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Windows 7: Backup Help

15 May 2012   #1

windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
 
 
Backup Help

Hi All,
I'm still fairly new to Windows 7...I have an external hardrive connected to my pc to which I backup to...however I had hoped that each time I backed up it would overwrite the previous files...but no it told me my drive was full so I had to delete all files on it and then start my backup again, is there way I can commit my drive to a weekly backup which will over write what was already on it?
Ken


My System SpecsSystem Spec
.

15 May 2012   #2

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 SP1, Home Premium, 64-bit
 
 

What are you trying to back up?

Windows only?

Your data only?

Both?

What application are you using to do this backup?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
15 May 2012   #3

windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
 
 
Re backup

Hi,
I'm using Windows 7 backup facility found in 'Action Center', I presume it backs up all of my pc, though I'm not sure just what it is backing up, as I have never backed up any of my past PCs, now that I have a new one with Windows 7 I thought I should try and in the bottom right of my screen is the action center that does just that, so I just swith on my ext HDD and press backup.....
Ken
My System SpecsSystem Spec
.


15 May 2012   #4

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 SP1, Home Premium, 64-bit
 
 

Windows backup works, but isn't particularly easy to understand. Nor is it very flexible.

For that reason I don't use it. Others do, and they may comment here.

It will backup both your data and Windows, depending on the settings you have made.

You might find other applications simpler and more understandable.

And you might want to start thinking of Windows backup and data backup as 2 different things. The former requires an image. The latter does not.

Imaging is always a bit testy---I would not rely on it to back up my data.

It is worthwhile to backup Windows. If it fails to work, no problem--you just reinstall Windows manually from an installation disc.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
16 May 2012   #5
mjf

Windows 7x64 Home Premium SP1
 
 

I think using a second imaging program as well as say Windows Imaging is good insurance. I use Windows inbuilt plus free Macrium Reflect.
What I do for Windows backup is:
1) I always use the "Create a system image" button to make an image when I choose. I only make one image and either delete it move it within a partition or rename it. Multiple images are stored using a difference image kept in shadow storage. I personally don't think this is a robust procedure and can fill up your HDD.
2) When setting up the backup schedule I choose "Let me Choose" and untick the create an image box. I leave the other default settings. I also choose to create a file/folder backup manually using "Create a Backup Now". You can select Manage Backups to delete old file/folder backup sets.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
16 May 2012   #6

windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
 
 
Re Backup

Now I'm confused..I would have thought that backing up was supposed to be simple! if Windows 7 have put a backup system on the desktop then I assume its what they want you to use.

Like millions of other home PC users and having never used backups before I'm not even sure what the purpose of the backup is..when I got my new PC I made a set of factory backup discs as per the instructions during the installation process.

If the backup I'm doing isn't that good then I need an easy system that I can use without needing a degree in computing to understand what I'm supposed to do and why!

If I continue to use the Windows 7 Action Center what settings should I be using?
Ken
My System SpecsSystem Spec
16 May 2012   #7

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 SP1, Home Premium, 64-bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by KenB View Post
Now I'm confused..I would have thought that backing up was supposed to be simple! if Windows 7 have put a backup system on the desktop then I assume its what they want you to use.

Like millions of other home PC users and having never used backups before I'm not even sure what the purpose of the backup is..when I got my new PC I made a set of factory backup discs as per the instructions during the installation process.

If the backup I'm doing isn't that good then I need an easy system that I can use without needing a degree in computing to understand what I'm supposed to do and why!

If I continue to use the Windows 7 Action Center what settings should I be using?
Ken
Windows 7 built in backup is just not particularly polished. It needs improvement. It works if you understand it.

If you don't understand it, there isn't much point in using it as you won't know what it is doing and will be lulled into a false sense of security.

If you want to take the time to understand it, others who actually use it can point out the pitfalls and proper technique. I don't use it.

Backup has 2 principal purposes:

1: To enable you to recover to a working Windows system in the event of a hard drive failure or major system malfunction/corruption of some type. This typically means making an image of the C drive and storing that image on some other drive until disaster strikes, at which point you "restore" the image.

2: To enable you to recover your personal data files (mp3s, videos, Word documents, bookmarks, pictures, whatever you may have).

2 is typically much more important than 1.

All 1 saves you is time. You should be able to reinstall Windows even if you have not backed up.

