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Windows 7: Backup/Restore & Recovery programs & routines [open topic]

29 Mar 2017   #1

Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
Backup/Restore & Recovery programs & routines [open topic]

This lead-off post is not the "final word", it is just one post of hopefully many posts from many folks!
I have this thread also in sevenforums because I want to zero in on Windows 7 Backup/Restore as well as how some 3rd party B/R & R utilities specifically work with Windows 7.

First Response restore and recovery ideas, beliefs, practices, experiences
Borrowing from the philosopher Rene Descartes, let's make the title longer:
First Response ideas, beliefs, practices, experiences for OS & Data: backups, restores, and recoveries.

First Response means what could be done by an end-user who just might be facing:
-- possible physically failing hard-drives [which are often called "c drive" and "d drive]
-- possible logically failing hard-drives [ditto as above line]
OR might be facing:
-- a deleted file and/or folder that needs to be un-deleted
-- a set of deleted files and/or folders that need to be un-deleted
-- folders and files that cannot be simply un-deleted, restored from Windows Recycle Bin
-- deleted folders and files that no longer exist in the MFT [Master File Table]
-- the MFT no longer functions and/or the OS no longer functions
-- the often called "c drive", the OS partition no longer exists [often, this "c drive" also contained the data]
-- the often called "d drive", the data partition no longer exists

First Response Backups mean --
First Response Restores mean --
First Response Recoveries mean --
-- respectively, what could be done by an end-user prior to doing "anything, everything".

Borrowing from Star Trek, the "Prime Directives" are:
-- to preserve and protect end-user's data
-- to preserve and protect end-user's OS
-- to restore what can be restored; data first priority, OS 2nd priority
-- to recover what can be recovered; data first priority, OS 2nd priority

**This is a work in progress. There will be redactions, corrections, additions, etc. **

My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 Mar 2017   #2

Windows 7 Professional 64-bit

Now, directly related to the thread title:
I have this thread also in sevenforums because I want to zero in on Windows 7 Backup/Restore as well as how some 3rd party B/R & R utilities specifically work with Windows 7.

Backup/Restore programs & routines [open topic] -- meaning, rather than me simply posting what I do for backups and restores, I'd like to have several others give their ideas also.

Very briefly, my three computers each have two pancake platter-driven usb ext HDs, each of those HDs contain full images of "C drive" [OS partition] and "D drive" [data partition] which are made during one session [4 backups in all] about once weekly or at least, bi-monthly.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 Mar 2017   #3

Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit sp1

Rowland, I use Macrium Reflect v5 paid version, to do regular weekly images of my OS C: drive, which has about 43 gb of data on it. It is the only drive I have installed, as I don't have any need for massive amounts of storage or the need for additional drives.

I back up the image to a USB 3.0 external portable Hitachi Touro drive. I also have a dual USB 3.0 connection directly to the USB 3.0 header connection on the motherboard, so to image 43 gb only takes about 5 minutes. I usually Verify the image every 3rd or 4th time & I have the last 3 images stored on the back up drive.

I have on about 3 occasions had to reinstall the image during mess ups being made by my Internet Provider when they made changes to email settings. During these occasions I used the Macrium boot option setting that can be made from the Macrium menu. I also have a recovery Macrium Recovery CD, which has been tested to be sure it works.

Occasionally I have also reinstalled a folder or file that I have messed up, using Macrium to do so & this has been wonderful.

Is this the sort of thing you are looking for in this "Open topic".
My System SpecsSystem Spec

29 Mar 2017   #4

Windows 7 Professional 64-bit

Ranger4, your post is exactly the kind of material I'm looking for! I hope others will also post their Windows 7 experiences.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
30 Mar 2017   #5
Layback Bear

Windows 7 Pro. 64/SP-1

I use Macrium Reflect to Clone my drive '0' which only has Partition 'C'.

I also have no need for storing a lot of data.

I create a Clone to a separate ssd by means of a hot swap bay to another ssd.
I have Macrium Reflect verify ever Clone.

Then I boot into the Clone using 'F8' and verify myself that every thing works as it should.

Just 2 days ago a infection jumped into one of my system. All I did was install the Clone ssd in the hot swap and boot from it and I was on my way to happy computing again.

After verifying the Clone was not infected I wiped the infected ssd and then made a new Clone and verified. Made sure all programs were updated from the date of the Clone.

