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Windows 7: What backup & relocation strategy for User profiles and Program Data

17 Nov 2013   #41
whs
Microsoft MVP

Vista, Windows7, Mint Mate, Zorin, Windows 8
 
 

Run this program. It gives you a beautiful account of what's on your C drive. http://windirstat.info/


My System SpecsSystem Spec
.
17 Nov 2013   #42
adri123

Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit
 
 

To all:

indeed I have a lot of questions and all are related to a single thing: which configuration will I use for my new installation, regarding OS+progs image backup, that will be practical to me and also a sure way not to mess up everything with the Users things when I recover. (which was my case yesterday and i now I unfortunately need to do all from scratch again).
So all views are welcome and please continue to asnwer me because your experience is most welcome.
Thus being said: I took time to write a first post that included many details.
For example that I didn't want to use Windows Backup and also that I didn't want to make an image of the whole data partition. (that's why I also proposed option 1 with three partitions.
  1. OS and Progs
  2. ProgramData + Users. With Users containing AppData, system folders, etc. but somehow linking to the actual data partition
  3. data

Thank you all again and I hope that with the continuing of these topic I'll at least have a clearer view on it. Which is already the case to a certain point, thanks to all of you.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
17 Nov 2013   #43
whs
Microsoft MVP

Vista, Windows7, Mint Mate, Zorin, Windows 8
 
 

I would go with only 2 partitions

1. OS and programs
2. Data

There is nothing to be gained splitting out those OS files into a 3d partition. It just complicates your life.

For the data, you can always use a sync program to backup. That is faster than imaging (although I personally prefer imaging my data partition).
My System SpecsSystem Spec
.

17 Nov 2013   #44
Kari

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

 

A 60 GB C: drive is totally normal. As I want to have all installed software being included in my system images thus installing all apps and programs on C:, mine is ATM almost 100 GB on this laptop's fairly new (about one month) installation.

About the size of the AppData, here's an interesting example:

First some background: As you might know, installing Windows on a virtual machine takes less space than the exactly same installation on a physical computer. This is due the file system and how Windows handles virtual hard disks.

I have a Windows 7 Professional installed on a Windows 8.1 Hyper-V virtual machine, installed just a few weeks ago. It's almost virgin, "empty", I mean I have only installed Windows Virtual PC and XP Mode on this virtual machine, absolutely nothing else. I only used the virtual machine once, to create some screenshots for a post about installing and setting up XP Mode. The Windows 7 Pro vm contains nothing else, is never been used except that one time, contains no personal stuff. I launched it just now for the second time in its short life.

Yet, the AppData is 2.7 GB. I repeat: a completely "empty" new installation, nothing installed but AppData is already a bit under 3 GB:
What backup & relocation strategy for User profiles and Program Data-2013-11-18_014320.jpg
The same folder would take about 3 to 3.1 GB on a physical installation.

When considering your options when reinstalling, remember this: Using sysprep in relocating Users and Programdata, it only needs to be done once, and it takes care of completely moving the entire Users and ProgramData folders including all their subfolders, for example AppData. It also does this at once for every existing user account on your computer, plus for every user account that will be created in the future, as the environment variable which is changed automatically takes care of that all future accounts and all their subfolders will be created on a new location.

Doing it manually means you have to do it manually folder by folder, for each existing user account plus for each user account you will create in the future, still leaving for instance AppData on C:. The more user accounts you are and will be using, the more work you have.

Kari


My System SpecsSystem Spec
17 Nov 2013   #45
Lady Fitzgerald

Win 7 Ultimate 64 bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by adri123 View Post
Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Lady Fitzgerald View Post
You're correct 3GB is enough to worry about although even that seems a bit big.

What I'm wondering what is causing your C: drive to be taking up 60GB. That seems to be a bit on the big side, like by almost 100%
You meant 3GB is NOT enough to worry about, right?

I ahve no idea why C is 60GB. And also I don't know how much it's supposed to be as an average size.. ?
Here are some sizes, maybe one is extremely big and you will see it directly?

Windows: 24 GB
Program Files: 1,58 GB
Program Files (x86): 4 GB
pagefile.sys (hidden system file): 3,90 GB
hiberfil.sys (hidden system file): 2,90 GB

NVIDIA: 285MB

That makes around 37 GB..strange..i can't see where are the other 20 GB used.. i didnt mentions some other folders/files cause they are really small.. and I have all the hidden folder shown... any idea?
You're right, I meant 3 GB is NOT enough to worry about. I blame it on old age (that's my story and I'm sticking to it ).

I don't what to say about the size of what's on your C: partition. I would say just watch it and see if it grows any. However, if you decide to start over from scratch, it would be interesting to see how big it is after you do so.

I did some digging around and found a few cases where people had abnormally large AppData files. Almost all could be traced to old temp files and programs inappropriately using AppData. One example was iTunes uses AppData to backup files unless one directs it to put the files elsewhere. This is not to say that Kari has programs that inappropriately uses AppData or excessive temp files.

My anti-malware programs remove temp files as part of the weekly scan process so that may be one reason I've been able to keep the size of my AppData file size down.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
17 Nov 2013   #46
adri123

Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Lady Fitzgerald View Post
You're correct 3GB is enough to worry about although even that seems a bit big.