On the other hand, data backup is the ONLY way you have to recover from lost or corrupted data. That's why data backup is so critical.

If your data has no particular importance to you, then 2 may be less critical. Most people have VERY important data on their PC.

There are several alternatives to Windows backup:

To backup Windows itself (purpose 1 above): Macrium Reflect Free Edition, Acronis, and EaseUS Todo are probably the best known. You would likely find them simpler to understand, particularly Macrium.

All methods to backup Windows itself use imaging. Imaging is not foolproof and can fail to work when you need it. So be prepared for it to fail and know what you will do in that case.

To backup personal data (purpose 2 above): you can use any of a half dozen or more "file by file" backup applications, such as Karen's Replicator, Synctoy, Second Copy, Synchromagic, etc. These can be configured to backup only what you want--certain folders, certain file types, etc, and will run at the click of a button.

You can backup personal data files with an image, but it is a more risky strategy than "file by file" backup because imaging is a complex process that may fail for unknown reasons.

The set of backup "recovery" disks you made will restore your PC to the way it was when it was shipped to you. It will NOT restore you to the way your PC is NOW and it will not restore your personal data at all.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
16 May 2012   #8
mjf

Windows 7x64 Home Premium SP1
 
 

I think part of the problem with the Windows backup capability is that it is actually 2 very different backup programs that perform different functions. The way MS combine them under "Backup and Restore" I have to agree is confusing to the uninitiated. I think they should more clearly separate the two.
The 2 backup procedures are:
1) Imaging - this takes a snapshot of whole partitions which includes Operating system, installed programs, data etc. When you reimage you put back all the essentials so that it was like you turned on the PC at the time the image was made.
These are essential IMO to get you out of trouble when it strikes.
Now Windows has its own inbuilt imaging but there are other good alternatives such as Macrium Reflect.
2) File/folder backup. This essentially backs up your user data such as Documents.
Windows has its own and there are alternatives if you don't like that one. Synctoy is a free MS alternative. FreeFileSync is another.

The key thing to get your head around is that these are fundamentally different backup processes and I think even the non technical user needs to understand this.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
16 May 2012   #9

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Win 7 Pro 64-bit
 
 

To add to the confusion ...

If you use the Windows 7 imaging tool (control panel > backup and restore > create a system image) the completed image will be called WindowsImageBackup. As others have said, this is like a snapshot of your hard drive and includes the operating system, your personal settings, all programs you've installed, all photos, videos, music you've saved, etc.

Let's say you create a system image today on your external hard drive and you leave it named WindowsImageBackup. If you create a new system image on that same external hard drive tomorrow, or next week, or next month, you will get a prompt that says you already have a system image and it will be overwritten. That's kinda what you were getting at in your first post. If that's what you really want to do, problem solved. But I don't recommend it because you really can't be sure the system image was created successfully until you actually try to use it. Even if it was created successfully, each time you overwrite it you're taking a chance on something going wrong leaving you with a single non-working system image.

I prefer keeping at least a few system images on my external hard drive. I found the easiest way to do that with the Windows 7 imaging tool is to rename the first WindowsImageBackup to something else - maybe WIB1. Then the second system image will be called WindowsImageBackup. When it's time to make the third system image rename the second to WIB2 and so on. As long as the WindowsImageBackup is renamed it won't get overwritten. If you ever want to use one of those images, just rename it back to WindowsImageBackup. Then the restore process will find only that one system image on the external hard drive.

I also make system images using the free Macrium Reflect. It's more flexible than the Windows 7 imaging tool and it provides me with one more layer of probability that I will have a working system image if and when I need it.

Hope this hasn't made things even more confusing.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
16 May 2012   #10

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Ult. x64 Windows 8.1 x64
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by ignatzatsonic View Post
To backup personal data (purpose 2 above): you can use any of a half dozen or more "file by file" backup applications, such as Karen's Replicator, Synctoy, Second Copy, Synchromagic, etc. These can be configured to backup only what you want--certain folders, certain file types, etc, and will run at the click of a button.
Hi Ken,

As ignatz pointed out, there are other, arguably better, applications for backing up user data. Windows has an in-built copy command called ROBOCOPY that can do this via a simple batch script.

If you feel this is an option you wish to pursue, have a look at this tutorial I wrote for it. If you need help with creating a script, then just give me a shout and I'll be glad to help.

ROBOCOPY - Create Backup Script

Regards,
Golden
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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 Backup Help




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