I would suggest that data drives that are not access often be kept unhooked from the computer except when in use. That is where a hot swap bay is really handy. Just pop them in and out as needed. It takes seconds to do so. In the most part it keep your data away from Ransomware.
This method does not replace the need for a backup of your data. It's just handy.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
30 Mar 2017   #6

Windows 7 Professional 64-bit

First Response Restore and Recovery ideas, beliefs, practices, experiences in Computer Technologies Forum
In short - instead of throwing software after software after software at a HD/DATA crisis, I recommend waiting for expert help and advice.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
30 Mar 2017   #7
Lady Fitzgerald

Win 7 Ultimate 64 bit

Unlike some (or, possibly, many) people, I do keep a lot of data on my computer, much of it expensive or impossible to replace. I keep my system files segregated from my data files because the type of backup I use depends on the type of files I'm backing up.

On my desktop computer, my C: drive is an SSD that contains only my OS (Operating System; in my case, Win 7) and programs (in the case of my one drive notebooks, I keep my OS and programs on a separate C: partition). The OS and programs (aka System) can only be backed up and restored by cloning or imaging. Since imaging requires less drive space and one can maintain multiple images, I prefer imaging over cloning. My preference for imaging is a paid version of Macrium Reflect Free.

I only make an image of my C: drive (or partition) just before making a change to the System, such as updating the OS or programs or making a change in the settings (I also run my antivirus and anti-malware scans just before making the image). I have Macrium Reflect set to keep images for eight weeks. I also manually copy the first image of a month to a separate folder to keep for up to a year and I keep a copy of the first image I made when I first set up the computer. I prefer not to use incremental or differential imaging because of the slight danger of losing everything if one image in the set gets lost. Also, I have Macrium Reflect set to automatically verify each image after it is made. I have had less than a handful of images fail to verify (and every image I made after one that failed to verify successfully verified) but every verified image I tried to restore from was successfully restored.

Strictly for my convenience, I store my images on one of my internal data drives. Normally, that would be a bad idea since backups should be stored on drives not installed on and connected to the computer but, in this case, I can get away with it because the drive the images are stored on gets backed up so the images ultimately do get backed up on an external drive that is not connected to the computer except when updating the backup.

I have restored my C: drive to an earlier version several times now. However, my first response to a problem is always to reboot the computer. It's amazing how many times that fixed a problem. Restoring from an image is a last resort.

While imaging or cloning could be used for backing up data, it takes too long since every file has to be rewritten into the image or clone, and requires far too much space if any degree of versioning is desired. For that reason, I prefer and recommend using a folder/file syncing program—in my case FreeFileSync—to back up data. Folder/file syncing is similar to cloning except on files that have been added, changed, or deleted since the last time the update was last updated. A folder/file syncing program works, when set to Mirror Mode (not the same as RAID 1, btw; RAID of any kind in itself is not a backup although it can be used as part of a backup solution), by comparing a source drive (in this case, the data drive in your computer to be backed up) to the destination drive (in this case, the backup drive), then copying any new or changed files from the source drive to the destination drive, then deleting any files on the destination drive that are not on the source drive (the source drive is never touched in the process except for reading from it). This results in what is essentially a clone of the source drive except that, other than the initial backup, is much, much faster.

FreeFileSync also has a feature called Versioning. What this does, if you so choose (I highly recommend it), is to send deleted files to a Versioning folder or drive (FreeFileSync treats drives the same as folders). This helps to protect you from accidental deletions and allows you to recall an earlier version of file you have changed. I keep my versioning folder (along with the folder that has my C: drive images) on a separate, dedicated internal drive in my computer (which also gets backed up to an external backup drive).

Since any drive can fail suddenly with no hope for recovery (which could be expensive with no guarantees of success, anyway), including new drives (better quality drives do reduce the likelihood of that happening, however), I keep a set of four backup drives for each data drive inside my computer (I do not keep as many backups for my notebooks, which I use primarily for travel, since both of them only have data that I already have on my desktop computer): two of each set are kept onsite in a drawer away from the computer and the other two are kept offsite in my safe deposit box in the safe at my credit union six miles away from my home. I swap the onsite drives with the offsite drives no less than once a month. While it's twice as expensive to have the added redundancy, it has saved my bacon data at least once when an onsite backup became corrupted at the same time the data on an internal drive became corrupted; having that second onsite backup meant I was able to recover in a few hours instead of several days, with my data still being accessible during recovery.

Since any files added or changed after a backup has been placed in my safe deposit box (the reason for frequently updating the backup), I also have a paid, cloud backup account: While recovering all my data (actually, there are certain files types that do not get automatically backed up on my less expensive, Basic account but none of them are critical) would take seemingly forever (we are talking weeks here) to download, it would be much faster to recover most of my data from the offsite backups, then recover what's left from Carbonite. For only $5/month (actually, a bit less since I subscribed to three years), it's cheap data insurance.

As already stated, I have a set of four backup drives for each data drive in my computer (a total of sixteen backup drives since I have four data drives in my computer). These are bare drives that I store in an anti-static foam "egg crate" in a drawer away from the computer. Like Jack, I have a hot swap bay built into my computer that I'm able to plug a backup drive into when I'm updating the backup, then return the drive to the "egg crate" when the backup update is complete.

