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Difficulties backing up to external HD with Windows 7...


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07-Jun-2012, 10:40 PM #1
Difficulties backing up to external HD with Windows 7...
Hello folks,

A few months ago after a hard-drive meltdown I purchased a new Hewlett-Packard computer, with Windows 7 HP (64 bit) as the operating system.
The tech guy who installed the computer said I should be fine to back-up to my Phillips 1 GB external hard-drive using the back-up facility provided with Windows 7 HP. I have made a few attempts to do so, all unsuccessful so far. Each time I get a fairly vague 'generic' error message (0x81000001), which does not really provide specific information:

Check your back-up:

Windows back-up encountered an internal error. Please review your settings and re-try the operation

(it then gives the options of re-trying the back-up or changing the settings)

I soon realised after my first failed attempt that my hard-disk space precluded me from backing up a system image, so I configured the back-up facility not to include one- but still the back-ups failed. In the interests of providing info to anyone kind enough to offer help, my hard disk drives are thus:

(C) OS: 207 GB free of 919 GB
(D) HP- Recovery (1.45 GB free of 11.9 GB)
(G) 'Elements' external HD- 1.20 MB of 298 GB (Basically this is an old back-up of my C Drive to an External HD, the capacity of which soon made it woefully
inadequate for my back-up needs!)
(I) Phillips 1 TB external hard drive (921 GB free of 931 GB)

I read somewhere in a forum somewhere that the Windows 7 back-up facility struggles with to back-up files larger than 100 GB. In that particular thread the advice given was to back-up to an external hard-drive, which of course I have tried to do.

I don't pretend to have any great level of knowledge about this, something which I am sure is readily apparent to those reading my post! So, to pose a dumb question: could the problem simply be that I need to back up to a bigger external back-up, or is there another cause of my problems? I would be grateful for any help (my apologies if the answer is contained elsewhere in these forums, I did search and attempt to find an answer before posting). I have tried to include as much relevant info as I could think of, but if there is something I have neglected to include I would be happy to do so (but you might have to coach me through in 'baby steps"!) Thanks in advance for any assistance!
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08-Jun-2012, 12:10 AM #2
The image of a drive backs up everything on that drive. You don't need any other file and folder backups. The image size for your system drive 712 GB used will fit easily on your 1 TB drive. Add the recovery partition at 10.45 GB and you can still have space left. So make a full system image of the entire drive.

For convenience and more options, try a better imager.

Free drive backup software (imaging, cloning, and archiving - backups can be created on a second hard drive, internal or external, or on DVD's, or BluRay disks. One BluRay disk will hold most peoples' entire system drive's backup at 25 GB's using compressed images, 50 GB's double-layer):

Paragon Backup & Recovery 2012 (Recovery boot CD or USB key)
Macrium Reflect (Free)
O&O Disk Image Express or (mirror)
Easeus Todo Backup
Acronis True Image For WD (reduced, free version for WD drives - cloning and imaging)
Acronis True Image For Seagate (DiscWizard) (reduced, free version for Seagate drives - cloning and imaging)
ODIN (open-source)
Redo Backup & Recovery (Boot CD)
Clonezilla Live (A bootable CD of Debian with Clonezilla.)
Drive Image XML
PING (Partimage is not Ghost) (Boot CD with option Clam Antivirus)
Partition Saving
Clonezilla
Passmark OSFClone (Bootable, cloning only)
ImageX and GImageX (Geekware. Small images due to "single instancing" and allows partial, selected restore of image parts. Used by Microsoft to apply disk image to drive during "installation" of Windows 7.)

There are also many commercial products with more features.
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08-Jun-2012, 01:44 AM #3
Hi Elvandil,

Thanks so much for the helpful info. I have had a look at the link for the Macrium Reflect, which looks like it might suit my needs.

