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Windows 7: Why is my backup larger than my system's harddrive?

27 Oct 2011   #1

Microsoft Windows 7 Home 64 Bit
Why is my backup larger than my system's harddrive?

I successfully backed up my computer to an external harddrive using Windows 7 backup. I used Windows recommended settings.

My computer's local disk is currently 216 GB. When I backed up my computer to the harddrive it says that the backup is 384 GB.

Can somebody explain to me why my backup is larger than my system's harddrive?

Also, just so you know, I don't have any previous backups that need to be deleted. And just to be sure I ran the backup numerous times always getting the same size as a result (384 GB).

I would like to have a complete backup but don't want to use up so much space. Is there an easy way to change a setting so that I can save disk space on my external drive while have a thorough and comprehensive backup.

Much Thanks!

My System SpecsSystem Spec
27 Oct 2011   #2

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Home Premium SP1, 64-bit

How many partitions in this PC?

How many partitions were imaged?

What is the total size of the hard drive that contains your C partition, including unoccupied space?

Did you by any chance do a "sector by sector" backup? I don't use Windows Backup and don't know if that is even a possibility.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
27 Oct 2011   #3

Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit

Items in your librarys, even though on a different disc, will be included with the main backup image as well, I believe.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

27 Oct 2011   #4

Microsoft Windows 7 Home 64 Bit

I'm sorry but you're dealing with a rookie. I'm not quite sure what partitions are. I'm a very typical user that doesn't do anything fancy but save music, pics and docs to the hard drive. I will tell you that I have a C drive that is 500 GB which contain all my program files and document libraries. This drive using 216 GB out of 500 GB.

That's why I don't understand why my backup is over 100 GB lager.


I did a typical Windows 7 system backup. There was no mention of sector to sector.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
28 Oct 2011   #5

Microsoft Windows 7 Home 64 Bit

Ok. So I researched partitions and apparently I only have one due to the fact that I'm only using my C: drive and I haven't divided it into multiple logical storage units. I hope that helps with ignatzatsonic's question.

With that said, I'm still looking to find an answer as to why my backup is over a 100 GB larger than my entire hard drive. Once again I did a standard Windows 7 backup using all of the Windows settings (not custom settings). I don't know much more than that other than a system image was included with the backup.

I'd also like to find out if there is a way to backup my system using less disk space.

Man, I thought this was going to be a basic question but apparently it's not because nobody seems to know the answer???
My System SpecsSystem Spec
28 Oct 2011   #6

Windows 7x64 Home Premium SP1

When you do a Windows "Backup" you can be making 2 things
1) An image ~ roughly the size of your total used HDD space
2) A file/folder backup of things like documents, music, pictures, videos.

If you go into "Change Setting" and you are letting Windows choose then it will be making an image at every backup.
Type (2) will keep adding to itself incrementally. Also Windows can decide to make yet another full file/folder backup set from time to time.

So you can easily get larger backups than the original material being backed up. You just need to manage it to keep it under control.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
28 Oct 2011   #7

Microsoft Windows 7 Home 64 Bit


Ok that makes sense.

One last inquiry. Concerning the documents, music, pictures and videos; do you know why they are encrypted in the backup or in other words I don't see those files as they appear on my system hard drive in their normal file format?

I'm just curious
My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 Oct 2011   #8

Windows 7x64 Home Premium SP1

They are not encrypted but stored in a different format.
File/folder backups are in a folder called [neuguy-PC] if neuguy was your PC name. They are stored in compressed zip files.

System Images in a folder called [WindowsImageBackup] store data in large .vhd files.

It's best not to force your way into these protected folders.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 Oct 2011   #9

Windows 7 32 bit

I'm not familiar with the Windows Backup. I use 3rd party backup programs. The ones I use will let you back up your entire partition as an image backup. But, if you want to dig a file out of the backup image, you can mount the image as a drive letter. Then just go into Explorer, navigate down to the folder with the file, and drag it onto a regular drive. When you're done getting what you want, you unmount the image. Very convenient. I just copy files I want to back up in the ordinary way, but I also know I have another copy of the files in the backup image for the partition the file was on.

I'm using Easus ToDo backup on Windows7 and on my Vista PC I'm using Macrium Reflect. They will both let you mount an image file as a drive. I don't know if the Windows Seven backup utility has this feature or not. Quick search didn't show it to me.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 Oct 2011   #10

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit Service Pack 1

You can mount the VHD file in a Windows backup but it is a bit of a pain to do.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Why is my backup larger than my system's harddrive?

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