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Creating and Using System Image Backups


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#1 R0D3R1CK

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Posted 31 August 2012 - 07:00 PM

Hello everyone!

I have a few quick questions regarding System Images...but first, let me give you a little background.

My HP Pavilion dm-4 has a bum hinge, so I'm sending it to HP for them to fix it. They told me that they typically test the computer before sending it back, and thus also perform a complete system recovery (to go back to factory settings). Obviously, they want me to backup my data.

So. It's question time:
1) Can I restore a "System Image" to get my computer back to its current state upon receiving my laptop back from HP? (is a system image just a duplicate of the hard drive?)
2) Are all hard drives capable of creating a System Image, or just some?
3a) Are there any Hard drives you guys recommend?
3b) My C: (local disk) capacity is 441GB (303GB Free) and my D: (RECOVERY) is 23.5GB (3.43GB Free). Does that mean I have to buy a Hard drive that is at least 465GB...or could I get one that's just 160-ish GB

Thanks is advance!

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#2 Allan

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Posted 01 September 2012 - 05:57 AM

I suggest using Disc Imaging Software.

Disk Imaging software takes a "snapshot" of your drive as it exists at the time you create the image. You can then restore the entire image or any file(s) or folder(s) you choose. It is a virtually foolproof way of backing up your system and providing a safe haven in the event of a catastrophe that requires you to blow away your system partition and restore it to a previous state. It also allows you to "test" various software and be confident that you have a the ability to return to the prior state any time you choose.
I use Acronis True Image. It is the best of breed, but it isn't free. The best free alternative is Macrium Reflect.

1) I create an image of my system partition once a week to a second hard drive and keep the 2 or 3 most recent images. I also image my other partitions about once a month. I always enable "verify image" in the options. It takes a little longer, but insures a valid image.
2) I also create an image before performing any drive level function (ie, changing the size of a partition) or making any significant change to the OS (installing a service pack, upgrading IE, etc). Also sometimes before installing new software.
3) Images may be created on any medium (cd, dvd, external drive, etc). For obvious reasons they should not be stored on the same drive you are imaging. The best option is a second internal hd if you have one.
4) Images may be created "in the background" within the OS. If you need to restore the system partition, that will need to be done before the OS loads. You can start the process within the application in the OS and it will then tell you it needs to reboot to finish the process. Alternatively, you can boot to a "recovery disk" which you can create when you first install the software (or to the application disk itself if you have one). Other partitions can be restored without a reboot.

#3 SleepyDude

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Posted 01 September 2012 - 11:27 AM

...
3b) My C: (local disk) capacity is 441GB (303GB Free) and my D: (RECOVERY) is 23.5GB (3.43GB Free). Does that mean I have to buy a Hard drive that is at least 465GB...or could I get one that's just 160-ish GB

Thanks is advance!


Hi,

With those numbers a 160GB HDD will do because the image its normally compressed so it needs less space that the total but like Allan said it could be useful to have more that one image and in that case you will need a bigger HDD.

Edited by SleepyDude, 01 September 2012 - 11:27 AM.

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#4 R0D3R1CK

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Posted 01 September 2012 - 07:07 PM

I've decided to get a 500GB HD and Norton ghost software, per the recommendation of a Geek Squad tech.


But will i be able to restore a system image (which, of course, includes the OS) even though my OS will still be on the computer?

#5 SleepyDude

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Posted 02 September 2012 - 06:10 AM

I've decided to get a 500GB HD and Norton ghost software, per the recommendation of a Geek Squad tech.


I also use Norton Ghost at my work. Ghost is a old product and the information I got from my reseller is that Symantec will be discontinuing the product.
Acronis TrueImage its a good product but you should download the trial and test in your machine to make sure it will work as expected.

I have heard good opinions about HDClone from real users not from reviews.

But will i be able to restore a system image (which, of course, includes the OS) even though my OS will still be on the computer?


Yes, If you have the software installed on the system you can normally start the restore process from windows, the program will restart windows in a special mode to do the restore "outside windows".
Another option is to boot the computer with the restore disk created by the program you are using.
In Ghost for example you can boot with the install disk to do a restore.

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#6 R0D3R1CK

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Posted 02 September 2012 - 11:00 AM

Yeah. I'm not sure what I was thinking. Late last night I thought Why did I post that I'm going to buy Norton Ghost...I should get Acronis True Image

So now I'm deciding between True Image and Macrium Reflect. (Macrium is, of course, looking quite enticing since is free; but I'll at least try the trial of True Image)

Thank you both for all the help!

#7 R0D3R1CK

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Posted 05 October 2012 - 08:03 PM

I don't want to unbury the dead by replying to this thread, but thought it might be beneficial for people who may find themselves in a similar situation in the future.

So here's an overview of what I did
  • I bought a 500GB Hard Drive. Plenty of space given that I only have about 120GB on my C:
  • I downloaded the FREE (not Trial) version of Macrium Reflect
  • Using Macrium Reflect, I created a system Image of my laptop's hard drive. (I actually made 2 just in case one became corrupted somehow; and I made a third with Windows Backup. But this isn't particularly relevant)
  • I performed a Minimized Image Recovery on my laptop, thereby wiping it to a very clean state. This got rid of bloatware, too; I wish I had known about it when I first got the laptop...I could have gotten rid of the pesky trial applications.
  • I sent my laptop in for repairs
  • I got my laptop back in precisely the same condition as when I sent it.
  • I installed Macrium Reflect (again, the Free version) on the computer
  • Now here's where I had a not-so-smart moment. I tried to restore the system image while the computer (and thus Windows 7) was running
  • Obviously, you can't replace an OS (and all the other data on the hard drive) while said hard drive and OS are in use. So I created a Linux-based Rescue Disc/Rescue Environment on a CD-R, 700MB
  • I booted from the disc; if you don't know how to do this, you can find many good articles online
  • Because I created the Rescue Media using Macrium Reflect, I was automatically presented with options of how to rescue using Macrium Reflect (Reflect included on the rescue disc the necessary components for a successful recovery using itself...the attached image shows this)
  • I plugged the Hard Drive in and selected the Reflect Image file I wanted to restore
  • Before I let Macrium Reflect (Restore Wizard) begin restoring, I had it Verify the image; you can see this in the picture I attached, 81% progress.
  • Reflect then began restoring
  • When it finished, I was able to reboot. Everything was just like it was at the very beginning (before I wiped my hard drive). :dance:
If I were to change anything, I would verify the images after creating them and before restoring one of them.
Regardless, this plan worked perfectly.

Attached File  IMG299.jpg   214.91KB   3 downloads

Edited by R0D3R1CK, 05 October 2012 - 08:14 PM.


#8 Allan

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Posted 06 October 2012 - 06:05 AM

Yes, verification should be part of the image creation process - always. Regardless, glad it all worked out for you. I've long been an advocate of EVERYONE using disc imaging software on a regular basis. If they did, support forum traffic would be cut in half.




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