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Windows 7: System Image Backup Strategies/Thoughts

19 Jun 2012   #101
Brds7t7

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

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by boyboyds View Post
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
You could do that if you wanted to. The only reason I choose to use an external is I can disconnect it whenever I want. I usually disconnect it before installing any new unknown software I want to try in case I did get a virus.

Unless your pc has hot swap capabilities, then you can disconnect an internal drive whenever you want. Or first test the software in a virtual machine first.

That's probably a different thread though. :-)


My System SpecsSystem Spec
.
19 Jun 2012   #102
F5ing

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by boyboyds View Post
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.
That can work, but:
  • it means you can only go back to the one and only clone you've got.
  • if something goes wrong electrically both drives could get fried.
  • if the cloned drive is accessible during normal running there's still a chance it can get corrupted.
  • what happens if the clone actually contains the same malware you may be trying to recover from (in other words, you've been infected longer than you thought).
I'm sure there are more issues than just that. You've just got to try to think of any possible way you could lose it. I had done that before for a while after cloning to a larger drive. But I disabled the drive in the BIOS so the OS had no access, and I still made images to other externals. I eventually repurposed the drive to data backup duty and a temporary holding area for OS/app images.

I've got multiple copies of the primary imaging/cloning app I use on CD's and USB flash drives because I also use it when fixing other's computers, so I'm not really worried about having to find a copy of it to do a restore. And the restores don't take that long anyway.

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by boyboyds View Post
I assume imaging/restore process is faster because it creates images incrementally every time.....?
I cannot really answer that as I only do full images. That way there's no real thought that goes into a restore. Just find the single full image I want to use then let her rip!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
19 Jun 2012   #103
kado897

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit Service Pack 1
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by F5ing View Post
Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by boyboyds View Post
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.
That can work, but:
  • it means you can only go back to the one and only clone you've got.
  • if something goes wrong electrically both drives could get fried.
  • if the cloned drive is accessible during normal running there's still a chance it can get corrupted.
  • what happens if the clone actually contains the same malware you may be trying to recover from (in other words, you've been infected longer than you thought).
I'm sure there are more issues than just that. You've just got to try to think of any possible way you could lose it. I had done that before for a while after cloning to a larger drive. But I disabled the drive in the BIOS so the OS had no access, and I still made images to other externals. I eventually repurposed the drive to data backup duty and a temporary holding area for OS/app images.

I've got multiple copies of the primary imaging/cloning app I use on CD's and USB flash drives because I also use it when fixing other's computers, so I'm not really worried about having to find a copy of it to do a restore. And the restores don't take that long anyway.

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by boyboyds View Post
I assume imaging/restore process is faster because it creates images incrementally every time.....?
I cannot really answer that as I only do full images. That way there's no real thought that goes into a restore. Just find the single full image I want to use then let her rip!
Incremental images are faster but also dangerous. It takes only one corruption to break the chain and make everything following that useless. Differentials are better but should only be used to fill in the gaps between full images.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
.

19 Jun 2012   #104
boyboyds

Windows 7 Home 64bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Burdus77 View Post
Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by boyboyds View Post
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
You could do that if you wanted to. The only reason I choose to use an external is I can disconnect it whenever I want. I usually disconnect it before installing any new unknown software I want to try in case I did get a virus.

Unless your pc has hot swap capabilities, then you can disconnect an internal drive whenever you want. Or first test the software in a virtual machine first.

That's probably a different thread though. :-)
The way I imagine it is to connect a regular second internal HDD externally to PC through USB using a HDD enclosure. After cloning I disconnect the second HDD and put it away. If my first main HDD fails, I can easily replace it with the second one.
I can repeat this cloning every other month to have my second HDD up to date.

Would this work, or I am missing something.....?

My drive C is small so it would not take long to clone, and my data is saved separately.

Thanks,
BBDS.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
19 Jun 2012   #105
F5ing

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by boyboyds View Post
The way I imagine it is to connect a regular second internal HDD externally to PC through USB using a HDD enclosure. After cloning I disconnect the second HDD and put it away. If my first main HDD fails, I can easily replace it with the second one.
I can repeat this cloning every other month to have my second HDD up to date.

