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Windows 7: Best operating system backup software

04 Sep 2015   #1
Stevekir

Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
 
 
Best operating system backup software

Windows 7 Home Premium, 64 bit. I have a setup to backup all my documents, movies, music and pictures to external HDDs. (They are first saved on my internal 1 TB drive, X:.) Now I want to set up a system to allow me to:

1. Copy an (out of date of course) backed up image of my entire C: (a 256 GB SSD) back to the C: drive if the C: drive gets corrupted (but of course when it can still actually boot the computer); and

2. Make a bootable CD (or a bootable USB external HDD or stick if they will work) which will allow me to boot the computer so I can get back to work quickly (again using an out of date image or other type of backup).

Importantly, both must include my three Adobe programs (Photoshop, Indesign and Bridge) and Microsoft Office in such a way that they will run as normal without needing to be re-installed.

Windows 7's Backup and Restore won't satisfy 1. because it doesn't include programs, and its System Repair Disk won't satisfy 2. because it is not designed to.

What would be good backup programs to do this (I don't mind paying)? Symantic, NovaBackup are two that I have seen. I have tried Macrium and Acronis True Image 2016 and have rejected them (for several reasons, mainly because they just wouldn't work for me).


My System SpecsSystem Spec
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04 Sep 2015   #2
paul1149

Linux Lite 2.8 x64 (full-featured, fast, rock-solid)
 
 

For #2 I think you mean a bootable rescue disk to perform the restoration? The program I use is Aomei's Backupper. It's got a nice interface. It doesn't do well with factory restore partitions, however, but I don't count on them much anyway. Free works fine, but if you want backup management and other advanced features, you'll need a paid version. I used to use Easeus, but switched over.

Or if you're ok with a text interface, you can do it for free with Clonezilla. It's a bit of a pain though, and not fast, and not as failsafe as I once thought it was, though it is quite good.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Sep 2015   #3
Stevekir

Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by paul1149 View Post
For #2 I think you mean a bootable rescue disk to perform the restoration? The program I use is Aomei's Backupper. It's got a nice interface. It doesn't do well with factory restore partitions, however, but I don't count on them much anyway. Free works fine, but if you want backup management and other advanced features, you'll need a paid version. I used to use Easeus, but switched over.

Or if you're ok with a text interface, you can do it for free with Clonezilla. It's a bit of a pain though, and not fast, and not as failsafe as I once thought it was, though it is quite good.
Thanks. I will investigate Aomei's Backupper.

No, I didn't mean a bootable rescue or restoration disc as such for No. 2. For my No. 2 I just want to boot the computer so I can continue work immediatley (But perhaps that what is meant by "rescue.") I intended my No. 1 to do the restoration. However, if a rescue disc allowed me to boot after a non-boot event and then also allowed me (after I had done the work) to back up my C:, that's OK of course.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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04 Sep 2015   #4
mjf

Windows 7x64 Home Premium SP1
 
 

Windows inbuilt system imaging should meet your requirements. Macrium Reflect (free) is far better. You say they "don't work for you". They have worked for me on 4 PCs (4 generation CPUs) and I have used them extensively.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
05 Sep 2015   #5
Stevekir

Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by mjf View Post
Windows inbuilt system imaging should meet your requirements. Macrium Reflect (free) is far better. You say they "don't work for you". They have worked for me on 4 PCs (4 generation CPUs) and I have used them extensively.
sevenforums tutorial "How to Back Up User and System Files in Windows 7" says:

Windows Backup won't back up the following items:
  • Program files (files that define themselves as part of a program in the registry when the program is installed).
  • .............
which is why I am looking for a method to backup and then boot from a copy of the entire C: drive which contains my Adobe and Office programs. Hopefully, something as simple as the Windows 7 restore from an image backup. I wonder why Microsoft excluded programs. It seems possible because other backup softwares claim to do so.

