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Windows 7: Best Way for Hard Drive Restore & Software to use


15 Mar 2014   #1

Vista Home Prem. SP2, X64
 
 
Best Way for Hard Drive Restore & Software to use

Hi folks,

I have read and read pages of articles on what I am about to ask and the more I read the more "Confused" and "Undecided" I become ...

First of all I am a Total Newbie in Cloning & Imaging area ...

I have a Gateway M-6862 laptop with Vista Home Prem., SP2, X64 with 250GB WD SATA Hard Drive.

Last week I used the latest "CCleaner" and "Wise Care 365" and did not bother to go thru all the items one by one and said CLEAN ... well, one of these 2 culprits Cleaned alright ... my System became Unstable and I keep getting "Black Screen Of Death" ... on Start-up I would get a Black Screen and No Control of Explorer ... at least I was able to shut-down and go into Safe mode.

So, I had no choice to do a "System Restore" which reinstalled my OS fresh from Partition D ... my Active Partition is C ... so, everything A-OK so far ... the New Install comes with SP1. I had already downloaded SP2 Stand-alone just for this ... so, it's installation did not take much time ... but then when I went online ... there were like 155 new Updates that needed to be installed ... which really did not take much time ...

I am afraid that may be soon Microsoft might decide NOT to Support Vista anymore and the Updates might not be available, if ever my laptop craps out ...
I am used to Vista and most my Apps work with Vista and not sure if it would work with Windows 7 or 8.

I also have already installed my Antivirus and some Basic Software ... like Office and some On-Demand Malware Scanners ... in the hindsight, may be I should have not installed anything else before making my Image or Clone ...

Oh, BTW, I plan to use a 3TB Fresh Seagate External Hard Drive (with USB-3) to park my Image or Clone or whatever you guys suggest ...

So, that is why I am interested in the following Q's

Q1: I can make my Restore Discs via Gateway App ... but what are these Exactly? If my laptop acts up again, can I just pop these in and will automatically bring me to this Clean Point? And will NOT delete my D: Partition Backup?

Q2: What do I need to do Drive Clone or Drive Iamge? For my Purpose?

Q3: Which is the Best & Most Stable & Dependable Disk Cloning Software? Freeware of course! And GUI type ... not too savvy about Text-Based or Script App.

Q4: Between these 3 which is the Best & Dependable tool
- AOMEI Backupper Free
- Macrium Reflect Free
- Acronis True Image WD Edition Free

I would appreciate any Help!

Thanks,

G!


My System SpecsSystem Spec
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15 Mar 2014   #2

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Vista x64 / 7 X64
 
 

Probably easiest to make your own images . Make a new one every now and then so you have something recent to restore if needed.

Aomei is the best free one.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
15 Mar 2014   #3

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

I use Macrium Reflect (paid version). I used to use Acronis but ran into problems trying to restore two different time (it didn't get a third chance).

I do full hard drive backups, all partitions, to a separate hard drive. How often I do the backups depends on the PC activity, but it is at least once a week. Full drive backups of all partitions are needed so you retain the PC Vendor's restore and any other utility partitions.

Most backup software has provisions for "incremental" backups, which are smaller backups (after the full backup) of just what has changed or added. These incremental backups are smaller but after a couple of incrementals it can get confusion when restoring as you have to install the full backup and then whatever incrementals in the proper order or the backup will usually fail. By doing a full backup each time, it avoids the confusion of multiple files to restore.

I keep two copies of my hard drive backup, the previous backup and the current backup.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
.


15 Mar 2014   #4

Win 7 Ultimate 64 bit
 
 

I prefer Macrium Reflect Free (do not download from the homepage; this page is safer to download from). Here is a good tutorial on how to use Macrium Reflect. I feel Macrium Reflect is easier to use and whs wrote an excellent tutorial on how to use it. I also use a paid version of Reflect but the free version will easily meet the needs of most users.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
15 Mar 2014   #5

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 SP1, Home Premium, 64-bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by gonwk View Post

Q1: I can make my Restore Discs via Gateway App ... but what are these Exactly? If my laptop acts up again, can I just pop these in and will automatically bring me to this Clean Point? And will NOT delete my D: Partition Backup?
Restore disks will take you back to the Windows configuration as it was when the machine left the factory. Not to "this clean point", whatever that means. Not to the way it was last week or today. As far as I know, if your D partition is on your one and only internal drive, it will be lost as well. Bottom line, you definitely should back up any personal data before doing a restore, regardless of what partition or drive that data is on.

Imaging applications typically require that you make some sort of boot disk to boot from in order to do the restore. You need to confirm that any such disk you make is in fact bootable. If it isn't, you can't restore. Some recovery disks are Linux-based. They usually work, but the other type ("Win PE") is preferable and less likely to disappoint you.

