Windows 7 - System Restore, Saving a Backup & Permanant Restore Point

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  1. Posts : 7
    Windows 7 Home Premium 64Bit

    Windows 7 - System Restore, Saving a Backup & Permanant Restore Point

    My questions are on Windows 7 System Restore, Restore Points and Backups; specifically, potentially using a Backup as a Permanent Restore Point.

    Here is the situation...

    About a month ago, I did a complete Factory Restore on my HP desktop and returned it to it's factory condition. After removing the bloatware and performing all the necessary Windows Updates, the Factory Restore process went off without any issues.

    Today, however, I needed to use System Restore due to an issue I was having with multiple monitors that I just couldn't figure out. So, I went into System Restore and found a "Date andTime" of a restore point that was right around the same time I did the Factory Restore. That Restore Point was also the oldest and since I knew it was a known & good restore point, I decided to use it. That restore point "Description" was labeled "System Image Restore Point" and the "Type" was labeled "Backup." (See Image)

    Windows 7 - System Restore, Saving a Backup & Permanant Restore Point-sirp-backup.png

    I don't recall setting up or doing any backups although, between Windows Backup, Norton Backup and HP's Backup utilities some type of backup obviously happened. FYI, I hate having all those options, as I'd rather use native Windows tools. In any case, today, I used the System Restore using the System Image Restore Point labeled as Backup and, after performing a few minor Windows Updates, everything went off without a hitch and my monitor problem was solved.

    However, seeing that Restore point being labeled as "Backup" I got curious about that Backup so I went into "Control Panel" then "System and Security" and then "Backup and Restore" to try to find the backup, although it was not found by Windows. (See Image)

    Windows 7 - System Restore, Saving a Backup & Permanant Restore Point-no-backup.png

    1. Where is that Backup file and how do I find it? Again, System Restore found it & restored it successfully so obviously it's somewhere.
    2. In System Restore, are restore points labeled as "Type" / "Backup" always saved or are they eventually overwritten.
    3. Moving forward, how do I (or can I) save "1" permanent good backup, forever, without writing over it?
    I would like to have one Backup or Image that I can always revert to. Moreover, I don't want to keep creating multiple Backups as I'd rather have "one known good backup" that I can save and always revert to, every few months or so. Plus, by doing so, I could always perform necessary Windows Updates and then resave another new backup.

    FYI, on my SSD C: Drive, I only save Windows, Office and necessary system/software packages like PDF, Flash & Antivirus Software, as well as hardware drivers & settings for Printer, Mouse, Keyboard, etc. All of my documents & files are stored on a separate 2TB internal hard drive & backup up to an external hard drive so my goal is to keep my C: Drive fresh & clean with the goal of reverting and resaving those drive settings, every couple months or so.

    I do realize Backup & Image are not the same but if someone can explain a good process on how to do this, I would appreciate it. My research indicates a lot of people ask this question and there area variety of opinions, answers & methods. I don't want to use any 3rd party software, certainly not the Norton (Comcast) backup software I have, as I just want to use the native tools in Windows 7.

    Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated...Thanks ! ! !
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  2. whs
    Posts : 26,210
    Vista, Windows7, Mint Mate, Zorin, Windows 8

    ad 1) restore points are in the shadowstorage

    ad 2) yes they are overwritten when the shadowstorage is full. You can set the size of the shadowstorage with vssadmin

    ad 3) for permanent backups I suggest imaging. There you control the images yourself.

    Imaging with free Macrium
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  3. Posts : 25,847
    Windows 10 Pro. 64/ version 1709 Windows 7 Pro/64

    Because you want to use Windows 7 default backup these tutorials by Brink should be helpful.

    First you will have to disable 3rd party backup or remove the programs. They could be making Auto backup to who knows where or when.

    Start off reading this one.

    Backup User and System Files - Reset to Default Configuration

    Then take a gander through this page. Lots of choices and information.

    Like whs I have also chose to use this.

    Imaging with free Macrium
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  4. Posts : 9,600
    Win 7 Ultimate 64 bit

    X3 for Macrium Reflect.
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  5. Posts : 7
    Windows 7 Home Premium 64Bit
    Thread Starter

    Thanks for the replies & I will look into the Macrium tool...

    FYI, I did find the original WindowsImageBackup file on my internal hard drive so, what I did was rename the file by adding a date and then created another WindowsImageBackup & system image in Windows 7. That said, I might have figured out a solution within Windows 7, without using a 3rd party software like Macrium, albeit, this is a manual process.

    Here are the steps I took...Does this make sense ? ? ?

    Step 1 - Rename any prior WindowsImageBackup files you don't want to overwrite.

    Step 2 - Click "Create a System Image" & the "Save to" drive location

    Windows 7 - System Restore, Saving a Backup & Permanant Restore Point-image-1.png

    Step 3 - Verify the drives to be "backed up" and then start backup

    Windows 7 - System Restore, Saving a Backup & Permanant Restore Point-image-2.png

    Step 4 - Start Backup

    Windows 7 - System Restore, Saving a Backup & Permanant Restore Point-image-3.png

    When completed, I now have 2 images saved on my internal hard drive; again, I renamed the original file by adding a date, so Windows would not overwrite it.

    Windows 7 - System Restore, Saving a Backup & Permanant Restore Point-image-4.5.png

    Then, in System Restore, both "System Image Restore Points" are still listed...

