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Windows 7: Win 7 Ultimate scheduled Restore size is getting huge!

07 May 2012   #11
kado897

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit Service Pack 1
 
 

I use SkyDrive with sync myself but not as a backup. I do that separately with FreeFileSync to a local hard drive using mirroring with versions scheduled to run daily.


My System SpecsSystem Spec
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07 May 2012   #12
Victor S

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

There are some things you have to decide.
1. What you want to back up to an image.
You've said you want your OS's and games backed up. If they are on one partition, that's already defined. I don't multi-OS, so if they are on more than one partition, just add the partitions they are on to the definition.

2. The purpose of your backup images.
You've said you want your "pristine" OS preserved, so you can restore it. You should know that scheduling the Win 7 backup will produce a series of incremental
backups. For example, the first backup will show as a dated image in the Win 7 restore screen, then each subsequent image will show as another entry.
Selecting the latest entry will restore everything that has been imaged to date.
Including anything that has corrupted your "pristine" image.
You'll really be in a guessing game as to which of the scheduled images is really "pristine," except for the first and oldest image.
I recommend you use a non-Win7 imaging product to do a stand-alone portable image of the pristine backup. Besides incrementals not being suited to your main goal, Win7 incremental backups fail the portability test.
If you move your Win7 images to a different drive from the one on which they were created, you will only be able to restore the last created image. It is the the only image that will show up when you run restore. That was my experience when I first tested Win7 imaging a couple years ago. If somebody here can dispute that, I would welcome the correction.

3. Reality.
There is no "perfect" backup strategy. Strategy had to be determined by your needs, and fully automating imaging will only work if it meets your needs.
It is often easier to manually perform a list of operations than to automate, and that can much more easily be tailored to fit your needs.

4. Do you know your data?
From what you've said, you are willing to restore to a "pristine" image.
That's what I do, so I can feel it. But before I restore to the pristine image, I pause and consider what I'll overlay on the partition being restored.
In your case, savegame data should be moved, and whatever else you don't want to lose. If I kept more data I "can't" lose on the restored partition, I'd write a checklist to go through before a restore. I don't need that, but you might consider it. After the restore of the pristine image, part of your procedure should be to download all updates the image is lacking (eg, AVG,) do any tweaking you've just erased by doing the restore, install/reinstall any programs you want added to your pristine image, then MAKE ANOTHER IMAGE. You don't want to constantly reinvent the wheel.

5. Back to reality again.
If you want imaging to work for you, you have to test it until it becomes second nature. I use Ghost 15. You mentioned you have Acronis. Learn it. Test your images. A good practice would be to swap your system drive for an empty one before doing your first restore of an image. If something goes wrong, you can just put your system drive back in.
Personally, I think you're going about it in the wrong way by imaging games.
If you keep your system partition small, imaging is faster and simpler.
My images hover around 20gb, and take about 5 minutes to image or restore.
My games, including Steam, are on a different drive. I don't even back them up, since they can be reinstalled quickly. But that's your call, and goes to your purpose.
Just give it some though to come up with a strategy that works for you.
BTW, when I make an image, I make two, to different drives. Reality says you
can have hardware failure.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
07 May 2012   #13
laserscottman

Win 7 32 bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by mjf View Post
If you include an image with your scheduled backup then difference images will be made each time and stored in shadow storage space. I consider this a risky business and can consume lots of HDD space. I would use the "let me choose" option and untick the create a system image box. Then use the separate "create a system image" box to periodically make images. More tips here
Backup Complete Computer - Create an Image Backup

I also use free Macrium. It is very reliable and highly regarded.
Thanks, all. My concerns were for the size of the backup area beginning to fill the drive. Soon it will no longer work, and give an error msg, like "not enough space for backup". As I said, I put things I don't want to lose on a separate drive. I am NOT concerned with drive failure, so I DO use the large area of the other half of the main drive for backups. Seems the only place available with the other drives being used for storage, etc. I will try to locate the first System Image, but don't think I will be able to, as only 2 backup periods exist, and the first one is a time period of nearly 2 months. That would have nearly 8 backups, none of which could be individually accessed or chosen. (system images).
In the WindowsImageBackup folder, it seems only the latest 'dated' backup is listed (Backup 2012-05-07 000022) and it is 209Gb. There are several .xml files, and two .vhd files (one is 209Gb) Is this the one that is the main system, or all the data, or both?
I might not be bright enough to already understand it all, but I need to in order to make things right. Perhaps I should turn off automatic backups as suggested; I don't keep anything indispensable on C: due to it's needing to be reloaded severally per year. I suppose I have not been the most careful OS operator, and have incurred problems "given" to me by malware writers. Again, this comes from the internet and email, for which I use AVG and Mbam and other scan pgms.
Though it is not 'recommended' , I am not concerned about the backups being stored on the main drive, only that they are nearly doubling in size compared to the C: used space.

