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Windows 7: Restoring from an image on drive D

13 Sep 2018   #1
leuce

Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit
 
 
Restoring from an image on drive D

G'day everyone

I've read the tutorial on system image recovery but I'm a little confused about what to do in my situation.

The "WindowsImageBackup" folder is on my D drive (and I have not moved it, i.e. it was created there). I now want to recreate my computer, and I'm hoping to avoid having to individually reinstall and set up all programs. Do I understand correctly that I can just use the WindowsImageBackup to somehow recreate my computer's original state?

I don't want to lose the data on drives D, E and F but I want to start fresh with drive C. Drive C is an SSD and drives D, E and F are logical drives on an internal HDD.

Is it possible to utilize the WindowsImageBackup without having a Windows installer disk (e.g. bootable USD with a Windows installation image on it), or must I have an installer disk (or: a boot disk)?

Thanks
Samuel


My System SpecsSystem Spec
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13 Sep 2018   #2
dsperber

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

Well, the whole idea behind an "image backup" is that it is a photograph of any complete drive (C, D, E, etc.) and all of its contents. The backup can then be used for an "image restore" and the resulting drive (C, D, E., whichever you choose to restore) will be an exact duplicate of the state of things on that drive when the "photograph" was taken.

So, if you have an image backup of your C drive (from the factory, or soon afterwards and before you began customizing Windows and installing 3rd-party software, etc.) then if you choose to restore it you get back to EXACTLY whatever that image contains. C after the restore will look EXACTLY as it did going into the backup. D, E, etc., will be completely untouched from what they look like right now, since they weren't in that "photograph" image backup of C

Now as to whether or not you will have to reinstall all of your 3rd-party software and re-customize Windows after the restore, I would say to you that depends on when you took that image backup. If it was provided to you by the factory as a tool for restoring the state of C to exactly how the machine left the factory, i.e. as it looked the first time you powered it on, then yes... if you now choose to restore it you will "be back to factory" on C. Everything will have to be done all over again, exactly as it was after you powered it on for the first time.

On the other hand if the image backup was manually taken by you at a point later in time, say after you'd completed all of your customization and 3rd-party software installs, then no you won't have to reinstall things all over again (assuming you're satisfied going back to the state of things as they were when you took that image backup). In fact you will be back on C to exactly how the "photographic state" of things looked when you took the image backup. You are restoring that photograph to C.

Again, current contents D, E, etc., are unaffected by the image restore of C. But of course it is C where your programs and "user data" are kept. Any "private data" you've placed on your other partitions is fine and unaffected, but all normal program folders and "My Documents" and "My Pictures" etc., those are all in the C:\Users folder on C... and therefore will also be restored as part of the photograph you are restoring.

My recommendation: going forward do NOT use the image backup/restore functionality built into Windows. It is severely limited in its design and functionality, and can only retain one image at a time on a backup volume (i.e in that folder on D you mentioned where the image of C is located).

Instead I would STRONGLY URGE YOU to go forward using Macrium Reflect Free for your "system image" tool. It is free, easy to use and intuitive, not to mention powerful and function-rich. And it supports ANY NUMBER OF IMAGE BACKUPS (typically located either on a second physical internal drive, or on a large external USB 3.0 drive of about 2TB used to hold your backups). And if you use the external USB drive method you can then use Macrium Reflect to also backup your D, E, etc. partitions to the same external USB drive.

If you don't want to cry if you lose data, then you must perform regular systematic and adequate/complete backups (either FULL and/or INCREMENTAL), automatically scheduled and performed nightly/weekly/monthly without your having to think about it. You need proper software to do this, and you need adequate target backup medium (like a 2TB external drive) to hold sufficient older generations of backup images to satisfy the occasional situation where for some reason the latest backup is not really the one you want to restore from, but an older backup is.

That's what Macrium Reflect Free can do for you... all of these things.

Note that Macrium Reflect also comes in a non-free version for a modest price. The Home Edition includes additional functionality over the free version, most notably a folder/file "data" backup capability that is used to backup and restore selected/all "data". This faciltates being able to recover previous individual data folders/files you may have accidentally deleted or corrupted or lost or whatever, from as many older generations of these folders/files backups you might have retained as part of your backup regimen.

Part of the program setup is to define how many older generations of each backup you care to retain before automatically deleting the oldest generation in order to now create the newest one. This applies to both "system image" as well as for "folders/files".

A good backup regimen consists of BOTH types of backups: (a) complete drive (i.e. partition) "system image" for C and possibly also D, E, etc., as well as (b) "data" backups for folders/files across all drives in order to provide convenient easy recovery of specific selected folders/files as might occasionally be needed from either the latest or an appropriate older backup dataset.

The purpose of this backup regimen is to allow you to recover from unexpected major or minor disasters, or simply "lost file" situations, by having a very recent backup available. You won't have to go back to "factory" (unless you've retained that very early backup image and really DO want to start over from scratch) to get you out of your disaster. You only have to go back to last night, or last weekend, or last start-of-month, etc., depending on how often you perform your backups and how many generations you retain.


Finally, I offer a second backup software product, which also can support both "system image" as well as "data folder/file", named NovaBACKUP PC from NovaStor (again, not free but modestly priced). It has (in my opinion) a much superior GUI and functionality to Macrium Reflect for "data folder/file" backup/restore. But for "system image" GUI and functionality you can't beat Macrium Reflect.

