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Windows 7: Is Windows 7 backup any good? Are there better free alternatives?

29 Jan 2013   #21
Night Hawk

W7 Ultimate x64/W10 Pro x64 dual boot main build-remote pc W10 Pro x64 Insider Preview/W7 Pro x64
 
 

Windows Live is being dumped however. Existing W.L.Hotmail accounts will remain available but now see the option for the new Outlook.com styled gui there while soon no new accounts will be allowed with the service being discontinued. Skype replaces the live messenger as well.

What that all shows is that any service like SkyDrive being web based is also subject to changes as well as being discontinued at some point by the provider(MS) on short notice. For laptop users on the go the cloud offers a safe temporary place to store things.

For those on the other hand who accumulate a lot of data, download frequently, and simply fill drives 7gb is only a drop in the bucket on the other hand compared to what other cloud services already offer as well as what will come.

Now what happened with Macrium is still an unknown while the Vista install back then was still on while 7 was being tested and the need for additional drive space prompted the look at the free Reflect download. All programs and data were there and packed into the image made at the time since the storage drive(external) was removed from the casing for internal use where the image was also going to be stored.

The drive that had Vista on it was then wiped for the 32bit RC install there while the 64bit RC install was made the host OS. both platforms were still provided looks while I knew back in late 2007 and later on in 2008 the 32bit Windows was on the way out. Following the 32bit install and then deciding on a drive letter change for that as well as the drive added in the restoration attempt to replace the 32bit RC then saw the "invalid image selected" type error message appear.

Note there wasn't any repartitioning of the drives as far as splitting them up as had been seen for the XP/Vista dual boot to add on both 7 betas(32bit, 64bit installs) on second primaries on each of the two drives present. Since the image hadn't had a chance to be tested at the time it could well have been corrupted when Reflect failed to create a good one. But either way it wasn't going to be a program under consideration for backup purposes.


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29 Jan 2013   #22
jimbo45

Linux CENTOS 7 / various Windows OS'es and servers
 
 

Hi there
System Imaging can be done with Windows -- agree and all of the free backup programs -- however when we are talking about DATA backup this is a very different animal. Data is usually wanted irrespective of WHAT OS or computer you are running. Typical examples Music libraries, photos, videos, power point documents, spread sheets etc. Maybe you even keep scanned copies of bills / tax returns etc on your machine.

This data doesn't change very frequently and if it does it's only by small amounts so it's not necessary to backup the entire 30 TB or so you *might* have as your own data.

Where 3rd party products come into their own is that you can take a full BACKUP of all your data say ONCE and then just regularly do what is called "Incremental" backups. This means that only data files that have changed is backed up to a "History" backup data set.

For example if your music library has 2 TB of data and you add say 3 more new songs - the incremental data backup will just backup the three new songs - obviously saving a lot of time and space.

On restore you just start off with the last FULL backup volume and then the "history" data to restore the latest version.

You would then say only need to re-backup your DATA COMPLETELY once a month or so -- depending on what you are doing and the frequency of changes and daily run the "Incremental" backups.

The 3rd party paid products aren't expensive and will save you loads of time - especially if you are installing / uninstalling software including various versions of Windows. These products can also automatically schedule jobs to run at times convenient to you such as when you go to bed and also can be used to clone disks and move important data.

While this is a W7 forum some users here are undoubtedly trying W8 -- W8 has a nice feature called "History" which effectively keeps a log of changes to your data files so it itself can restore the latest version if you have to recover it. While not as good or full featured as a 3rd party product it might well suffice for those with smallish amounts of user data when running W8. (You have to enable the feature however --see on the W8 Forums how to do that).

I would honestly say that for the 50 or so USD that I spent on a good 3rd party backup solution - every CENT has been worth while.

Windows backup and a lot of the "freebies" have problems if the "target device" (i.e disk you are backing up to) becomes full. The 3rd party one's allow "multi-volume" and just prompt for new media (in the case of removable media such as DVD's or USB drives, and the backup will continue.

Some of the "freebies" also insist that data is restored to the same volumes which isn't always what you want - especially if installing new drives or additional drives.

I use Acronis now -- I had trouble with ATM 2011 and 2012 but they've fixed it now and ATM 2013 is fine --although I would have preferred the old interface of Acronis True Image before they "dumbed it down" with ATM2010 etc.

