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System Image Backup

Discussion in 'Windows 8' started by Tabvla, Nov 20, 2014.

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  1. Tabvla

    Tabvla Thread Starter

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    In the past I have always used Acronis True Image to create a System Image. However, I have two issues with Acronis, firstly it is not cheap at around £40 ($60 US) per computer and secondly it has more bells and whistles than a Thailand Taxi - consequently I have only ever used about 10% of its functionality.

    User data files are no longer an issue because online Cloud storage is either free or very inexpensive. It works well, uses minimal system resources and can be setup to happen seamlessly in the background. So for a user to become physically involved in making backups of data files is quickly becoming a thing of the past. For me it is already a thing of the past.

    So the question now is - What is the best solution for creating a System Image Backup in W8.1?

    Not to be confused - I am referring specifically here to a "Full System Image Backup" and not to the quick and easy W8.1 Recovery Drive, which is a simple task for which one only needs a relatively low-capacity USB.

    Most computers today are delivered with the next-to-useless manufacturers "Recovery Partition". After using a computer for a period of time, who in their right mind would want to revert the machine back to the system state in which it was delivered. I have yet to be convinced that these "Recovery Partitions" are anything but an easy way for Support to provide so-called support while the machine is still under warranty. Just try it - log a support call with a manufacturer while the machine is still under warranty and I absolutely guarantee that no matter what your problem you will receive an email telling you in great detail how to revert the machine back to Zero - really helpful stuff (n)

    The W8.1 media options for creating a System Image Backup are Hard Disk, DVD's or Network. Why not USB? 64GB USB's retail for around £15 ($25 US), so what's the big deal....? Or perhaps there is some smart hacker out there who has found a way to create a System Image Backup using a USB...? ..... hmmm.... yes, I can also do that the problem is getting the machine to boot from the SIB USB...

    The literature also says that if you use DVD's you will need "..... dozens of DVD's.....". Why? Verbatim sell 8.5GB DVD's for under £1 each. I would think that about 5 of those would be enough for a System Image Backup?

    So, what is the best, easiest, both time and cost-effective method to create a System Image Backup. Time is an important consideration because one will probably need to do this once a month to coincide with the MS Tuesday Updates - to be done before you install the updates of course :p

    I would appreciate the views of others on the subject.

    TiA

    T.
     
  2. TerryNet

    TerryNet Moderator

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    The person who is preparing to sell, gift or donate the machine. :)

    I think that it is for cost savings. Microsoft requires that the OEMs provide a way for the customer to "recover" their pre-installed Windows system. That used to mean that buying a PC included a Windows installation or re-installation disk (floppy, CD, ...). Then OEMs, IMO, discovered that it was cheaper for them to just use a portion of the ever-larger hard drive for a Recovery partition. With the side benefit (to them) that the bloatware would also be "recovered."

    I do not know, but my guess is that it is because USB flash drives are less reliable than hard drives and DVDs.

    For a "bare" Windows 7 (e.g., created from the Recovery partition) it takes 3 DVDs. Windows 8 and later will be no smaller. To that you need to add space for updates, installed programs and Apps, and user data. I think that it is because of data that the general literature says "dozens."

    I have no idea. I image my systems--not my data (which is on a separate partition)--monthly to a USB external hard drive using Macrium Reflect Free. From those backups I have re-imaged XP, Ubuntu, Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 systems.
     
  3. Tabvla

    Tabvla Thread Starter

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    Ah Terry, as usual you have Words of Wisdom - thanks for your thoughts.

    My computers are so knackered by the time I am finished with them that I have never thought of giving them to anyone else - also I remove the HDDs - old hard drives are great for storing music, videos, TV.....

    Saving the planet is a good thing (it is the only one that we have until Elon Musk colonises Mars) so I am 100% in favour of not supplying DVDs with a computer. The only use that I have ever found for them anyway was to hang them in the fruit trees to scare the birds and confuse the bats - bats hate DVDs sends their radar all haywire.

    Flash drives not so reliable...? My HDDs I look after as if they are my children - with great care and protection. My Flash drives lie in the draw; sit on the desktop (right next to the phone and speakers); come too close to hot mugs of coffee; lie forgotten in my pocket for days; are treated with no respect and yet I have not lost a single file on any Flash drive since the day after they were invented - which is the day that I first bought one and which is still going strong.

    And as for Macrium Reflect Free...... why didn't you tell me about this before I paid for the Acronis Christmas bonuses for the past 10 years...:eek: Spent some time on Macrium's site - looks very interesting.... and Free...? Difficult to believe. I am almost convinced.

