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Windows 7: Can multiple "image backups" on one drive be accessed?


25 May 2011   #1

Windows 7 Pro x64 (1), Win7 Pro X64 / WinXP Pro x86 on (2)
 
 
Can multiple "image backups" on one drive be accessed?

Question, which to be honest I could probably answer for myself with a little experimenting. But I'm hoping to get some insights from others faced with a similar problem, as to how they've addressed the problem... and if they may have a better solution than I've come up with.

My goal is to provide perhaps 2 or 3 generations of WindowsImageBackup (i.e. "system image") on one of my secondary local hard drive partition, which would be available in case of a system disaster to restore from. Since Windows 7 itself does not allow more than one per partition to exist (because of the high-level folder names), each time you run a new "system image" backup the old one on that partition gets deleted.

Obviously, I could rotate the target locations for the backups to three different partitions, but I don't have that luxury. I don't have enough free space that I am willing to dedicate to about a 46GB backup folder on other than one partition on one machine, or two partitions on a second machine (for "system image" on that second Windows 7 system).

So, on the one partition that I DO have some room on, I've simply renamed the current generation's high-level WindowsImageBackup folder to have a date-suffix on it. Then I run a new "system image" backup, creating a new folder with the standard Windows 7 name.

So far, so good... and I now actually have TWO "system image" backups on the one partition, physically anyway.

But if I go to restore, will both "system image" backups on that drive be visible in my list of choices for acceptable input to the backup? That would be true if I'd placed the two backups onto two separate partitions, and they would both appear in my selection list. But if they're both on the same drive but simply with different high-level folder names, will only the correctly named backup be presented as a choice? Will the renamed parent folder simply be ignored?

Obviously, underneath the two parent folders the sub-folder names and structure of the two backups is clearly identical, starting with the first sub-folder being my "computer name". Should I have renamed that too, somehow?

Is all of this pointless, and Windows 7 will never look for anything but the one "officially named" set of high-level and sub-folders as acceptable input to the restore?


My disaster recovery plan would normally be to just use the latest version of the "system image" backup on that one partition which therefore would not require any "trickery" to use an older generation renamed backup on the same drive.

But if I had to I could boot using the Windows 7 installation DVD or repair disk, exit to a command prompt, rename the high-level folders so as to "promote" an older renamed generation to now have the proper name looked for by the restore function, and then exit back to do the repair... i.e. to restore the "system image" version I just got the correct name to by renaming.

This is why I've been doing what I've been doing, namely using a partition I have available with a fair amount of free space to be used for "system image" backups, and retaining several generations. And in truth, I haven't yet had a situation where using anything other than the most recent "system image" to restore from was not the right thing or the appropriate course of action.


That's the background, and my thoughts.

Will ALL of the multi-generations of "system image" backup be visible at restore time in the selection list, so that I really do NOT have to go through the rename trick to get what I want restored?

Is there a 3rd-party software solution that DOES provide for multi-generation of the exact same type of "system image" backup that I should be using instead of Windows 7's "system image"?


Open to any thoughts and insights.

Thanks.


My System SpecsSystem Spec
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25 May 2011   #2

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Vista x64 / 7 X64
 
 

All 3rd party apps. will let you store as many images you like, wherever you like.

Your renaming trick is a workaround if you must rely on Win sys img. You will need to rename the one you want to restore back to just plain WindowsImageBackup.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
25 May 2011   #3
Microsoft MVP

W 7 64-bit Ultimate
 
 

Hello mate.


Why go through all that horse-hit when you could use a more reliable tool like Macrium or an excellent paid SW like Paragon for about 30 bucks?

Imaging with free Macrium


Please excuse my foul-ness.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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25 May 2011   #4

Windows 7 Pro x64 (1), Win7 Pro X64 / WinXP Pro x86 on (2)
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Bare Foot Kid View Post
Why go through all that horse-hit when you could use a more reliable tool like Macrium or an excellent paid SW like Paragon for about 30 bucks?
Exactly the kind of recommendation I was looking for. Obviously, there has to be a better solution that just "system image" from MS.

I notice you didn't mention Acronis. Any reason? No free version?

I don't mind paying for excellent software, or compensating software developers. If it's the functionality I need and does the job, and it costs money, I'll buy it.

With that stated, and not asking for a detailed feature comparison matrix, which of the three vendors and free vs. paid products would you give the highest recommendation to?

If I could find one program that could do full/incremental/differential backups to internal and external drives as well as SCSI DAT tape, and could also do flexible system imaging with standalone bootable recovery capability, and was fairly priced, I'd buy it today. Otherwise, I have to use several products to give me what I'm looking for.