Cheers
jimbo
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29 Jan 2013   #23
Lady Fitzgerald

Win 7 Ultimate 64 bit
 
 

Excellent advice, jimbo (I'd rep you but the *&^%$#@! won't let me). I bought a full version of Macrium Reflect for the reasons you gave. I'm now doing a full version once a month (just before installing updates from M$ Update Tuesday) and incrementals between full versions everytime I add important data to my machine.
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29 Jan 2013   #24
mjf

Windows 7x64 Home Premium SP1
 
 

The advice has been given many times - separate your large data storage from your OS partition + installed programs in order to make regular imaging worth doing.
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29 Jan 2013   #25
Lady Fitzgerald

Win 7 Ultimate 64 bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by mjf View Post
The advice has been given many times - separate your large data storage from your OS partition + installed programs in order to make regular imaging worth doing.
Why would that make a difference? Both partitions would still need to be backed up.
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29 Jan 2013   #26
gregrocker

 

Having data on a separate partition makes the OS/Programs partition image smaller for storage purposes, but more importantly it gives you a current file set in its own partition so in case Win7 ever becomes irreparable you can reimage it to C in minutes while your data is still current and waiting - no need to sift through the old data set in the image to update it.

But you are correct that the data partition also needs to be backed up which is easy if it's linked to the cloud using a method such as the one I posted earlier, or using Windows Backup, SyncToys or just dragging the active User folders regularly to external or another HD.

In addition my images are only of my OS/Programs because i like to apply them to new or different hardware using an Adaptive Restore program like Acronis' or Paragon offer. That way I can reimage any PC in 20 minutes and pull my files down from Skydrive which is already installed and running when it starts up.

I also got 25gb free from Skydrive during that promotion which helps a lot, although where I do bump up against them is the 2gb file upload limit so I keep some larger files on external or in C.
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29 Jan 2013   #27
whs
Microsoft MVP

Vista, Windows7, Mint Mate, Zorin, Windows 8
 
 

LF, data you can backup with e.g. sync. That is a lot faster. You probably use differentials or incrementals because you have a Macrium pro version. But I am not really a friend of that. I always make full images.
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29 Jan 2013   #28
Kari

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Lady Fitzgerald View Post
Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by mjf View Post
The advice has been given many times - separate your large data storage from your OS partition + installed programs in order to make regular imaging worth doing.
Why would that make a difference? Both partitions would still need to be backed up.
It is a huge difference!

To start with, if things go really bad and you need to reinstall your OS, user data on a different disk is still safe and intact even when system drive is formatted / wiped. Notice I said different disk, not different partition: storing user data on same disk than OS but on different partition makes it vulnerable if the HDD is damaged.

I could not even dream to have my user data on the same disk, not to mention same partition. Storing user data on the same partition than OS is IMO foolhardy.

Self-explanatory screenshot from my disk management to better explain what I mean. I use clear enough volume names so you get the picture, first HDD highlighted with yellow, second with pink:

Is Windows 7 backup any good? Are there better free alternatives?-disk_management.png

Kari


My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 Jan 2013   #29
Night Hawk

W7 Ultimate x64/W10 Pro x64 dual boot main build-remote pc W10 Pro x64 Insider Preview/W7 Pro x64
 
 

I run with two identical storage drives, a second drive used for testing and storing full system images, and then the host drive where I can grab a complete snapshot at any time. No worries about replacing one image with another if needed.

As far as imaging programs also including backup options as well Acronis offers that as well as the secure drive erase option. Acronis can also mount a full image as a second C drive in order to edit the image to add in or subject files as part of the incremental options there.
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29 Jan 2013   #30
robinb9

Windows 7 Pro 32/64 bit and Windows 10 Pro 32 Bit/64bit
 
 

I use windows 7 system image as an additional backup all the time. I found myself in a dead hd on a laptop and when I installed a me HD , put the DVD restore disk Om
N and the external HD that had the backup, I was back in business after 1 hour, everything was put back exactly as I left it. I only lost about a week which was no boggy because no new software was put on nor new documents. I on,y lost about a weeks worth of emails. I back up my documents on a external HD using Second Copy Back up program which is real easy to set up and use
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 Is Windows 7 backup any good? Are there better free alternatives?




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