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Windows 7: Rookie question on system imaging

16 Jul 2011   #1
TMessenger

Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
 
 
Rookie question on system imaging

Hi,

Please forgive me if this sounds like an incredibly simple question, but I really am a rookie when it comes to these things. I'm looking to back up my internal HDD to an external HDD of identical size. I'd like to create a complete clone of the internal HDD so, if disaster strikes, I can simply restore the system quickly and painlessly from the back up. Does the Windows 7 Backup and Restore System Image program achieve this? Or should I begin looking into third party software? I just want my data to be safe.

Thanks in advance, and again really sorry if this is a really simple question!


My System SpecsSystem Spec
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16 Jul 2011   #2
richnrockville

Windows 7 Pro x64 SP1
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by TMessenger View Post
Hi,

Please forgive me if this sounds like an incredibly simple question, but I really am a rookie when it comes to these things. I'm looking to back up my internal HDD to an external HDD of identical size. I'd like to create a complete clone of the internal HDD so, if disaster strikes, I can simply restore the system quickly and painlessly from the back up. Does the Windows 7 Backup and Restore System Image program achieve this? Or should I begin looking into third party software? I just want my data to be safe.

Thanks in advance, and again really sorry if this is a really simple question!
Welcome to the windows 7 forums YMessenger.

What you want to do is to create a clone of your existing C drive? If so then
the regular windows imaging will not do this. What you need is a program that will clone your drive, not image it.

I use Acronis home imaging software (commercial for $25) to do this but there are free cloning software around, many manufacturers of hard disk will give you a free cloning software if you go to their home page. But, some won't allow to a different manufacturers hard disk.
There is another solution which I use all the time, I have small external (USB/ESATA) hard disk and I use the internal imaging software from windows to create an image on my external drive. If you search on this forum, search for cloning or imaging software, you should find tutorials on how to do this easily.

Like I said earlier, I user Acronis and make sure that all the C drive partitions are imaged so that all I have to do is to plug in another new hard disk and boot the acronis boot disk (created when you make the images) and then restore to the new hard disk.

One caution with the windows imaging, it won't allow you to restore the saved image to a smaller hard disk that the image was created from.

Rich
My System SpecsSystem Spec
16 Jul 2011   #3
marsmimar

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

 
 

Hello TMessenger and welcome to Seven Forums.

Cloning is different than imaging. But if all you want to do is return your machine to the exact state it was in at the time you made the image, then yes, the Windows 7 imaging tool will make a complete copy of your internal hard drive.

Some folks prefer either Macrium free or Paragon free over the Windows 7 imaging tool because they offer greater flexibility.

Macrium Reflect FREE Edition - Information and download

Free Backup Software: Paragon Backup & Recovery Free Edition - Overview

I use the Win 7 tool and Macrium just to have a second image available (it's called paranoia. ) But I used Win 7 exclusively for almost a year before trying Macrium and I never had a problem with it.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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16 Jul 2011   #4
whs
Microsoft MVP

Vista, Windows7, Mint Mate, Zorin, Windows 8
 
 

Here are some programs that give you cloning capability ( http://www.techmixer.com/free-clone-hard-disk-software-to-clone-your-hard-disk-data/ ). My choice would be Paragon.

However, if you image all partitions, you will have a more flexible approach. For that I would use free Macrium . The Windows7 imaging does not give you the required flexibility and it does not have the appropriate setting facilities.

The idea of imaging and cloning is to do it periodically (e.g. once per week) so that you can restore to a most recent status. That is where imaging comes in. The intervals for the system partition and the data partitions are different and some partitions (e.g. recovery partition, 100MB active partition, tools partition, etc.) have to be imaged only once. When you use cloning, you would have to copy everything all the time. With imaging you can do it selectively per partition which requires a lot less storage space.

Note that the images are usually only 55% of the data in the partition because of compression. So if you have 100GB of data in a 500GB partition, the image will be appr. 55GBs.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
16 Jul 2011   #5
TMessenger

Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
 
 

Thanks a lot for the advice, I've gone ahead and started using the free Paragon tool to create a disc image. As long as I have a backup that in the event of a hardware failure will work, I'm happy.

Thanks again!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
16 Jul 2011   #6
marsmimar

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by TMessenger View Post
Thanks a lot for the advice, I've gone ahead and started using the free Paragon tool to create a disc image. As long as I have a backup that in the event of a hardware failure will work, I'm happy.

Thanks again!
You're welcome and thanks for posting back. If you're so inclined you might want to read through some of the tutorials available. A wealth of information.

Tutorials - Windows 7 Forums
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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