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Win 7: Clone or Image? - Macrium


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#1 confoosedguy

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Posted 14 August 2015 - 11:06 PM

Hello, is there someone who is confident using Macrium Reflect?  I just spent time getting my machine optimized and it's performing well now.  Based on what's described below, I'd like some help on whether to do a system "image" or a system "clone".  

 

Here is a good Intro to what Macrium can do:

http://knowledgebase.macrium.com/display/KNOW/Introduction

 

The following part from the page at the above link makes the distinction between Disk Imaging and Disk Cloning:

 

"Disk Cloning

 

With Macrium Reflect, you can clone your system disks to enable you to swap failed disks out of your system and get things back up and running again in minutes.

Cloning is often confused with imaging. The process is identical but instead of storing data to a file, it replicates volume contents and disk structures to an alternative device. When the cloning process is complete, the target disk is identical to the original and contains a duplicate of all volumes, files, operating systems and applications.

Note: Any data on the target disk prior to the cloning process will be erased."
 
__________________________________

 

1)  If I am not backing up Word doc files/folders on any of the pc's actual disks (I save that to external media), and want to only be able to reset the machine back to the current exact state, since no subtle malware is slowing performance down, and then to routinely restore to THIS (current) image say weekly, it looks like a Clone might be the choice (as opposed to an image)?  

 

2)  If you see the part that says "Any data on the target disk prior to the cloning process will be erased.", this raises a question.  I looked at my partitioned D drive.  It has 120 GB free of 122 GB.  When I open it, all I see is the folder I just created that has the Macrium executable on it to install Macrium.  However, if there are 2GB in use, what is using it?  One of the members on here asked if it might be a 2GB copy of Windows 7, my recovery partition?  

 

(Because a few days ago I did this: 

https://youtu.be/Lxe3_N43sPE

which is a standard feature of my laptop.) 

 

If that is what it is, I'm assuming that means even the 120GB can't be used to store the image (or clone) I am about to create, or no?  If yes, the above rule seems to rule out saving it to any of the pc's disks since it will erase anything currently on the target disk?  Yet they are also advising people to create boot options in the event the main drive becomes unrecoverable. 

 

3)  To see what the Macrium main interface looks like, scroll down 1/5th of the page at the above link.  As you can see there are actually 4 total partitions there, just like my machine (although I don't know if mine are all purposed the same way).  Would I select all of them and tell it to save to the "x" drive, or do I just select the C drive as what's to be copied and save this to "x" drive?   (Which drive(s) contain the entire Clone of Windows, all settings, all apps?)

 

This is a little tricky.  Please be certain.


Edited by hamluis, 15 August 2015 - 09:27 AM.
Moved from Win 7 to All Other Apps - Hamluis.


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#2 hamluis

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Posted 15 August 2015 - 09:26 AM

I use Macrium.

 

The way that it is explained...is exactly the way that it works.  I don't understand your confusion.

 

Essentially...if you want to be safe, do not try cloning, make a backup of everything instead.  Store it on some other media, be it external hard drive, another hard drive, whatever.

 

Then...try to clone the disk.

 

If you don't want to copy the entire hard drive...exactly as it is at any moment...then you need to backup, using Macrium or some other backup program.

 

Louis



#3 confoosedguy

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Posted 15 August 2015 - 12:17 PM

Excellent thank you for your help Hamluis.

"The way that it is explained...is exactly the way that it works.  I don't understand your confusion."
Original post, from Macrium's site:  "Cloning is often confused with imaging."

That said, I believe you that you don't undrstand my confusion, but isn't the point of people asking on here so they can clarify THEIR confusion?   I'm looking for technical insights and practical benefits as to why I'd choose one or the other, based on how I want to use the technology.
___

"Then...try to clone the disk.
 
If you don't want to copy the entire hard drive...exactly as it is at any moment...then you need to backup, using Macrium or some other backup program."

