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Windows 7: System Image Backup Strategies/Thoughts

14 Jun 2012   #91
kado897

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit Service Pack 1
 
 

You have a similar problem that I had about a year ago. I got myself a 2TB drive for my data and Images of C and did what I said above. I left the user structure as is because it is more hassle to move it. I now have about 60GB on my C drive of which about 1GB is what you could class as data plus about 2GB in the hidden AppData folder and 450GB of data on the new drive which is linked into the library structure so it can be accessed seamlessly. I chose to leave some data on the C drive because I am using a laptop and when I'm away from base the data drive is disconnected. I now have a separate 2TB drive for backups of both C and the data. I still keep one image of C on the data drive just in case.


My System SpecsSystem Spec
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14 Jun 2012   #92
F5ing

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

A few more things to keep in mind:

Imaging apps typically include the ability to exclude the hibernate and pagefile. This can shave many GB's from the size of your image.

Remember that your restore points and recycle bin contents will be included. You may wish to reduce their size allocation.

Your imaging app may also have the ability to utilize different levels of compression for the image size. Max compression (but takes the longest) may cut image size in half.

Also consider the contents of the various temp folders.

I wouldn't do any moving of the "installed" program files. You would want to keep them all included with your OS not only for operability but also for inclusion into the images you make.

The method described by kado897 for moving user data and linking via a libraries makes it seamless to the OS and is easy to do (likely the easiest way). For the XP machine you'll likely have to relocate the folders themselves (via the folder properties) as XP doesn't provide for libraries.

When evaluating what size your OS/apps partition should be, consider the possibilty of future app installs. You want to make sure there is always adequate free space for the OS/NTFS to do their work (true for any partition but particularly the one containing the OS/apps). Most imaging apps offer the option to include or exclude free space in the image.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
14 Jun 2012   #93
boyboyds

Windows 7 Home 64bit
 
 

Thank you all, I really looking forward to imaging and backing up on a regular basis.

BBDS.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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15 Jun 2012   #94
Victor S

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by boyboyds View Post
Thank you all, I really looking forward to imaging and backing up on a regular basis.

BBDS.
One more thing. Until you're comfortable with restores, test restoring with a blank HD. Might seem cumbersome, but you can guarantee you won't lose your OS or data.
Even if you have to buy a small external HD, it's worth it, and you can use that drive for storage after you're comfortable with your process.
This is all assuming you do cold imaging.
In fact, the safest way to begin is to unplug your OS drive while first testing restores.
I always did that with initial testing, but I've also always had a case that made it easy to do.
I don't care how "good" you are, mistakes can be made.
So basically, you'll have your bootable OS made from an image on the test drive before you plug your "permanent" HD back in to restore an image there.
You've got yourself covered well.
I just don't want you messing anything up. It's fairly easy to do.
There's a thread in the install section now where a guy hammered his data volume doing an install. What happens is you get a different view of your HD's from recovery or install CD than you get from Win 7 disk management screens, and all kinds of partitioning/formatting options, so plenty of opportunity to screw up.
Sure, you might be able to move data around to get a blank test drive, up to you.
But the safest way to test restores is a on a blank drive.
Doesn't matter then what you try with partitioning or anything else, because whatever goes wrong, you've still got your original working OS on the permanent drive.
Might seem overkill to some, but I'm cautious, and never lost an OS, or data.
Well, except once, when I accidentally turned on RAID in the BIOS of a new MB.
But I don't want to talk about that.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
15 Jun 2012   #95
Victor S

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Burdus77 View Post
How big are your Sysprepped images usually then Victor? I'm getting a bit low on space lately and going to have to add another external HDD soon. Worth it though.
Burdus77,

Ignore my last "speculation" about sysprep not making an image very much smaller.
I just made an image, sysprepped the OS, and made an image of that.

