Difference between back-up options

By boagz ยท 6 replies
Jul 21, 2014
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  1. Hi all. I was wondering if someone could help me clarify what methods are needed to back up your system in case of an infection or crash. There are services out there like acronis that offer back up options for you. I was wondering what the difference was between using services such as these vs. just creating a system image within windows and saving it to an external source? When you create a system image are you creating a bare metal backup of your system? So if you have to reinstall windows for whatever reason are you able to completely recover everything, including your applications and not just files, through the system image you created through windows? or is this feature exclusive to services like acronis? Thanks for any help.
  2. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 11,138   +985

    • system image are you creating a bare metal backup of your system?
    Yes - - so much so that you capture the MBR, the partition table(s) and therefore everything on the disk. Using it on a new HD will make it a bootable copy of your system. The question then becomes, HOW to do that if there is no runnable system?
    • Acronis imaging
    This product creates a restoreable image AND provides the solution for getting it restored - - a bootable CD.

    Backups always have the issue of how to restore, but it is frequently ignored until needed and then the user realizes, OMG, I can't.

    The last time I took a system image, it took 20 CD-R platters. You can't run something like that every month! To its favor, Acronis has all three technologies for creating backups {Full, Incremental, and Differential} and the latter two reduce the size of future backups of that system.

    Word of caution: as Acronis captures the MBR and partition table(s), ALWAYS capture all partitions. During a restore, the HD is reformatted and that deletes all of the table. Thus, if it's not in the image, the other tables are gone forever.
  3. bazz2004

    bazz2004 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,585   +250

    This is something that luckily seldom needs to be called into action so two problems. Firstly, when the moment arrives you are not certain about what you are doing and secondly you don't know for certain whether the recovery will work. I have Acronis but don't bother with it now. I upgraded a hard disc and decided to see if I could get a recovery to work. There was no emergency and I simply wanted to see how it went. It didn't work out and I now have a second physical hard drive ready to switch over in case of disaster. They don't cost much these days unless they are SSD. Every few months I switch it back and update everything. The Windows updates are what take up time and space. I also use a memory stick for extra peace of mind.
  4. boagz

    boagz TS Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 103

    Thanks for the responses. Jobeard, I'm still a little confused as to the advantage of having a bootable disk or something from acronis. Is it only good to have if your hard drive fails? Say I get a virus and just decide to reboot and reinstall windows. My computer is still functioning fine but I just want to make sure to completely get rid of the virus so I restart, press F9 and reinstall windows. If I had a system image saved on an external hard drive from windows cant I then just restore my system from that system image? Since I have reinstalled the operating system? If so, is the only advantage from using something like acronis that if I wasn't able to reinstall windows normally than I can use the bootable disk from acronis?
  5. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 11,138   +985

    Basically you are correct. However, the Acronis bootable is a CD which prompts for the image to be used for the recovery - - effectively the reinstalled image.

    To actually have a secondary drive with the duplicate image already on it is over kill IMO. Even server systems and business users don't go that far. It doesn't happen so frequently that it becomes a savings. Then too, the time from when we originally began using the system to the full failure is large enough that we ought to move to the latest and greatest system. When my XP/Pro bit the dust, I moved to Win/7 Pro and happy I did so.
  6. boagz

    boagz TS Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 103

    Okay thanks a lot man.
  7. bazz2004

    bazz2004 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,585   +250

    Many businesses have technicians or contract specialists who look after their systems for them. Joe Bloggs is on his own. I only have a spare hard drive for my main use computer. I don't worry about the others. Windows has lots of shortcomings and a backup for dummies system is something you'd have expected them to have incorporated years ago.

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