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Windows 7: A System Image V Clean Install

24 Mar 2012   #1
richc46

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 10, Home Clean Install
 
 
A System Image V Clean Install

I think most members will agree that a Clean install is the best way to go, but now I have a question.
About 2 weeks ago, I was forced replace my clean install with an image from Macrium Reflect. First time I had such a problem and was both very surprised and concered as I tried to replace my OS with an image; to my surprise everything went without any sort of problem.

My question, Is an image of a clean install as good as an actual clean install? It seems to me that an image, at best is the same as an upgrade. The image goes on top of the prior OS.


My System SpecsSystem Spec
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24 Mar 2012   #2
Golden
Microsoft MVP

Windows 7 Ult. x64
 
 

Hi Rich,

Mmm...thats a good question. I think they are of equal quality, but of course its far, far quicker to restore an image of clean install, then to perform the clean install itself.

Personally, I always feel better doing a clean install....it gives me a feeling of being in control, although I admit I've never had to restore an image before

Regards,
Golden
My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Mar 2012   #3
OldMX

Microsoft Windows 10 Professional
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by richc46 View Post
My question, Is an image of a clean install as good as an actual clean install? It seems to me that an image, at best is the same as an upgrade. The image goes on top of the prior OS.
Yes it is, the system will be restored to be as good as it was at the moment you backed it up.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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24 Mar 2012   #4
BugOutMachine

Windows 7 / Windows 8.1
 
 

I always like to do a clean install twice a year but during my last install I used a system image with all of my updated drivers and service tweaks and it was much less time consuming.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Mar 2012   #5
ignatzatsonic

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Home Premium SP1, 64-bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by richc46 View Post

My question, Is an image of a clean install as good as an actual clean install

No, not even close.

An image of a clean install is just a file, not a working installed OS.

An image is utterly useless if you can't restore it successfully.

Who is to say you can restore it successfully? There are dozens of posts on this forum from people who cannot.

A successfully restored image of a clean install may be another story, but there is always nagging doubt. If you had no nagging doubt, you probably wouldn't have started this thread.

If the time required to do a clean install was irrelevant, who would still restore an image?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Mar 2012   #6
richc46

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 10, Home Clean Install
 
 

Thanks for the response ignaztatsonic, but I have already restored with the image and want to know if its as good as a clean install.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Mar 2012   #7
F5ing

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

Although I don't use Macrium (I rely on Clonezilla), you should not be able to find any difference between what you imaged and what you restored. It ought to appear as if there was no change.

If you liked what you imaged, then you should like what you restored.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Mar 2012   #8
writhziden

Windows 7 Home Premium 64 Bit
 
 

My two cents: It depends on where you store the system images. I keep mine on external hard drives that I only use for backups and nothing else. When I am not backing up or restoring my computer, they sit in a drawer and are not touched. When I am done with backups or restores, I shut down my computer and remove them with the computer powered off because that is the safest method to remove them and prevent any corruption from occurring. I have re-imaged multiple times with successful results, and my systems still run blazing fast with only minor/insignificant errors showing up here and there (let's face it, no system is absolutely perfect; I mean, do I care that bowser is telling my computer that another computer on the network is top dog and my computer disagrees?)

Anyway, I think if you are careful with the backups and they do not become corrupted over time, then the backup system image should be as good as a clean install, or even better without the system restore points, and there should be nothing to be concerned with.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
25 Mar 2012   #9
A Guy

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Home Premium x64 SP1
 
 

For Rich's question. IMHO the restored image is exactly the same as a clean install. As it is an exact image. Is it byte for byte exact? I can't say, but I have only done a clean install once, and that was only because the original install was bad. Every other time I have used an image, and have never had an issue with a successfully installed image.

Whether an image will restore is another question. I make 2 at a time, and have the previous 3 pairs saved. And I have images made with another program as well. I have never had an image (Acronis) that didn't restore.

A Guy
My System SpecsSystem Spec
25 Mar 2012   #10
pincushion

Windows 7 x64 SP1
 
 

Here is my experience of imaging.

I have restored images using Acronis (on my XP system) and now with Macrium Reflect 4.2 free edition probably about 20 - 30 times. In all cases they have been successful and behave exactly as they should i.e. in the state they were imaged. Not one has failed. To try to solve one particular issue I tried to restore back through about four or five images and all restored correctly but failed to sort that issue. All my images if I recall correctly were restored from the second HDD from where they were originally imaged. After having restored a few I ceased bothering to verify any images as I do currently. My experience has been that the two programs have 100% reliability but although I trust Macrium to restore I can't vouch for new versions of Acronis as my version was quite old so I don't know about current versions. If I understand the programs correctly they will essentially format and replace the MFT and files with those of the image so there will be existing deleted stuff just as there is constantly while operating but this will have no affect on the system. If a restored image cannot be any different than how it was then I fail to see if this will have any affect on the system. Of course a clean install will be different than a restored image but I do not think it has any more merit for this. If the system was fine prior to restoring then it should behave the same after restoring. Restoring has the benefit of having your system back to normal without having to do any reinstalls of any software or having to restore any tweaked settings. I should say that I have used this approach for at least a decade and have had not one single problem related to restoring an image and have never had to do a clean install or repair install other than one or two times when I messed up and a restore would not solve the issue.

My experience might differ from some but I have found that if you find a reliable method and stick to it then you will not be disappointed. Some will suggest to have two methods of restoring an image and this is prudent but my experiences have shown this is not necessary - for me at least.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
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