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Windows 7: Clean install vs System image file install?

10 Jun 2012   #1

Home premium 64bit
 
 
Clean install vs System image file install?

Could someone tell me if a re-install from a system image file on my notebook is as good as a clean install from say a retail disk.

I can not format all my drive and start a fresh. Can my System image file become glitchy or infected with a virus.???

My System SpecsSystem Spec
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10 Jun 2012   #2

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 SP1, Home Premium, 64-bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by blake7 View Post
Could someone tell me if a re-install from a system image file on my notebook is as good as a clean install from say a retail disk.

I can not format all my drive and start a fresh. Can my System image file become glitchy or infected with a virus.???
If your system was infected when the image file was made, then a restoration from that image file will result in an infected system.

Re-installs from images are theoretically as good as a clean install. But they don't always restore perfectly. They aren't fool-proof. If you do restore an image and later have problems, you will always ask yourself "Gee, I wonder if I would be having these problems if I had done a clean install".

Images just save you time. If the time saved means nothing to you and you are the slightest bit concerned, just do a clean install and avoid the worry.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
10 Jun 2012   #3
Microsoft MVP

 

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11 Jun 2012   #4

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

It's possible to a worm, self replicating type of malware, virus spread across from one drive to another attempting to recode various files as it goes along including an image you may on an external drive. The incident for this of course would be either downloading directly to or copying files over to the separate drive and cilcking on something for it to see it made active there however.

Most viruses and other malwares are aimed at the OS however with tricksters hiding trojans and rogue programs typically in the user account sub folders. If a bug is present without necessarily having infected the system at the time an image is made it would simply be included in the image to be restored later when it could then come to life and be a problem.

In the last 2 1/2yrs. I haven't seen any one bad image as far as being corrupted when made either with the backup option in 7 or by a 3rd party software(Acronix True Image) while not ruling out the possibility of running into one sooner or later. The idea of having a current on onhand is in case of things like a virus infection where the main drive would then need a complete wipe you would still be able to restore everything in about a half hour's time over spending how many hours reinstalling the OS and all programs, Windows updates, etc.?

The smart move especially when only having one main drive in portable unit and a second external for storage and backup would first safe guarding the things you wouldn't want to lose by backing things up as you go along manually! In the event the main drive is trashed by malware or fails you have kept everything updated on the external HD! Even if you elect to go with a new larger drive your files are still there on the external.

As for image restoration the process will automatically reformat the drive the image will be restored onto meaning it gets wiped clean first before unpacking the archived OS, programs installed, and files. This is why a current image will be a larger help when not keeping up with manual backups of the latest new files you have since that will contain most if not all of them.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
11 Jun 2012   #5

Windows 7 Pro with SP1 32bit
 
 

I suppose when you created the image you made sure that your system was clean and uninfected. If you did then restoring an image is faster and as good as a clean install. If fact better because you shall get back all the third party programs that were there when the image was made.

Now you have to decide. Good Luck.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
11 Jun 2012   #6

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

Well that will also depend on when the image was made. If you have a recent clean install of everything that would be the best time for the initial image while everything is in prime condition, no clutter on the drive or in the registry, and generally problem free.

After so long all you would be accomplishing is preserving the present state of the existing installation as well as personal files collected and hopefully backed up elsewhere as well. Once you start running into program errors and things get cluttered up a bit you may decide a clean is the only best option. There's certainly nothing like a clean install to start off your day with!

That came about here a week or so ago when deciding the then present installation or image restored back in October 2010 had to go! By the end of May this year problems were finally appearing where the clean install was needed.

Before wiping the C drive entirely I did make an image for viewing in order to selectively rule out a number of items in order to lighten the load of just what would go back on fresh. That was then simply dumped all together to be replaced later another image once a clean install in working order was on along with the narrowed down list of programs.
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