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    Windows Backup - Using the backup schedule

    I'm new to Win 7 and am struggling a bit to get my head around Win Backup. I understand that initially W7 creates a system image and also backs up the user data. If I then set Backup to run to a weekly schedule what happens? My questions are:

    1) Does the next backup overwrite the original system image, create a new one, or do neither?
    2) Do later backups update or overwrite the user data files, or create a new additional set?

    It seems to me that it might be simpler for me to create a new system image manually each week instead of automating backing up, given that I've been doing just that without problems for years with Acronis TI 2010 on my old XP laptop. Can you see any problems with that? Would I be able to open individual backed up files as I could with Acronis TI?

    I's appreciate your wisdom on all of this.

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    Yes, I would go for the manual system image (only when needed) and forget about the user data backup.
    Also, if your comfortable with Acronis TI why not keep using it. The best software backup is the one that you are comfortable and familiar with.

    1) Does the next backup overwrite the original system image, create a new one, or do neither?
    2) Do later backups update or overwrite the user data files, or create a new additional set?
    You will only get image overwriting if you run out of hard drive space or if backing up via a network.
    I'll go out on a limb here and say that the Windows 7 image creates multiple incremental backups each time a "image" backup is initiated
    on the same drive.
    You should be able to restore the image you want by it's date and time stamp, if you have to space to do multiple backups.
    I can't speak for "user data" backup in the default Windows 7 backup and restore program because I never use it.
    Last edited by CLiNT; 2011-06-07 at 13:47.

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    Thanks for your help with this. The problem with Acronis TI is that version 10.0 isn't compatible with Win 7. I wish it was. It would have made the migration to W7 just that little bit easier.

    You say "that the Windows 7 image creates multiple incremental backups each time an "image" backup is initiated on the same drive." Does this mean that if I do a system image this week, and then do another next week to the same backup location, that Windows creates another, smaller, file which is dependent on the original image? If this is correct, if I needed to restore my system from an image, which file would you start the process with - the last increment or the original image? I would be tempted to create a new image each week and delete the previous ones for the sake of simplicity, but presume this takes much more time than the incremental method. Am I right in thinking this?

    Do you have any opinion on mounting the vhd files that an image produces so that the backed up files can be examined? I haven't done this before but have seen a number of "how to.." videos on-line.



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    Quote Originally Posted by AussieMike View Post
    Thanks for your help with this. The problem with Acronis TI is that version 10.0 isn't compatible with Win 7. I wish it was. It would have made the migration to W7 just that little bit easier.
    [/FONT]
    Same here! I'll have to buy the Acroniss 11 ...they don't even offer a discounted upgrade from version 10!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pictor View Post
    Same here! I'll have to buy the Acroniss 11 ...they don't even offer a discounted upgrade from version 10!
    Pictor, AussieMike,
    Hello... When you are referring to Acronis 11 ...It is confusing as to which version that you mean..... ex:
    1. Acronis 10 True Image Home
    2. Acronis 11 True Image Home
    3. Acronis 2009 True Image Home
    4. Acronis 2010 True Image Home
    5. Acronis 2011 True Image Home
    As some refer to 2010 as "10" and 2011 as"11" please be specific, as Acronis 2010 works with Vista and "7" ...and with all the problems with 2011 i would stick with 2010 v-7046.. Check out their forum for more information Acronis True Image Forum Regards Fred
    Last edited by Just Plain Fred; 2011-06-08 at 15:06.
    PlainFred

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    Quote Originally Posted by CLiNT View Post
    Yes, I would go for the manual system image (only when needed) and forget about the user data backup.
    Also, if your comfortable with Acronis TI why not keep using it. The best software backup is the one that you are comfortable and familiar with.



    You will only get image overwriting if you run out of hard drive space or if backing up via a network.
    I'll go out on a limb here and say that the Windows 7 image creates multiple incremental backups each time a "image" backup is initiated
    on the same drive.
    You should be able to restore the image you want by it's date and time stamp, if you have to space to do multiple backups.
    I can't speak for "user data" backup in the default Windows 7 backup and restore program because I never use it.
    Clint, I think you ventured too far out the limb, and are mistaken. ;-) If Win7 would create multiple, incremental, backup images, I would not have to use the "rename" procedure I mentioned in another thread; It writes the successive images to the same directory name. I think you can do that, somehow - with network backup images, or with some version other than my Home Premium (I can't remember what the requirements were). I do manual images, only when I think I need one.

