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Windows 7: Windows Backup, Used Space, & Partition Questions

11 Jul 2010   #1

Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit
 
 
Windows Backup, Used Space, & Partition Questions

I am very new to Windows Backup and have a few questions. Actually, my first question is not really specific to Windows Backup, but I notice it whenever I go to Disk Management to view my backups, so I hope it's okay if I ask it here.

Partition Question:

I have the following partitions on Disk 0:
100MB - 70% free
C:906.34GB - which has 82% or 739.03GB free
25.07GB OEM partition which is listed as 100% free

Isn't that 25GB OEM partition the Recovery partition? If so, why is it listed as 100% free? And what is the 100MB NTFS partition for?

--------------

Now for my Windows Backup questions:

I ran Windows Backup for the first time Thursday night morning. I chose the "Let Windows choose, recommended" option - "Windows will automatically select user files... A system image will be created including system files, drivers, registry settings, Windows and all of your programs. These items will be backed up on a regular schedule".

It took 6 or 7 hours to complete. When it was done, my 1TB external hdd had 661.51 GB free space. I was surprised because my 1TB desktop hdd still had 742 GB free space. I didn't anticipate the backup to take up more space, and I'm hoping someone can explain to me why it does. Is it because it copies virtually the entire hard drive and then also makes a specific image of the operating system, registry and installed programs?

I have a lot of free space, so it's not an issue right now... but I could see how it might become an issue down the line. If I had realized the backups take up much more space, I probably would have bought a bigger external hdd for that purpose.

Today, the scheduler kicked in and the backup ran again. I was anticipating that it would be very quick and just make a few changes in my user files. It did seem to do that, but it took about 3 hours this time, and I think it also made another system image.

Desktop hdd currently has 739GB free and the external went from 661GB free after the first backup to 589GB free after the second backup.

So it looks like each time Windows Backup runs, it adds another system image - at about 72GB.

When I mount the VHS, I see this:
file: myname-pc 194 GB
folder: WindowsImageBackup 142 GB which contains the following two folders:
Quote:
- myname-pc
- Backup 2010-07-12000011 -- which I can explore it and see all my folders and files.
So if the WindowsImageBackup contains the mountable image with my user files, what does the file "myname-pc" contain? Does that now have two system images? Or are the system images the mountable images that I have browsed from the "Backup 2010-07-12000011"?

If I can find the first system image, can I delete it and just keep the second one? They are probably nearly identical since it's been less than three days and I haven't really made any changes.

Or am I totally wrong in thinking that my user files are separate from the system image?

I'm sorry if this is presented in a confusing manner. I think I am getting more confused as I try to explain it and figure out what's what.

As you can probably guess, I don't have much of a tech background.

Thanks in advance for any clarification!

My System SpecsSystem Spec
.

12 Jul 2010   #2

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 SP1, Home Premium, 64-bit
 
 

Were I you and I'm not, I would keep my personal data and Windows in separate partitions. Maybe 60 or 80 gigs for Windows and the other 880 or whatever for data.

Then image the operating system and data partitions separately, so you avoid this confusion.

You aren't anywhere near the first person to be confused by Windows imaging--that's why many have given up on it. There are free alternatives that are much more flexible and straightforward.

The 100 MB partition you refer to was put there by Windows and is used in certain recovery operations. With luck you won't ever need to use it. You can hide it from view I think. You can even avoid it during an installation. Most people just ignore it and possibly hide it.

I can't explain why your OEM partition is shown as empty. Offhand, I wouldn't necessarily believe it is empty. Hang on to it at least temporarily.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
12 Jul 2010   #3

Windows 7 Ultimate x64, XP Mode, W8.1 Preview VM - 7 Pro x64 second remote tower
 
 

The 25 gb OEM hidden recovery partition is off limits by the manufacturer's setup as well as the 100mb boot partition is a system reserved partition seen there. Both do contain files and one way to view them is by booting live with something like a live ubuntu cd in order to be able to look onto each of those to some extent.

As far as taking 6-7hrs. the manual option where you select the main drive including the 100mb boot and 25gb OEM partitions along with C and any second partitions would complete in roughly 30 minutes. The manual creation set the priority higher there rather then being a low key process running in the background but still allows you to run different programs as that moves along.

The default name for the manual image is "WindowsImageBackup" seeing a main sub folder with your admin account's user name on that. The scheduled backup being strictly Windows managed is likely adding the time and date information using slightly more drive space. Note that a full image of the main drive here with some 50-70gb of other files came upto about 131gb total for the 1tb host/OS main drive.