*Need to replace Win7 often.
*Want fastest vs cleanest way to do so.
*Simplicity is preferred, even if unorthodox.
*I don't mind 'some' extra work, but won't do the whole thing from scratch.
*These are my needs, and it is what it is.
Thanks for your suggestions, Friends!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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07 May 2012   #14
karlsnooks

MS Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 64-bit
 
 

I repeat:
Put your backups on another PHYSICAL drive be it internal or external.

2nd. Remove all of your anti-malware programs
3rd. Install Microsoft Security Essential, MSE (link in my signature).
My System SpecsSystem Spec
07 May 2012   #15
Victor S

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by laserscottman View Post
In the WindowsImageBackup folder, it seems only the latest 'dated' backup is listed (Backup 2012-05-07 000022) and it is 209Gb. There are several .xml files, and two .vhd files (one is 209Gb) Is this the one that is the main system, or all the data, or both?

*Need to replace Win7 often.
*Want fastest vs cleanest way to do so.
*Simplicity is preferred, even if unorthodox.
*I don't mind 'some' extra work, but won't do the whole thing from scratch.
*These are my needs, and it is what it is.
Thanks for your suggestions, Friends!
I don't have Win7 images on my PC any more, but as I recall you have to go into Backup and Recovery (either in Win 7 or with the recovery CD) to browse the individual images, not use Explorer to look at the file folder.
Look around in Backup and Restore, and if you haven't moved the image folder around, Win7 should show you every image you created. It wiil say something like "Browse Images."
If you restore the oldest, which should also be the smallest, you'll be back to when you created the first image.
The facility in Win 7 allows you delete images, so you should look at that and understand it.
Then, if your restore is good and you want simply as you say above, delete all the images except the oldest one you just restored. Deleting those incrementals should free up space.
Don't do any more images, unless you want a new one as your "pristine" restore point. And if you're sure you want the new image, and want to save as much space as possible, delete all images before you make the new one.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
07 May 2012   #16
kado897

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit Service Pack 1
 
 

The previous backups are incremental and are held in shadow storage so you won't see them.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
07 May 2012   #17
laserscottman

Win 7 32 bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by karlsnooks View Post
I repeat:
Put your backups on another PHYSICAL drive be it internal or external.

2nd. Remove all of your anti-malware programs
3rd. Install Microsoft Security Essential, MSE (link in my signature).
Well gee whiz, Karl--No thanks to all of it. None of what you suggest deals directly with my needs. You can have it your way on YOUR system, but thanks for the suggestions.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
07 May 2012   #18
laserscottman

Win 7 32 bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Victor S View Post
There are some things you have to decide.
1. What you want to back up to an image.

2. The purpose of your backup images.

3. Reality.

4. Do you know your data?
After the restore of the pristine image, part of your procedure should be to download all updates the image is lacking (eg, AVG,) do any tweaking you've just erased by doing the restore, install/reinstall any programs you want added to your pristine image, then MAKE ANOTHER IMAGE. You don't want to constantly reinvent the wheel.

5. Back to reality again.
Personally, I think you're going about it in the wrong way by imaging games.
If you keep your system partition small, imaging is faster and simpler.
My images hover around 20gb, and take about 5 minutes to image or restore.
My games, including Steam, are on a different drive. I don't even back them up, since they can be reinstalled quickly. But that's your call, and goes to your purpose.
Just give it some though to come up with a strategy that works for you.
BTW, when I make an image, I make two, to different drives. Reality says you
can have hardware failure.