What I'm wondering what is causing your C: drive to be taking up 60GB. That seems to be a bit on the big side, like by almost 100%
Sorry, I gave the sizes the other way around.
Actually, for my C partition (which doesn't contain Users and ProgramData folders), the sizes are:

Used: 40GB
  • Windows: 24 GB
  • Program Files (x86): 4 GB
  • pagefile.sys (hidden system file): 3,90 GB
  • hiberfil.sys (hidden system file): 2,90 GB
  • Program Files: 1,58 GB
  • MSOCache: 690 MB
  • NVIDIA: 285MB
  • Others...

Free: 60GB

Does that seem normal to all of you?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
17 Nov 2013   #47
Lady Fitzgerald

Win 7 Ultimate 64 bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by whs View Post
I would go with only 2 partitions

1. OS and programs
2. Data

There is nothing to be gained splitting out those OS files into a 3d partition. It just complicates your life.

For the data, you can always use a sync program to backup. That is faster than imaging (although I personally prefer imaging my data partition).
I agree unless a fresh windows reinstall creates a boot partition (then it would be three).

I haven't been able to find a sync program I like or trust. I find it easier to just use Reflect to clone my data drives. I load a HDD into the swap bay of my computer, set Reflect (takes just a few seconds), start it, and go to bed. When I get up later to skip to my loo, I remove the now completed clone and start a second one.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
17 Nov 2013   #48
adri123

Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Kari View Post
A 60 GB C: drive is totally normal. As I want to have all installed software being included in my system images thus installing all apps and programs on C:, mine is ATM almost 100 GB on this laptop's fairly new (about one month) installation.

About the size of the AppData, here's an interesting example:

First some background: As you might know, installing Windows on a virtual machine takes less space than the exactly same installation on a physical computer. This is due the file system and how Windows handles virtual hard disks.

I have a Windows 7 Professional installed on a Windows 8.1 Hyper-V virtual machine, installed just a few weeks ago. It's almost virgin, "empty", I mean I have only installed Windows Virtual PC and XP Mode on this virtual machine, absolutely nothing else. I only used the virtual machine once, to create some screenshots for a post about installing and setting up XP Mode. The Windows 7 Pro vm contains nothing else, is never been used except that one time, contains no personal stuff. I launched it just now for the second time in its short life.

Yet, the AppData is 2.7 GB. I repeat: a completely "empty" new installation, nothing installed but AppData is already a bit under 3 GB:
Attachment 294024
The same folder would take about 3 to 3.1 GB on a physical installation.

When considering your options when reinstalling, remember this: Using sysprep in relocating Users and Programdata, it only needs to be done once, and it takes care of completely moving the entire Users and ProgramData folders including all their subfolders, for example AppData. It also does this at once for every existing user account on your computer, plus for every user account that will be created in the future, as the environment variable which is changed automatically takes care of that all future accounts and all their subfolders will be created on a new location.

Doing it manually means you have to do it manually folder by folder, for each existing user account plus for each user account you will create in the future, still leaving for instance AppData on C:. The more user accounts you are and will be using, the more work you have.

Kari
Thanks Kari,

I still have a question though about the recovery process, using the method you suggest.
Given the configuration you suggest: Say I make an image of C and of D at the beginning of the week. During the week I add some music. At the end of the week, OS crashes and I want to restore it. So I need to use my two images made at the beginning of the week (both, since the ProgramData and Users folders are on the data partition).

So it restores the C and the D. But, this means it will put my data files back to the previous state. So it will "erase" the new music I had added during the week.
That means, in parallel with the imaging thing, I should also have a parallel process for the data on D?
What are the options there?
Keep in mind that I'm a normal user and I don't want to image my D drive every day! Maybe once a week or month. Syncing every few days is OK though. So in case of syncing D, with your configuration, in case of restoring, I would need to put the D image back PLUS syncing back the new music. Is tha right?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
17 Nov 2013   #49
adri123

Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by whs View Post
Run this program. It gives you a beautiful account of what's on your C drive. http://windirstat.info/
What a wonderful program. And beautiful indeed. Thank you.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
17 Nov 2013   #50
Kari

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

 

In my opinion you are thinking too complicated. It's about 3 AM here, my painkiller & whisky coctail seems to be working so I have certain difficuties to find correct words, but I will try.

You always lose something if you need to restore a backup or an image due a system crash. Always. You cannot create a backup strategy that always keeps everything, which never causes any data loss in case of emergency recovery after a total crash. Before you voice any objections, I'll admit that in theory it would be possible if you imaged your system several times every hour, after every modification in any file, after every download, after every install, after any change in settings and so on. But that only works in theory.

That being said, external storage prices being so low as they today are, I see nothing wrong in including your so called data drive in your system image if it includes any system files or folders.

Here's how I do it on this PC:
  • Drive C: - 200 GB for Windows and Program Files
  • Drive D: - 250 GB for Virtual Machines
  • Drive E: - 470 GB for Users (all users (existing and future), all subfolders)
  • Drive H: - 1 TB for Audio (music and audio books)
  • Drive I: - 1 TB for Video (mostly recorded TV)
  • Drive J: - 1 TB for Backup images
  • Drives C, D, & E are internal
  • Drives H, I & J external on 3TB Western Digital USB3 HD which you can get with a bit under €80 or $105
  • System Image backups made with Macrium Reflect, including C: and E:
It is of course up to you to decide what and how you will set up your Windows PC. For me, this system works.

You might find this an interesting read: An Old School Geek’s approach to Installing & Setting Up a Windows PC

Good night .

Kari
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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