Hope you won't mind another couple of 'novice' type questions: if I decide to make a full system image on my external hard drive, can I then configure weekly 'incremental' file back-ups to that system image? (I hope that question makes sense) What I mean is, let's say that today (Friday) I do a full system image, and schedule a back-up for seven days time. In the next few days, I delete a few music files, and add some new ones. When the back-up takes place, will it reflect these changes? Also, when I eventually fill up my 1 TB external hard drive, how does one go about transferring the system image to a new, bigger external hard drive? Is this a straightforward process? Thanks again for your help.
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09-Jun-2012, 08:09 AM #4
There are 2 types of "partial" backups, incremental and differential. The retail version of Macrium, Acronis, and others makes setting up a schedule pretty easy, and that includes deleting older images as new ones are made. The free versions have fewer options.

An incremental backup backs up only the system changes since that last incremental backup. In other words, when you want to restore, you will be given a number of dates to choose from, like System Restore, and you will need the original full backup and all the incrementals up to the time you are restoring to.

A differential backup saves all the changes since the last full backup. That means that to restore, you need only the original and one differential backup. The older ones can be deleted.

The differentials get increasingly bigger as the number of changes from the original increase. That is why many people choose incremental since they are quite a bit smaller.

Occasionally, you can delete all your backups and create a new full one to start over and get your drive space back. If you do that when your drive has enough space, you can create a new full backup before deleting the old one so you will not have a period of time without any at all.

Sometimes, people want to create a backup that can be used as their "factory restoration". That one can be the first and saved on DVD, for example. The recovery partition on the hard drive can be removed and the space added to your system and the new DVD becomes your "recovery" medium.

There is not just one right way to use these tools. So long as you have a backup, a fairly recent one, exactly how you decide to do it is up to you. Some imagers have built-in schedules that you can choose from that automatically keep fresh backups and delete older ones so you only have to check it maybe once a week to be sure it's working right. Everything else is automatic.

Macrium is one of the best and very similar to the retail Acronis. I'm pretty sure it also includes some scheduling ability. The Linux-based boot disk works fine, so you don't need to go to all the trouble of making the Windows-based recovery CD unless you want to.

I realize that this does not actually solve the problem you came with, but I see no reason to fix your Yugo when you can have a nice, new Nissan.

Last edited by Elvandil; 09-Jun-2012 at 08:15 AM..
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16-Jun-2012, 02:59 AM #5
Thank you for the time and trouble you took to post all that useful information, Elvandil. I am going to have a crack at using Macrium Reflect, and I will let you know how I get on. Thanks again.
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16-Jun-2012, 09:57 PM #6
Elvandil, before I get underway with Macrium Reflect may I please enlist your help to clarify some concepts first...

I have posted my query regarding backing up in two forums, this being one of them. In the other forum, one of the experienced members advised me to create two 'recovery' discs using Macrium Reflext, a Linux one and a WindowsPE one (I do hope I am not breaking any internet 'protocols' in so saying!)

He also further advised me that for the purpose of weekly back-ups, I should back up a full system image on my external hard drive. I am a bit confused as to why I need to back up a full system image to my external hard drive when I would have already created the recovery disks? Thanks for all your help!
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16-Jun-2012, 11:39 PM #7
The recovery disks will bring you back to the point when they were created. For imaging to be used most efficiently, you want very recent backups so that if you restore the system, it is as close as possible to the way it was when it went down. You don't want to lose all the changes from when you made the disks to when you crash. You want to get your recent system back when the drive dies.

When you make the full backups is up to you. Certainly, you can go a month or more with one full backup and incremental or differential backups along the way so that you always have a recent one.

There is no reason in the world to make both recovery disks. The Linux-based one will work just fine to restore a Windows image. The only advantage to using the hard-to-make Windows one is that it may be a more familiar environment. But you're not going to be there long enough to have to learn how to live there.
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20-Jun-2012, 08:16 PM #8
Thanks for the info, elvandil.

I think I managed to create the linux recovery disc ok.

I then moved on to attempt a full back-up to my (i) Drive (the external hard drive), which as mentioned was at 921 GB available of a possible 931 GB.

