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Windows 7 Image Restore


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#1 tenz

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Posted 17 May 2010 - 11:34 AM

So i know and understand that windows 7 has its own imaging system, which allows for full disk restores.

I have been looking around for info and could not find exact answers to my questions, and thought maybe some of you gguys could help me out

My questions are:

1. If i use the windows 7 image backup feature and make a system recovery disc, can i then deploy that image to a pc with different hardware?
2. Does windows7 have to be installed clean first on the target machine, or can i put the image on a blank HDD just as i would a ghost or a clonezilla?
3. Does the source machine have to have a smaller or equal HDD size to the target machine as many imaging systems require?

So basically depending on the outcome of these questions, I will be able to move away from third party imaging, at least for my windows 7 machines.

thanks in advance for any and all responses!

-Tenz

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#2 MrBruce1959

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Posted 17 May 2010 - 11:59 AM

Hi and welcome to Bleepingcomputer!

Here is some quick information for you.

What is a system image?

A system image is an exact copy of a drive. By default, a system image includes the drives required for Windows to run. It also includes Windows and your system settings, programs, and files. You can use a system image to restore the contents of your computer if your hard disk or computer ever stops working. When you restore your computer from a system image, it's a complete restoration—you can't choose individual items to restore, and all of your current programs, system settings, and files are replaced with the contents of the system image.

Although this type of backup includes your personal files, we recommend that you back up your files regularly using Windows Backup so that you can restore individual files and folders as needed. When you set up Windows Backup, you can let Windows choose what to back up, which will include a system image, or you can select the items that you want to back up and whether you want to include a system image. For more information about setting up Windows Backup, see Back up your files.

If your computer contains several drives or partitions, you can create a system image that includes all of them by following the steps in Back up your programs, system settings, and files.

Hope this helps, I will be providing further information for you briefly.

Best regards. :huh:
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#3 MrBruce1959

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Posted 17 May 2010 - 12:17 PM

OK to further touch on this subject, the image you create can be moved to another drive and another computer just as a cloned disk image can do.

You will notice it moves the drives entire contents to the media you use and will restore it back to a new drive as an exact ghost image of the origional.

Also always remember to use windows automatic back up and system restore on a regular basis.
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#4 tenz

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Posted 17 May 2010 - 12:32 PM

thanks for the quick response Mr. Bruce, But I'm not sure you really addressed my concerns.

I am speaking specifically of the windows 7 built in system image function:
how it functions with dissimilar hardware,
between different drive sizes, and if the image can be placed on a blank HDD,
if windows7 needs to be installed first to then restore to the backup image.

I am not asking these questions for backup concerns necessarily, it is for migration mainly, as well as using a pre-made image for multiple pcs that i use.

#5 MrBruce1959

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Posted 17 May 2010 - 01:16 PM

OK the windows disk imaging utility is like a copy of Norton's Ghost, it creates an exact disk image of the original.

But like Norton's Ghost program which creates a separate boot disk, Windows has one of those as well you'll find listed in Windows 7 as REPAIR DISK, this is a bootable disk you create using the tools in Windows 7 and keep aside for when you plan to do the image transfer, this repair disk starts your computer, once it is started you can read the read me which explains how to load the disk which holds the disk image you want to restore to the new disk. When prompted you switch to the disk holding the image file and it installs it, just as if windows was being installed all over again, however instead of it being a fresh copy, it migrates all of your original files, folders and settings.
The wizards will take care of the hardware side of it and even offer to update drivers on-line if you have a connection to the Internet.

Once the whole process is done you have your old Operating system on a whole new computer, files and all and the hardware all set up as well with windows update.

Edit: Just make sure you have made a CDROM copy of the REPAIR DISK utility, its found in the backup and restore section of Windows 7. This is your boot disk.

Edited by MrBruce1959, 17 May 2010 - 01:24 PM.

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#6 MrBruce1959

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Posted 17 May 2010 - 01:52 PM

One more addition hoping to clear up any confusion, this utility we're talking about is Microsoft's version of Norton's Ghost.

How well it works I could not tell you as I have NOT personally tested it as of yet.

As for Windows activation...well that part I have not found any literature on as of yet, so I am not sure if re-activation is required at this point in time. :huh:
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#7 tenz

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Posted 29 May 2010 - 08:19 PM

Well to wrap up this thread, I ended up just trying the windows imaging functionality to see how it works.

It is easy to create the image, right from windows itself, you can even continue to work while it is running, although i chose not to.

Restoring the image is simple, boot from a windows repair disk, an install disk, or from the windows recovery built into the system, and from any of those locations, you can restore from your backup image. Using the repair or install disk method does indeed let you restore to any hard drive, blank or written, as the image will write over everything, as it does with mst image programs.

It WILL NOT restore to different hardware, blue screens galore. This was done with regular options selected, there may be a way to add additional drivers, but i did not delve into it that much.

As far as the size of the drive issue, i decided to make my image on a 64 gb hard drive, that way i would have no problems, as its rare to run across a drive smaller, especially if I am installing it on a windows 7 machine.

I havent had any issues with activation/serials (all machines used, DO have valid OEM Win7 licenses).
Think i might stick with clonezilla though.

#8 Darth sidious

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Posted 01 June 2010 - 01:03 AM

Creating an image to be recovered to another system has to be the same make, model and model no so all the hardware is the same to ensure it will work.
Recovering to different hardware will envitably end up with problems as you have described. If you did manage to get it to boot into windows you would have to uninstall all the hardware drivers and replace with the correct hardware drivers from the manufacturers website.

Windows system image just does an image of your os and drivers not the whole hard drive. Some 3rd party apps allow you to image the whole hard drive.

As long as the windows 7 oem keys are in the same flavour as source machine for example windows 7 home premium on source and on target machines then activation should not be a problem.
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#9 Bailifei

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Posted 08 September 2011 - 01:57 AM

1.if u wanna restore system to another hard disk, the used space would better be smaller than the free space on the target disk.
2.system of one machine can not work in different hardware if u restore it in normal way, because of the different configuration.
so i suggest u backup the system disk to a image, and restore it with universal restore, thus the system can still work in new hardware environment.
here's an article talking more about this.

#10 noknojon

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Posted 08 September 2011 - 04:09 AM

@ Bailifei -
Please note from the terms of use of the forum. (if u wanna restore) should be "If you want to restore". Just a minor item that should always be noted.

When posting, please use proper grammar. Refrain from 'text-message' style substitutions of words like 'u' for 'you', and 'ur' for 'your'.
This is a multi-national forum, and some of our non-english speaking members must use translation software which is confused by abbreviations.

Thank You -



#11 bludgard

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Posted 08 September 2011 - 04:29 PM

Windows system image just does an image of your os and drivers not the whole hard drive.


This information is incorrect. Windows 7 image creator will image the entire HDD with all the partitions thereon. If there are partitions which are not compatible with Windows (ie. Linux file systems), the partition(s) will not be included in the image (if a machine with mutiboot options is imaged and a Linux partition is present, the Grub boot manager will not be imaged and the MBR will be corrupt and Windows will no longer boot. This can be corrected). For imaging/cloning Windows as well as non-Windows partitions, I have had great success with Clonezilla.

#12 rotor123

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Posted 09 September 2011 - 11:04 AM

One other gotcha I've noticed is that if you image a 1Tb drive it will not restore to a smaller drive.

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