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Windows 7: Successful System backup

08 May 2011   #11
Oaken

Windows 7
 
 

Having a good 15min disaster recovery plan is about the best thing you can do for your PC, and your sanity.

First of all I'd recommend you think about partitioning both your drives, especially the one housing your Windows OS. Around 100 GB for Windows+programs, and the remainder for data, is a good place to start.

Windows 7 can handle this and here are a couple of related Sevenforums tutorials;

How to Create a New Partition or Volume in Windows 7
How to Shrink a Partition or Volume in Windows 7

notes; Often people struggle with achieving their partitioning aims with Windows 7's own utilities. The chief cause being Windows has placed a system file at/near the end of the disk which hinders the anticipated outcome. To get around this you would need to perform a number of defrags, shrinks and/or expands, plus restarts (usually 2-4 cycles in my experience). The defragging is best performed using a third party defragger that offers boot time defrag (be informed of how any such software handles Windows shadow copies/restore points for this type of operation), whereby the system files can be moved whilst Windows is offline.

A typical cycle would be;

Shrink and/or expand > restart > boot time defrag > restart > shrink and/or expand > restart > normal defrag > restart > shrink and/or expand

Otherwise there are many free and paid-for partitioning solutions for which there is plenty of info to be found in the forums/tutorials.

Getting back to Windows own imaging backup, I agree with 'mjf' that it is better to use the manual option.

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by mjf View Post
It's curious.
Some people have no end of trouble with Windows backup (file/folder + imaging).
Others have a dream run.

After assisting many people (or attempting to) I find there is no standout common cause.
Whilst not conclusive I've found in many cases these problems can be traced to the user having moved/changed/renamed one or more of the default user folders (my documents, etc). Alternatively, the user has some irregular arrangements concerning libraries. The former directly affecting the imaging of the libraries portion. Therefore anyone struggling to get Windows image backup to complete might try excluding libraries if any of the aforementioned applies?

In the event of a serious disaster, you might have to restore from a Windows image backup that's some months old. However, this would mean new data on the partition would be lost. In which case, with Windows+programs on one partition, and your data on another, you have the potential to restore everything fully-as-was.

If this is the strategy you opt for, using the manual option, thoroughly cherry pick which folders will not be required for the image backup? For example I have numerous groups of portable programs that amount to a fair size, and which I backup differently, that do not need to be imaged in the backup. Personally, I don't like libraries, I've disabled them, and so I exclude them. Leave all the user folders as defaulted, the same goes without saying for Windows+installed program folders and files. Check the option to include a system image of the drive/s.

Whilst you've said you prefer not to use scheduled backups, no single imaging tool is foolproof. Therefore it may be worth your while considering a second utility, so you could have another independent image backup? As much as these utilities work, there are many accounts of when they do not. I use Clonezilla alongside Windows imaging, for example. There are plenty to consider and you don't have to use any scheduling, as you prefer.

Once you have your main drive partitioned and your backup settings organised you'll need to decide how to backup your data? At this point I'd suggest once more that you consider partitioning your external drive also, 50/50, one partition for image back ups and the other for your data (see documentation for your device)?

For the job itself I prefer and so recommend FreeFileSync (the installer should default to your PC architecture). It's free, well supported, reliable, and pretty fast overall. I've been using it for folders of 80+ GB without any issues, and it can be set up in a variety of ways to suit. I've opted for a semi-automated approach and use the in-built batch file generator, in conjunction with Windows Task scheduler, to run mirrors of each data folder (music, video, pics, etc) onto a dedicated external drive. Spreading these tasks out over the week, some daily, some weekly, sees little impact on the system. Once you have completed the initial runs, subsequent runs are far less time consuming, especially so when compared with imaging the data. The added benefit is your data (backup) is also very portable. If you go for FFS I'll be glad to help with any questions you may have...


My System SpecsSystem Spec
.
08 May 2011   #12
Heyyou

WIN7 x64 Home Premium SP1
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by OakenG View Post

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by mjf View Post
It's curious.
Some people have no end of trouble with Windows backup (file/folder + imaging).
Others have a dream run.

After assisting many people (or attempting to) I find there is no standout common cause.
Whilst not conclusive I've found in many cases these problems can be traced to the user having moved/changed/renamed one or more of the default user folders (my documents, etc). Alternatively, the user has some irregular arrangements concerning libraries. The former directly affecting the imaging of the libraries portion. Therefore anyone struggling to get Windows image backup to complete might try excluding libraries if any of the aforementioned applies?




.
Thanks for this informative post. I'd just like to comment on your paragraph above. I think you hit the nail on the head. I just set up my new computer, and read that I should do a backup asap. So before I made any changes or added anything I did my first image in Backup/Restore and it went flawless.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
08 May 2011   #13
mjf

Windows 7x64 Home Premium SP1
 
 

I don't doubt that mucking around with default libraries could cause all sorts of grief.
I don't think timing of your first image/backup matters at all.
Making your factory recovery backup should be made asap.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
.

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 Successful System backup




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