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Windows 7: Help me learn and practice backup and restore.

03 Aug 2012   #1

Help me learn and practice backup and restore.

I have a system with a 1TB internal drive. I've been backing up to an external 2TB USB disk. I backup the system image and data files. I also have a recovery disk. I think that's working, but I've never tested it. If my hard drive fails, I want to be assured I can do a full recovery of the system, all my applications, all my user customization, and all my data. I'll never know if my backup is working unless I test it. Today I put the system recovery disk in and booted from it. I could find the image on my USB drive, but to move ahead, it wanted to reformat all my internal drives. So, I can't test it without causing the event I want to verify I can recover from. I have an older internal 75GB hard drive connected. I was hoping I could restore just the image to that. Based upon what I saw today, I can't. I was hoping I could do that as a demo for re-installing my image on a SSD drive. I won't buy a SSD if it means starting over with my OS and applications. I'd like to demonstrate I can recover my existing setup onto a new SSD. I want to demonstrate I can recover my system if my 1TB drive dies. I want to do that without reformatting my existing drive. I want to know how to restore my image onto a SSD using the 75GB drive as a test. Is there anyway I can use the 75GB drive to accomplish both goals?

My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Aug 2012   #2
Victor S

Windows 7 Ultimate x64

Trying to address just your question, this is basically how system images work. I've only used Win 7 imager, Ghost 15, and free Macrium. If I mistate anything, others will correct it.

1. The system image is based on the system partition size. To restore the system image, the target partition must be AT LEAST AS LARGE AS THE PARTITION THE IMAGE WAS TAKEN FROM.
Example: I recently bought a 64gb SSD to use as my system drive. My system partition on the spinner was 100gb, even though the system image size was only about 20gb. Image size depends on actual space used, but still contains partition size info. A 100gb partion image would not restore to a 64gb SSD with the imaging/restore software I had, even though it was only 20gb of actual data.
What I had to do was shrink the spinner system partition to the SSD size or smaller (I think it would only shrink to 59gb, but that was small enough) , then make an image of that to restore to the new SSD. It worked.
So that's your first hurdle.

2. Anything you do should have a backup plan. In my example, I had images and other spinners to fall back to if the shrinking went wrong, if the restore to the SSD went wrong, etc. There was no way I would lose my system.
What you really want, despite the cost, is a drive to test with. In your case, probably another 1TB. It will come in handy for other uses, and redundancy of your backups. That's my strongest recommendation without knowing more.
When testing partitioning and restores, you unplug your main known good system drive to keep it safe. That's what I do, and I don't worry about hammering data because the drive letter is different in the partitioning/imaging software, or I fatfinger a key. After you know it's working as expected, you don't need to unplug.
Without knowing your partition setup and current imaging strategy, it's tough to advise specifically.
But IMO your aim is to organize your partitons so the system partiton is small enough to easily manage your system images. Then keep system images and data backups as separate entities. This is my strategy, and it has worked well.
You have the right view about testing images so you know they work.
The only really safe way to do this is to have a test drive.
After some testing, restoring will become second nature. I use image restores as
my "housekeeping" mechanism, and do them frequently.

3. There are other "complications," such as the Win 7 reserved system partition if you have that, knowing the imaging software, etc. But the main thing to start with is partition organization, and a test drive. With that, the rest is easy because
you've removed most of the danger of data loss.
All the rest can be thrashed out here. Many ways to do it.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Aug 2012   #3


Ok, that makes sense. My 1TB disk is pretty full; loaded up with an increasing load of video and pictures. That's why I've been spending more time thinking about my backups plus performance with Adobe Lightroom. Now I just need to spend some money. Thanks for your help.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Help me learn and practice backup and restore.

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