Would this work, or I am missing something.....?
That would work, but see my previous post on possible pitfalls (some pitfalls negated as you would be detaching from the system, but others remain).

Other than doing imaging over cloning, I do basically the same thing except I just plug the bare HD into a dock rather than an enclosure. It doesn't really matter as long as you can consider the backup media is reliable.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
19 Jun 2012   #106
F5ing

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by kado897 View Post
Incremental images are faster but also dangerous. It takes only one corruption to break the chain and make everything following that useless. Differentials are better but should only be used to fill in the gaps between full images.
Am I correct thinking that if you do incremental that in order to do a restore you have to apply the last full image and then each successive incremental that you've made?

But to restore a differential you need only the last full and the last differential?

IOW, exactly the same terminology/functionality as standard data backup?

A long time ago I settled on going full for imaging rather than bothering with either incremental or differential. For data it's a different story.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
19 Jun 2012   #107
Brds7t7

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

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by F5ing View Post
Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by kado897 View Post
Incremental images are faster but also dangerous. It takes only one corruption to break the chain and make everything following that useless. Differentials are better but should only be used to fill in the gaps between full images.
Am I correct thinking that if you do incremental that in order to do a restore you have to apply the last full image and then each successive incremental that you've made?

But to restore a differential you need only the last full and the last differential?

IOW, exactly the same terminology/functionality as standard data backup?

A long time ago I settled on going full for imaging rather than bothering with either incremental or differential. For data it's a different story.
That's right F5ing, to restore an incremental backup you need ALL the backups in the chain. Differential you only need the Full backup and the Differential you need to restore from.

I use Differential over Incremental. Takes a little longer to do a backup and takes up more storage but I'd trust it more over Incremental. With incremental, if one gets damaged in the chain then the backup is useless. At least with differentials if one is damaged you can still restore from another (provided the full backup hasn't been damaged too of course!).
My System SpecsSystem Spec
19 Jun 2012   #108
F5ing

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

Thanks Burdus77. I guess I settled on only full images because I never saw the need to do them more often than once or twice a month, and they go quick enough that it doesn't bother me such that I want or need it to go any quicker. After I've gotten a machine loaded up with everything I want and customized the way I like it I may even go two or three months without bothering as it would be quick and easy enough to just reapply updates after any restore.

But I do have to ask another question (it's been a long time since I looked into this and I just have to know):

Suppose you start off making your full image and then over the course of time make 10 incrementals. Then you decide you want to restore. So you restore your full and then start restoring each of the 10 incrementals, but you find the 5th one is corrupt and cannot be restored. Doesn't that mean you've at least gotten your system back to the state it was in when you made the 4th incremental (although you may need to start over again and just stop at the 4th)?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
19 Jun 2012   #109
Brds7t7

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

Hmmm not sure on that one if I'm honest!

It was my understanding that if one of the incrementals was corrupt the whole backup would fail. I could be wrong though.

In theory I can't see why the incrementals before the corrupt version wouldn't work. Better wait for someone else to confirm that though

I've never actually tried incrementals as the whole 'if one goes, they all go' scenario always put me off. I've just always stuck with differentials with a couple of full backups in between.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
20 Jun 2012   #110
kado897

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit Service Pack 1
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by F5ing View Post
Thanks Burdus77. I guess I settled on only full images because I never saw the need to do them more often than once or twice a month, and they go quick enough that it doesn't bother me such that I want or need it to go any quicker. After I've gotten a machine loaded up with everything I want and customized the way I like it I may even go two or three months without bothering as it would be quick and easy enough to just reapply updates after any restore.

But I do have to ask another question (it's been a long time since I looked into this and I just have to know):

Suppose you start off making your full image and then over the course of time make 10 incrementals. Then you decide you want to restore. So you restore your full and then start restoring each of the 10 incrementals, but you find the 5th one is corrupt and cannot be restored. Doesn't that mean you've at least gotten your system back to the state it was in when you made the 4th incremental (although you may need to start over again and just stop at the 4th)?
With Macrium you point the restore at the last incremental and it sorts out for itself what it needs to do.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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 System Image Backup Strategies/Thoughts




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