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Windows 7: System Image Dilemma


30 Apr 2012   #1
rao

windows 7 64 home
 
 

I have two hd drives.
The first one is labelled "c" and contains the operating system and programs.
The second one has three partitions, labelled "m", "z" and "x"
I have moved My Documents and Downloads from "c" to "m".
Drive "m" will contain all my data and will be backed up to an external drive.
I have created a WindowsImageBackup Folder of drive "c" in drive "z".
I have created a WindowsImageBackup Folder in an external drive.
Partition/drive "x" is roughly twice the size of the OS in "c" and is allocated but empty.
I have made a Windows System Repair Disc.

If drive "c" fails I understand that I can use the System Repair Disc to re-install the operating system and programs using the WindowsImageBackup Folder.
After replacing the faulty drive and installing a new drive, I understand that I can allocate the new drive using the System Repair Disc.
Is this correct?


From a time point of view, if I remove the faulty drive but not replace it immediately, then can I use the System Repair Disc and the WindowsImageBackup stored in drive "z" to install the operating system and programmes in partition/drive "x"?

If so, can I then boot and run Windows from drive "x"?
Will the computer automatically find the OS in drive "x" or will I have to change the boot sequence in the BIOS?

Presumably, I can install a replacement drive within the Windows environment, label it "c" and move the OS from "x" to "c".

Any comments about the above would be much appreciated, as with most backup stuff, you don't know what will happen until you come to use it.

It seems to make sense from a space viewpoint and is sometimes necessary, to install the OS on an SSD and programmes on a different drive.
However, am I correct in thinking that the system image of the OS will only work, after a re-installation, with programmes installed at the time of the creation of the image?
In other words, as the OS registry is written to when a programme is installed, then any programmes installed after a system image is made will not work if that system image is re-installed on the SSD.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
.

30 Apr 2012   #2

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

Yes, that's correct. If the app is needs registry entries to run, it won't work after
you replace the registry with an older one.
There are ways to overcome this with registry copies and restores, but then you get into complexities that can cause problems.
I suggest you keep "core" apps on the same partition as the OS, and they'll always be imaged together, and restored together.
By core app I mean something you know you use frequently and don't want to reinstall.
Personally, I install most apps - including games - to my OS partition.
After some period of time I restore the OS, losing the games and other apps I've installed since I made the image.
The games can easily be reinstalled if I want them again, and I may or may not move the savegame files before I do the restore.
In any case, immediately after the image restore I decide if I no longer need a "core" app, and uninstall it if that's the case.
I also may install an app I've tried and decided to make a core app.
Then I'll do all updates the restored image needs - for example anti-virus updates, Adobe, etc.
Then I run CCleaner and otherwise clean up garbage files, then make a new image.
I'm good for 2-3 months normally, then the process repeats.
Sometimes, if I've been testing many apps, restore/imaging is more frequent.
Many ways to do it, but the key to keeping it simple is how you organize your
OS and data partitions at the outset.
And if you keep it simple it's more likely you'll do it as needed.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
30 Apr 2012   #3
Microsoft MVP

64-bit Windows 8.1 Enterprise
 
 

Hello Rao, and welcome to Seven Forums.

You've complicated this a bit by moving your "My Documents" and "Downloads" to "M". Because of this, "M" will now also be included along with "C" when you create a system image.

When you do a System Image Recovery from your System Repair Disc, it will restore both "C" and "M". Be sure to also make sure that "Z" and "X" have been excluded before doing the System Image Recovery to prevent them from being formated as well.

Hope this helps,
Shawn
My System SpecsSystem Spec
.


01 May 2012   #4
rao

windows 7 64 home
 
 

Quote:
You've complicated this a bit by moving your "My Documents" and "Downloads" to "M". Because of this, "M" will now also be included along with "C" when you create a system image.

When you do a System Image Recovery from your System Repair Disc, it will restore both "C" and "M". Be sure to also make sure that "Z" and "X" have been excluded before doing the System Image Recovery to prevent them from being formated as well.
Now I am confused.
The data in the folders contained in My Documents in drive "m" are big.
Drive "m" is backed up to an external drive using an Easus backup plan.
I have made a system image of drive "c".
From the size of this system image it cannot contain any data from drive"m".
Are you saying that if I now restore to drive "c" using the System Repair Disc, I will not have the option to just restore drive "c" using the system image that I have made?
My whole idea was to be able to backup and restore the OS and Programmes on drive "c" separately from all the data on drive "m".
The data on drive "m" is automatically incrementally backed up daily whereas the OS and programmes on drive "c" does not change very often and I will manually make a new system image every week.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
01 May 2012   #5
mjf

Windows 7x64 Home Premium SP1
 
 

@rao
as Brink points out the libraries My documents etc. will need to be included in the image and will be included in the reimage using Windows imaging. But if you don't do this with other imaging software you could also get into a mess.