    T.
     
  4. Noyb

    Noyb Trusted Advisor

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    ME ... All my Images are a Fresh installs with all the updates as of the last time I restored/imaged
    SO, basically all my restores are a new (fresh) system ... (They really run much faster than an old dirty system)

    I never Image a working system, That has been running awhile (just never know what it has collected)
    Just this morning, I restored a Fresh install of XP in about 7 minutes ....
    This was quicker that fixing a bug it picked up by downloading from Sourceforge (I never would have expected it from them)
    A few minor Program updates later and I have a new "Fast" computer.
    All my Data is in another partition .. No changes there.
     
  5. TerryNet

    TerryNet Moderator

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    I happen to trust USB flash drives (although I've had one of six go bad), but if you do a web search for "USB flash drive reliability" you'll see that I'm in the minority.

    Another of the free imaging/backup programs that people on the forum like is Easeus Todo Backup. Since I was already comfortable with Macrium Reflect and am kinda lazy I haven't tried it.
     
  6. davehc

    davehc Retired Trusted Advisor

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    I have , for a long while, been an Acronis fan. I make images as I work along, usually at least, weekly. I make these after a clean out with the MS built in facility, and, subsequently, with Ccleaner. With the carefully customised software I need to have on my computer, the thought of having to reinstall and re customise, thoroughly depresses me. I have an initial image always at hand, without software, and a second one, with all my regular customised software, so, in nearly all circumstances, I would never find a complete fresh install needed. Might seem a lot of work in the initial stages, but when you are in trouble, it's a dream to put right again.
    For Terry. I was recently pointed to Eusus. I have made a couple of images, using the program, and, so far, whilst I haven't tried re establishing them, it looks more straightforward than Acronis.
     
  7. Tabvla

    Tabvla Thread Starter

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    I find that amazing..... either hard to believe or a complete misunderstanding....

    Take a practical example as of now, about a year after the release of W8.1.....

    A newly purchased PC with W8.1 and a Manufacturers Recovery Partition. The version of W8.1 in the Recovery Partition will be the version that the manufacturer used at the time of setting up the HDD. That version in all probability will be the original version from MS which by now will be 12 months out-of-date. So the first thing a User must do is update W8.1. I estimate that there will be over 100 patches to be installed. Some patches will need to be installed ahead of others. The PC will need to be rebooted between certain blocks of patch installs. Allow about 2 hours for this.

    Then there is all the software. And you probably have the original Downloads or DVDs. So after you install the software you then have to install all the updates.

    And then there is all the security stuff that has to be updated......

    7 minutes to do all of the above. How is that possible....:confused: .... I really do want to know because it doesn't make any sense to me.

    T.
     
  8. Noyb

    Noyb Trusted Advisor

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    If you would have made a system image after the Original fresh install and all the updates .. (while it was still fresh) .. It would only take a few minutes to restore the hours of work it took.
    Then any the new updates would normally not take hours .. and make a new recovery Image while it’s still Fresh for the next time.
    I can restore my system from an Image faster that I can read the recovery CD/DVDs .. normally under 10 minutes from an Acronis Image because there’s no Data in my Operating System and it’s relatively small.

    There’s more to this story, but it takes some additional HDDs and your personal data needs to be stored outside of your operating system.
    Cloud storage is too small and slow for what I need.

    The big advantage I have is that my Operating System has NO personal data in it .. My Systems are relatively small.
    Acronis is only good for backup up a functional Operating system …
    If you only backup a Working System and recover from it, there will be one day when you need to install a Fresh system if you keep it for awhile.

    The Thailand Taxi is not in my system(s), I only operate from the Acronis Boot CD .. Bells and Whistles not needed.
    Occasionally, I only have to fix the engine in my Semi ... I don’t have to worry about all the cargo in the trailer (partition) behind or below it.
     

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  9. Macboatmaster

    Macboatmaster Trusted Advisor

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    Re this

    Are you, by any chance, missing the point of the recovery drive.

    It is twofold, depending on how it is made.

    If you make a system image - you have a choice first, of which drives to include in the image.

    IF you can still access Windows then you can restore that image from the advanced startup - troubleshoot - advanced options - system image recovery

    If HOWEVER you cannot access Windows then you need to boot from the recovery drive - this may or may not as you say include the factory installed recovery partition.

    When booting from that and mine is on a usb flash pen, then WITH the external hard drive containing the image connected you will be offered the same access to system image recovery and it will recognise the image on the hard drive.

