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

26 Jan 2013   #1

Windows 7 RC 64bit
 
 
Is Windows 7 backup any good? Are there better free alternatives?

I have backup setup in windows 7, but was curious if I should be using something else as well? I've yet to have to restore with it, so I'm not too trusting on it yet

My System SpecsSystem Spec
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27 Jan 2013   #2

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Win 7 Pro 64-bit
 
 

A lot of folks on this Forum use only the Windows 7 backup/imaging tool and are perfectly satisfied with it. Other folks have nothing but bad things to say about the Windows 7 tool and use only Macrium Free. And others swear by (or at) Paragon, EaseUS Todo, and DriveImage XML. (There are several more free backup/imaging tools available. A small sampling can be found here.)

Macrium Reflect FREE Edition - Information and download

Imaging with free Macrium

Free Backup Software: Paragon Backup & Recovery Free Edition - Overview

Best free backup software. Hard drive backup and recovery, image and clone freeware - EaseUS Todo Backup Free

DriveImage XML Backup Software - Data Recovery Product

The nice thing about free products is you can use each for a while and make your own comparisons based on your own needs. Personally, I use the Windows 7 tool and Macrium. I've had the opportunity to restore individual files and the entire hard drive using both utilities. They both worked perfectly.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
27 Jan 2013   #3
mjf

Windows 7x64 Home Premium SP1
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by s0me0ne View Post
I have backup setup in windows 7, but was curious if I should be using something else as well? I've yet to have to restore with it, so I'm not too trusting on it yet
Backup can mean your personal file/folder type backup or a system image which takes a snapshot of everything important for full system operation - even to a new HDD.
Let's assume you mean image then my view, particularly when you haven't done a system image restore, is to use two programs. I have done many restores and still use two: Inbuilt Windows and the free version of Macrium Reflect. I've used both without any problems. Be aware that some people do have issues with Windows inbuilt so I would not rely solely on it. If you want only one I would choose Macrium which also happens to be more flexible.

When you can afford the $ buy another sata drive (=or> than your existing HDD) and restore to it and then you will gain some confidence in your imaging software.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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27 Jan 2013   #4

Win 7 Ultimate 64 bit
 
 

There is a video showing how to use Macrium Reflect here.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
27 Jan 2013   #5

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 8.1 Pro with Media Center
 
 

I belong to those who have a successful and satisfied relationship with Windows Backup & Restore. I have used it as my only imaging and backup tool since Vista (not counting my tests with Macrium and other third party apps just to see how they work). I am really happy with Windows Backup & Restore. However, this is of course only my personal opinion. You could call me a Microsoft fan in the sense that I try to organize my computing, maintain my rigs with native Windows tools as much as possible. I do not know if this is at least a partial reason for my well working computers; I have crashes quite seldom, can't remember when I last time saw a blue screen, my rigs boot fast and work reliably.

I have never failed (really!) to restore an image or files from a backup, nor have I ever failed to create an image. This statement does of course not include the test PCs, only used to recreate different problematic scenarios for problem solving.

But as so often in these "Which is better"-threads, just wait some time and you will see here responses telling you not to trust Windows Backup & Restore, that only the third party tool the poster recommends is good . For me Windows Backup & Restore is an ideal, well functioning tool I use almost daily.

Kari
My System SpecsSystem Spec
27 Jan 2013   #6
whs
Microsoft MVP

Vista, Windows7, Mint Mate, Zorin, Windows 8
 
 

I have had a lot of trouble with Windows backup and so have others. The worst is if you make a backup and the day you need to restore it does not work. Since there were a few of those cases, I wrote this tutorial on how to recover from the situation. And I think it was useful for a few people.

I since use free Macrium and that has never disppointed me in about 50 recoveries. It is rock solid and unlike with the Windows tool, you know at each step of the way what you are doing.

I respect the experience that my friend Kari and others had with the Windows tool, but I was not as fortunate.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
27 Jan 2013   #7

Windows 7 Ultimate x64, XP Mode, W8.1 Preview VM - 7 Pro x64 second remote tower
 
 

The personal preferences and what hass been found the most reliable are 1)CP>Bacup & Restore: create system image option and start restoration of image while still booted in Windows from same section when image is chosen.

2)Western Digital and Seagate both provide a free version of Acronis True Image Disk Director suite while I still run with the 2010 paid for full retail version of Acronis T.I. The main advantage of the 3rd party option since both have been 100% reliable to date is Acronis offers more compression with images which end up taking up less drive space. The full retail version also provides other utilities including a secure drive erase tool as well as the option to create a live repair cd.

With the free version of Macruim's Reflect when looked at it failed to restore a Vista image due to simply having changed the drive letter on the drive the image was saved on. Reflect considered it "invalid" at the time. With Acronis or the buiilt in image create and restore option both can still use any image when simply browsing to it even after a drive has been unplugged, Windows reinstalled even, drive letters changed, etc.

Grade A report for both 7 option and Acronis!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
28 Jan 2013   #8

Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
 
 

I personally am one of the many that do not like Windows Backup. I had a system completely fail a day after using Windows Backup (keeping in mind that it took 2 days for it to backup all the files and stuff I had to my external hard drive). I think it would be honestly best to use something else than that. Whether making a system image or backup.

I have not used Acronis or anything like that but I too would like to find a good back up method that doesn't take 2 whole days to back up a system.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
28 Jan 2013   #9
whs
Microsoft MVP

Vista, Windows7, Mint Mate, Zorin, Windows 8
 
 

Quote:
I have not used Acronis or anything like that but I too would like to find a good back up method that doesn't take 2 whole days to back up a system
I use free Macrium and it is fast. Images my whole system between 4 and 10 minutes depending on the output device. Example:


Attached Images
 
My System SpecsSystem Spec
28 Jan 2013   #10

Windows 7 Ultimate x64, XP Mode, W8.1 Preview VM - 7 Pro x64 second remote tower
 
 

When trying Macrium here as I was saying any slight change in location from where the image is first created and stored like a simple drive letter change saw the image made invalid?! With the Win 7 option as well as Acronis you can unplug drives and replug them back in, change drive letters all day long and still browse to the same image and see it restored in 20min.

Paragon is another lower priced softwares if you are looking for the full paid for version of something that gets favorable feedback as well. The Acronis True Image 2013 runs at $50 while Paragon fetches only $30. Many opt for the lower price tag.

Here I still have the 2010 Acronis T.I. in use which compresses image sizes down a bit over what is seen with the 7 option. With some 498-507gb taken up on occasion on the main drive with the 7 option seeing 465-498gb images and Acronis seeing less at 430-455gb depending on how much is on C at the time I give the 3rd party ware the edge on less storage drive space taken up.

Both have repeatedly restored all images successfully however. When comparing the 7 backup option on the RC with Macrium 7 won out at that time as well as being a good alternate to Acronis once the retail 7 was out. With the 7 made images however you don't have to be booted live from disk to start the restoration process however.

You simply go into the Control Panel>Backup & Restore section and select the image to be restored. The system will automatically restart into the live mode while the image is unpacked following C being wipe while live not while booted in Windows. With other 3 party options when not booted in a dual boot to restore another drive's OS there you end up booting live from disk to start that program's restoration while live.

The actual time involved to restore any image besides which option is used mainly depends on how large the image is. If you only have the basic Windows on without much else the pace is fast and done in only several minutes. For a good 100gb or larger primary will all your goods the time can average 20min. or longer. Here with half of a 1tb drive filled the average time was 35min. for the full restoration which includes the initial restart to boot live from disk.
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