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Windows 7: Basic Clone/Backup Protocol with AOMEI Backupper (free) 2.0.2

22 Nov 2014   #1
BretMan

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 
Basic Clone/Backup Protocol with AOMEI Backupper (free) 2.0.2

I'm a very busy person but try to keep up w/ PC maintenance with my Win. 7 64-bit (Ultimate) PCs. I've had a few major breakdown issues in the past (and with XP) but fortunately have been able to recover after lots of applied work and stress. So when I heard about HDD cloning I though it should be a the solution to quickly recover from future problems if the clone is created from a problem free source HDD.

So, reading what I could on the subject I got an HDD docking station and a replacement HDD which is the same as what I have in my PC. I installed AOMEI, ran sfc /verifyonly, did a virus scan and with everything Ok, completed the cloning to the external HDD. That is the "backup" protocol I plan to do every week.

Here's my question: As I understand it a backup just backs up data files that have been selected to protect work that's done with software. I think it can also backup the software and settings too but not the OS. A clone backs up the whole HDD with everything that's on it, including the OS, which is why it can be used to quiclky restore the source HDD or swap the cloned HDD for the source HDD and the PC will work normally with the clone HDD. Backups are generally quick to complete after the first one because the subsequent ones update only whatever changes have been created since the last backup. What about for subsequent clones?

What I want to do is have a perfect copy of my source HDD and the OS to be able to revert to at the state it was just before an issue occurs. Kind of like Restore Points but for everything.
1- Can this be done with AOMEI with only one external HDD?
2- If I set AOMEI to clone every time, it will wipe the destination HDD then perform the clone, which may take hours every time I do it, correct?
3- Is it possible to have an existing clone to just update, like an incremental backup, to update any data file or system preferences changes? If so, how?

Thanks


My System SpecsSystem Spec
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22 Nov 2014   #2
ignatzatsonic

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Home Premium SP1, 64-bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by BretMan View Post

What I want to do is have a perfect copy of my source HDD and the OS to be able to revert to at the state it was just before an issue occurs. Kind of like Restore Points but for everything.
1- Can this be done with AOMEI with only one external HDD?
2- If I set AOMEI to clone every time, it will wipe the destination HDD then perform the clone, which may take hours every time I do it, correct?
3- Is it possible to have an existing clone to just update, like an incremental backup, to update any data file or system preferences changes? If so, how?

Thanks
Re question 1: Yes. Aomei can do that. But, if you want to "back up" Windows, you should use imaging, NOT cloning. They are different. Cloning is not a backup. Imaging is a backup. Cloning copies the contents of one drive to another that is immediately usable. Cloning might be used when everything is running well and you want to switch to a new larger drive. On the other hand, imaging makes a file that represents the contents of one or more partitions. That file is not bootable. It is stored on some other drive for later use after disaster strikes. At that time, it must be "restored" to your chosen destination, at which point it is bootable and your system is returned to the state it was in on the day the image file was made.

Cloning would tie up the target drive--you couldn't continue to use it for some other purpose. You'd presumably put it in the closet and not use it after you cloned to it. Imaging does NOT tie up a drive. The image file is nothing more than a file like any other. You can continue to use the drive on which the image file is stored for ordinary purposes.

Re question 2: Yes. If you clone to a drive on Monday, and clone again on Tuesday, the Monday contents are over-written. If you make an image file on Monday and another on Tuesday, you'd just store both of the image files on the destination drive and continue using the drive as usual. Nothing is "wiped out". An image file might take 5 to 30 minutes to make and perhaps 30 minutes to restore.

Re question 3: as your question implies, one of the shortcomings of cloning is that the cloned drive soon becomes stale--it lacks updates or any other changes you have made to the source drive. I'm not aware of any way to "update" a clone other than making a new one. That's one reason why a clone isn't really a backup. The better solution is to make images periodically, maybe monthly. Maybe keep the last 2 or 3 images, say April, May, and June. When you make the July image, you might delete the April image. Something like that. If you have enough storage space, you can keep an unlimited number of image files. If your system changes radically from week to week, maybe you make a new image file every week. If the system changes rarely, maybe make a new image file every quarter.

You can make incremental or differential images, but they are frowned on due to the possibility of corruption, which can cause failures in restoration. I'd just make periodic full images on some schedule. Hard drive space is cheap.

If your boot files are on any partition other than C, you need to include that other partition in your image file (or make a separate image of it). Many systems have a "System Reserved" partition that contains boot files--it would have to be included. If not, the restored system will not boot.

Image files typically take up 40 or 50 percent of the occupied space of the partitions contained in the image file. If your C partition uses 35 GB, an image file of it might take up 15 or 18 GB with the default compression level.

Aomei is a good tool, although I don't use it. I know it will make images, but I'm not sure about clones.

If you want to backup your personal data files as opposed to Windows, I'd recommend you use an ordinary "file by file" backup program rather than an imaging tool. Personal data could be backed up by imaging, but it's too valuable to be subjected to the possibility of failure in the imaging process. Failures aren't common, but they happen. Why take the risk with valuable data?? If imaging fails when backing up Windows, all that costs you is time---you'd have to do a clean Windows install and then reinstall and reconfigure applications. A pain, but not a disaster.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
22 Nov 2014   #3
BretMan

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

Thanks for the reply. Yes AOMEI creates clones and I already did one. I'm still not sure what to do though.