Overnight I checked on my progress, only to find an error message saying "No free space on destination. Please select a new destination to continue". In light of this I cancelled the operation. I now seem to have only 596 GB free of a possible 931 GB on my (i) disk, although none of the files in the (i) drive seem to be of a size to have taken up all that room. I seem to recall also reading that some Macrium users advised setting compression to high in "advanced settings", although I don't recall being given that option when I configured the back-up (paid version only?) Could you please tell me where I am going wrong? Thank you for your help and patience.
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20-Jun-2012, 08:38 PM #9
Not sure. What options did you pick? Are you just making an image?

Last edited by Elvandil; 21-Jun-2012 at 12:18 AM..
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22-Jun-2012, 05:02 PM #10
I seemed to have fixed the problem, Elvandil. Where I was going wrong was that I failed to "uncheck" the drives I didn't want to back-up before getting underway. I have now done a full back-up to my (i) external hard drive.

I do however have another question in regard to scheduled back-ups: I am wondering how can I schedule full back-ups to take place regularly on my (i) Drive (External Hard Drive) when I now have a relatively small amount of space on that particular drive?

What I mean is: my external hard drive has a capacity of 931 GB. I have just performed a full back-up to this drive, which was 695 GB in size. I now have 235 GB remaining on the external hard drive. When I then do my next back-up, won't I have a problem because I am attempting another full back-up, with insufficient space on the (i) drive to do so? Thanks again for your help.
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23-Jun-2012, 12:30 AM #11
Wow. Since the image is typically around 60% of the used space on the drive you back up, you must have a lot of space used on that drive. Over 800 GB's? 1000 GB's?

Anyway, your drive may not be big enough. You should theoretically have enough space for 2 full backups so that you can have one there when you make the new one before deleting the old one, just in case something happens at that point that requires you to use the backup.

But full backups are a very inefficient use of drive space. One differential backup added to that full would give you 2 dates to back up to, and save the time of a full backup. Incrementals are even smaller and you could probably have 20 or more dates to back up to using them.
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25-Jun-2012, 12:32 AM #12
Thanks Elvandil.

I am a little puzzled as to why the disc image should be so big. Other than the operating system itself, the other significant parts I want to back up are:

OS (C): >Users>Robert>My Music (54.9 GB)

OS (C): Users/Robert/Videos (258 GB)

The above two folders give a total of 312.90 GB, so I do not know why the disc image is so large (695 GB).
Would you have any ideas as to why this might be, or the best course of action from here? (I have been advised elsewhere that one solution could be to create a separate partition for the above-mentioned music and video folders)
Thanks for your help.
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25-Jun-2012, 02:15 AM #13
The image should be about 40% smaller than all the used space on the drive. Are you backing up files and folders, too? There is no need if you are since the image contains them. Since you specified folders, it sounds like you are backing them up twice, once in the image and once separately.

The other question is if you are making an image of the entire physical drive or just the partitions on that drive that you want to image.
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25-Jun-2012, 02:55 AM #14
Thanks, Elvandil. Pardon my ignorance but in as far as I am aware, I am not backing up the specified folders twice. Casting my my mind back to when I was configuring Macrium Free (the part where you check/uncheck which drives you are going to back up, I am pretty sure I checked OS (C) and (D) HP Recovery as the 'source', with (i) my external hard drive as the destination. Not sure if I am using the terminology correctly here, but the music and video folders I mentioned are not partitioned separately. Hope that helps you to help me!
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25-Jun-2012, 03:38 AM #15
It's probably a good idea to have at least one backup of the whole drive, one that includes the recovery partition, so that you can use that as your "factory restoration" if the hard drive fails (saved to DVD, perhaps).

But for general backup purposes, you only need to include your system drive since the recovery drive never changes. If you want to make a backup of the recovery partition, make just one and keep it since it never needs to be updated. Only your system drive changes over time, so your future backups need only include that one partition.
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