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Windows 7: Diff between the different Backup methods in Windows

15 Oct 2012   #1

Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
Diff between the different Backup methods in Windows

Hello guys,

I got a new Dell Inspiron 14z Ultrabook. It comes with Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit pre-installed. Now I am trying to dual boot Linux and I am afraid if anything goes wrong, I will lose my Windows version. Now what is the right backup method so that if something goes wrong and I need to format HDD or Windows breaks, I can restore the pre-installed Windows version?

In control panel there is:
1)Back up or restore your files (this is only files so I guess thats not for me right?)
2)Create a system image
3)Create a system repair disc

I also get Dell DataSafe Local Backup with the laptop

What's the diff between them or shortly which method should I use?

Thanks in advance

My System SpecsSystem Spec
15 Oct 2012   #2

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient


Hello Baladya and welcome to Seven Forums.

1) You are correct. This option only backs up files. Won't help if your entire operating system fails due to malware, system file corruption, etc.

2) A system image is like a snapshot of the entire hard drive. It will include the operating system, all of your files, folders, installed programs, personal computer settings, Windows updates, the Dell DataSafe and the hidden recovery partition, etc. If your computer gets a nasty virus, or you install a new program and it crashes your computer, you can use the system image and restore your mahine to the exact condition it was in when the image was made. The more frequent you make an image, the more current the restore.

3) A repair disc will let you boot your computer even if the Windows 7 is so badly damaged you can't boot the usual way. It also includes some very important repair functions like being able to use a system image. The repair disc is so important, when you make a system image it will ask you if you want to make a repair disc in case you haven't already made one.

Dell DataSafe Local Backup 2.0 is able to restore a Dell computer to the original factory-installed configuration. Supposedly it will not erase your personal files and data. But any other programs that you installed (like your anti-virus, maybe a CD/DVD buring program like Roxio, etc), your personalized computer settings, all Windows updates, etc will be erassed and you'd have to spend hours reinstalling all of those things.

In my opinion, a system image is the best way to go. Save the image to an external hard drive, schedule an image maybe once or twice a month, and you can restore your machine in about 30 minutes (depending how much data was imaged.) It's possible to store the system image on CDs or DVDs but I wouldn't do it. Let's say you have just 20GB of data. It would take about 25 CDs or 5 DVDs to create the image. Each time you remove one disk and insert the next one, you've increased the chance of something going wrong - like not getting a good burn. If only one disk doesn't burn properly, the entire system image will be lost.

Windows 7 has it's own built in imaging tool as you've already discovered. There are other free imaging tools also available that other people recommend. As you become more familiar with the imaging process it would be perfectly OK to try out other software. But for now, I think the built in imaging tool will be more than adequate. I've been using it for 3 years and it's never failed me. Hope this helps.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
15 Oct 2012   #3

Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit

Awesome! Thanks a lot man.

Jst one more thing... After I restore, do I have to enter a license key for Win? If yes, where do I find that? I don't think it came with the laptop
My System SpecsSystem Spec

15 Oct 2012   #4

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit Service Pack 1

No you don't need the licence key if you are restoring to the same machine. FYI the licence key should be on the underside of the laptop or in the battery compartment.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
15 Oct 2012   #5

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient


Nope, the system image will include the original activation data. You won't need to repeat that process. That's another reason why an image is superior to a repair install or a clean install. On Dell portable computers (laptops, netbooks, ultra books) the "license key" - more appropriately called the Product Key - is a 25 digit number usually found on a sticker called the COA (certificate of authenticity.) The sticker is usually on the bottom of the computer or under the battery in the battery compartment. It looks something like this:

What is a certificate of authenticity (COA)? - KB Article - 335404 | Dell

If you can't find it there's a free product called Speccy. It can give you all kinds of info about your machine. The 25 digit product key would be located in the operating system section. Another free product that also has similar info is called Belarc Advisor.

Speccy - System Information - Free Download

Belarc Advisor - Free Personal PC Audit, for software, hardware and security configuration information on your computer. Software license management, IT asset management, cyber security audits, and more.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
15 Oct 2012   #6

Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit

Found it Thanks so much guys :)
My System SpecsSystem Spec
15 Oct 2012   #7

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient


You're welcome. Post back if you have any other questions.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Diff between the different Backup methods in Windows

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