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Windows 7: System Image vs. System Recovery Disc

10 Dec 2013   #1

Windows 7
 
 
System Image vs. System Recovery Disc

Can someone concisely explain the difference between creating a system image versus a system recovery disc?

Recently in our office a colleague's computer had a "meltdown". I will create another thread with questions concerning that. I understand that it depends on what causes the "meltdown" but I would like to know the best method in which to "fix" these problems in the future.

Any information would be greatly appreciated... thanks!!!

My System SpecsSystem Spec
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10 Dec 2013   #2

Windows 7, 64 bit Home SP1, Win 8.1.1 Pro 64 bit
 
 

A "system image" created by a disk backup program such as Macrium Reflect, Acronis True Image (and similar) will allow creating a full hard drive backup (all partitions if there are partitions) to a separate hard drive. With this method (what I use with Macrium Reflect) it will allow restoring the complete hard drive back to how it was when the last backup was created. This includes everything, the Operating System and installed programs and all user data.

Windows has a built in backup but its not as robust or full featured as 3rd party backup programs.

A "System Recovery" disc, in most cases (all that I've seen) will restore the PC to the original factory condition, but does not restore user installed programs or user data.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
10 Dec 2013   #3

Windows 7
 
 

Thanks for the input.

So, if the user's computer has a lot of data (mine currently has 439 GB) I can therefore expect the image to be just as large, correct?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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10 Dec 2013   #4

Windows 7, 64 bit Home SP1, Win 8.1.1 Pro 64 bit
 
 

No. Most backup programs compact data when its backed up.

For example, with Macrium Reflect, my Win 8 disk (SSD) has 64GB of data (OS and other programs and user data). The backup file is 34GB.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
10 Dec 2013   #5
whs

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Vista, Windows7, Mint Mate, Zorin, Windows 8
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by slovenc0417 View Post
Thanks for the input.

So, if the user's computer has a lot of data (mine currently has 439 GB) I can therefore expect the image to be just as large, correct?
1. Data does not belong into the OS partition (C). It should be in a seperate partition - else you may have trouble recovering your data when your system goes belly up.

2.The size of an image is appr. 65% of the data in the OS partition - less in a data partition because the compression of data is less efficient - no large empty areas like pagefile or hibefile.

3. Recovering from an image is largely superior to recovering from a recovery disk which is a reinstallation of the OS and can take days with all the updates and the reinstallation and tuning of programs. An image recovery takes 10 to 20 minutes.

Imaging with free Macrium
My System SpecsSystem Spec
10 Dec 2013   #6

Windows 7
 
 

Fireberd,

Does Macrium Reflect allow you to select what you want to backup?

Basically, the Autocad files of each individual workstation are saved on our server and backed up offsite so backing up that portion of each hard drive is not necessary. Plus, it would be a substantial amount of data. I would prefer to backup everything but those files so that in the event of a problem, I will not have to re-install and reconfigure all the software.


whs,
I understand your point on a partitioned drive. Unfortunately, the computers we have been buying from a local computer store (they are assembled there, not off the shelf) do not have partitioned drives. I'm sure you are going to tell me that I can go ahead and partition them myself, which I would not be opposed to. However, that does lead me to another question.

I have a laptop that is a couple of years old that does have a partitioned drive. At the time I was not aware of the purpose of partitioning, but now I am. I learned because as the years went by, my C drive (small by today's standards, 60 GB, D drive 230GB) was reaching capacity and thus the performance of the computer slowed down considerably. I moved all the data I could to the D drive and also used DirLinker to re-link most of my software to the D drive. Unfortunately, a majority of my C drive (%) is taken up by the Windows folder (28.39 GB) and its winsxs subfolder (12.86). It is my understanding that this folder only grows in size due to constant Windows Updates (I researched the reason once, but have forgotten and I am thinking it was from the updates, you may know the real reason). In any case, my laptop is slow and I guess my only recourse would be to reformat it.

I would love to know a better method managing my and other computers so that it performs better. I have recently purchased a 4 TB external hard drive that will allow me to store all of my media, bu that is basically all I have done to this point.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
10 Dec 2013   #7
whs

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Vista, Windows7, Mint Mate, Zorin, Windows 8
 
 

1. As I said, make a seperate data partition. Here is how I do it on a system that comes with the data on the C drive.

a. I copy my data folders to an external backup drive - Documents, Pictures, Music, Videos

b. I delete the data within those folders (not the folders themselves) on C.

c. I shrink the C partition to appr. 50GBs. That is plenty unless you have games like Steam. For that operation you will need the bootable CD of Partition Wizard (last box on the webpage). And here are the video tutorials on how to deal with it.

d. Into the gained unallocated space I define a new partition.

e. I copy the folders that I backed up to that partition

f. I rename those folders - I use Whs Documents, Whs Music, etc. You use what you please.

g. I right click on those folders and INCLUDE them into the appropriate library. That looks like this at the end:

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2. Regarding the winsxs folder - do not touch it. That is the directory of your whole system. It does not usually grow from updates but from programs you install. Those programs bring .dlls that stay in the system even when you uninstall the programs. In a new install, winsxs is less then 6GB but in an established installation, 10 to 12GB is not unusual.


My System SpecsSystem Spec
11 Dec 2013   #8

Windows 7
 
 

Thank you both for your input.

whs,

Thank you for the partitioning information.

I understand the implications of disturbing the winsxs folder and have no intention of doing so. Having said that, in order increase the performance of my computer, I plan on doing a clean install and partitioning the drive as you described. I have back ups of all my software and data, and although tedious, i want a fresh start.

My question is in regard to you file structure. Are the "My Music", My Videos", etc. folders defaults that will automatically appear? I understand that the Whs folders are on the partition, but I would rather not have three folders for pictures when I will only use one. Of course, I would use the folder from the partition. Is there not a way to link the "My "Folders" to the partitioned drive?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
11 Dec 2013   #9
whs

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Vista, Windows7, Mint Mate, Zorin, Windows 8
 
 

When you do a new install and create those new folders (like Whs Documents) in your Data partition, you leave the My Documents and the other My alone. Those will be the default folders where the system and some programs store things. And that is handy because now system and program generated data is seperated from user data (which sits on the data partition)

Especially in My Documents you will get a few of those generated folders - see here:


System Image vs. System Recovery Disc-2013-12-11_1136.png

But it is possible to change the default folder setting (which I do not recommend). You do that in the Properties of the Library.

System Image vs. System Recovery Disc-2013-12-11_1140.png


My System SpecsSystem Spec
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