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Windows 7: Backup Complete Computer - Create an Image Backup

10 Sep 2011   #450
Microsoft MVP

Vista, Windows7, Mint Mate, Zorin, Windows 8

You can get a 99% assurance by testing the image of a test partition. I have made a little guideline for a Macrium test which you could follow.

I usually make a test as follows (takes less than 30 minutes):

1. I shrink 2GBs from C and create a 2GB partition
2. I move some data into that partition - just anything
3. I take an image of this partition
4. I delete a file or folder from the partition
5. I restore the partition from the image
6. If the deleted file/folder is back, I know it worked.
7. I delete the 2GB partition and return the space to C

My System SpecsSystem Spec
22 Sep 2011   #451


Is there an easy way to make an exact clone of your entire system drive to another? For situations like when you are upgrading a hard drive, etc.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
22 Sep 2011   #452

64-bit Windows 10 Pro

Hello Taiyoyuden,

This tutorial could easily be used for that purpose just as well. :)
  • Create a system image on a HDD or partition other than the one you are using as the new HDD.
  • Replace the HDD.
  • Do a system image recovery to the new HDD using the system image you just created.
Hope this helps,
My System SpecsSystem Spec
22 Sep 2011   #453

Windows 7x64 Home Premium SP1

+ to Brinks response.
I've done it a few times. Quite straightforward (unless Murphy's hanging around).
Just stick the new HDD in alone before the reimage. It can be new straight out of the bag. Just ensure it is the same size or larger than the original.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

06 Nov 2011   #454

Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit

So I finally changed my User Profile default location from my C: (SSD) to the E: (HDD) using one of Brink's tutorials. Thanks. Now I would like to create another System Image to bail me out again, just in case.

Should the WindowsImageBackup folder be in its own partition? In hindsight, I'm wondering if I should have partitioned my HDD before I changed the User folder's default location (to look like Users E:, Backups F: )Because as it is now both the Users profiles and the WindowsImageBackup folder are at the root of E:.

Reason I ask is that in the beginning of the tutorial it warns that Windows 7 cannot create a system image which includes the partition or drive (E: ) that I'm saving to. System and User profiles no matter where they are located are included in the image...right?

Sorry I'm a noob...thanks.

ps. what's the difference between making a backup and creating restore points?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
06 Nov 2011   #455

64-bit Windows 10 Pro

Hello MV,

Yeah, it would be best to save the system image backup to a separate HDD that is different than the HDD your Windows 7 partition and the partition that you keep your user profile folders are on. This way you will be able to include both locations in the system image backup. Plus, whatever partitions or HDDs that are included in the system image backup will be formatted to be able to do a system image recovery to them.

A system image backup is a complete clone of the HDD(s) and/or partition(s) that you include in the image backup down to everything on them, and the layout and size of the partitions on them. When doing a system image recovery, the image backup will be restored to the HDD(s) exactly how it was when it was created. This is useful if you need to restore Windows 7 and the included HDD(s) back to how they were when the system image was created due to say a complete unfixable failure.

A restore point is part of system protection. It creates a backup of only the Windows 7 system files and registry. It does not include your user folders and files, and is not a complete backup of the HDD or Windows 7. A restore point is helpful to create right before say installing programs or drivers, or making changes to the system (Windows 7). This way if what you just did messes up Windows 7, you may be able to do a system restore to go back to a restore point dated before what you did to undo it. It's basically helpful as a quick fix to try and avoid having to reinstall Windows 7.

Either one is helpful, but both should be used. In case a system restore fails, you always have a system image backup as a fallback to recover with. :)
My System SpecsSystem Spec
08 Nov 2011   #456

Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
More system image questions

Thanks Brink..
OK currently:
The SSD is C: with the system files
HDD is E: with the system USERS files

If I add another partition F: to the data drive to hold the backup folders, will the system imaging process ignore the F: partition?

Wondering if I'm going thru too much trouble making system images at this point of setting up the new computer. Right now I installed Windows 7 and all current drivers, made an image of that. Moved the default location for profiles, installed Firefox (because I couldn't open any files downloaded by IE(?))...thinking of making another image. Still need to install MSOffice, some CAD programs, a couple games...

Should I just use restore points until after I get all my main programs installed?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
08 Nov 2011   #457

64-bit Windows 10 Pro

Yeah, I would recommend to use restore points until you are finished with installing programs and adjusting your settings, then create a system image.

Unless selected, system image should ignore the F: drive while creating a image backup. However, you would need to make sure that you exclude (step 9 below) the F: partition when doing a system image recovery to avoid it from getting formatted or deleted.

System Image Recovery
My System SpecsSystem Spec
01 Dec 2011   #458

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
Another system drive?

I'm now attempting to redo my Backups through Win7 Pro Backup and Restore feature, and then have auto-backup set up on a weekly basis.

When I go into Creating System Image, the choices are mandatory: C: system, C: system reserved, and now R: system !!

So what gives here -- why is my data disk suddenly flagged as a system disk ? ..if I have to now include it there won't be enough space on my external HDD to accommodate the (now) huge image.

Hmm.. could it have something to do with moving My Documents, Pictures, Videos, etc. over to the larger data disk? (the C: drive in on a much smaller SSD, which I just wanted for basic OS and so can't accommodate a lot of that other stuff)
My System SpecsSystem Spec
01 Dec 2011   #459
Microsoft MVP

Vista, Windows7, Mint Mate, Zorin, Windows 8

Hmm.. could it have something to do with moving My Documents, Pictures, Videos, etc. over to the larger data disk? (the C: drive in on a much smaller SSD, which I just wanted for basic OS and so can't accommodate a lot of that other stuff)
That's it. Win7 imaging always grabs everything that they think is part of the system.

If you want to image the C: partition only, use free Macrium. It is a lot better imaging product anyhow. Imaging with free Macrium
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Backup Complete Computer - Create an Image Backup

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