and when it happens again!!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
25 Jan 2012   #16
whs
Microsoft MVP

Vista, Windows7, Mint Mate, Zorin, Windows 8
 
 

Did you consult the imaging tutorials I posted:

Imaging with free Macrium
Imaging strategies

And don't forget your bootmgr.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
26 Jan 2012   #17
seavixen32

Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 64-Bit
 
 

Like others, I have my personal data on a separate partition from the system partition that contains Windows and my installed programs.

I create a system image backed up to an external hard drive each time I either install or uninstall a program, and then use Microsoft's SyncToy to update my personal data that is also backed up to an external hard drive.

Download: SyncToy 2.1 - Microsoft Download Center - Download Details

Using the Echo facility tracks any changes to the data on the internal data partition and syncs it to the external data partition.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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