Image sizes are,
15.7 GB (16,859,004,928 bytes) - original
13.7 GB (14,793,834,496 bytes) - sysprepped

That surprised me, that drivers would add up to 2gb, but I restored a different PC with the sysprepped image and it worked fine. The size of that system ended up close to the original after Win 7 installed the drivers.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
15 Jun 2012   #96
F5ing

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Victor S View Post
This is all assuming you do cold imaging.
In fact, the safest way to begin is to unplug your OS drive while first testing restores.
I always did that with initial testing, but I've also always had a case that made it easy to do.
I don't care how "good" you are, mistakes can be made.
So basically, you'll have your bootable OS made from an image on the test drive before you plug your "permanent" HD back in to restore an image there.
You've got yourself covered well.
I just don't want you messing anything up. It's fairly easy to do.
There's a thread in the install section now where a guy hammered his data volume doing an install. What happens is you get a different view of your HD's from recovery or install CD than you get from Win 7 disk management screens, and all kinds of partitioning/formatting options, so plenty of opportunity to screw up.
Very informative and helpful post Victor S. Dealing with new software and the terms used for the actions they perform can be relatively easily dealt with as long as you make sure you are fully familiar with your storage hardware. As mentioned, when doing cold imaging/cloning you're not running the OS you usually run, where you become familiar with how it represents your storage spaces.

The more you know about your storage drives (make/model/serial/size), their partitions/volumes (size/filesystem type/volume label), and exactly where your data resides (OS/apps/personal), the better off you'll be.

Using Windows based imaging software will make it a little easier ensuring you correctly identify your storage Other software will require that you have a more complete knowledge of the details of your drives/partitions. The other software just conforms to a different standard to show you the same representation as the Windows based software does. But it's not that hard to learn that standard and in some ways it even make more sense than the way Windows represents it.

The thing is you've got to make sure you've selected the correct source and target before making or restoring an image. If you're not sure, step back and figure it out before any writing gets done by the app.

Bottom line I think the safest way to get started is as Victor S stated: use a blank hard disk that you can use for testing to ensure that it works as you expect. I think it's better to use a somewhat larger disk, as some imaging software will require restore target partition be as large as the one that was imaged. You won't regret having the extra free space anyway.

You would not believe how much more comfortable/confident you'll feel about it when you witness the success of your first foolproof test!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
15 Jun 2012   #97
F5ing

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Victor S View Post
Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Burdus77 View Post
How big are your Sysprepped images usually then Victor? I'm getting a bit low on space lately and going to have to add another external HDD soon. Worth it though.
Burdus77,

Ignore my last "speculation" about sysprep not making an image very much smaller.
I just made an image, sysprepped the OS, and made an image of that.

Image sizes are,
15.7 GB (16,859,004,928 bytes) - original
13.7 GB (14,793,834,496 bytes) - sysprepped

That surprised me, that drivers would add up to 2gb, but I restored a different PC with the sysprepped image and it worked fine. The size of that system ended up close to the original after Win 7 installed the drivers.
I wonder if some of that difference could be due to lack of data imaged from the System Volume Information folder (System Restore).
My System SpecsSystem Spec
17 Jun 2012   #98
boyboyds

Windows 7 Home 64bit
 
 

Will a rescue disc boot up a new blank HDD.....?

The reason I ask is that it did not work for me today using Macrium rescue disc.

Thanks,
BBDS
My System SpecsSystem Spec
17 Jun 2012   #99
Brds7t7

Windows 7 Pro 64-Bit, Windows 7 Ultimate 64-Bit, Windows 8.1 Pro 64-Bit
 
 

Hi boyboyds, which version Macrium are you using? And are you using the WinPE disc or Linux disc?

There was a problem with the last version of Macrium not having a working boot disc. It's been fixed in the newest version. I had the same problem. Tried to boot and didn't work.

If your version is 5.0.4620 that's the version with the issue and you need to update it.

If that's not the issue you may need to format your drive if it hasn't yet been done.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
19 Jun 2012   #100
boyboyds

Windows 7 Home 64bit
 
 

I was wondering why not just clone the entire drive C to a separate internal HDD.......

...and then re-clone it every month.....?

This way you do not need the rescue/boot disc and the spare HDD is ready to go any time.

I assume imaging/restore process is faster because it creates images incrementally every time.....?

But are there any other advantages...?

Thanks,
BBDS
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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 System Image Backup Strategies/Thoughts




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