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#1
Unread 1st February 2010, 06:12 PM
Olin Coles's Avatar
Olin Coles Olin Coles is offline
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Recovering Windows 7 with System Image Restore Disks

Recovering Windows 7 with System Image Restore Disks
Very recently Benchmark Reviews published the Microsoft Windows 7 Upgrade and Installation guide, which helps erase the mistakes made by Windows Vista and introduces computer enthusiasts to the newly introduced O/S. Microsoft has enjoyed a successful launch for their Windows 7 Operating System, also referred to at Win7 or W7, and PCs have been made more productive and secure as a result. But like all good things that we receive, it's in our nature to protect and keep them. The best way to accomplish this is with a solid backup, and luckily Windows 7 offers a built-in Backup and Restore tool for creating System Images. By creating a backup file users can preserve their data, but with a System Image recovering the source disk can be helpful when replacing the drive with another. In this article, Benchmark Reviews guides users on the best practices for protecting and Recovering Windows 7 with System Image Restore Disks.
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#2
Unread 2nd February 2010, 08:29 AM
David Ramsey David Ramsey is offline
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Just reading your article got my blood pressure up. Not, I hasten to add, because of anything you wrote per se; just thinking about Windows' Byzantine and idiotic backup system, which has bitten me in the ass more times than I can count.

Let's start with a little idiosyncrasy you mention towards the end of the article: the Windows Backup "might not recognize" the MBR record if you're backing up a RAID...this despite the fact that Windows has natively supported the RAID capabilities of Intel and AMD chipsets for how many years? Just FYI, you cannot, in my experience, use Windows Backup to restore a single-disk backup to a new RAID, or a RAID backup to a single disk.

Arg. Why the hell not? Is this one of the intractable problems in computer science like the four-color map theorem or something? If dealing with the MBR is this complex, maybe a new scheme is needed. (Of course, I've been saying that about the registry for more than a decade, but that monstrosity just won't die. But that's another rant.)

And then there's the kind of backup you need. Try explaining to your parents the difference between System Restore Points, Volume Shadow Copy, System Images, and just plain old my-files-backed-up. Extra points if you can make them understand which is used or preferred under specific circumstances. And if you just decide to set something up for them, be prepared for a lot of phone time should they ever need to restore anything.

Now, on the Mac, we have Time Machine. While not perfect, it invisibly backs up everything:

-- Every hour, all changed files are backed up. Hourly backups are kept for the last 24 hours.
-- Daily backups are kept for the last month.
-- Weekly backups are kept until your backup disk is full, and then the oldest backups are automatically deleted to make room.

There are no settings other than specifying files and folders that should be excluded.

This backup can be used to move your entire system to a new disk, and yes, it will move your system to or from a RAID. The same backup is used to retrieve individual files and folders. It is built directly into the Finder and can be accessed at any time. If you throw away a file or folder, you can retrieve it from backup in less than 30 seconds, literally. My parents are 80 and 78 and I showed them once how to retrieve files from a backup and they've never had to ask me again, because it's just that simple.

Oh, and those special "recovery disks" and "repair disks" you need to create with Windows? That nobody ever does? Not needed...just boot from your original OS X disk (included with every Mac, there's none of this "Burn your own disk from the recovery partition because we were too cheap to spend 25 cents extra" stuff), and one of the options is to perform a complete system restore from a Time Machine backup.

So on the PC, I use commercial backup software. Retrospect, which I first used in 1988(!), does an excellent job, although its interface is rather techy. Still, it will restore to/from a RAID, so it's got that. Acronis True Image is a thoroughly modern system with a nice UI, but its installed backup service has problems with some systems (like mine) and Acronis tech support is pretty much non-existent, sigh. Right now I'm playing with the free version of Crashplan, which looks promising. But just about anything's better than Windows Backup.
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#3
Unread 10th April 2010, 12:26 PM
scott784 scott784 is offline
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Utilizing System Image in Windows 7 Home Premium

I recently used the backup features in Windows 7 to make a system image. Now, we all know a backup of your entire setup (i.e. Windows, programs, files, setttings, etc) is only as good as it works!

Yesterday, I tried to put my newly created Windows 7 system image to the 'test' by taking out my existing 500GB hard drive (and temporarily) installing a 250Gb blank hard drive. I used my Win 7 boot disc that I created and proceeded to try to restore my sytem image to this blank 250 GB hard drive. I soon realized it would not be possible because my test hard drive was smaller than my permanent hard drive that I use; and the fact that I did not shrink down my system image when it was created (not even sure how to do that).

My current configuration is a WD 500 GB hard drive with the RAID setting to 'on'. Even though I only use one drive, this 'on' setting is the factory default in Dell (F2 setup) and so I've never changed it. (Dell recommends you leave it on 'even' when using a single hard drive).

Anyhow, back to my test environment, I then installed a second 250 GB hard drive and created a Raid 0 Stripe array so that my test environment would NOW be a total of 500 GB hard drive (just like my permanent single drive) (250 GB hard drive x 2). Once again, I tried to restore my system image created from Windows 7 and I received an error message. Possibly this occurred because even though my test environment involved 250 GB x 2 (to form 500 GB total hard drive), it 'still' was not the same configuration as my system image since the test environment NOW involved a Raid Stripe 0 array? I am not sure.

All I know is that I was unsuccessful in putting my WIn 7 system image to the test like I wanted to. So here are my questions. With a single WD 500 GB hard drive (with the 'Raid On" feature left as is) create any problems in regards to successfully restoring a system image? Again, even though I only use a single 500 GB hard drive, the factory default setting is "Raid On" in the F2 settings on my Dell computer. What is the best way I can put my system image to the test without actually hosing my permanent hard drive? I would appreciate any feedback.
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#4
Unread 11th April 2010, 09:43 AM
Olin Coles's Avatar
Olin Coles Olin Coles is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scott784 View Post
Yesterday, I tried to put my newly created Windows 7 system image to the 'test' by taking out my existing 500GB hard drive (and temporarily) installing a 250Gb blank hard drive. I used my Win 7 boot disc that I created and proceeded to try to restore my sytem image to this blank 250 GB hard drive. I soon realized it would not be possible because my test hard drive was smaller than my permanent hard drive that I use; and the fact that I did not shrink down my system image when it was created (not even sure how to do that).
Hello Scott784: I've moved your post into the appropriate thread. Your problem was actually mentioned in my guide: Recovering Windows 7 with System Image Restore Disks

I suggest that you give it a read, since there are some additional tips that will help you.
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