So I use BOTH of these products, combined to perform my complete monthly/nightly/weekly backup regimen... of BOTH types. And both types are automatically scheduled (via setup) to run completely unattended, producing backup files in folders kept on my 2TB external USB 3.0 backup drive. I take "system image" backups of C twice-weekly with Macrium Reflect, in order to guarantee that I always have a very recent image of a "working Windows" that is problem-free.

And I take regular monthly FULL "data" folder/file backups (of all folders/files on all partitions) with NovaBACKUP. And I take regular nightly INCREMENTAL "data" backups with NovaBACKUP, of just those data folders/files that have been created or updated on any partition in the past 24 hours. This guarantees that I can always recover ANY data folder/file from no older than last night at worst, but also optionally selectively recovering any folder/file from ANY DATE IN THE PAST FEW MONTHS.


That's my pitch.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
14 Sep 2018   #3
leuce

Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by dsperber View Post
So, if you have an image backup of your C drive (from the factory, or soon afterwards and before you began customizing Windows and installing 3rd-party software, etc.) then if you choose to restore it you get back to EXACTLY whatever that image contains.
Yes, that was what I was hoping for. My system has been behaving erratically for the past week (programs just quit without warning, file associations disappear, etc) and my attempts at fixing things have not been successful, and/or the next line of solutions would be too time-consuming.

Quote:
Again, current contents D, E, etc., are unaffected by the image restore of C.
Excellent.

==

Now, if I understand correctly, Windows 7 (alone) also has the capability of restoring this image backup without having to boot using a separate boot disk. For a number of months I did have a Windows install USB lying around, but you know how it is: you need a flash drive, and then you simply repurpose one.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
.

14 Sep 2018   #4
dsperber

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

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by leuce View Post
Now, if I understand correctly, Windows 7 (alone) also has the capability of restoring this image backup without having to boot using a separate boot disk.
Well I haven't done a "native" Windows image backup/restore since I first installed Win7 about 9 years ago and experimented with this new functionality. It was then that I immediately decided to go with something else which provided much more flexibility and functionality, and researched things finally settling on Macrium Reflect.

In any case, I'm sure there is no requirement to boot from a separate disk to do the restore. But since you're going to be overwriting C itself, after you initiate the restore while running under Windows I'm sure it will prompt you to allow a reboot in order to actually complete the operation. I believe that during the reboot the image restore functionality will kick in, perform the restore, and when finished continue on to then boot from the restored C and get you back to the Windows desktop.

By comparison, Macrium Reflect offers THREE ways to do an image restore (of any partition, not just C):

(a) you can boot from the standalone WinPE bootable USB drive or CD/DVD which was created by Macrium Reflect, using the "create rescue media" operation. The Macrium Reflect program has been added to this media so that once WinPE boots the Macrium Reflect program will automatically start so that you can then browse your drives for the system image to be restored.

This method is a necessary option if you actually had to replace the drive itself which contained C and Windows, and it's simply blank and you don't yet have anything on it. So you can't boot to Windows from it to do anything, as you've just replaced that system drive. The expectation here of course is that the image to be restored is either on a different internal drive (which you haven't replaced) or an external USB backup drive.

(b) you can boot from a second bootable WinPE via the Boot Manager Menu (with your normal Windows as the primary default item on the menu). This was created by Macrium Reflect using the "add recovery boot menu option". The WinPE and Macrium Reflect loaded using this approach is identical to what gets loaded from (a) using the standalone bootable media, except that you don't need separate standalone bootable media since it's been written to your internal hard drive. You simply select it from the Boot Manager Menu.

This method is typically used if there's nothing wrong with your hardware and the drive is perfectly usable so that this WinPE recovery boot menu option is perfectly usable. But you want to restore some backup version of your C partition because of some loss of integrity, or virus damage, or who knows what. Again the image to be restored is browsed for either on an internal drive or on an external USB drive.

(c) you can launch Macrium Reflect under Windows, and select the image restore function and then browse for the image to be restored again assumed to be somewhere either on an internal or external drive. Once you have completed these pre-steps and give it the OK to proceed, Macrium Reflect will initiate a re-boot (same as the native Windows functionality does) and ask you for the OK. And again, during the system restart Macrium Reflect will kick in in order to perform the restore of the C partition from the image backup you'd previously specified while originally running under Windows, and when completed will proceed normally to boot from C and bring up the Windows desktop.

Again, this approach is usable when you have no hardware issue but you simply want to restore some previous version of the C partition. This is really very similar to (b) above, and differs only in how the restart-time functionality gets launched.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
14 Sep 2018   #5
Paul Black

7 HP SP1 64-bit Vista HB SP2 32-bit Linux Mint 18.3
 
 

Hi Ranger4,

Yes, you are correct. A Windows 7 installation disc [and ISO] has:

[1] Startup Repair.
[2] System Restore.
[3] System Image Recovery.
[4] Windows Memory Diagnostic.
[5] Command Prompt.

I hope this helps!

EDIT: That's strange @Ranger4, your post above this one has just disappeared!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
14 Sep 2018   #6
Ranger4

Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit sp1
 
 

I actually deleted it Paul, after I realise they wanted alternatives to using an installation DVD, as they mention in Post #1.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
15 Sep 2018   #7
Paul Black

7 HP SP1 64-bit Vista HB SP2 32-bit Linux Mint 18.3
 
 

OK, thanks Ranger4,

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Ranger4 View Post
I actually deleted it Paul, after I realised they wanted alternatives to using an installation DVD, as they mention in Post #1.
I will leave my post anyway as it might help people who come across this thread that have a similar problem and may want to use an installation disc!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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 Restoring from an image on drive D




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