Thanks, Victor S--I've found your replies to be most useful!
1. The system and the games are closely tied together if on the C: drive, and they do take too long of a time to image.
2. Understanding the incremental backups and the possibility of malware following, I think it will be best to just make one backup and not schedule them anymore.
3. I've had enough of automation; it is not what I need, and will now just do what is necessary manually.
4. I have done the updates subsequent to the restore every time I needed to restore or reload clean. Sometimes this has required the full game to be reinstalled again--defeating the purpose. THEN MAKE ANOTHER IMAGE That's great advice!
5. Yes, the strategy...Your suggestions to NOT have Steam and games on the C: drive--I have not tried that, but should, since it is the biggest reason I don't want to do a clean install each time--with having to load those games and updates--it takes more than a day and ties-up things in downloads. I'm hoping the games will work right when they are on another drive, and the C: is reloaded. I have had endless issues before, and had to reinstall them again often. Usually the shortcuts for sure, but "Install" to another drive requires an OS on that drive doesn't it?

I'd like to get back to the days when Acronis really DID take only 5 min to reinstall the C: partition! Last time it was over 8hrs, THEN came all the updates. I want to explore having another drive for games, which is what my other Win7 drive was intended for, but I don't use it or boot from it very often. Again, thanks for the help!

Scott.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
07 May 2012   #19
Victor S

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by laserscottman View Post
5. Yes, the strategy...Your suggestions to NOT have Steam and games on the C: drive--I have not tried that, but should, since it is the biggest reason I don't want to do a clean install each time--with having to load those games and updates--it takes more than a day and ties-up things in downloads. I'm hoping the games will work right when they are on another drive, and the C: is reloaded. I have had endless issues before, and had to reinstall them again often. Usually the shortcuts for sure, but "Install" to another drive requires an OS on that drive doesn't it?
No, you only need the OS on your system partition. Just keep in mind that the system registry has entries for your games. So if your don't want to reinstall games after a system restore, use a process something like this:
1. Restore your system.
2. Uninstall whatever games you don't want adding to the size and time it takes to make an image of the system.
3. Install the games on a different drive. This will reflected in the system registry, and desktop shortcuts, which will all point to the drive where you put the games.
(Steam has a method of moving Steam and Steam games to a different drive without re-downloading or reinstalling. I used that and it worked. You can find that info in Steam.)
4. Make an image of your system partition. It will be much smaller and run faster without the games, but still contain the registry entries for the games.
5. Now you can quickly restore your system when you want. Your game pointers will all be intact on the system partition.
But remember that many, maybe most games now keep save games in User system directories. So make sure you know where your save game files are, and move them off the system partition into a different partition before you restore the image.
After the restore you can move them back, and you're good to go with your OS
pointing to the right places, and your games just as they were.
It's clean and fast, not too many manual processes, and works for me.
You might even take the advice about putting the image on a different physical drive, because now your image will be much smaller, and fit in more places.
The main reason for putting images on a different drive is so you don't lose both your OS and images if your main drive fails.
But a good secondary reason is that imaging and restore will work much faster.
With system partition and image on the same drive, an image/resore operation will require the drive heads to do much more work, and all data has to pass through one disk controller instead of two. Much slower.
It's common practice to keep images on a different physical drive if you have one.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
07 May 2012   #20
mjf

Windows 7x64 Home Premium SP1
 
 

Personal Opinion:
For the general OS and non game programs I think non compressed Windows images ~50GB are more manageable (takes me 10 min to a USB3 external HDD). Try to get everything else off your main OS partition except installed programs and all OS related files. I would keep pagefile and hiberfil (if used) on the OS partition. Of course some data is fine.
Don't keep difference images in shadow storage. 209GB + shadow storage images would make me nervous and drive me nuts.

For Windows Images create a single image -> WindowsImageBackup
If you want to keep it and make another rename the folder to any other name
eg: WindowsImageBackup_5_8_12
If you want to get rid of it simply shift delete it.
On your external HDD you can move the original or renamed into another folder provided you don't cross partition boundaries.
Move and or rename an image back to WindowsImageBackup in the root of a partition and Windows will see it as a legit image to restore.
I do this all the time and it always works without a hitch.

Macrium is more flexible including you don't need to do the renaming trick but I still predominantly use the Windows Imaging.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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 Win 7 Ultimate scheduled Restore size is getting huge!




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