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  1. #1
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    Iím not sure if this is the correct place to ask these questions, but here goes.
    Woody Leonhard wrote an excellent article about Winidows Home Server including using Windows 7 backup at: http://windowssecrets.com/paid/10120...&r=80521-46280

    Among other things, Woody said, ďit's easy to set up nightly backups to an external drive (with Windows 7)Ē
    This is exactly what I want to do but have the following questions. Thanks for any response to the following questions:

    1. Can Windows 7 be set up to turn itself off after the backup is finished (since we have power outages and lightning storms, I want the PC to be off overnight when the office is empty) ?

    2. Can the backup be setup to save only changed files, thereby saving a lot of time and disk usage?

    3. Can this procedure be used with two different USB drives so that an offsite version can be stored ?

    4. Does Windows 7 backup save only data, or does it also save operating system and programs (if only data, then what else has to be done to achieve a fully restorable system) ?

    5. Is the restore procedure testable so that the user can have more confidence that the restore will work if needed?

    6. If Windows 7 backup/restore works reliably, why would anybody use any other backup program?

    (I realize that some of these questions may be answered elsewhere, but itís difficult to find all the answers in one spot. Thatís why I asked them here. Thanks again for any comments.)

  2. #2
    Plutonium Lounger Medico's Avatar
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    I do not believe Win 7 backup does incremental backup (saving only changed files). Win 7 back up does basic images, but does not have nearly as much flexibility as many 3rd party apps. There are numerous free and for pay Imaging apps available. These have been mentioned numerous times in these forums so I will not go into them here. The prevalent apps mentioned in these forums have the ability to Image entire HD's or just Incremental Backups. These apps are full featured and I believe you would be pleased with their operation, much more so than the basic app included with Win 7.
    BACKUP...BACKUP...BACKUP
    Have a Great Day! Ted


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  3. #3
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    Thanks, Ted, for your response. I have read about many of the non-Windows 7 backup programs on these forums. I have gotten the impression that ALL of them have reliability problems. That is, there are various situations that are hard to predict where the restore procedure doesn't work. This could be because of data corruption in the saved image, or a necessary change of (failed) hardware, or a bug or version change. For a backup procedure, it seems to me that reliability is the primary criterion. It doesn't matter what the features are or how easy it is to use if it doesn't work and/or can't be tested in advance. So if WIn7 backup/restore is at least as reliable as non-Microsoft solutions (and is free) then it seems like the best choice. So maybe my question is a little different than my first note - i.e. is Win7 backup/restore at least as reliable as other choices and can it be tested ? Maybe I'm too idealistic........I just want a simple (hopefully free) backup/restore solution with an off-site storage option that always works and is testable....Sorry about being imprecise.....

  4. #4
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    I believe it is as reliable as the various third party products but not anywhere as flexible. Some functionality depends on the version of Windows 7 you have installed. Windows backup does do incremental backups. See First look at Windows 7's Backup and Restore Center for more details. For the Microsoft view of the feature see Backup and restore FAQ. You can view a couple of short videoas at Backup and Restore.

    Joe
    Joe

  5. #5
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    Thanks for your comments. They are very helpful as well as the links and videos. One question that was not answered elsewhere is:

    Can Win7 do an incremental backup to two different USB drives and not get confused? My plan would be to plug in one USB drive for a week or a month, then swap it out for a 2nd one and store the first one off site. I would want Win7 to know enough to do incremental backups on either one and bring the USB drive currently plugged in up to date, even if it's the previous one that has NOT so far been brought up to date. If Win7 keeps any records on the main disk of what it has backed up, then I suspect it will be confused by two different drives, but I don't know for sure how it works.

    Thanks for any further comments.

  6. #6
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    I think you are talking about two different procedures and would be best served by implementing both. 1st, the image of your system after initial setup, or when its fully operational and working well, and then only make another image if something changes significantly that would be hard to duplicate by going back to the old image and implementing the change again.

    2nd, swapping backup drives, you want a good syncronization/backup program like GoodSync or Syncback (free version) to just catch the data and back it up much more frequently. Once set up and scheduled, its easy to forget but you would be swapping drives periodically so you would have a natural time to check to make sure all is running as scheduled.
    As long as the swapped drives shared the same drive path when one is unplugged and the other is plugged in, it won't miss a beat in the continuous backups. If the drive letter changes or the path is different then you would have to use two profiles (backup plans), only one of which would run successfully since the other drive is removed.

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    Thanks, Byron, for your comments. On the second procedure that you mentioned above, are you saying that you think that Win7 backup canNOT do the synchronization operations that GoodSync or Syncback could do? Or just that Syncback would do it better or easier? Also, I don't really need instantaneous backups - once a day is good enough. That's why I was hoping that Win7 backup could do it without additional programs. Thanks for any additional comments.

  8. #8
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    Well, it probably doesn't syncronize (Windows has SyncToy available for that), but the built in backup can get the job done, though like so many of Windows 7 features, it is more of a "blunt" instrument designed for users to have something to perform an operation without stepping on too many toes in the commercially produced Windows software world.
    I don't know how it handles switching drives in the two senarios; same drive letter may sail right through but different drive letters will require two backup plans and then I don't know how much of a "nag" screen you might get when one is missing and it can't run the backup to that drive, which might be a good reminder or an annoyance, depending.

  9. #9
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    I would think if you want to swap backup drives that a better procedure would be to run a full backup when the drive is swapped then run incrementals until the next swap. Were I doing this, I would not want to have to worry about multiple backup drives if I need to perform a restore.

    Joe
    Joe

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