Now that I'm using all SSDs (much smaller and lighter, a big deal at my age, and faster), to store and to transport my backup drives to and from my safe deposit box, I custom made a couple of antistatic foam "egg crates" designed to fit into a small Pelican case (they can hold up to 22 2.5" drives in each one in although I doubt I'll ever have more than 16 in each one). I keep one "egg crate" with the onsite backups in it in a drawer and the other "egg crate" with the offsite backups in my safe deposit box. When it comes time to swap out the onsite and offsite backups, I just place the entire onsite "egg crate" into the little Pelican case, take it to my credit union, "break into" my safe deposit box, swap out the "egg crates", then haul the now onsite backups back home and place the "egg crate" into the drawer and put away the case. It's so much faster and easier than when I had HDDs and had to individually put each HDD into an antistatic bag, then put them into a commercial transport case that didn't have a removable "egg crate", swap them out one at a time, then unbag each drive individually and return them to the rather enormous "egg crate" in a drawer.

Is this a bit anal? Yes but, then again, I do have data that would be time consuming, expensive, or impossible to replace. Is it expensive? Heck yeah (and give me an Amen!)! The price of 21 4TB SSDs is the reason I'm keeping my old truck instead of buying a new one. But, in my case, it is well worth it. Most people will be able to do just fine with a simpler routine of data in three places—in the computer, on an onsite backup, and on an offsite backup—using less expensive HDDs (some people may find a cloud backup easier to maintain for an offsite backup but an onsite backup would still be needed).
My System SpecsSystem Spec
30 Mar 2017   #8

Windows 7 Professional 64-bit

In addition to LadyF's very thorough advice and help -- real soon, more advice, hopefully as thorough and complete as LadyF's, gathered from several backup/restore and data recovery forums -- giving concrete things that end-users can do to prevent data loss crisis. Because there any many ways to do backups -- I will only give what I do and then leave the floor open for others to post what they do for backups.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Apr 2017   #9

Windows 7 Professional 64-bit

I see my first public attempt at a tiny white paper fell flat. In short, make routine backups so that in the future you can post: My backups restored my Data and/or my OS, I'm back in business!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Apr 2017   #10

Windows 7 Professional 64-bit

Acer Aspire 7741G-6426's S03(YT0)C and S03(YT0)D recovered and restored.

Normally, this laptop's "c drive" is OS partition S03YT0C, "d drive" is Data partition S03YT0D,
with a tiny 1GB partition labeled NTFS or whatever between the above two partitions.
Thankfully, have been making routine backups of OS and Data onto external media
(in this case, two dedicated platter-driven, usb, 1TB hard-drives, TCSIIkat & TCSIIkit).
From Day One, those two partitions were given unique names that indicated:
-- which computer, in this one of two laptops, S03
-- which internal hard-drive, part of the serial number is YT0
-- which partition, C for OS partition, D for Data partition

One day, I interrupted what seemed to be a stalled partition merger between
an un-allocated partition and S03YT0C; which led to a post, no-boot, no-Windows load.
My first correct response concerning disk management was using Acronis Disk Director 12.
ADD12 showed un-allocated partitions, and S03YT0D -- which was promptly backed up
onto TSCIIkat. Made sure that partition was intact by using the disk explore function.
My first correct response concerning partition recovery was using MiniTool Partition Wizard
9.1, which actually is part of my MiniTool Power Data Recovery package; ran it, it found my
S03YT0C (disk explore showed all the directories); and my S03YT0D became un-allocated.
S03YT0C was promptly backed up -- Macrium Reflect Pro version being used through-out.
Backups took a long time, so at the end of both backups, called it a day and went home.

The next day, used Acronis Disk Director 12 to re-create S03YT0C and S03YT0D partitions,
with a tiny 1GB partition labeled NTFS or whatever between the above two partitions.
Using Macrium Reflect and TSCIIkat, restored S03YT0C and S03YT0D into their respective locations.
Because I had TSCIIkat connected during a Windows Startup Repair attempt Thursday, I re-ran
Windows Startup Repair after restoring the partitions - finally, post, boot, and Windows load.

Because of the above experience, and previous restoration experiences, wanted to try my hand at
typing a tiny "white paper" about backup, restore, recovery operations coming from a "first response"
angle, pictured an analogy -- an ambulance, a first responder.
Setting up the OS and Data early on with making routine backups in mind, with sooner or later,
eventual, restores in mind, seemed to me similar to setting up the ambulance,
setting up better first responses, in any crisis.
Things that could be done by an end-user in the midst of an OS and/or Data crisis
depend largely upon things done by the end-user long before any such crisis.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Backup/Restore & Recovery programs & routines [open topic]

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