    Also, I run the Win7 file backup via the scheduler nightly. I don't remember if it backs up all the selected files each time, or only the ones that have changed, but it does create a "set" of files for each date. (I've never needed to restore one, so it's still acedemic to me.)

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    Sorry, Clint. I was the one too far removed from the trunk of the tree! Here's what the help screens have to say:

    "Keeping different versions of system images


    • If you're saving your system images on an internal or external drive, or on CDs or DVDs, you can keep several versions of system images. On internal and external hard drives, older system images will be deleted when the drive runs out of space. To help conserve disk space, you can manually delete older system images. For more information, see What backup settings should I use to maximize my disk space?
      If you're saving your system images in a network location, you can only keep the most current system image for each computer. System images are saved in the format of drive\WindowsImageBackup\computer name\. If you have an existing system image for a computer and are creating a new one for the same computer, the new system image will overwrite the existing one. If you want to keep the existing system image, you can copy it to a different location before creating the new system image by following these steps:
    • Navigate to the location of the system image.
    • Copy the WindowsImageBackup folder to a new location."

    Now, I remember what I was thinking when I chose to "rename" the WindowImageBackup folder - I didn't want to continue using up a lot of space on my external drive - hopefully 2 copies is enough - nor did I want to "copy" the folder (which I think would take a long time), so I chose to rename it, and let the backup create a new one again with the same name.

    At least, I'm less confused for a day or two, now. ;-)

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    Arrow Using System Images

    Quote Originally Posted by AussieMike View Post
    I'm new to Win 7 and am struggling a bit to get my head around Win Backup. I understand that initially W7 creates a system image and also backs up the user data. If I then set Backup to run to a weekly schedule what happens? My questions are:

    1) Does the next backup overwrite the original system image, create a new one, or do neither?
    A new system image is created automatically with each file backup only if you specifically checked off that option when setting up your Windows Backup job (specifically, on the dialog where you designated what to back up--you will need to select "Let me choose" when asked in order to get to that dialog).

    I don't recommend doing this, as system images are of value mainly for recovering your system to a specific prior state--you may need to make a system image only after a major system update (such as a Windows service pack install) or after installing new software. Since that happens irregularly, you're probably better off manually creating a fresh system image only when you need it. More on that later...

    As to what Windows does with old system images when you create a new one, the answer is a bit complicated, and is affected by two factors:

    1. Whether you are creating system images automatically (as part of the file backup) or manually.
    2. How much space is available for system images on your target drive (i.e., the drive where the backups are stored).

    First, it helps to understand that Windows automatically limits the amount of space that you can use on your target drive for system images (I think that the default is 15% of the hard drive's total capacity, but don't hold me to that, as I don't use the default value). Remembering this, Windows will manage old system images this way (at least, according to the information supplied in the "Back up or restore your files" control panel; I've not tested to see if what it says is what Windows' image creation utility really does):

    • If you are automatically creating system images: Windows will retain old system images until the maximum space allowed for system images is reached; at that point, it will begin to make space for the next new image by deleting the oldest image(s) as needed to make sufficient room for the new image. If you're running Backup on an automatic daily schedule (as I would recommend), this means that your system images will turn over rapidly, perhaps compromising their value to you.
    • If you are manually creating system images: Windows will retain old system images until the maximum space allowed for system images is reached; at that point, you will need to make space for the next new image. Windows offers you the choice (under "Manage space" on the "Back up or restore your files" control panel) of either deleting all images or retaining only the most recent image and deleting all others.

