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System Restore vs Full Registry Backup


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#1 rowal5555

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Posted 25 April 2011 - 04:57 PM

While System Restore usually does what it is supposed to do, sometimes it doesn't.

When I am intending to do something a bit drastic or unusual on my desktop now, I routinely make a full registry backup. (Start/Run/type REGEDIT/OK/File/Export. Name and save the file in Documents) On my machine this takes 20 - 30 secs and results in a file around 200 MB.

I have never had to use one of these backups to restore this machine so far, so my question to the Gurus is - is this a good practice to get into or is it a waste of time?


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#2 Allan

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Posted 25 April 2011 - 05:09 PM

You can also use ERUNT - it's been around forever, it's free, it works with all versions of Windows from XP through W7 and it's the best registry backup utility available.(http://www.larshederer.homepage.t-online.de/erunt/).

Personally I don't use System Restore - for precisely the reason you mention: it's a great little applet - when it works. Seems that when you need it most it does not work. Instead, I use disk imaging software on a regular basis. I create images of my system partition to an external (or second internal) drive once a week and keep the 2 or 3 most recent images. In my opinion, everyone should use disk imaging software. It will be there when you need it to work and it couldn't be easier to use. Acronis True Image is the best of breed, but it's not free. Macrium Reflect is an excellent free alternative.

#3 hamluis

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Posted 26 April 2011 - 09:54 AM

My opinion...is that backing up only a part (no matter how key it may be) of the Windows O/S is kind of foolish, from the perspective that the part is capable of recovering from a number of malfunctions/incidents...that havve nothing at all to do with that part.

It makes sense to me to at least back up the entire Windows O/S and it makes even more sense to me to just clone the entire Windows partition...before trouble occurs.

I also do not use System Restore as my option to deal with the unforeseen future...but I do clone my Windows partitions.

When all else fails...reinstalling Windows does not terrify me :).

Louis

#4 Simpleone71

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Posted 26 April 2011 - 01:33 PM

I agree with the other posters, get some good imaging software and don't rely on system restore or backing up your registry alone. I've yet to see system restore work probably. I usually turn it off and save the disk space it consumes.

#5 Mike B-Y

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Posted 26 April 2011 - 02:19 PM

I also would not rely on system restore to get me out of a bind. I have seen it work, but more often seen it not work in resolving problems.
That being said, have you ever tried restoring your full registry backup? Do you know how?

A backup method is of no use unless you can validate the restore process. Unless you've tested various restore scenarios, you won't
know what you are protected against, what your options are, and if they will work.

There are few methods that I would suggest:

1) Full disk backup or image as suggested above ( I use Ghost, since I can also open the backup and do file restores)
2) Full data only backup
3) Data backup with incrementals. (Usually doing a full data backup periodically, ie. weekly full, with incrementals daily)
4) A hybrid approach of the above 3 methods.

The difference in the the above approaches is also in the restoral process. Which methods you use depends on how much time and media you
have to devote to the backup process and trade offs with how long the restore will take.

Approach 1 uses the most media space and time for backups. It also is the fastest when needing to recover. To recover, if you can, backup what data files might have changed since the last backup, then re-image your system using the backup image and copy back the latest files you might have saved, if needed.

Approach 2 uses less media and time since it only backs up data. Recovery is a longer process, since you will need to reinstall the OS and all applications, and bring patches up to date, etc. Then you restore data files from the backup.

Approach 3 uses less media and time than approach 2 since you start with a full data backup, and then only do incremental backups, only saving new or updated files. The recovery process is like approach 2, but the data restore will take longer, since you must restore each incremental backup sequencially since the last full data backup.

Approach 4 is a mix of the above approaches.

Which method(s) you use should depend on how you use your system, the criticality of the data, how much data you store, how often it changes, and what your risk tolerence is for downtime and data loss, balanced against the time and effort of making backups.
Try to create a process that is as simple as possible, so that you will actually do it !

For me, I always capture a disk image after building a clean system up and getting all the software installed, or any time there are major changes to the configuration or installed software.

After that, I back up data (full backups), since it doesn't take that long, and it's the simplest procedure for me. I don't have that much data stored so the media size isn't that dramatic an issue. If I had a terabyte of movies, music, etc. I would take a different data backup approach.

