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Windows 7: System Image Backup Strategies/Thoughts

07 Jun 2012   #11
pincushion

Windows 7 x64 SP1
 
 

I'm a bit with Victor in that if I have any sort of problems after installing, updating or removing anything then I will restore an image and then redo to a good working system. I have restored many images, dozens probably, with Macrium Free edition and earlier with Acronis. None have ever shown any problems so that is as reliable as I would want. I tend to take an image every 2 - 3 weeks it seems after a certain amount of general updating, software changes, tweaking, hardware changes etc. but probably I could wait longer since most changes could be redone without much effort and I make a note of all changes to the system.

Imaging takes about 10 minutes and the images are backed up to a second internal drive and to an external drive. I normally have about 6 - 8 images to rely on and delete random intermediate images thus keeping some of the older ones and the most recent images. I image to a partition on the second drive and that image is backed up to a partition on the first drive. The fact that apart from one incident (going back about 6 images) I have just had to restore the last image seems to me to show my system works fine.

I think that reducing the system partition down to the minimum by separating the OS and programs from all data and temporary stuff does help. I manage with a 60 GB system partition.





My System SpecsSystem Spec
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07 Jun 2012   #12
OldMX

Microsoft Windows 10 Professional
 
 

I have a clean install image created with macrium reflect free, and a second one that gets updated and replaced every week. For quick inbetweens i use drive snapshot.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
08 Jun 2012   #13
Victor S

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

Some interesting perspectives, all workable. I really think many people waste their time system imaging, giving up as soon as it gives them problems, usually space related, because they image data along with the system.
Or they've bought a PC with just one huge system partition.
But it is what it is, and I would never discourage taking images.
Personally, I use imaging for 2 reasons, both related to my aversion to reinstalling everything, and retweaking everything. Really, many of us have *years* invested in setting things up as we like them. Who wants to redo all that?

1. I want my system back to a clean version in 5 minutes, no matter what I do to it, what a virus might do to it, or what a hardware fault might do to it. Sure, I use a firewall and anti-virus, but they aren't perfect. Like most everybody else here I also install and try a lot of unsuitable software. I want no trace of it left in my system. For those reasons, when I want a new base image, I always restore my last image, do my app install and/or updates, then immediately create the new base image. It's all very fast to do, and I'm totally relaxed tinkering, downloading, and browsing the internet. Because my system is invincible!!

2. All the images in the world are for naught if they won't restore. You see that sometimes on this forum. As I said, I would never discourage taking an image, but also recommend they be tested. Maybe not the best analogy, but think about having flashights for a power outage, then when the power goes out, the flashlight batteries are dead. Since I do restores as part of my imaging process, I have total
confidence in my images. BTW, even massive mainframe systems test their disaster recovery process by doing restores. I've been involved in them and it's huge deal. Never saw one go smoothly either. Imaging a PC is relative child's play.
Here's what brought me to this fine forum in the first place, looking for an answer.
Your normal system images are worthless in a common circumstance - different motherboard.
I don't know about others, but I've had a couple MB's fail.
That nagged me, because I think my Win 7 system will outlive my MB, beacuse the MB will fail, or I want to upgrade.
Here I found a good tutorial:
Windows 7 Installation - Transfer to a New Computer
So I made a sysprepped image, and tested it on an entirely different PC. It worked.
Now I do the occasional sysprep image, and don't hear the nagging anymore.

Anyway, that's my basic perspective. It's worked since imaging software was sold.
I've always used a version of Ghost, but understand there's other similar software.
I think discrete images, independent of Windows internals are best. Give the image any name you like, keep it where you like, move it where you like, rename it as you like. Doesn't matter. The imaging software shouldn't care, you just point at it, and it gets restored.
That's why I didn't care for the Windows 7 imaging when I tested it. Too many gotchas, and differentials don't fit in my process.
There are ways around that, by renaming, but I just don't want to deal with it when Ghost takes completely portable partition images, and has always been flawless for me.
I also only do cold imagiing/restores. Don't know exactly what that buys me, but it's always worked and keeps me focused on exactly what I'm doing.
So Windows is shut down while I image. I can take it!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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08 Jun 2012   #14
Brds7t7

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

I used to take an image every time I installed anything new or made any little change.

I tend to test more of my software in virtualbox nowadays so I don't take so many images now.

I have one separate for a fresh install on two different drives (as I'd be unhappy if one of the fresh installs was corrupt). I have my System Reserved set at 350mb and all the WinRE tools placed onto that partition. Keeping that fresh install saves me having to change all the partitions, set the tools up and change all the bcd settings.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
08 Jun 2012   #15
boyboyds

Windows 7 Home 64bit
 
 

You save your image backups to external HD - makes sense.

You keep all personal data files on Drive D: - makes sense.

It seems that you use some imaging software and not W7 native imaging tool.... why is that...?

And if your internal HD dies, how do you restore from the image backup, do you need some additional software for this.....?

Or you just plug in the external HD into the PC and it automatically copy it to the new internal
HD.....?

Thanks,
BBDS
My System SpecsSystem Spec
08 Jun 2012   #16
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
You save your image backups to external HD - makes sense.

You keep all personal data files on Drive D: - makes sense.

It seems that you use some imaging software and not W7 native imaging tool.... why is that...?

And if your internal HD dies, how do you restore from the image backup, do you need some additional software for this.....?

Or you just plug in the external HD into the PC and it automatically copy it to the new internal
HD.....?

Thanks,
BBDS
Boyboyds,

If you use windows imaging or macrium you just create a rescue disc or startup repair disc and you boot into that then restore the image from your external hdd.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
08 Jun 2012   #17
Brds7t7

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

Also some people don't use the Windows imaging utility as it's not as flexible as Macrium.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
08 Jun 2012   #18
boyboyds

Windows 7 Home 64bit
 
 

I am sorry, but I am still confused about the backup issue.

I know I created W7 image backup using Windows Image Backup utility. It is about 20-25 gig (about 5 DVDs).

What will happen when I put in a new internal HDD and insert these DVDs.....?

Will it load W7 .....?


Thanks,
BBDS
My System SpecsSystem Spec
08 Jun 2012   #19
ignatzatsonic

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Home Premium SP1, 64-bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by boyboyds View Post
What will happen when I put in a new internal HDD and insert these DVDs.....?

Will it load W7 .....?
Not directly, in the sense you see every time you boot your PC now.

Image files are not bootable.

You have to "restore" the image file in order to make a new bootable C partition. The image file in an unrestored state isn't of much use.

DVDs are not recommended unless you have no choice--they are just more prone to restoration problems. The better choice is to make an image file and store it on some other hard drive.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
08 Jun 2012   #20
Brds7t7

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

Boyboyds, you would boot into the Windows recovery environment from your system repair disc or windows install disc then while in recovery choose "Restore my computer from a system image"
It will then ask you where the image is stored.

I agree with Ignatz, saving an image on DVD's is risky. If one disc gets damaged the whole image will be useless.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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 System Image Backup Strategies/Thoughts




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