    So what if you want to retain a specific (i.e., manually-created) set of system images (perhaps representing major system or app installations)? This is where Windows' imaging utility is less automatic than a third-party solution (like Acronis True Image Home), but it's possible to manually manage the situation. Here's how I'm doing it; please not that this this is still an experiment in progress, so your mileage may vary; also, I'm using Win7 Pro x64:

    • After creating a system image, I open Explorer and navigate to the folder where the images are stored (my W: drive is my backup target): W:\WindowsImageBackup\Desktop
      where the image is contained in its own folder (named something like "Backup 2011-06-09 050251").
      Note: As the backup folders are "hidden," you'll need to open Explorer's "Folder Options" dialog, click the View tab, and enable "Show hidden files, folders, and drives." Even then, to open a hidden folder, you'll need to be in an administrator account and (when told that you don't have rights to access the folder) click "Continue" to get access rights.
    • Once the W:\WindowsImageBackup\Desktop folder is open, I right-click the folder for the new system image, select Rename, and add a description of the image to the beginning of the folder name, starting with a two-digit number, while retaining the original folder name. For example, I might change "Backup 2011-06-09 050251" to "05 - Install SP1 (Backup 2011-06-09 050251)". The digits keep my images in chronological order, while retaining the original folder name allows me to rename any given image folder to its original name as needed (more on that later). I do this so that I can know for sure what's in each image.
    • When I need to restore my system to a given historical image, I rename that image's folder to its original value (storing the custom folder name in a temporary Notepad file so that I can revert to it later). My theory in doing this is that the imaging utility will use the original folder name to correlate the image with a specific backup date and time in the backup Catalog. I will admit that I've not tried restoring an image without taking this step, so I can't be sure it's necessary (but it hasn't hurt, either; I've successfully restored old images in this manner).

    Following this process has, thus far, allowed me to both manually create system images as I deem them necessary and keep old images available. Just to be safe, though, I'm keeping copies of all the system image folders in a separate folder on the W: drive until such time as I'm confident that I truly understand how Windows' imaging utility works (i.e., that it won't at some point delete my renamed system image folders).

    One other thing I'm not yet clear on is how the imaging utility judges when the "maximum space" limit has been reached. My current working theory is that it's looking at the size of the W:\WindowsImageBackup\Desktop folder. On the assumption that's correct, I've manually increased the maximum size for system image storage on my W: drive this way:

    1. Open the System Properties control panel. There are various ways of doing this, but here's one: Click Start, click Control Panel, select System. On the System control panel, click "System protection" to display the System Properties control panel.
    2. Select the System Protection tab.
    3. In the "Protection Settings" section, select your target drive, then click "Configure..." to open the System Protection configuration dialog.
    4. In the "Disk Space Usage" section, adjust the slider to the maximum value that you think you'll need (I've set mine to 50% on a 1TB drive).
    5. Click OK to return to the System Properties control panel, then click OK again.

    If I'm wrong, and if the renamed system image folders in W:\WindowsImageBackup\Desktop don't count against the "maximum space" count, there's no harm done--this space isn't reserved for system images, it's just the maximum that Windows will use before it starts deleting images to make room for a new image; you won't be losing space that would otherwise be available for data storage.

    I may eventually stop keeping my renamed image folders in W:\WindowsImageBackup\Desktop full-time, and only drag a copy of one that I need (for an image restore) into this folder from my secondary folder of image backups. This would save me a lot of disk space, and would probably obviate the need to actively manage the "maximum space" setting. My concern is, however, whether Windows' imaging utility would "forget" my images (i.e., remove reference to them from the image backup Catalog file) if they're not in the W:\WindowsImageBackup\Desktop folder. Until I can do some testing to know what's happening there, I'm sticking with my current practice.

    If this all seems like too much work to you, but you still want to maintain a library of system images, then I'd recommend getting a copy of Acronis True Image Home or other disk imaging software. FYI, though, my experience with Win7 Backup has been nothing but positive, both for image backups and file-by-file backups.

    As a former user of Acronis True Image Home (under XP), I will admit that Win7's imaging utility is like driving with a stick shift instead of an automatic transmission. That's not all bad, though--I'm finding that it allows me to organize/maintain historical disk images the way I want to, rather than having to do it the way TIH thinks is best. It's actually made things more transparent for me. I'd say similar things about the file-by-file backups under Win7 Backup. And best of all, I've not had a restore failure after 10 months of use.

    This isn't to slam TIH--I have the copy of TIH 2010 that I bought last year standing by just in case I change my mind. But at this point, I don't feel the need for the extra hand-holding, and I really am glad to be clear of TIH's sometimes-arcane process for setting up and restoring backups.

    If you'd be interested in reading more about my combination image and file backup scheme, see my Lounge post on the subject.
    Last edited by bethel95; 2011-11-30 at 02:37. Reason: Updating a link.