I've tested an image restore to a different hard drive and was able to bring the system up. I've also tested data restore, again to a different hard drive, so know that the backups work. Doing these tests if you have a notebook might be more difficult, but then again the risks are also higher with a portable computer.

Hope this helps.. with all the nasty virus and rootkits out there these days, you really need to plan on being able to restore your system from scratch should the need arise.


Safe Computing :thumbsup:

#6 rowal5555

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Posted 12 May 2011 - 03:02 AM

1. Yes, I can restore the Registry backup with right click/Merge, if the system is bootable. Have just burned Ubuntu 11.04 and Trinity Rescue Kit to CD so should be pretty well equipped if necessary. Have done innumerable reinstalls over the years and it is just a 'mutter mutter' if it comes to that.

2. I have used True Image for years but when the crunch came it was not successful, probably because the MB was crook.

3. Have used ERUNT also for years without needing to use it, but have found that it didn't play nicely with Win7x32.

4. Am now running Win7x64 and routinely make a system image to a second internal drive with Windows backup. So far have used SFC /SCANNOW to fix minor problems as Windows Backup is all or nothing.

5. Have a number of external drives and backup important files in at least 2 different locations. Ok unless I burn the place down, LOL.

6. I guess I will keep doing a full registry backup as I have got into the habit and will see if it works when and if the occasion arrives.

Thanks to all for your replies.

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#7 Allan

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Posted 12 May 2011 - 06:49 AM

ERUNT works just fine with W7. As for True Image, you MUST use the Verify image option during image creation to insure a valid image. If you do, is should bei 100% effective.

#8 mrfingerz

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Posted 12 May 2011 - 07:03 AM

See here regarding Erunt usage in Windows7/Vista.
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#9 Allan

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Posted 12 May 2011 - 07:08 AM

See here regarding Erunt usage in Windows7/Vista.

Thanks. I always disable UAC (not recommending others do this, by the way) so I never even knew it needed to be done for ERUNT.

#10 mrfingerz

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Posted 12 May 2011 - 07:13 AM

There's a version of Erunt with a GUI available now as well which makes it a little more user friendly, you can download it from Majorgeeks here.
It's nice to be important, it's much more important to be nice.

#11 Allan

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Posted 12 May 2011 - 07:36 AM

Just for clarification, that version is NOT written by the original author of ERUNT

#12 mrfingerz

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Posted 12 May 2011 - 07:39 AM

I'ts basically just Erunt with a gui slapped on it though. I've used it, it's ok.
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#13 rowal5555

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Posted 26 August 2011 - 07:01 AM

To get back to the original post, backing up the registry misses some vital points so is really a waste of time. Glad to get that sorted.

Yesterday, I was going to install some software which could have had strange effects, so decided to do an ERUNT backup before I started. Took a few seconds. In all the years I have been using ERUNT, I have never had the occasion to do a restore with ERDNT but did today and it was quick and clean.

While a system image is certainly the way to go, it is not something you want to be doing every five minutes, so ERUNT seems to fill the bill nicely and should not stuff up like system restore.

Pleasantly surprised. I will now be doing a quick ERUNT a lot more before a program install.


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#14 rowal5555

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Posted 29 August 2011 - 12:45 AM

This is from another post. I would now never recommend turning off UAC.



Re: Discussing the UAC in Windows 7

This used to drive me crazy in Vista so I turned it off.
However, I installed Win 7 on my daughter's laptop recently and like an idiot I didn't disconnect from the internet before I had completed installing the antivirus. As a result the flashdrive containing years of downloaded programs became infected without my being aware of it and when I plugged it into the desktop it immediately tried to infect that. This virus had continual namechanging exe's and would have gone on forever. UAC stopped it dead and I was able to track it down and kill it. I will never know if my antivirus would have grabbed it and am glad that I never had to find out.
A salutory lesson and now I keep UAC on the recommended settings and put up with the small inconvenience of OKing everything. It is there for your protection after all and it does work.
Cheers, Rob


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#15 RedDawn

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Posted 29 August 2011 - 11:05 AM

Rob,

You might find the link below useful. Though the tutorial is for Vista, it also works for Win7.

http://www.winhelponline.com/blog/backup-windows-vista-registry-daily-using-erunt/




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