Complete Backup and Recovery Options

By Alamshar
Aug 22, 2015
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  1. On the few occasions over the years that I've suffered blue screen errors or hardware failures and need to go to my backups to restore, I have always found that there was something I should have done beforehand but didn't know about. On one occasion, for example, I discovered that my outlook files were not backed up and on another I discovered that each scheduled back up did not overwrite the previous one (which I assumed it would) and when I restored from backup I got loads of rubbish back that I had long since deleted.

    After installing windows 10 I am hoping to be ready for any type of failure. In this discussion, I hope we can cover all the eventualities we need to be ready for. I have already:

    1. Created a recovery drive on a usb
    2. Backed up files and folders to an ext HD on windows 10
    3. Created a rescue disk through my Avast Security.

    Are there more things I need to do and can I rest assured that the three above will cover all eventualities?
    Do I need to make a separate backup copy of Windows 10 or will the recovery drive be sufficient? How can I ensure that my system can be restored as it was previous whatever error occurs?
  2. JamesandBennie

    JamesandBennie TS Booster Posts: 162   +14

    Except for creating a recovery disc and backing up files, I also backup important programs and apps with easeus todo backup free. I don't really want to reinstall all the programs if anything goes wrong.
  3. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 9,148   +597

    Backup concepts:
    1. System Restore Points
    2. User data backups
    3. Full disk image
    You may notice that during an MS update, (1) is used to allow rolling back the current update(s). This level only covers system drivers and files within c:\Windows

    User backs (2) need to be taken 'frequently' and you determine when that should be. It is far less voluminous than (3) and requires far less media, so it's reasonable to take a backup once per quarter, once per month and a business system takes'm once per week.

    The full HD image backup (3) eats media and takes lots of time to complete, but it's also the only way to save all installed programs and the system registry. Personally, I take one of these per year and then protect my data with (2) more frequently.
  4. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,423   +77

    This is a massive subject, but a very important one. I recommend if you are a serious Windows user, you should closely study the various methods of backup and ensure you understand them.

    Just to give a flavour, let me comment on jobeard's method of taking a full disk image. Yes, indeed a full image is quite large, but also consider (a) it is usually compressed to a greater or lesser extent by the software. (b) you can greatly reduce the system image size by dividing your system into more than one drive and saving user data to a second drive. The second drive would not necessarily need a full backup, just a much more frequent one. (c) It is typical to employ a grandfather, father and son methodology, such that only the last three full system backups are retained. (d) alternatively full system backup software usually offers a full backup followed by as many differential backups as you choose to keep. (Differential means only save changes since the previous full backup). A full restore is then just two files. This also gives size and time savings, so encourages more frequent system backups..
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2015
  5. bazz2004

    bazz2004 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,213   +200

    I've little faith in software backups and used a copy station to replicate my Windows 7 hard drive so I have two hard drives in my desktop tower but only one connected at a time. Occasionally I swap the connectors over and update the backup drive. What happens if I swap them over and try to repeat the Windows 10 upgrade with the drive that's still on Windows 7? The two drives are now running different OSs. Is that going to work out or go spectacularly wrong? In case it seems strange that I don't mention the copy station the reason is that it won't copy from a larger drive to a smaller one.
  6. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,423   +77

    Indeed, some full system backups will not restore to a smaller drive. That is commonly the free versions of well-respected backup systems. Personally I use Image for Windows, which has no such restrictions, and is not expensive for the completely comprehensive facilities it offers. It is not for the average user, however.

    About your desire to upgrade at least one of your two available system drives to Win 10, I would be very cautious, especially if you know you cannot restore onto the smaller drive. Could you first take an extra simple copy onto a removable drive or DVD set?

    To be honest, in other forums such as Windows Secrets, there are many people reporting horrible driver problems with Win 10 and also a lot of slightly unusual current application software is causing crashes, not displaying correctly etc. It might be wise to allow a few months to elapse before going overboard with Win 10, unless you can be certain of being able to recover both your hard disk copies.
    cliffordcooley likes this.
  7. bazz2004

    bazz2004 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,213   +200

    Thanks for the reply gbhall but I didn't express myself clearly. I was not asking about how to duplicate my drive. Can I do the W10 upgrade for a second time on the other drive which is still on W7 using the Microsoft Media Creation tool.? I'm really impressed with Windows 10 and the hardware copy station is not what I'm asking about. Sorry, I should have started a separate thread.
  8. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 9,148   +597

    This is a GREAT systems management technique - - only the OS goes on C:\ and thus easily managed. Placing all user data on the second HD ( D:\user\logonId) and coercing the %USERPRFILE% to this location isolates the user and makes those backups smaller and easier to manage too.
    Good for R+W media (like a large TB drives), but obviously DVRs are one time. The KEY for (c) is good labeling by date of this backup

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