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    Arrow Using File Backup

    Quote Originally Posted by AussieMike View Post
    I'm new to Win 7 and am struggling a bit to get my head around Win Backup. I understand that initially W7 creates a system image and also backs up the user data. If I then set Backup to run to a weekly schedule what happens? My questions are:
    ...
    2) Do later backups update or overwrite the user data files, or create a new additional set?
    Since your second question seems to imply doing a file-by-file backup (as opposed to an image backup), that's what I'm going to address.

    If you set up a scheduled backup job in Windows Backup, it will do what's called an "incremental" backup. This means that on the first run of the backup job, all selected data files will be backed up (you choose, which is what I'd recommend in order to eliminate Temp folders from the backup set, or you can let Windows choose). On subsequent runs of the same job (and Backup allow you to have only one defined backup job), Backup will save only those files (from the selected set) that have changed since the prior backup. Backup continues to accumulate these "incremental" files over time.

    Some things to know:

    • The incremental backup strategy is what all backup apps use (some will offer alternative strategies, but that's not relevant to your current question).
    • File backup apps will, in general, either continue to make incremental backups until they run out of space on the target disk or until they reach a specified maximum space for file backups; as best I can tell, Windows Backup will use all available disk space. When space is maxed out, backup apps will usually either ask the user to make additional room for backups (most often by deleting the current backup set and starting over) or by automatically deleting the current backup set and starting over. It's not clear to me which approach Windows Backup uses (time will tell).
    • Full user data restores depend on the incremental backup that you choose as the point in time to restore to, plus the original full backup and all intervening incremental backups (so don't go deleting any intervening incremental backups in order to gain some space--doing so would invalidate the subsequent incremental backups, at least as far as a full user data restore is concerned).

    FYI, what I will probably do whenever Backup lets me know that I'm almost out of disk space on my backup drive is delete all the incremental backups, but retain the original full backup. That will give me back most of the space that I'll need while keeping my original full backup intact for historical reference.

    If you have a need for keeping multiple historical versions of data files over time (like if you're a professional writer), you could set up a monthly version backup this way:

    1. Setup your automatic daily Backup job.
    2. Create an initial full backup of your user data files (either manually or automatically).
    3. Accumulate daily incremental backups until the last day of the month, then delete all of the daily incremental backups; this will result in Backup's creating a "full month" incremental backup the next time it runs.
    4. Continue this process each month (i.e., deleting just the daily backups, not any monthly ones), resulting in your having a baseline full backup, intervening monthly incremental backups, and a set of daily backups from the current month.

    Such a scheme would save some space over time, allowing you to extend the time that you have monthly versions of your files. You could also take this to the next level and delete all monthly and daily incremental sets on Dec 31 in order to create a "full year" incremental (on the next automatic backup), then resume your daily/monthly process until the next Dec 31. Some third-party backup apps can manage such a scheme automatically, but you'd have to manage this manually if you use Windows Backup.

    At the bottom line, the biggest advantages of using a file backup (as opposed to a disk image of your user data drive or partition) are:

    • You can restore a specific file or set of files without restoring the entire backup set (which saves a lot of time).
    • You can maintain multiple versions of data files in less space (because of the incremental backup capability).


    Quote Originally Posted by AussieMike View Post
    It seems to me that it might be simpler for me to create a new system image manually each week instead of automating backing up, given that I've been doing just that without problems for years with Acronis TI 2010 on my old XP laptop. Can you see any problems with that? Would I be able to open individual backed up files as I could with Acronis TI?
    Some third-part apps like Acronis True Image Home use a hybrid technology that allows for both incremental image backups (to save space) and individual file restores from image backups. The Windows system image utility has neither capability, so I'd recommend setting up a daily Backup job for your user data (but not your system files), separate from whatever you're doing with system image backups.

    I'm recommending daily instead of weekly backups on the assumption that you are running a newer system, and that having Backup running in the background won't slow you down too much (or that you don't mind leaving your computer powered up when you're not working on it so that the daily backup can run).

    By doing daily backups, you'll never experience the disappointment of needing to restore a file, only to find out that the version you need was first created six days ago, right after your last backup ran.
    Last edited by bethel95; 2015-03-02 at 14:10.

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