    Windows 7 - System Restore, Saving a Backup & Permanant Restore Point-image-7.png

    The only suspicion I have is that if I tried to do a System Restore on the Jan 7th Image/Restore Point, Windows might not recognize it, since it was renamed. However, that really does not matter to me, since I basically took that restored Jan 7th image, installed all Windows updates and then created another full backup & image on January 30th. In other words, the Jan 30th back up is basically the Jan 7th backup, plus any Windows updates & file changes I might have made. Plus, I could probably restore back to the Jan 7th by deleting or renaming the Jan 30th backup and then renaming the Jan 7th file, by deleting the date.

    I realize this is not an automatic solution like Macrium, although it may suit my needs (or others), as long as you're willing to commit to a manual process once a month or so. This avoids having automatic Windows Backup schedules overwriting & updating the original base image and potentially propagating unwanted changes to that image. In this case, I have set no set backup schedule in Windows 7.
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  6. whs
    Posts : 26,210
    Vista, Windows7, Mint Mate, Zorin, Windows 8

    After you renamed the files, can the recovery program still find them.
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  7. Posts : 7
    Windows 7 Home Premium 64Bit
    Thread Starter

    NO...As I suspected, when I tried doing a System Restore to the older Restore Point (January 7th on my system), I got the following error, assumedly because I renamed that associated backup & image file.

    Windows 7 - System Restore, Saving a Backup & Permanant Restore Point-capture.png

    Again, I suspect that this is because the name / format changed for the backup associated with that specific Restore Point. Moreover, I believe the System Restore is looking for the exact file name "WindowsImageBackup" in the exact same file location that was associate with that specific Restore Point. As I mentioned earlier, perhaps if I changed the name of the newer backup and changed the older back up name back to its original name "WindowsImageBackup" it might work, although I'm not going to mess with trying on my system.

    Again, I believe the renamed files could be recovered if renamed or saved to a different media (external hard drive or DVD). In fact, Windows Help File states that this is possible when you click on "more information" in the backup window. (See Below)

    Windows 7 - System Restore, Saving a Backup & Permanant Restore Point-capture2.png

    Here is the text from the Windows Backup Help File...

    Back up your programs, system settings, and files

    You can create a system image, which contains a copy of Windows and copies of your programs, system settings, and files. The system image is then stored in a separate location from the original programs, settings, and files. You can use this image to restore the contents of your computer if your hard disk or entire computer ever stops working.
    If you're using Windows Backup to back up your files, you can have a system image created each time your files are backed up. By default, this system image will only include the drives required for Windows to run. To include additional drives in the system image or to create a system image manually, follow the steps below. For information about system images, see What is a system image?

    1. <li class="step">Click to open Backup and Restore.
    2. In the left pane, click Create a system image, and then follow the steps in the wizard. [IMG]mshelp://windows/?id=18abb370-ac1e-4b6b-b663-e028a75bf05b[/IMG] If you are prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.
    Keeping different versions of system images
    1. If you're saving your system images on an internal or external drive, or on CDs or DVDs, you can keep several versions of system images. On internal and external hard drives, older system images will be deleted when the drive runs out of space. To help conserve disk space, you can manually delete older system images. For more information, see What backup settings should I use to maximize my disk space?
      If you're saving your system images in a network location, you can only keep the most current system image for each computer. System images are saved in the format of drive\WindowsImageBackup\computer name\. If you have an existing system image for a computer and are creating a new one for the same computer, the new system image will overwrite the existing one. If you want to keep the existing system image, you can copy it to a different location before creating the new system image by following these steps:

      <li class="step">Navigate to the location of the system image.
    2. Copy the WindowsImageBackup folder to a new location.
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  8. whs
    Posts : 26,210
    Vista, Windows7, Mint Mate, Zorin, Windows 8

    This is what I thought - there are no simple procedures. And they do not give you a chance to browse for it either. So you are stuck. That's why I like free Macrium. There you can rename or move the restore points and still find them with a browse.
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  9. Posts : 7
    Windows 7 Home Premium 64Bit
    Thread Starter

    Ok, since you got me curious, I decided to test out the theory of changing the name back on the original backup/image and then trying to use the original Restore Point in Windows 7...IT WORKS ! ! !

    Windows 7 - System Restore, Saving a Backup &amp; Permanant Restore Point-change-date2.png

    Windows 7 - System Restore, Saving a Backup &amp; Permanant Restore Point-restore.png

    I was able to restore my computer back to January 7th, once I changed the file name back. I first changed the newer backup name to WindowsImageBackup - Jan 30, 2016 and then changed the original WindowsImageBackup - Jan 7, 2016 simply back to "WindowsImageBackup." Moreover, after changing the file names, System Restore in Windows 7 correctly associated that old Restore Point back to the original WindowsImageBackup file and my computer returned back to it's earlier state (Jan 7th) absent all of the updates & changes that I'd made.

    I was also able to successfully do a System Restore back to January 30th.

    I agree, Macrium or other image software is a better, more automated solution and you are correct in that Windows is sometimes a bit cryptic about allowing you to browse / find backups. This would be critical in a serious failure. However, as I noted before, Windows should allow a Backup from a DVD or other drive so it works, albeit it requires some manual efforts.
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  10. whs
    Posts : 26,210
    Vista, Windows7, Mint Mate, Zorin, Windows 8

    Interesting and thanks for the experiment. For me it is only of an academic interest though because I still think that Windows imaging is not suitable for prime time.
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