The image will include everything you have on the main drive including the user account and all sub folders being a compressed archive of a snapshot of the entire drive when all partitions present are included. If you make an image and repartition the drive for example the restoration will see that wiped again for restoration of the image seeing everything unpacked to drive as it had been.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
.


12 Jul 2010   #4

Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by ignatzatsonic View Post
Were I you and I'm not, I would keep my personal data and Windows in separate partitions. Maybe 60 or 80 gigs for Windows and the other 880 or whatever for data.

Then image the operating system and data partitions separately, so you avoid this confusion.

You aren't anywhere near the first person to be confused by Windows imaging--that's why many have given up on it. There are free alternatives that are much more flexible and straightforward.

The 100 MB partition you refer to was put there by Windows and is used in certain recovery operations.
Oh, I didn't realize the 100MB was there for Windows recovery. Thanks for clarifying that.

I didn't think to change the partitions when I got this new computer, I've never actually done that before, and now I already have a lot of data stored on it. So at this point, if I wanted to separate it, would I have to remove everything in My Documents, My Videos, My Pictures and My Music? Then after I make a data partition would I just move everything there? I am very unfamiliar with how this all works, and feel like I am missing some very basic knowledge here.

So the OS partition would automatically also contain all of my installed programs and setting, right?

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Night Hawk View Post
The 25 gb OEM hidden recovery partition is off limits by the manufacturer's setup as well as the 100mb boot partition is a system reserved partition seen there. Both do contain files and one way to view them is by booting live with something like a live ubuntu cd in order to be able to look onto each of those to some extent.
Oh, okay. Thank you for that. I thought it was the recovery partition. I just thought it was so strange that it said it was 100% free like nothing was on it. I actually did use the recovery very soon after I got it, so it did work then at least.

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Night Hawk View Post
As far as taking 6-7hrs. the manual option where you select the main drive including the 100mb boot and 25gb OEM partitions along with C and any second partitions would complete in roughly 30 minutes. The manual creation set the priority higher there rather then being a low key process running in the background but still allows you to run different programs as that moves along.
So, by "manual option", you mean not choosing the "Let Windows choose (recommended)" option right?

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Night Hawk View Post
The default name for the manual image is "WindowsImageBackup" seeing a main sub folder with your admin account's user name on that. The scheduled backup being strictly Windows managed is likely adding the time and date information using slightly more drive space. Note that a full image of the main drive here with some 50-70gb of other files came up to about 131gb total for the 1tb host/OS main drive.
Okay, I got my calculator out and went through my user folders and the public folder and there is approximately 130 GB of data stored there - documents, music, videos, pictures and recorded TV. When you say the main drive with some 50-70gb of other files came up to 131, what do you mean?

Is it my 130gb of user data plus 50-70gb related to the OS and recovery, which is then compressed to make an image that's about 142gb?


Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Night Hawk View Post
The image will include everything you have on the main drive including the user account and all sub folders being a compressed archive of a snapshot of the entire drive when all partitions present are included. If you make an image and repartition the drive for example the restoration will see that wiped again for restoration of the image seeing everything unpacked to drive as it had been.

I'm sorry I'm being so obtuse. I guess my main questions are:

Why did the first backup take up 270gb, which is much more than the used space on the hdd I was backing up? Especially since it was supposed to be compressed?

Why did the second backup use up an additional 72gb, even though everything was basically the same? Is that the size of the OS only system image, minus my user data? If so, can I delete the previous one and just save the most current one, and how would I find it?

And if that's the case, is the 72gb an OS system image and the balance is a different type of backup to which Windows Backup does incremental backups of my user data - files and folders?

Sorry if my questions are still unclear. I need to rush off to work.

Thanks for the help!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
12 Jul 2010   #5

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 SP1, Home Premium, 64-bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by blue skies View Post

I didn't think to change the partitions when I got this new computer, I've never actually done that before, and now I already have a lot of data stored on it. So at this point, if I wanted to separate it, would I have to remove everything in My Documents, My Videos, My Pictures and My Music? Then after I make a data partition would I just move everything there? I am very unfamiliar with how this all works, and feel like I am missing some very basic knowledge here.

So the OS partition would automatically also contain all of my installed programs and setting, right?
That's what it sounds like from your description.

We would have to see pictures of your drive layout from Windows Disk Management to be sure.

