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Windows 7: Windows System Image Backup vs. Windows Reinstall.


27 Jun 2013   #1
JDR

Windows 7 Home Premium x64
 
 
Windows System Image Backup vs. Windows Reinstall.

The other day when my Windows 7 Home Premium desktop failed to boot into Windows, but only to the Repair Options screen, I had to decide between using my two-year old Windows System Image backup file or reinstall Windows 7 from my original retail DVD. I also decided that this was a good time to install a new, larger drive to use as C:, and let the original drive become D:. Although using the system image was recommended to me by a couple of people, I felt that a two-year old image on the new drive was too out of date, and so I opted to do a fresh install of Windows 7.

In fact, I found this reinstall to be a fairly painless operation... lengthy, with numerous updates (including SP1) and the subsequent machine restarts, but mostly just a case of clicking OK buttons. Other than an initial network driver to gain access to the Internet, all other drivers were downloaded and installed by Windows Update.

I had previously made a list of my two Program Files folders, so I knew what applications to install, as well as my Start Menu entries. With the exception of the operating system, all my applications are Open Source or freeware (such as Visual Studio Express) and readily available online. It was a good opportunity to "refresh" the entire system. ALthough I had recent backups, all my personal data files were still available on the old drive, and easily copied over to the new drive.

Since both options basically wipe whatever is on the drive, it got me wondering about the advantages, if any, of a system image. It seems to me that its value would diminish with age, and be of little use after a couple of years. I don't think I would want to revert my computer to the way it was a couple of years ago and have to worry about restoring it to the present.

Or am I overlooking something?

My System SpecsSystem Spec
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27 Jun 2013   #2

Win 7 Pro x64 SP1, Win 7 Ult x86 SP1
 
 

Most people that use Backup Imaging create an image periodically.
How often is a personal choice.
For me a monthly "OS" backup is usually enough, for the Patch Tuesday cycle.
If I want to try out a new program I usually create a Backup Image so I can quickly back it out if it causes problems.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
27 Jun 2013   #3

Win7 Pro 32-bit, Win8 Pro 32-bit
 
 

Your reinstall was "simple" for you because you have avoided the complication that makes other reinstalls very complex -- lots of paid-for commercial apps, that require not only reinstallation, but updates and complicated settings adjustments. Plus, some folks installed such apps from CDs and don't have ready access to those anymore.

In their cases, restoring a recent full-image that contains all of their apps, settings, and data -- which could be done in a few minutes, is vastly preferable to hours of grief hunting down app CDs, applying updates, remembering lots of detail settings and doing them all again.

I do an image backup any time I make a change that would be difficult to recover in a few minutes. I can accumulate a backup every day if I'm busy making changes. But I migrate them to a file server and when sufficient time has passed (like a couple of weeks), I remove all but the most recent backups. This came in handy a few days back when I was making a simple change of updating AMD video drivers on my Win8 desktop -- only to have the PC totally crash in the process. In ten minutes, I was back up and running restored from the image made earlier that day prior to the updates.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
.


27 Jun 2013   #4

Win7 Pro 32bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Mark Phelps View Post
Your reinstall was "simple" for you because you have avoided the complication that makes other reinstalls very complex -- lots of paid-for commercial apps, that require not only reinstallation, but updates and complicated settings adjustments. Plus, some folks installed such apps from CDs and don't have ready access to those anymore.

In their cases, restoring a recent full-image that contains all of their apps, settings, and data -- which could be done in a few minutes, is vastly preferable to hours of grief hunting down app CDs, applying updates, remembering lots of detail settings and doing them all again.

I do an image backup any time I make a change that would be difficult to recover in a few minutes. I can accumulate a backup every day if I'm busy making changes. But I migrate them to a file server and when sufficient time has passed (like a couple of weeks), I remove all but the most recent backups. This came in handy a few days back when I was making a simple change of updating AMD video drivers on my Win8 desktop -- only to have the PC totally crash in the process. In ten minutes, I was back up and running restored from the image made earlier that day prior to the updates.
This is exactly what I do as well. Windows Backup (Win95) and System Restore (XP, 7) have never worked properly for me when I needed them most. I make a Macrium Reflect image of my boot drive weekly, and these images have saved the day more times than I care to admit. Even after reinstalling 7 from scratch, an older image from when I used another motherboard enabled me to retrieve my Firefox bookmarks, themes, settings and Thunderbird email backups painlessly.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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 Windows System Image Backup vs. Windows Reinstall.




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