On Macrium, it certainly looked like what I want but here are two of the many bizarre things it produced which this forum could not help with, before messing up my computer. Three virtual discs, one empty and unformattable!!:


Attached Images
Best operating system backup software-369174d1439718827-questions-about-backup-windows-7-wanting-test-out-win10-01.jpg Best operating system backup software-369175d1439718827-questions-about-backup-windows-7-wanting-test-out-win10-02.jpg 
My System SpecsSystem Spec
05 Sep 2015   #6
ignatzatsonic

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Home Premium SP1, 64-bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Stevekir View Post
looking for a method to backup and then boot from a copy of the entire C: drive which contains my Adobe and Office programs. Hopefully, something as simple as the Windows 7 restore from an image backup. I wonder why Microsoft excluded programs. It seems possible because other backup softwares claim to do so.

On Macrium, it certainly looked like what I want but here are two of the many bizarre things it produced which this forum could not help with, before messing up my computer. Three virtual discs, one empty and unformattable!!:
If you truly want to "boot from a copy of the entire C drive", you need to be cloning, not imaging.

Cloning produces a drive that is bootable as it sits, immediately. Imaging does not, precisely because images must be restored. Imaging produces image files, not bootable drives.

I don't know what your experience with Macrium has been, but if you have any interest in imaging at all, I would certainly try to use it to make a single image file containing all partitions on your hard drive, rather than images of each partition separately.

That would produce 1 image file, not several. You'd have to restore 1 image file, not several. It should simplify the process and reduce the failure rate. I don't know if you are operating it properly or not, nor do I know if you are using the latest version.

I don't know the context or source of that quote you have about Windows Backup not backing up "program files", but I assume you are misunderstanding something. That's one of the things it can do, although it isn't elegant or easily understood.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
05 Sep 2015   #7
Stevekir

Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by ignatzatsonic View Post
Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Stevekir View Post
looking for a method to backup and then boot from a copy of the entire C: drive which contains my Adobe and Office programs. Hopefully, something as simple as the Windows 7 restore from an image backup. I wonder why Microsoft excluded programs. It seems possible because other backup softwares claim to do so.

On Macrium, it certainly looked like what I want but here are two of the many bizarre things it produced which this forum could not help with, before messing up my computer. Three virtual discs, one empty and unformattable!!:
If you truly want to "boot from a copy of the entire C drive", you need to be cloning, not imaging.

Cloning produces a drive that is bootable as it sits, immediately. Imaging does not, precisely because images must be restored. Imaging produces image files, not bootable drives.

I don't know what your experience with Macrium has been, but if you have any interest in imaging at all, I would certainly try to use it to make a single image file containing all partitions on your hard drive, rather than images of each partition separately.

That would produce 1 image file, not several. You'd have to restore 1 image file, not several. It should simplify the process and reduce the failure rate. I don't know if you are operating it properly or not, nor do I know if you are using the latest version.

I don't know the context or source of that quote you have about Windows Backup not backing up "program files", but I assume you are misunderstanding something. That's one of the things it can do, although it isn't elegant or easily understood.
OK. Good to see more response on this.

So, (on your "If you truly want..."), I would copy a clone of my C: to a suitable place. It is an SSD and presently uses 105 GB.

1. A DVD is too small.

2. Kingston sell a 256 GB DataTraveller HyperX Predator USB thumb drive for 162 USD. Rather expensive.

3. A 256 GB SSD (eg. form Crucial like the one that is my C: drive), put it in a housing/socket thing and connect it somehow. Probably also expensive.

4. The easiest. I have a 1 TB partition on my external USB HDD. (I have read that making a clone on a disc will erase what is already on that disc or partition, so I must make sure that the partition is empty.) Presumably I need to change the boot order to make that partition top priority. Then, on restarting, the computer it will find the clone on the partition and boot from it.

Question please: Will 4 be bootable? I have read that Windows will not reliably boot from an external USB HDD.

On my comments about Windows 7's Backup and Restore not including programs, the source is a tutorial made by this very forum as one of many tutorials which I have relied on. It is at:

Backup User and System Files

and at about 10% of a monitor height down from the top it has this (see below). There can be no misunderstanding about it! Either the sevenforums statement is right or it is wrong. I will search, and contact Microsoft and ask them. Clearly, if you are right, Windows 7's Backup and restore is exactly what I want, and free!

Thanks for the support.


