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Windows 7: System Image Size - why so fat?


22 Dec 2013   #1

Win 7 Professional
 
 
System Image Size - why so fat?

Just yesterday installed Windows 7 Backup&Restore on my Lenovo M72e desktop with 1TB hard drive -- and proceeded to back up and create a system image on a 1TB external drive. It's not my first time backing up a computer, but it is my first use of the Windows 7 utility and I've not previously made use of system image.

I was initially confused to find that while my internal hard drive had roughly 325gb used (i.e., about 650gb of free space left) the external (backup) drive was using nearly 600gb for the backup. Was it backing up everything twice? Digging just a little bit deeper, I learned that the backed up data matched the C:-drive data in size, but that the system image was about 300gb.

Why so fat? Is this normal? Does the system image contain all of the documents and data all over again? If so, it appears that if/when I add substantial data to the hard drive (well, OK, that'll probably take a little while), I'll need a 2TB external to back up a 1TB internal. Is that so?

I searched this forum before posting, but didn't find much in the way of queries or explanation about system image size. So I'm just looking for confirmation that this is the way it is, and perhaps a bit of basic education and advice (in layman's language, please) about this. (e.g., Will subsequent backups create additional versions of the system image -- as well as the data backup -- and will I therefore have to be careful about monitoring and managing the backup disc?) Thanks for any hints and help in this regard.

Ernie

My System SpecsSystem Spec
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23 Dec 2013   #2
Microsoft MVP

Windows 7 Ultimate X64 SP1
 
 

I may be wrong, but I think the Windows 7 backup includes restore points, page file, hibernation file if used, temp files, and the empty space.

I and many others don't trust it much, one never knows what it's doing. A superior way is using the free version of Macrium reflect. It only copies the system files and your data to an image. As example I imaged my system yesterday, which is 33.7GB but the image size is about 18GB.

Imaging with free Macrium
My System SpecsSystem Spec
23 Dec 2013   #3

Windows 7 Professional x64 Sp1
 
 

I use and like windows 7 backup and find it works quite well.
Not sure why others have issues with it.

By default, windows 7 backup includes all personal users folders, libraries, and system image.
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23 Dec 2013   #4

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bits 7601 Multiprocessor Free Service Pack 1
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Britton30 View Post
I may be wrong, but I think the Windows 7 backup includes restore points, page file, hibernation file if used, temp files, and the empty space.

restore points, page file, hibernation file if used=> page file and hibernation file are tmeporary things.... not backupped. restore points aren't backupped as well.

empty space will not be backed up.
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23 Dec 2013   #5

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bits 7601 Multiprocessor Free Service Pack 1
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by andrew129260 View Post
I use and like windows 7 backup and find it works quite well.
Not sure why others have issues with it.

By default, windows 7 backup includes all personal users folders, libraries, and system image.
Ever tried to restore it on:
  • Disk with another disk signature.
  • Disk with other disk layout. Deleted/added/moved/resized partitions.
If you try that... it will fail... because it wants exactly the same disk signature and disk layout. So actually the same disk. It it's not... it cleans the disk and recreates it as it was at time of backup.

How can you restore to smaller disk? How can you restore partition C to another disk without losing all other partitions?

Use macrium reflect instead... more flexible
My System SpecsSystem Spec
23 Dec 2013   #6

Win 7 Professional
 
 

Thanks for the Macrium Reflect suggestion. But I'm not sure whether the idea is to use Macrium for the system image and continue with Win 7's MS Backup for documents, data, etc. -- or whether Macrium Reflect is for the whole job, i.e., data backup + system image. (I guess this is in part because I still don't know just what the system image consists of. Which is OK, I don't have to & don't really want to know how the internal combustion engine works, just want to know how to drive the vehicle from here to there.) I do see on Macrium's Web site that the free version does not do incremental backups, which seems something of a limitation.

Again, I do appreciate the feedback.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
23 Dec 2013   #7

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Ult. x64 Windows 8.1 x64 Ubuntu 12.04 LTS Tri-Boot
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by EHerman View Post
whether Macrium Reflect is for the whole job, i.e., data backup + system image.
Macrium will do everything - both system image and data backup - basically everything on the disk/s nominated for imaging.

The lack of incremental backup isn't that much of a limitation to be honest - with full images you don't need to manage which incremental image is which. The full image is also quite quick.

Give it a try.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
23 Dec 2013   #8
whs
Microsoft MVP

Vista, Windows7, Mint Mate, Zorin, Windows 8
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by EHerman View Post
Thanks for the Macrium Reflect suggestion. But I'm not sure whether the idea is to use Macrium for the system image and continue with Win 7's MS Backup for documents, data, etc. -- or whether Macrium Reflect is for the whole job, i.e., data backup + system image. (I guess this is in part because I still don't know just what the system image consists of. Which is OK, I don't have to & don't really want to know how the internal combustion engine works, just want to know how to drive the vehicle from here to there.) I do see on Macrium's Web site that the free version does not do incremental backups, which seems something of a limitation.

Again, I do appreciate the feedback.
After many years of experience with free Macrium, I can really recommend this program. With the Windows imaging I had nothing but problems and the worst part is that you can never be sure whether you will be able to use your image for recovery. It is that flaky.

Because of that problem I had produced a tutorial on how to get back on track even with a dodgy Windows image. It has helped quite a few people to get out of their predicament.

System Image - Recover a Broken Windows 7 System Image

Start with this tutorial which was already posted earlier and if you have questions, post back. Make sure you download the .iso for the recovery disc from my Skydrive (link in the tutorial) and burn that to CD. It saves you a couple of hours downloading the WAIK.
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 System Image Size - why so fat?




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