..I presented the choice as clone or image.  I don't know if you thought of it this way but: if you're now using the term "backup", and in a context where I will have just backed up to external media, this is a little confusing.  Aren't clones and images forms of backups?

__

Also Questions 2 and 3 have not been answered, do you feel that you've used this program long enough to offer thorough advice on these?
 
2)  If you see the part that says "Any data on the target disk prior to the cloning process will be erased.", this raises a question.  I looked at my partitioned D drive.  It has 120 GB free of 122 GB.  When I open it, all I see is the folder I just created that has the Macrium executable on it to install Macrium.  However, if there are 2GB in use, what is using it?  One of the members on here asked if it might be a 2GB copy of Windows 7, my recovery partition?  
 
(Because a few days ago I did this:
https://youtu.be/Lxe3_N43sPE
which is a standard feature of my laptop.)
 
If that is what it is, I'm assuming that means even the 120GB can't be used to store the image (or clone) I am about to create, or no?  If yes, the above rule seems to rule out saving it to any of the pc's disks since it will erase anything currently on the target disk?  Yet they are also advising people to create boot options in the event the main drive becomes unrecoverable.
 
3)  To see what the Macrium main interface looks like, scroll down 1/5th of the page at the above link.  As you can see there are actually 4 total partitions there, just like my machine (although I don't know if mine are all purposed the same way).  Would I select all of them and tell it to save to the "x" drive, or do I just select the C drive as what's to be copied and save this to "x" drive?   (Which drive(s) contain the entire Clone of Windows, all settings, all apps?)

Thank you so much for your help much obliged.

Edited by confoosedguy, 15 August 2015 - 12:35 PM.


#4 Scoop8

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Posted 15 August 2015 - 04:50 PM

Cloning vs Imaging:

 

You can use both approaches for your HDD backup plans.  I use Cloning for my short-term HDD rollback option, every 2 weeks.

 

I Image occasionally to provide multiple HDD recovery paths in case I encounter an issue with a Cloned HDD.

 

When you're comparing a full-HDD Cloning process to a full-HDD Image process, they provide the same end results, providing a compete copy of your Source HDD.

 

The difference is, when you Clone, you need to have a spare HDD available as the "Target" HDD.  After the Cloning process has completed, you'll have an identical HDD available as a spare bootable HDD that's identical, at the time of the Cloning process, as the Source HDD. 

 

When you Image (assuming for this example that it's a full-HDD Image process), you're outputting the result into a file, usually compressed to save storage space, to an external HDD.  You can store your Images in an internal HDD but it's usually recommended to keep an Image-storage HDD external and connected only during the Image processing times. 

 

That helps isolate and protect the external HDD from malicious events should they occur on the parent PC.

 

I'm not sure about this, but from reading your post, it appears that you're wanting to store your Images on the same HDD as your Windows HDD.

 

If that's what you're referring to earlier, it's not recommended to store (full-HDD) Images on the same HDD as your OS HDD. 

 

I'd purchase a spare external HDD to be used as your Image storage HDD.  When you Image to that HDD, you can connect it during the process and disconnect it upon completion to protect it against malicious intrusions.

 

To try and answer your questions above:

 

2) Partitions on your HDD:  If you can post a screencap of your Disk Management screen, we can help provide some info about your HDD partitions.

 

From your description, I'd guess that you're referring to a recovery partition as another member suggested.

 

For example, here's a screencap of my Toshiba Laptop Disk Management screen.  The 2 orange arrows point to the 2 factory recovery partitions.  The first partition (left to right on the screen) is a "boot" recovery partition in the event that I'd need to restore the Laptop to its initial out-of-the-box condition.

 

The 3rd partition contains the drivers that are unique to my Laptop's firmware that would be required to return the HDD back to it's original factory conditions.

 

wus0ug.jpg

 

Regarding your question about "Any data on the target disk prior to the cloning process will be erased.", this is referring to the Cloning process as it will erase any data that was previously present on your Target HDD during the Cloning process itself.