It sounds like you have only a single partition (C) on the internal drive and that it contains both your system files (Windows) and your personal data.

Your images must be on another partition on the external drive.

If you want to put your data on a separate partition, you would have to temporarily move it off of C and then shrink C to a reasonable size (maybe 60 gigs).

The shrinking would create "unallocated space" equal to the amount of the shrink.

You would then create a new data partition from the unallocated space and then move your data back to this new partition.

You could then make images of C alone, D alone, or C and D combined. You would likely want to make separate images.

I'd guess you could temporarily move your data to the same partition you are using to store your current images--the external drive.

It should be a pretty straightforward and quick job if you decide to do it.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
13 Jul 2010   #6

Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by ignatzatsonic View Post
We would have to see pictures of your drive layout from Windows Disk Management to be sure.

It sounds like you have only a single partition (C) on the internal drive and that it contains both your system files (Windows) and your personal data.

Your images must be on another partition on the external drive.

If you want to put your data on a separate partition, you would have to temporarily move it off of C and then shrink C to a reasonable size (maybe 60 gigs).

The shrinking would create "unallocated space" equal to the amount of the shrink.

You would then create a new data partition from the unallocated space and then move your data back to this new partition.

You could then make images of C alone, D alone, or C and D combined. You would likely want to make separate images.
Thank you for your reply Ignatzatsonic!

Here is a screencap of my partitions:
Windows Backup, Used Space, & Partition Questions-disk-management-.png

So, how do you know what a reasonable size to shrink my C drive would be? Are there any additional considerations with that, or is 60gb definitely large enough?

And then, after copying (or just moving?) my documents, music, videos and pictures to an external drive... do I leave all those folders intact on the C drive under "Users", but just make new folders "My Documents" etc. on the new partition and save everything there when I move it back?

Hmm... it just occurred to me that Media Center records television in the Public/Recorded TV folder, and that uses a ton of space. So I would have to change where Media Center saves TV recordings. Hopefully there won't be an issue with moving that to the new partition.


My System SpecsSystem Spec
13 Jul 2010   #7

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 SP1, Home Premium, 64-bit
 
 

First issue: your OEM partition is to the right of your C partition in the disk management screen shot. That is a complication, but can be worked around with programs like Partition Magic, etc. You can't do an ordinary shrink through disk management because that 25 gig OEM partition is to the right of C. You must use a third party application.

That is done all the time on this forum, but I am not the expert on it. Guys like Gregrocker and SIW2 can help you out with that.

You would use the third party app to move the OEM partition to the left of C.

You should probably move your data to the external before you begin using the partitioning application.

After you have the OEM to the left of C, then you shrink C to generate unallocated space. Then make a new partition from the freed up space. Then move your stuff back from the external. The new partition would be over 800 gigs and for data only.

A bare Windows 7 Home Premium installation is under 10 GB.

A typical installation, fully updated, with an average amount of applications included, might be 30 gigs or so.

My C partition is 60 gigs, of which only 22 is used.

The typical recommendation is anywhere from 40 to 80. I have heard of some guys who game a lot storing games on C and needing over 100, but I'd think that is quite rare.

If you have hundreds of applications installed, that might require more space, but that would be unusual. Most people wouldn't need more than 50 I'd guess.

If you are nervous about it, make it 80 or 100.


Copying stuff temporarily to the external drive to make room for the new partition WON"T work. You have to MOVE stuff. Otherwise, you wouldn't be freeing up any space.

After the new partition is made and you are satifisfied, you would move all your data back from the external drive to the new partition. It probably would be D.

I don't know how organized you are. Some people put all their data under C Users somewhere. If that is you, then you would just move the Users directory to the external drive temporarily.

Be sure to move your bookmarks and your email. They may not be in C Users.

Your C is 906, with 739 free. So the used portion is about 167, most of that being data. If you want C to end up at 80, you have to move enough stuff off of the current C so that the occupied space on current C is under 80.

I would move ALL of my data off C to the external, even if I didn't have to move it all off to drive the occupied space on C below 80. Why?? Because if you are going to start altering partition sizes, you should have a plan for the worst case scenario. The worst case scenario would be that something goes wrong in your resizing operation and you lose everything in the current C and have to reinstall Windows. That's quite unlikely, but you have to plan for it in case it happens.

