11-28-2011 05:15 PM
Hi all- nice event!
I was wondering what the experts here think of the adequacy of Win 7's native backup (to an external hard drive), as an alternative to the commercial backup programs available. It seems far simpler, and I don't really need a continuous backup of my home system. A manual system/files backup once a week or so is sufficient for my purposes.
I have used Acronis TI backup program that has worked well to restore my XP system on a few occasions in the past, due to failing C drives. I am less than thrilled with the complexity of its latest version on my Win 7 systems, but have not had occasion to put it to the test.
In the event that malware trashes my system, how well will Win 7's system/files backups suffice to restore everything to the status quo ante?
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11-28-2011 08:32 PM
Windows 7 backup lets you backup files/folders that you select, but it also allows you to create an image of the drive as well. If you've only been backing up files/folders and haven't created a clean image, then you won't really have the recovery potential you need in case of drive failure or malware 'trashing'.
Your best bet is to always create a drive image when you have first done a clean install of all programs, applied the necessary security updates, and configured the system to your general preferences. Store that clean image away. Then begin performing regular backups of files/folders you designate. In the event of system failure, restore the clean image first and then restore the files/folders you backed up since.
Microsoft provides a good overview of the Windows 7 backup and restore features at the following link:
And yes, I do think it's adequate for most folks needs.
11-28-2011 08:41 PM
I have personally tried Windows 7's Backup and Windows Easy Transfer (WET). As far as what I can say is that it does the job better than any other Operating System Microsoft has released so far. The System Image can be placed in a Network Location, External HDD, and spanned through DVDs, the latter not being the best choice though.
Of course if a user wants more features and a robust functionality of restoration such as recovering from a different system from where the image was taken and some offers online backup methods, then Windows 7's Backup will not suffice for this type of use. I rebuild from scratch and use WET to restore though. Although, I still backup using Windows 7's Backup and used it only on several instances if I feel too lazy to install the non-windows applications .
In case of a worst typed Malware infection which renders the system inutile I flatten by reformatting, delete all partitions and then recreate the partitions for a better idea: How to Restore Windows 7 from a System Image?
But remember that we should have included a backup of the other partition/s manually using Windows 7's Backup so it can be recovered using the Advanced Recovery methods using the System Repair Disc. Another, all partitions should have been formatted with NTFS and the image was prior to the infection.
11-28-2011 09:04 PM
I think Windows Backup in Windows 7 works very well. It is a solution more geared for home and SOHO users as it does not offer a lot of granularity in the options. Then again, as has been noted, commercial offerings tend to be more complex. One of the features Microsoft introduced with Windows Home Server is an option to backup local computers on your home network. I have not used that myself, but I am told it works quite well.
Personally, I perform a daily backup on my desktop computer by synchronizing my data files with those stored on an external hard disk drive, copying any new or changed files and deleting any that have been removed from the computer. I then take that external hard disk drive and sync it with my notebook, which ensures that I have the latest files on my desktop, external backup hard disk drive and notebook computer.
Earlier this year, I wrote a white paper on backup solutions for home and SOHO users, which you might find of interest. It is vendor-agnostic in that it does not discuss specific brands of software, also it does not cover cloud backup solutions. What it does provide, though, is an overview of the types of backup one can perform on a single computer, along with the pros and cons of each. White paper: Options For Backing Up Your Computer [PDF, 862KB]
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11-28-2011 10:51 PM
I was most interested in the backup/restore capabilities of a system image using Win 7's tools, and I believe you have all addressed my concerns. I am much obliged.
11-29-2011 09:30 AM - edited 11-29-2011 09:32 AM
Earlier this year, I wrote a white paper on backup solutions for home and SOHO users, which you might find of interest. It is vendor-agnostic in that it does not discuss specific brands of software, also it does not cover cloud backup solutions. What it does provide, though, is an overview of the types of backup one can perform on a single computer, along with the pros and cons of each. White paper: Options For Backing Up Your Computer [PDF, 862KB]...
This should be required reading for all computer users and admins. Maybe Lenovo could tape a copy over the power button on all machines shipped. Somehow prevent the user from doing anything before burning recovery media and setting up backup. I wish...
Aryeh, that paper is absolutely first-cabinet. Every time I thought I had something to add, you covered it in the next paragraph.
IMNSHO, for home users a full-drive image is a convenience (of which one should take advantage!) but data bakup is a necessity. How many times have we seen a post here flaming Lenovo for not building machines that never failed. "My term paper/photos of grandma/all my financials are lost! My life is ruined!" Life and death, but not worth a few minutes to back up.
My personal approach is automatic full drive/incremental backups to an internal hard drive reserved for that purpose, plus as-created backups of data to flash drive, laptop, and my gmail account. Occasionally I copy the backup images to an external drive.
For others (the relatives) I'm likely to set up an external USB drive for automatic backups. Lately I've used full-sized externals with the ability to power on and off by sensing the computer's USB voltage. That way the user doesn't have to remember to turn on the drive (for automatic backups...) but doesn't have to leave it on 24/7.
My drive images are browsable. The advantage there (as you covered in your paper) is the ability to restore individual files. That may not be so important when restoring to a repaired computer, but for quick emergency access to those photos of grandma - by plugging the drive into another machine - can save the day.
Again, kudos for a really excellent article. That's why you're the pro.
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