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Windows 7: system image

07 Mar 2013   #1

windows 7 X64
system image

Hi. I did a clean install of my operating system, which did a system image. I would like to backup my pc tonight. My question is do I need to do another system image or can I just back up my files to the external hd? Is a system image required everytime the pc is backed up? Any assistance will be helpful.
Thank you. deanie44

My System SpecsSystem Spec
07 Mar 2013   #2

Win 10 Pro 64

I always do an Image. The Backup will only backup system files no matter what MS tells you. I do not use restore points so I do an image every other day. I did as you did and kept an image of the clean install. Save that, you may need it one day.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
07 Mar 2013   #3

Windows 10x64 Build 1709

It all depends on how you use your machine. I don't do a whole lot of program testing or beta testing like I used to so now I only make an image about once a month or so. Back up whenever I feel the need, usually once a week. Unless of course I've made major changes to my machine. The more you use your machine for real tasks, the more often you should back-up/image. If you're just surfing, facebooking,e-mailing etc. most of the time then your back-up/image needs are less than if you are working on your college courses/work spreadsheets etc. Get a decent sized external (now is the time for drives! cheap as I've ever seen them), determine how much you want to dedicate to backing up and go from there. GTX11 makes a very good point about an image for the fresh install. I would also make one after you have your machine set up and loaded with the programs/app.'s you normally use. Save you some time and trouble eventually.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

08 Mar 2013   #4

Windows 7x64 Home Premium SP1

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by deanie44 View Post
Hi. I did a clean install of my operating system, which did a system image. I would like to backup my pc tonight. My question is do I need to do another system image or can I just back up my files to the external hd? Is a system image required everytime the pc is backed up?
I recommend you do system images independently of the more regular backups of your file/folder/personal data.
Using the Windows inbuilt use the "create a system image" button rather than include it in your backup schedule. The free (or paid if you like) Macrium Reflect image software is a simpler way to keep system images.
I suggest having at least 3 backup images spanning 6 months with your latest no later than 1 month old. If you install significant software then make an image before and after. You can delete images with a bit of discipline.
This assumes you backup your multimedia data as frequently as required using any method inc drag & drop in between.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
08 Mar 2013   #5

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit Service Pack 1

If you don't have may program changes then image once a month before the monthly "Patch Tuesday", then if there are problems with windows update you have something recent to go back to.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
09 Mar 2013   #6

Windows 7 Pro x64 (1), Win7 Pro X64 (2)

As was mentioned above, Macrium Reflect is a superb product for doing both (a) system image backups, and (b) data folder/file backups if you pay a little money and get the non-free version. It's well worth it. Not only does the paid version support folder/file backups, but it also supports "retention policy" to automatically "prune" older generations of the backup files as newer ones are created.

And establishing a proper backup scheme for your situation and needs is critical, if you will "cry" if you lose irreplaceable data on your machine.

In my own case, I have two machines, one of which is my HTPC. Because of how Windows Media Center and DRM works, the decryption key needed to play back recordings of "copy protected" cable channel programs is a forward-moving time-based key which is tied directly to the installed operating system itself. So if you have to restore a system image from some time in the past, it becomes impossible to decrypt any copy-protected programs recorded between that system image and right now. So you've "lost them" as far as being able to watch those programs, if you do have to do a restore.

Bottom line, to reduce my exposure risk of possibly losing the ability to watch something I recorded in the past few days but haven't gotten around to watching yet, on my HTPC I have Macrium Reflect scheduled to take a system image twice a week, with a "retention policy" of 8 generations. That means when a new system image is created the 9th oldest version is automatically deleted. So I never have more than 8 generations (i.e. 4 weeks) of system image to recover from, and this is maintained automatically by Macrium Reflect.

On my other machine, I just take a weekly system image, and have a "retention policy" of 4 generations.

For data folder/files, I have scheduled a "monthly FULL" backup (i.e. of all appropriate folders/files on the various partitions of my four hard drives). Then each day I also take a "daily INCREMENTAL" backup (which backs up only what's changed in since the last FULL or INCREMENTAL backup). The whole combination of FULL+INCREMENTAL backups is considered a "set", and Macrium Reflect can be requested to recover any folder/file from whatever "set" contains the most recent version (since you can have multiple months of these "sets" available, based on your "retention policy"). Or, you can even request recovery of an OLDER version than the most recent, say if you have corrupted a member and only discovered it recently, and you want to go back and recover an earlier version which had not yet been corrupted.

Again, data folder/files in "backup sets" (for me monthly FULL plus daily INCREMENTAL) are retained for 4 months as my "retention policy". This allows me to recover any file I have created or updated that existed on my machine on any day of the past 4 months as long as it was physically present when the backup job ran on that day. Beyond that, if I wanted to retain say a 6-month or annual backup I'd just delete all of the daily INCREMENTAL backups of that set, keeping the older monthly FULL. That way at least I might be able to recover something from last year if I had to, if I was lucky enough to have it on some old monthly FULL backup that I still retained.

Despite this "insurance policy" setup I've created to protect me because I have lots of data that I simply cannot afford to lose, i.e. the combination of weekly or semi-weekly system image backups (to protect me from Windows-related issues), coupled with monthly FULL and daily INCREMENTAL data folder/file backups (to guarantee 100% secure data), I've only very rarely ever really needed to restore a system image (although that does happen on very rare occasions). Even recovering data folder/files only happens occasionally. But just having all of this protection set up... JUST IN CASE YOU NEED IT, so that you don't "cry" when you lose something... it's worth the effort.

Both machines have a 2TB external USB 3.0 drive that I do my image and data backups to. All happens automatically with Macrium Reflect Standard. For convenience and organization I've set up separate target backup folders on the external drive with names corresponding to the hard drive partitions for the data backups, and also a separate folder for the system images. I also take special manual "on request" backups of some very large databases that rarely change, say every 3-6 months or so. They go into the proper target hard drive folder for the drive on which the databases are located.

I also take monthly DAT tape backups (using Novastor's NovaBackup as a second data folder/file backup product) as my "secondary failsafe" method, to cover myself in case the USB hard drive should fail. Yes, I'm a bit obsessive about this, but my data is critical. I'd hate to lose my primary backup and have no fallback Plan B. For me, that's tape.

Consider it. Up to you how carried away you want to get, depending on how important the data you have is to you, and how hard it would be to reconstruct your system from a loss or unexpected disaster or hardware failure.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 system image

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