If you aren't organized, then you may have portions of your personal data scattered all over C, rather than just in C Users. If that is the case, you obviously have to run all that stuff down and move it. It's entirely up to you to identify where all your stuff is and get it moved.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
13 Jul 2010   #8

Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit
 
 

Thank you very much for all that helpful information. Even though you explained everything very clearly, the basic concepts are still a bit over my head, and I could see how I might be able to significantly mess things up... so I think I will put the partition thing on hold right now. I can appreciate how it could be useful, but I'm no longer sure it is that important for me, since I think I finally have a handle on my backed up data and what is being stored where - which has been my main concern.

Since I last posted, I have been reading up a bit more on Windows Backup on the Microsoft site and others, and I think I'm starting to understand it now.

When I first ran the Windows Backup utility, I hadn't realized that by choosing the "Let Windows choose" option, I ended up basically getting two copies of my own data. A representative from Microsoft had this to say:
Quote:
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/06...dows_7_backup/

In Windows7 we simplified the confusion around when users should take a file backup and when users should take a system image backup. Now both these can be scheduled as part of same backup configuration.

However... it has the side-effect of backing up data potentially twice (depending on what is selected for file backup).


System image backup includes all the critical volumes (boot volume, system volume, volume where any Windows service is installed). It would backup the entire volume (all the used space on the volume) as VHD files (one per volume).


File backup backups up the folders included in backup. It would backup the files inside them as ZIP files. The amount of duplication depends on whether the folders selected as part of file backup are present on any of the critical volumes.
So the System Image I made, which contains everything and can be used to access individual files by attaching the VHD, is about 143gb.

The File Backup, which I have never browsed because it is made up of zipped files and folders, is 194gb, and as I understand it, this is what is modified when the individual modified files are later backed up. Apparently that is what really slows everything down and takes so much time. And perhaps whatever allows it to be modified when files and folders are changed makes it larger than the entire drive even though it's less actual data and it's zipped.

So that pretty much answers my first Windows Backup question, which was the thing that was most frustrating to me:

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by blue skies View Post
I guess my main questions are:

Why did the first backup take up 270gb, which is much more than the used space on the hdd I was backing up? Especially since it was supposed to be compressed?
With regard to my second question about the additional 72gb... I guess maybe it's just some quirk of the "File Backup" system that uses so much extra space? The only changes I made to my computer between backups was adding a small video (less than 200mb) and moved around a few folders, maybe changed a couple text documents, nothing to really account for the 72gb of additional used backup space:
Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by blue skies View Post
Why did the second backup use up an additional 72gb, even though everything was basically the same? Is that the size of the OS only system image, minus my user data? If so, can I delete the previous one and just save the most current one, and how would I find it?
As far as I can tell, the second System Image just over-wrote the first one so that settles that question too.

I think I will stick with only doing occasional System Image backups, since that contains everything and is browse-able. I may use something like Sync-Toy to keep updated with certain data files and folders on one of my smaller external HDDs.

Thanks again everyone for all your help, and please feel free to let me know if I am still misunderstanding any of these things.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
13 Jul 2010   #9

Windows 7 Ultimate x64, XP Mode, W8.1 Preview VM - 7 Pro x64 second remote tower
 
 

I think you are starting to grasp how things work now. It can take a bit the first few times for sure.

I would have had a few screens if I was on my main system to show you on what is seen when manually going to create a new image with the builtin tool and the drive/partition selection process. The backup feature doesn' see as much compression for the files and folders included as you would see when creating a full image of the drive itself where there is a compression factor at work.

One example of a quick temp install of the 32bit 7 on an old boat anchor Socket A case is only having 512mb available for memory while the total fresh install with several programs and some additional files runs about 20gb. I suspect if a second drive or partition was to see an image that would be real small in comparison to what was seen with the main system's 1tb host drive with everything on plus local storage of various files being included with the Ultimate installation.

Maybe some 12-15gb of an image from the 80gb ide drive in this old clunker I am presently refurbishing. Interesting side note is all XP drivers chipset, old AGP vid card, and onboard audio are working fine for what they were back then.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
08 Aug 2010   #10

Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit
 
 

guys, since we are already talking about some storage spaces consumed by the backup image created by Windows after and to avoid duplicating the same thread, i have to ask a question re: windows system backup.

now, if the next system backup runs again as scheduled, would it take another 80gb of my free space or will it overwrite the old backup image in the drive (which reports 0bytes but actually uses 80gb of my disk)?

i have run my first yesterday and windows chooses weekly sched for it, and it was scheduled tonight for another interval..

hope somebody could share some info here.

thanks!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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