 

For example, if you have preexisting data/partitions on the spare HDD that you're going to be Cloning to, ie, your "Target" HDD, that data will be removed during the Cloning process since the Cloning process results in an exact copy of the Source HDD.

 

3) This question, the answer is "yes", select all partitions on the Macrium Imaging setup screen if you're wanting to produce a full-HDD Image of your Source HDD.

 

For example, here's some screencaps of my Desktop HDD environment with my Macrium setup screens.  If I want to produce a full-HDD Image to my output Image file, I'd click on all partitions in the Image setup screen below:  Note the blue circle.  If you click on that box, Macrium will automatically select all partitions on the HDD that you want to Image.

 

wi4toj.jpg

 

 

It's similar to the Cloning setup screen.  If I want to Clone my Source HDD to a spare HDD, I'd click where the blue arrow is pointing.  Macium will automatically select all partitions on the Source HDD and will copy all selected partitions to the Target HDD.

 

bds1tw.jpg

 

 

To answer your question "(Which drive(s) contain the entire Clone of Windows, all settings, all apps?)"

 

That depends on how your Windows OS was installed and if you installed with custom partitions, ie, the OS in one partition, programs in another, your personal data in another, etc.

 

With my Desktop PC, I have a basic Win 7 install with the "System Reserved" partition and my "C" partition.  I also have another HDD where I store video files and most of my picture files.  I do that to reduce Cloning and Imaging duration times as Video files are large in size and require more time to copy. 

 

When I Clone my Desktop "C" HDD, here's what I do:

 

- Install my Cloning tool CD/DVD into my Optical Drive.  Wait until it's loaded/mounted in Windows.

 

- Disconnect my other external HDD's.  It's not required, but I like to do this so when I'm booted into my Cloning software, it's easy to select the Target HDD as there will only be 2 HDD's connected to my PC.

 

- Shut down PC.  Install my Target  HDD into one of my Desktop SATA racks (these are "hot-swap" racks that allow one to install and remove HDD's the same way as any removable storage devices, Flash Sticks, DVD's, etc.)

 

This step isn't required but I always "prepare" my Target HDD for Cloning by deleting all data on it.  This way, when I'm in my Acronis Cloning setup screen, it's easy to distinguish the Source HDD from the Target HDD, since my Target HDD will appear as unallocated, containing no data.  Also, with Acronis, it automatically selects the Target HDD as the program recognizes that this is the HDD that contains no data.

 

With Macrium's Cloning setup screens, the idea is the same; the Target HDD is easily identifiable as it's the HDD that contains no data.

 

- Boot up the PC.  My BIOS boot order is set up to boot from my Optical Drive first, if a bootable media is installed in the drive.

 

- Select my Source and Target HDD's in the Cloning software's setup screen.

 

- Start the Cloning process.

 

- When complete, the PC shuts down automatically (selectable from many Cloning software tools setup page before starting the Cloning step).

 

- Remove the Target HDD.  This step is important, as Windows may not boot and cause problems if it detects identical OS HDD's that contain the same Disk Signature (this is a 4-byte identifier code uniquely assigned to Windows OS HDD's). 

 

If you're Cloning to an external USB HDD, you're not apt to encounter the above potential issue as Windows doesn't allow its OS to boot from a USB device.

 

- Remove the Cloning software bootable media.

 

- Boot up the PC as normal in Windows from my "C" HDD.

 

Imaging is similar.  Here's what I do:

 

- Connect my external HDD where I store my Images.  I use a 4 Tb external USB HDD since I'm storing Images for 3 PC's on this HDD.

 

- While still in Windows, before shutting down my PC, I create a destination folder on my USB HDD.  This step isn't required as Macrium will create a default folder name for the Image file but I like to use my own folder-names to help me identify folders using my selected names.

 

- Install my Imaging tool (Macrium) CD/DVD into my Optical Drive.  Wait until it's loaded/mounted in Windows.