    I cannot try it as I do not have a flash pen large enough to contain my system image, but in principle I cannot see why the image could not be made on a flash pen. The option is offered when you click the drop arrow on the system image window - on a hard disc.

    However as I say I cannot try it and the principle of booting from the usb recovery drive with the image and all my file history on the external hard drive - is the system I use.
     
  10. dustyjay

    dustyjay

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    As far as buying Acronis, If you have either WD drive(s) or Seagate Drive(s) you can download a free version of Acronis from the respective drives support site. It allows you to make system images, clone drives, restore images. The only requirement I have seen in the past is that you must have at least one drive of the respective manufacturer in the equation.
     
  11. Tabvla

    Tabvla Thread Starter

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    This is an important subject and I would like to pursue it further.

    Finding a quick, easy, simple and above all safe way to get a sick-system up-and-running again is possibly one of the most critical tasks for anyone who provides technical support to a non-technical clientele.

    Data security is I believe a problem that has been solved. Inexpensive and automated Cloud Storage options have already become the "norm", even for those working from home and small business. There is also Windows File History which is a great utility and works seamlessly and with very little impact on resources. And if the user logs-in with a Microsoft account, then there is also the option of automatically storing files to OneDrive, which is a free option up to 15GB and very inexpensive thereafter. Given all of these options there really is no excuse for anyone who loses their data and also almost no justification for the addition of specialized data backup software.

    The problem that remains is the "system" itself - which includes the OS, the HDD(s) and Malware.

    When a system goes bad, as a result of OS corruption, a sick system partition, a faulty disk or Malware infection then one needs to have in place a Recovery Plan that can be implemented without having to reinvent the wheel.

    And most importantly, that Recovery Plan must take into account that the person who is implementing the Plan may have limited technical skills. The "one-man" operation, "Mom & Pop" working from home, the small business that employs less than 10 people - typically these types of endeavours will have minimal computing skills but it is precisely these types of businesses that are in many cases totally reliant on their limited computing resources.

    T.
     
  12. Tabvla

    Tabvla Thread Starter

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    Jay, I visited the Seagate site but could not find a link on the site where one could obtain a free copy of Acronis 2014/15.

    Do you have a link?

    T.
     
  13. Tabvla

    Tabvla Thread Starter

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    Terry, I have reviewed Macrium Reflect Free - it looks like a good product - thanks for the info.

    However, assume a User does not want (or perhaps is not technically capable) to install and use a product such as MRF, then I got to thinking that a combination of Windows System Image Backup and a Windows System Recovery Drive will (or perhaps should) do much the same thing as imaging software such as Acronis or Macrium - providing the original system HDD is still usable. If the original system HDD is dead then I think one will need Acronis, Macrium or similar.

    As far as I can tell, Windows System Image Backup does not create a bootable disk. However, if the User cannot boot the computer due to a critical Windows error (assuming the HDD is still good) then they could use a USB-stick Windows System Recovery Drive and rebuild the C: drive (or partition) using the USB-connected Windows System Image Backup disk. Yes? Perhaps? No?

    From everything that I have read on the subject, my impression is that using the above procedure would not (might not) work if the original HDD was dead, because my understanding is that the Windows System Image Backup does not include the critical Track 0 and therefore a new HDD created from a Windows System Image Backup would not boot without the help of a USB-stick Windows System Recovery Drive. Is my understanding correct?

    T.
     
  14. Noyb

    Noyb Trusted Advisor

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    I think it's in the Disc Wizard ....
    These Screen Shots look like Acronis.

    You should have an Acronis (Seagate) Boot CD and a Repair CD handy.
    But You'll be restricted to using Seagate drives .... I like Western Digitals better - The black series with a 5yr warranty
     
  15. Tabvla

    Tabvla Thread Starter

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    Thanks Noyb, it is DiskWizard and DiskWizard is a version of Acronis. Have just downloaded the 125-page User Guide, which as you can imagine is very detailed.

    Do ALL the drives have to be Seagate?

    Assume that the System disk is a Seagate. Does the disk on which the image resides also have to be a Seagate? And in the case of when the System disk has failed and needs to be replaced, must the replacement disk also need to be a Seagate? The answer to this question is important when advising a client, because the client may have spare HDD's but they could be WD, Samsung.... etc and not necessarily Seagate. If ALL the disks in the equation (Original, Image HDD and Replacement HDD) all need to be Seagate then that is something that the consultant needs to know in advance and that the client needs to ensure.

    NOTE : In the above when Seagate is mentioned assume Western Digital aswell.

    T.
     
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