I want/need something more than I'm getting from Novastor's NovaBACKUP and Windows 7's "system image".
My System SpecsSystem Spec
26 May 2011   #5
Microsoft MVP

W 7 64-bit Ultimate
 
 

Hello again.



Have a good stroll through this link, I don't know enough about Acronis to say one way or the other but many feel Paragon to be the premier SW for all needs.


PARAGON Software Group - partition manager, drive backup, hard disk partitioning
My System SpecsSystem Spec
26 May 2011   #6
mjf

Windows 7x64 Home Premium SP1
 
 

Windows inbuilt imaging plus Macrium I think is a good choice. Use one as your main and one as a safeguard. Macrium gives some partition imaging flexibility.

Windows image renaming is no big deal. A renamed image eg
WindowsImageBackup_7_5_11-before SP1
can be more meaningful than the obscure Macrium naming.
or simply move ("instantly") WindowImageBackup into a meaningfully named folder.

They can be easily renamed on the fly from the system repair boot disk if needed.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
27 May 2011   #7
Microsoft MVP

Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 X64 (Windows 10, 8.1, Linux Mint, Windows XP and others in VM)
 
 

If you have a Western Digital or Seagate HD they both offer a free scaled down version of Acronis. They are available from their website.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Jun 2011   #8

Windows 7 Pro x64 (1), Win7 Pro X64 / WinXP Pro x86 on (2)
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by mjf View Post
Windows inbuilt imaging plus Macrium I think is a good choice. Use one as your main and one as a safeguard. Macrium gives some partition imaging flexibility.

Windows image renaming is no big deal. A renamed image eg
WindowsImageBackup_7_5_11-before SP1
can be more meaningful than the obscure Macrium naming.
or simply move ("instantly") WindowImageBackup into a meaningfully named folder.

They can be easily renamed on the fly from the system repair boot disk if needed.
Excellent info. You've confirmed that I can do exactly what I thought I could do, and wanted to do.

I have no real complaint with Windows 7's "system image", other than the fact that it backs up both my "active partition" (which is actually my WinXP boot partition on "hard disk #1" per the BIOS) as well as my Windows 7 system partition (which is on a second drive), since they're both part of the critical structure to preserve system recovery in case of a disaster. I virtually never boot to WinXP anymore, and certainly haven't done so for months. So to constantly include it in a "system image" is kind of a waste of time and disk space.

Ideally, I'd like to have separate images of both partitions, and manually recover one or the other or both as necessary, per my own control and decision. I think I can get this with Macrium Reflect (free) if I understand the product correctly. I've looked at the non-free additional features and none of them are relevant for me, so "free" should be just fine... if it does what it's supposed to do and recovery of any imaged partition is 100% reliable and problem-free.


So... if everyone vouches for Macrium Reflect (free) to do just what it's designed to do, I think I will at least experiment with it, if only to get the ability to not backup my WinXP partition in every image of my Windows 7 partition.

I'm negatively biased to anything Acronis, as I sampled their backup/restore product way back when upgrading from WinXP to Windows 7 and had to replace Sonic's Backup MyPC v6.0 which was unusable on Windows 7. I'm certainly no rookie, but I felt the product to be very non-intuitive and difficult to understand. Very complex, poor title wording and explanations, and overall unacceptable.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Jun 2011   #9
Microsoft MVP

W 7 64-bit Ultimate
 
 

If you're saying that you have a Windows managed dual boot and the XP partition is the "System" partition system volume you could mark the Windows 7 partition as the Active partition and do the 3 separate startup repairs outlined in this tutorial at the link below to (re)create the "System" boot files to the Windows 7 partition if you wish.


Startup Repair - Run 3 Separate Times
My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Jun 2011   #10

Windows 7 64 bit SP1. EFI boot partition., full EFI boot.
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by mjf View Post
Windows inbuilt imaging plus Macrium I think is a good choice. Use one as your main and one as a safeguard. Macrium gives some partition imaging flexibility.

Windows image renaming is no big deal. A renamed image eg
WindowsImageBackup_7_5_11-before SP1
can be more meaningful than the obscure Macrium naming.
or simply move ("instantly") WindowImageBackup into a meaningfully named folder.

They can be easily renamed on the fly from the system repair boot disk if needed.
That is my philosophy too. I just have a golden single image with Windows backup on a drive or two I refresh very seldom and use macrium for in between (I have restored from windows backup several times, but never macrium).

I wouldn;t use Acronis Tru Image for anything but drive cloning. I found it too hard to use, unreliable and buggy. YMMV.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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 Can multiple "image backups" on one drive be accessed?




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