The problems I've had in the past have been with the OS with black or blue screens of death and the like. It seems you're saying a complete image also includes the OS and will restore a corrupting/ed OS and has the advantage of incremental backups - but, it's not that reliable. Correct?

If I have boot information in one partition or drive, the OS somewhere else and my data somewhere else, when disaster strikes I'm not going to remember what's what or what to do, even though I keep a log of any changes I make. Disaster strikes rarely but hard when it does. I just want to have a backup of my C: drive which will restore it in one shot from the last backup. This what I understood a restore from a cloned drive will do and I guess it will. I'll just have to do it when I close up shop and let it run overnight each time. Is this a bad idea?

Maybe a compromise approach is best for me? That is, store away a clone, then use another drive to do image backups. If the image doesn't work I'll still have the clone. However the clone will restore the OS but the data will be old and the drive with the image will have the updated data but that will be useless if it doesn't restore. Can one perform a clone restore of just the OS, then after that, restore what's need from the image, assuming the clone restore fixes whatever the issue is that won't allow the image to restore?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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22 Nov 2014   #4
C-11

Windows 7 Professional SP1 64-bit
 
 

You're making it harder than it should be.

I've restored several times from an image using AOMEI.
AOMEI has been very reliable for me.

When I create an image I also backup my personal data manually.
Drag & drop where I keep my images.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
22 Nov 2014   #5
ignatzatsonic

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Home Premium SP1, 64-bit
 
 

see comments in bold

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by BretMan View Post

It seems you're saying a complete image also includes the OS and will restore a corrupting/ed OS and has the advantage of incremental backups - but, it's not that reliable. Correct?

In my experience, imaging is at least as reliable as cloning. Beyond 95%.

Incrementals are complications that reduce that reliability to some degree. I've seen posts on this forum about incremental image restoration failure. They offer no advantages to me. If they offer advantages to you, then you have to weigh the advantage against the added risk. In an age of cheap drive space, I see no reason to use incrementals, but you may have an unusual case of some type.


If I have boot information in one partition or drive, the OS somewhere else and my data somewhere else, when disaster strikes I'm not going to remember what's what or what to do, even though I keep a log of any changes I make.

What's to remember? The standard procedure would be to just restore your most recent image. That single image file can contain both your boot files partition and C, if they in fact are on separate partitions. If your data is on C, it would also be in the image file. As I said, I wouldn't rely only on an image to back up personal data. I keep data on D. I make images only of C.


Disaster strikes rarely but hard when it does. I just want to have a backup of my C: drive which will restore it in one shot from the last backup. This what I understood a restore from a cloned drive will do and I guess it will.

You say "which will restore". A clone is already restored. That's what a clone is--a replica of some other drive. On the other hand, an image file is just a file that "will restore...in one shot" to the drive of your choice, but only on demand. You wait for the failure and then restore.

I'll just have to do it when I close up shop and let it run overnight each time. Is this a bad idea?

How often do you plan on doing that and what would be the advantage of a clone over an image in your situation? What do you think is wrong with an image? Images don't take overnight--either to make or to restore.

Maybe a compromise approach is best for me? That is, store away a clone, then use another drive to do image backups. If the image doesn't work I'll still have the clone.

You could do that.

However the clone will restore the OS


Clones do not have a "restore" process. A clone is a ready-to-use replica of some other drive as that other drive was at some particular moment in time.

If you have a clone, you would replace the bad drive with the cloned drive. You would not restore in any other sense. If you have an image file, you would NOT replace the target drive unless the drive itself had failed.


but the data will be old and the drive with the image will have the updated data but that will be useless if it doesn't restore.

Everything on the clone, data or not, will be as of the time of the clone was done.

Everything in the image file, data or not, will be as of the time the image file was made.

Clones are useless if the cloned drive does not boot and operate properly.

Image files are largely useless if the drive to which they are restored does not boot and operate properly, although you can drill into them and extract individual files.


Can one perform a clone restore of just the OS, then after that, restore what's need from the image, assuming the clone restore fixes whatever the issue is that won't allow the image to restore?

Clones are generally of entire drives. Again, they aren't "restores". I think some more advanced cloning tools claim to let you clone only certain portions of a drive, but I haven't examined that.

Images are of partitions, not drives. If a drive has 3 partitions, you could make a single image file of all 3 partitions or you could make separate image files of each, as you see fit.

Restoration from an image file will reproduce the entire partition/partitions from which the image file was made---not just portions of it.

Offhand, I think you may be over-complicating this.

Neither cloning or imaging is what I would call highly reliable. If you think say 98% chance of success is "highly reliable", that's fine. It's under 100% somewhere.

Again---you may have a use case where cloning is preferable. What is that use case? What advantages do you see in cloning, for your purposes?
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 Basic Clone/Backup Protocol with AOMEI Backupper (free) 2.0.2




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