 

- Restart the PC.  My BIOS boot order is set up to boot from my Optical Drive first, if a bootable media is installed in the drive.

 

- Nagivate the Macrium setup screens and begin the Imaging process.

 

- Upon completion of Macruim's Image process, disconnect my USB storage HDD and boot up into Windows as normal.

 

Regarding the usage of the word "backup", it's often interchangeably referenced when discussing HDD copying, copying files, etc.

 

A Cloned HDD is one example of a complete HDD backup but it's not going to be a "real-time" backup since it won't include any updates/edits/changes that have occurred since the last time the Cloning process was done.

 

This is why some users employ a multi-faceted backup PC plan.  They'll use Cloning and/or (full-HDD) Imaging to provide a fast way to rollback the PC in the event of numerous issues:  failed HDD, problematic Windows Update, user error, bad download, malicious intrusions, etc.

 

Additionally, users can employ an automated specific-item backup routine to back up items that are frequently edited, changed, etc.

 

I use both methods in addition to running a "backup" script that I can run to quickly backup specific items to a Flash Drive.  I'll plug in a Flash Drive, then run a script with a hotkey on my keyboard.  That avoids the drag/drop or copy/paste copying methods.

 

 

Summary:

 

If you're wanting to Clone, obtain a spare HDD that's equal to or larger sized than your Source HDD.  I'm using an exact size replacement HDD for my spare Cloned HDD.

 

Imaging:  Obtain an external HDD to use as your Image storage HDD.  You can use an existing spare HDD if you have ample storage space.  I like to use a dedicated spare HDD for my Images since they can be rather large in size for full-HDD Images and I'm storing 3 PC's HDD Images on the HDD.

 

Once the Image process completes, I'd recommend disconnecting the Image storage HDD to isolate it from the parent PC.  That provides additional protection from malicious issues that may be encountered on the parent PC.

 

It's not recommend to store HDD Images on the same HDD as your OS, ie, most user's "C" HDD.  If a disaster occurs with your OS HDD and the Images are stored on that same HDD, you won't be able to restore your PC from those Images.



#5 confoosedguy

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Posted 18 August 2015 - 05:28 PM

Thank you Scoop, this is fantastic!

 

I got sidetracked on another project, and still am, will reply to this shortly when I can.

 

For now though:  there's a partition summary of my pc on page 4 of 5 at this thread:

http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/forums/t/585359/trying-to-uninstall-chrome/page-4

 

And (after you see the partition breakdown), what do you think is on the D drive?  (there are no visible folders when I go there)  

 

I am not well versed in cloning or imaging, so yeah I had it in my mind I'd store everything to D, thinking that if the OS were to crash, D is partitioned (separate?), and therefore the OS is on C and maybe also the 3rd one that's holding about 8 GB.  And so if C (and the 8GB one) were to crash, D would be recoverable?  However, I have no idea if this is right!

 

Unfortunately I don't have an external hard drive right now, the one I did have just stopped working a month ago.


Edited by confoosedguy, 19 August 2015 - 12:32 PM.


#6 Scoop8

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Posted 20 August 2015 - 09:46 AM

You're welcome :)

 

Regarding your Disk Mgmt screen, it clears something up for me as I had thought you had been referring to a separate physical Hard Drive with references to "D Drive".  I see now that you have 1 physical 300 Gb Hard Drive, "Drive 0" in Disk Mgmt and that your reference to "D Drive" is referring to the "D" Partition located on the same physical HDD.

 

Referencing Disk Mgmt, and this is all guesswork :), but I'm thinking that the 10 Gb 2nd partition next to the "C" partition, is your PC's OEM Recovery partition containing unique PC Drivers for use with a "factory restore" action if needed in the future.

 

The "D" Partition, was this partition originally present in your Hard Drive?  In other words, did you create that partition during a custom Win install activity or perhaps later, after Win 7 had been installed?

