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Windows 7: Create a System Backup without non-essential files?

19 Aug 2012   #1

XP, Vista, W7, all flavors
Create a System Backup without non-essential files?

I have a PC organized like this:

C (SSD) "SYSTEM": Contains all system folders EXCEPT *Users* and *ProgramData*

D (HDD) "DATA": Users, ProgramData, and "Media" (Media is in another folder, not under the Users or ProgramData)

Z (HDD): Normally only mounted into c:\BackupDrive, this volume is ONLY for backup. I am now realizing that I need to mount it as a separate volume (Z so that Windows Backup will back up to it. Also, it looks like a Windows System Backup will always include it's data in the backup, which is not desired. So I will change this.

I am happy using Crashplan to back up my user directories, ProgramData and Media.

I would like, however, to create a System backup that will allow me to get back up and running quickly, but it doesn't have to contain all my media and all user files.

However, when I create a System Backup, Windows doesn't give me the option to exclude certain files on the D drive, since Users and ProgramData reside there. Next to Users is a Media folder with 100s of GBs of stuff I don't need included in a disaster recovery plan.

Can I get Windows System Restore to create a backup without these files? Can I get it to exclude specific folders in my user directories (Music, Pictures, non-essential stuff)?

Is there a better tool for this? Something that works while the system is online?

While I have your ear, what about System Restore Points?


My System SpecsSystem Spec
19 Aug 2012   #2

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Home Premium SP1, 64-bit

System Restore points are generally designed to have no effect on data folders, but System Restore isn't a backup in the usual sense of the word.

I gave up on Windows Backup in favor of Macrium Reflect.

I assume all of that stuff on D is in a single partition? If that's true, you might be able to exclude that media folder if you made another partition on that drive and moved the media stuff to it, rather than keeping it in the same partition as a folder.

Windows Backup does have its own idea of what a "system" file is, unlike some of its competitors.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
20 Aug 2012   #3
Victor S

Windows 7 Ultimate x64

You really want your system "user" and "program files" on your system drive.
There may be other folders considered "system" I'm not aware of.
I do all installs except some games to the default C: directory.
There's a good reason for this: registry entries point to install folders, and keeping those on the system partition that gets imaged and restored ensures that everything stays synchronized. That's why you ran into that issue; Windows wants to keep "system" components synchronized.
The "user" folders are similar regarding a lot of application data that should be kept synchronized. I don't know enough about them to go into detail on that score, but I don't move them from the system partition.
Anyway, if you do make system images, your life is much easier if you let installs go to their default directories, and don't move any system folder from its original location.
On the other hand, when keeping everything except data at the original location, you have to know what data will get overlaid if you restore the system from an image.
For example, before I restore my system I have 2 apps - Quicken and C-Organizer Pro - whose data has to be backed up, because current data is kept in system "user" files. Not a big deal since I frequently back them up anyway.
I don't know if the system "user" folders are utilized by apps installed on a non-system drive, but it doesn't concern me because I put apps on the system drive.
Steam games are the only exception
I don't like the Win 7 "user" setup, and preferred it when apps kept all their data in their install directory. It can be a chore finding app data in the "user" folders.
But win 7 works very well indeed, so I roll with it.
Win 7 is complex in many respects. I try not to make it more complex by getting in its way.
My System SpecsSystem Spec


 Create a System Backup without non-essential files?

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