I keep document/picture type data on other partitions. This data is fairly static so I manage its backup as a separate process. BUT they are folders and not libraries.
I think this is the best way to go with large fairly static data.

Let me give you a very specific example. I have a partition reserved for downloads and it is quite large but changes infrequently. I back it up with a crude drag & drop procedure. I accept "merge folders" for all and not copy existing files.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
01 May 2012   #6

Windows 7 Pro with SP1 32bit
 
 

Hello Shawn,

This statement is not quite clear to me. I too have kept My Documents, Downloads and WLM Message Store on an external drive. I use Acronis to make an Image of my C (System Volume) Drive.

The created Image is of the C Drive only and not of the external drive. When I restore an earlier Image of the C Drive, the paths to the My Documents and other Folders are picked up automatically.

Perhaps I have not understood clearly what you are saying but in practice there has not been any complication by keeping My Documents etc. elsewhere and not on C. Could you please elaborate a little bit more.

Best and regards,

Amarnath


Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Brink View Post
Hello Rao, and welcome to Seven Forums.

You've complicated this a bit by moving your "My Documents" and "Downloads" to "M". Because of this, "M" will now also be included along with "C" when you create a system image.

When you do a System Image Recovery from your System Repair Disc, it will restore both "C" and "M". Be sure to also make sure that "Z" and "X" have been excluded before doing the System Image Recovery to prevent them from being formated as well.

Hope this helps,
Shawn
My System SpecsSystem Spec
01 May 2012   #7
Microsoft MVP

64-bit Windows 8.1 Enterprise
 
 

Hello Amarnath,

This is what happens with the included System Image feature in Windows 7 instead of with Acronis or any other 3rd party program. System Image also includes the external (ex: "M") to make sure that it's also restored along with Windows 7 since without "M", you would have a mess without those folders still being at the other location (ex: "M"). Anything that is part of the system is included in the image and cannot be excluded by default to make sure everthing for Windows 7 is restored as it was.

If something should happen and you didn't still have those folders on your external after restoring your Acronis image of C:, then you would have a mess since the restored Windows 7 is still looking (referenced) for them to be there.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
01 May 2012   #8

Windows 7 Pro with SP1 32bit
 
 

Hi Shawn,

In that case the first thing that we should do is to tell the OP to use a third party software for imaging and abandon Windows 7 inbuilt applet. As Acronis is not free he may perhaps use Macrium Reflect, which is the preferred program for imaging in these Forums. I don't have any experience of Macrium but I hope that it behaves like Acronis.

Only a few days back I shifted the WLM Message Store to another location. Later I restored an Image by Acronis prepared before the shift was done. All that happened was that an empty WLM Store Folder was created at the earlier location.

When I opened WLM I found that all the messages and accounts were missing. I wondered what had happened for a minute, as such a thing had never happened before. Then I remembered the shift that I had made and changed the location of the Store to where I had shifted it. That was all that was needed to put everything in its place.

Amarnath
My System SpecsSystem Spec
01 May 2012   #9
Microsoft MVP

64-bit Windows 8.1 Enterprise
 
 

There's nothing wrong with the system image feature in Windows 7. In fact it'll help make sure that everything needed to run Windows 7 will be included in the image backup. You just have to make sure that you exclude any drive letter when doing a system image recovery to not have them formatted as well.

The best thing to do is not move user folders to another location. Instead, create new folders on say the external "M" drive, and include those folders in libraries of your choice instead.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
01 May 2012   #10
rao

windows 7 64 home
 
 

Thank you very much for your help and opinions.
For the record I have moved the folders in My Documents and Downloads back into my user folder in the "c" drive. They do not contain any data.
I have created new folders in a separate drive to accommodate all my data.
Amongst other stuff I have thousands of images which need to be securely backed up so I need to feel very confident that if shove comes to push I can restore easily and safely.
I have found that most of my programs, which are installed in a folder located in a drive other than "c" work ok.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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 System Image Dilemma




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