The machine likely has some sort of hidden partition that can also be used to restore to a factory state, just like recovery disks would do. This method is likely more reliable than using burned recovery disks.

Distinguish between cloning and imaging. The 2 terms are often used interchangeably, but cloning is most often used to move a system to a new larger hard drive. Imaging is most often used as a backup of an existing Windows installation. Cloning does NOT use an intervening image file and instead works in real time--if it works.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
15 Mar 2014   #6

Vista Home Prem. SP2, X64
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by ignatzatsonic View Post
... The machine likely has some sort of hidden partition that can also be used to restore to a factory state, just like recovery disks would do. This method is likely more reliable than using burned recovery disks.

Distinguish between cloning and imaging. The 2 terms are often used interchangeably, but cloning is most often used to move a system to a new larger hard drive. Imaging is most often used as a backup of an existing Windows installation. Cloning does NOT use an intervening image file and instead works in real time--if it works.
Wow ... Thanks everyone for being so Helpful and so fast ...

@ ignatzatsonic ... yes you are correct ... my laptop came with WD 250GB internal Hard Drive with 2 Partitions ... Partition "D" tagged "Recovery" and I can see it but can Not access ... and Partition "C" which I install programs on and save files ...

This last time when I used "System Recovery" via Safe Mode ... it worked perfectly.

What I mean by "Clean Point" is now that I reinstalled my OS Fresh from "Recovery D" partition and have installed the SP2 and my Antivirus and Office and some other AV Scanners ... may be now is the time for making my Clone or Image.

Q: So, if I want to Save Time and the trouble of loading up AV, Office and what not each time ... once I am happy with my Minimum set up ... should I go for "Clone" or "Image" ...
Can I just plug in the External Image or Clone and say Write on C: Partition only ... and will it work? And will it leave D: Partition in tact?

Thanks!

G!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
15 Mar 2014   #7

Windows 7 Home Premium 32-Bit - Build 7600 SP1
 
 

A Clone is an exact copy of your partition while an Image is a compressed version and takes up less space.
I use an image. It takes up less space. There is a Boot Disk that you make after you download the Macrium Reflect program. If you need to restore you boot from the Boot Disk and it is very easy to do. If you had a flash drive with your Image Files on it, you would see them on the Boot Disk and point to it to restore from there. Here is a tutorial on Macrium Imaging with free Macrium
My System SpecsSystem Spec
15 Mar 2014   #8

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 SP1, Home Premium, 64-bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by gonwk View Post
What I mean by "Clean Point" is now that I reinstalled my OS Fresh from "Recovery D" partition and have installed the SP2 and my Antivirus and Office and some other AV Scanners ... may be now is the time for making my Clone or Image.

Q: So, if I want to Save Time and the trouble of loading up AV, Office and what not each time ... once I am happy with my Minimum set up ... should I go for "Clone" or "Image" ...
Can I just plug in the External Image or Clone and say Write on C: Partition only ... and will it work? And will it leave D: Partition in tact?
You should use image.

Some prefer to make an image of Windows immediately after a new install, before anti-virus or any additional apps. Others prefer to first install anti-virus and other most common apps before making the first image. It's not a big deal.

You can include whatever partitions you want in a single image file or you can make separate images of each partition.

You probably have a "system reserved" partition in addition to C. You need to make an image of system reserved as well as C. They can be part of the same image file or you can make separate files for each. I'd probably just include both in a single file each time you make a new image.


The larger point is to make images periodically (weekly or monthly for most users) so that you can restore to a point in the not-too-distant past. If you make major changes to your installation daily, you might want to make daily images. If you rarely make changes, monthly or quarterly would be OK. I use monthly and keep the 2 most recent month's image files. I just made a March image file and deleted January's.

You don't "plug in" anything.

You make an image file with your chosen imaging application and save it on some other partition---preferably on a completely different physical hard drive, possibly external. It will be a large, single, file.

With Macrium, you'd also make a boot disk. If you wanted to restore, you'd boot from this boot disk, locate the image file, and choose the destination to restore to.

You have to confirm the boot disk will actually boot.

Other partitions should be unaffected, but you should have any data partitions backed up separately regardless.

Be careful when you restore. If you accidentally restore to the wrong place, such as a data partition, that data would be lost.

You could make a separate image of D or any other partition as a backup of data or whatever is on D, but I wouldn't rely on imaging as my only data backup. Imaging isn't foolproof and I don't want to have to rely on it to get to my data backup.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
15 Mar 2014   #9

Vista Home Prem. SP2, X64
 
 

Hi folks,

Thanks for your replies and clarifications ... I guess if I am going to experiment with this Image & Clone thing ... this is the time, while I don't have too many things installed so if I goof I won't be as sad.

Appreciate all of you Wonderful people's Help & Support ... hope I can be of some help in future to someone else!

G!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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 Best Way for Hard Drive Restore & Software to use




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