Attached Thumbnails
Best operating system backup software-warning.jpg  
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05 Sep 2015   #8
ignatzatsonic

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Home Premium SP1, 64-bit
 
 

see comments in bold

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Stevekir View Post

So, (on your "If you truly want..."), I would copy a clone of my C: to a suitable place. It is an SSD and presently uses 105 GB.

1. A DVD is too small.

2. Kingston sell a 256 GB DataTraveller HyperX Predator USB thumb drive for 162 USD. Rather expensive.

3. A 256 GB SSD (eg. form Crucial like the one that is my C: drive), put it in a housing/socket thing and connect it somehow. Probably also expensive.

4. The easiest. I have a 1 TB partition on my external USB HDD. (I have read that making a clone on a disc will erase what is already on that disc or partition, so I must make sure that the partition is empty.) Presumably I need to change the boot order to make that partition top priority. Then, on restarting, the computer it will find the clone on the partition and boot from it.

Question please: Will 4 be bootable? I have read that Windows will not reliably boot from an external USB HDD.

I think that's right. As far as I know, booting from an external HDD is problematic.

If you clone, you won't "make sure the partition is empty". The cloning process itself will delete all partitions on the target drive without any interaction from you. The whole drive will be wiped.

If your primary drive fails, I don't think something "problematic" is what you'd need in such an emergency.

If you want to clone and not image and intend to use the cloned drive ONLY if you have to and ONLY in an emergency situation, I'd just buy an ordinary internal spinning hard drive of maybe 250 to 500 GB. Cost in the USA $50 max. After you clone to it, you're just going to put it in a closet. With any luck, you will NEVER use it and it will just be a waste of $50 to give you peace of mind. So I wouldn't insist on it being an SSD unless an SSD is in your budget. If you have to use the cloned drive because your primary fails, presumably you'd go out and buy another drive to have another cloned spare anyway.

Needless to say, you better test the clone before you put it in the closet.


On my comments about Windows 7's Backup and Restore not including programs, the source is a tutorial made by this very forum as one of many tutorials which I have relied on.

You will notice that the tutorial does not say it does not back up installed applications or installed programs. It refers to "program files" and then makes an attempt at defining what a "program file" is.

I avoid Windows Backup and cannot speak from first hand experience.

As far as I have ever heard, it does in fact back up your "installed programs".

The tutorials are not always clearly written and this may be such a case.

Microsoft may tell you X, Y, or Z. Other members who have actually used it can clarify, but I can't see why anyone would even consider using a "backup program" that did NOT back up my installed programs.

Since you are very worried about not being able to get back up and running immediately in case of a drive failure, you'd be a fool to rely on Windows Backup or any other backup without having some way of testing your so-called backup. Usually they work. Sometimes they don't.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
05 Sep 2015   #9
Stevekir

Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
 
 

Thanks. Very helpful. I will pursue the swapped small internal HDD idea, and test it. It will not go out of date (much) because it has little on it that is date-dependant.

Presumably, this amall drive will be bootable (of course: else what's the point, and anyway it's a clone) provided I change the boot order;

And I would be able to clone it to the C: drive and change the boot order back to C: and reboot.

Does that seem right?

Thanks a lot.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
05 Sep 2015   #10
ignatzatsonic

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Home Premium SP1, 64-bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Stevekir View Post

And I would be able to clone it to the C: drive and change the boot order back to C: and reboot.

Does that seem right?
You're confusing me, not for the first time.

"Clone it to the C: drive and change the boot order back to C: and reboot"??????

What does "it" refer to in that sentence?

I would think you would clone FROM C to some yet unpurchased drive that will end up in your closet until needed. Not TO C.

Why would you need to change the boot order?

I'm just not following you.

My assumption was that you would:


1: Go buy a drive to clone your existing good hard drive to, let's call the new drive WD50

2: Clone your existing good drive to WD50.

3: Confirm that WD50 will in fact boot your PC AFTER the existing good drive is disconnected.

4: If it does boot your PC, disconnect it, put it in the closet and reconnect and continue to use your existing good drive.

5: If your existing good drive fails in some way, remove it completely.

6: Get WD50 out of the closet and connect it to the same cables the existing good drive was connected to. It will be C when you boot it.

7: Hope it boots as it did in your test in step 3 and if so, carry on. If not, go to Plan B.



Where am I going wrong in my assumptions?
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