 

Is your PC a custom built PC or did it come with a brand-name-specific OEM version of Win 7 already installed, like with a "Dell" or other brand-name PC?

 

Is your PC a Desktop/tower PC or a Laptop PC?

 

When you mentioned (regarding the "D" partition) that you have "no visible folders when you go there", are you able to open/explore the "D" partition?  Included is another screencap of my Toshiba Laptop DIsk Mgmt screen, showing my right-click menu when I click on my "Recovery" (protected) partition.  Note that most of the pull-down options are unavailable (greyed out), specifically the "open" and "explore" options, since the Recovery partition is a protected partition specifically required for a factory-restore activity.

 

1zm11u0.jpg

 

 

Regarding your previous post about possibly using the "D" Partition for storing Images, I'd not recommend that approach.

 

If your "C" partition became corrupt or otherwise was unusable, you couldn't boot into Windows so your "D" partition would not be of any use regarding OS recovery.  You'd be able to access data in the "D" partition, if you were storing any personal data there, and copy it to a new HDD once Windows was reinstalled on the new HDD, but my view is that it's simpler to have a complete Cloned spare HDD (or full-HDD Image) available in the event that your original Windows OS became unusable.

 

Assuming that the "D" Partition is currently unused, one option is to delete that partition and then expand the "C" Partition to create additional storage space for your personal data (in the "C" Partition).

 

I'd recommend first getting familiar with Cloning and Imaging.  That way, you can experiment with your original HDD, perhaps resizing the "C" Partition, deleting the "D" Partition, etc, while having a complete spare verifiable Hard Drive on the shelf in case anything goes wrong with your original  Hard Drive.

 

You could use the newly-cloned spare HDD to delete/resize the partitions and leave your original HDD unchanged.

 

Another reason for insuring that you have a complete spare HDD before trying partition modifications, is that sometimes data can be lost when resizing existing partitions that contain data.  Once you have a complete spare bootable HDD on the shelf, that eliminates this concern if something goes wrong with modifying partitions.

 

If that occurred, all you'd need to do is to install your Cloned HDD and you're back up running Windows as if nothing happened.

 

I'd recommend:

 

- Obtain a spare 300Gb HDD for Cloning purposes.

- Obtain a spare external HDD for your file/folder backup purposes.

 

An alternative to an external HDD is to obtain an "Enclosure" or SATA/USB Adapter Cable.  That would allow you to use another spare internal HDD as an external HDD for your file/folder backups.

 

I use an Enclosure without the outer casing, so it's essentially a SATA/USB Adapter.  They can be used for several purposes: Cloning via a USB port, backing up files/folders, etc.

 

There are many Enclosure choices available on the 'net and at Amazon, etc.

 

Here's one example:

 

Sabrent USB 2.0 to 3.5-inch IDE/SATA or Serial ATA Aluminum Hard Drive Enclosure Case 

 

 

To summarize, I'd focus on getting familiar with Cloning and Imaging techniques with Macrium (or any other of the well-known Cloning/Imaging tools).

 

Once you're comfortable with those procedures and have Cloned your PC HDD to another spare HDD, I'd then Image the same HDD to a new external HDD to provide some HDD backup redundancy in case something goes wrong with your Cloning process.

 

Then, and this step is, my view, important, verify your newly-cloned spare HDD (or restored Image to a spare HDD) by removing your original HDD, installing the spare HDD, and boot into Windows to insure that your spare HDD is a complete working operational Windows HDD, identical to your original HDD.

 

There are cases where Cloning can result in unbootable HDD's.  This is one reason that many HDD backup users recommend Imaging vs Cloning (for full-HDD backup plans).

 

Each user's experiences will vary but I've only had 2 incidences where I encountered Cloning problems, out of about 120 Cloning process over 3 separate PC's.

 

Those 2 failures had assignable causes, which turned out to be an interesting situation.  That's probably best suited for another topic though.






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