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Windows 7: Cloning & Back Ups

02 Oct 2010   #11

MS Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 64-bit

If your purpose behind "imaging" and/or "cloning", is to be able to restore your system in case of a catastrophic failure, then Windows 7 Backup and
Restore, being sure to click on "system image" in the left-hand pane and then choosing ALL partitions on the drive your want to "image"/"backup", you can with a Windows 7 System Repair Disc, restore everything at once, painlessly, accurately, and easily.

I know this is true because I performed this very operation several times in the course of my studying the Win 7 Backup and Restore.

You can also use Win 7 Backup and Restore to image and consequently restore only your C drive. This I also tested.

I am not fond of Win 7 folder backup approach, although it is incremental which is a strong positive.

I use Win 7 Backup and Restore to image my entire computer. This is done about once every 3 months. I use SyncToy, also from Microsoft, to backup my data files. C is my system partition and D is my data partition.

I use synctoy about once a week.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
02 Oct 2010   #12

Win 7 64

Thanks Karls, the purpose for my "backups" is soley to guard against catostrophic faiilures as you mention and I'm intrigued by the ability to use Win7 BackUp and restore to acheive this rather than purchase some 3rd party software such as Acronic TIH.

As you obviously have a lot of experience with it, does Win7 Backup and Restore work in a similar way to the all the other imaging software (ie. images to a different drive/partition and then you can restore that image from a recovery CD....or install disk I guess in the case of Win7)? Do you think it's easier for the average user to use over say Acronis TIH?

You mention not being keen of using it for data backup purposes despite it using the incremental approach....any particular reasons for this? I would certainly like to be able to back up the data partition on a scheduled basis using an incremental approach (much like yourself with SyncToy), but if I'm having to purchase SyncToy, I may as well get TIH or Ghost or similar that will do both tasks for me?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
02 Oct 2010   #13

MS Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 64-bit

Good questions.

I'll jump to one area of concern.
SyncToy is 100% free. In fact, I just used it about an hour ago to backup my D drive. Since I'd already used SyncToy, then SyncToy only added new folders and new files, overwrote a couple of files which I'd updated, and deleted a file which I had deleted.

SyncToy also has a preview feature so that you can make sure that you didn't shoot yourself in the foot.

SyncToy doesn't attempt to zip/compress which makes the use thereof extremely easy and quick.
SyncToy 2.1

When Win 7 Backup and Restore performs a backup,
one VHD file is created for each partition backed up.

Other info is also saved off so that Win 7 knows where to restore the partition, etc.

Because a VHD file is created, then the restore is simple and you can even, independently of Win 7 Backup and Restore, examine that VHD via "mounting" using DiskManagment. This actually gives you the capability of extracting and file or folder you desire since the mounted VHD is treated just like another drive by Windows Explorer.

I've never taken advantage of this feature, but did guarantee that the feature works perfectly.

A general word about backups: You don't backup to the very drive you are trying to backup. Win 7 won't let you even try this.

Your best bet, since you want to have the most flexible solution is to always backup to an external drive or a drive on your network if you have a network of computers.

I have a small Toshiba external usb drive which I use.

The restore operation itself is performed by booting from a Win 7 System Repair Disc. One of its options is to perform a restore, assuming you have a backup.

Now let's see. The Win 7 Backup and Restore is best used by ignoring the "Backup" button and the scheduling feature, in my opinion, and simply choosing "System Image" in the left-hand pane of Win 7 Backup and Restore dialog, then specify the partitions to be backed up. My hard disk has a C for system stuff and a D for data. When performing a system image backup, I go ahead and choose both since, disregarding testing, I only make a system image once every blue moon. I can always restore my data from the backup I made using SyncToy.

My external drive, has two partitions: one to hold system images and the other to hold the SyncToy backups.

START | type System Repair | Enter key | Create Disc button
My System SpecsSystem Spec

02 Oct 2010   #14

Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit

Even if the main HD fails, a system image you have will work just fine to get you up and running again.

Just install the New HD, remove the old.

Boot from the recovery CD and restore the Image to the new HD.
And your good to go.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
02 Oct 2010   #15

Win 7 64

Excellent! Cheers chaps, you have been most helpful and I really appreciate your help in making me understand all this!

One last question to karls if I may?.......The system I'm building is for the old man who's not the best at remembering to carry out regalar back ups! Does SyncToy allow scheduled backups or do they need to be carried out regularly? It sounds from your description that it does allow incremental back ups which is good to hear. Sounds like I may be able to get away with not purchasing any additional software and just use a combination of Win7 BU&R and SyncToy in much the same way as you
My System SpecsSystem Spec
02 Oct 2010   #16

MS Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 64-bit

Another good question.

Yes you can schedule SyncToy backups.

Backups and backup frequency and backup methods have been and will continue to be a subject of discussion on software forums.

If the chap is not going to be performing backups with any great frequency, then you could well be better off showing him how to schedule a Win 7 "backup" that includes a system image. This way you get both folder backups and image backup. The backup will take longer and require more, but not excessive, external disk space.

Shawn's tutorial on Win 7 Backup and Restore covers this scenario rather well.Backup Complete Computer - Create an Image Backup
My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Oct 2010   #17

Win 7 64

Thanks again for all your help, it's great that people are willing to share their knowledge with newbies like me!

I've been thinking about all this overnight and I have done some more research on Win7 BU&R and SyncToy and they certainly seem to provide the functionality I'm after.

A couple (more!) questions that comes to mind that I can't seem to find an answer for yet....

When Win7 BU&R (or SyncToy for that matter)is scheduled to make backups (of the DATA partition in my case), what happens if the computer is switched off at this time? Does in just kick in next time the machine is switched on or does it require manual intervention?

Even with incremental backups, if I'm also creating a system image every so often, the second HDD will eventually fill up. What happens when there is no longer any space for the backups/images? Again, is there some manual intervention required or can the programs be setup to overwrite the oldest images? Thinking about it, with the DATA backups, I guess it can't overwrite any backup as it require the original backup PLUS all the incremental does this then work when you run out of space?!? I guess you just have to manually intervene and delete the current backups and start afresh?......

Sorry for the rambling.....on nightshifts, watching the Ryder Cup and lack of sleep is playing havoc with my brain lol!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Oct 2010   #18

MS Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 64-bit

The Win 7 Backup and Restore is supposed to delete the oldest backup to make room when needed. Now that is one that I've not tested since, I've always gone in and deleted ancient stuff myself.

I don't believe SyncToy has such a feature. You are worrying a long way done the road for a home system. If this was a commercial system, then you would have other concerns.

I've had as many as eleven backups on one external usb drive which isn't a monster size drive either. Got that many when I was testing. Didn't run out of space.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Oct 2010   #19

MS Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 64-bit

Brink has been cranking out the tutorials again and has a new one designed specifically for a couple of your questions.

You will find following informative and useful:
Backup User and System Files - Delete Backups - Windows 7 Forums
My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Oct 2010   #20

Win 7 64

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by karlsnooks View Post
Brink has been cranking out the tutorials again and has a new one designed specifically for a couple of your questions.

You will find following informative and useful:
Backup User and System Files - Delete Backups - Windows 7 Forums

Great tutorial, thanks

Anybody any idea as to what happens though when the computer is switched off at scheduled back up?
My System SpecsSystem Spec

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