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Windows 7: Backup Strategy-What order to install & any input!

25 May 2013   #1

Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit SP1
Backup Strategy-What order to install & any input!

Ok, settled on a backup routine, but have some factors to consider before implementing. This is for a Samsung notebook with a 256 Gb SSD for C drive and 750Gb HDD for E drive. I also keep a 2Tb USB 3.0 external drive always hooked up via USB 3.0. Win 7 Home Premium 64 bit.

I also have a 2nd 2Tb ext USB 2.0 drive which I use for archiving, backups of backups, etc. I keep that in a fire safe when not archiving. I've also made copies of most precious data to DVD's and keep at my sisters house. Family pix, vids, legal docs, etc.

All I have installed now is Microsoft Security Essentials, some photo editing programs and lots of free utilities.

I have the movable folders from my user folder(everything but appdata) moved to my E drive.

I don't have games installed yet, but I plan on installing many, including Steam games where I'd like to use GameSave Manager with steam spreader.

Here's my plan, and it would be great to get some feedback as to whether it's a solid one, or if you see any issues with it. I'd also appreciate any input on the order in which to install these apps so that they work with each other in the best possible way:

1- Macrium Reflect Free to do weekly or bi-weekly images of my C drive(the o.s. drive).
2 - Freefilesync to do daily mirror of E drive (Data drive).
3 - Create a folder on E called "Steam", which is, from what I've read, the place to install my Steam Games.
4 - Install GameSave Manager with steam spreader. - I have no experience with steam, so I'm a newb on those programs. From posts I've read, doesn't seem too complicated.

Here's my questions.

1-For using Macrium reflect Free, since I have the movable user folders on the E drive, will I need to do a "system image" which would INCLUDE the E drive, as opposed to being able to just do a "system image" for my C drive?

-If I do not have to include E, would you send the "c only system image" to the E drive(my data drive). or just straight to the external USB drive? If I need to include the E drive, I would send the image to my external USB. If I do not have to include E, would my "mirrored system image" from E to external using freefilesync be just as effective, or would it be best to keep it separate? Or, for redundancy, create a C system image to both my E drive AND my external drive?

-In what order do you think it best to install and run these apps? I was thinking of 1)installing Macrium 1st, creating a baseline system image, and then 2)install freefilesync, get that program up and running, and then 3)start installing Steam, gamesave-Manager w steam spreader, my games etc.

- For the 2nd 2Tb external usb drive, would simple copy and past from my active external drive to the archive external drive cause any issues with system images if I ever need to use one? Same for the "mirrored data"?

-Last but not least, in searching the faqs and reading instructions for these programs, none of them say anything about preparing your system 1st. My specific concern is "should I leave my system restore settings as is" or should I turn off system restore if I'm using these programs? I have system restore turned on for all my drives now-between 3-12% depending on the drive size.

-Am I leaving anything else out, like the system restore issue? I DO have hibernate turned off completely, and the notebook is set to only sleep if the battery goes under 3%, which is never.
Used most of the tips within Sean's guide for installing Win 7, so most issues covered there are done on this notebook.

Thanks in advance for any and all input!

My System SpecsSystem Spec
27 May 2013   #2
Victor S

Windows 7 Ultimate x64

Good you're thinking before jumping.:)
I'll just give some quick pointers to your "questions" bullets, and we'll see what happens.
1. Avoid any configuration that wants to image anything but you system drive. I wouldn't move any folder Windows installs to a different drive. Handle directing data separately. For instance, if you download movies, download them to your data drive using "save as." You can always just move data from the Windows folders elsewhere after the fact too.
2. It's best to have at least 2 images. Simple redundancy. If you follow my advice above, you can put the system image on the E and the external. Keep it straight in your head that the only system image is the C partition. Also that
you want to keep your system images small, because it will be much faster taking images, and restoring images, and you won't run into space issues. You won't like hearing this, but if you're making frequent images of a 256gb SSD, and you use the space on the SSD for ANYTHING but Windows, and that builds up you'll quickly run out of space for your system images.
All "used" space on that 256gb drive will be included in the image. So all data on there related and not related to the actual "system" gets imaged. Of course you can just not use the space for anything else, but that's a waste of hardware.
It would be better to partition the SSD so the Windows C: partition is smaller, then you could use the remaining partition of the SSD as a work area. How much do you need for the C: partition? That's variable, depending on if you use apps that take a lot of space. I use my entire 64gb SSD as the C: system partition and have never come close to filling it. And since it dedicated to system images I never put anything else on it. I use CCCleaner to clean it up before taking an image, and my images are about 10gb with normal compression.
You might look into partition shrinking software to make you actual system image more compatible with imaging, or repartition with a reinstall. If you won't use restore, you can rid of that 100mb recovery partition also. Just complicates imaging in that it's one more thing to think about.
3. Install Macrium first and do the baseline images. Create the recovery CD (or stick) and use that for your imaging/ restores. I suggest you do a restore for practice, and to ensure yourself that the imaging is working. Install Steam to the E: drive. Steam games will follow that path.
4. Macrium images can be copied with no issues in my experience. But when I make duplicate images I "make" them to different locations, not copy them. If for some reason the image creation wasn't right, copying it would just copy a bad image. That's just my practice, but I'm careful. As far as data, it's a simple copy process that seems to always work if the recording media is good.
5. I have restore off, but I'm 100% confident that my image restore process is good. Unless you are willing to test restoring images, you might leave restore on. Up to you. If you get comfortable with restoring images, and have a process for that, you probably will never think of Windows restore again.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 May 2013   #3

Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit SP1
Many thanks!

I appreciate your thorough and considered reply. I understand what you mean with the partition sizes. I was doing some further reading and agree with your overall plan of action. Thanks again! Ed
My System SpecsSystem Spec


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