Backup and Restore


Honorable Member
In the past, my backup strategy consisted of periodically copying user document folders to CDs or DVDs. I recently acquired a new HP laptop running Windows 7 and thought maybe I should try using the Backup/Restore utility that came with it. I ran backup but I have some serious reservations.

1) I have no idea exactly what got backed up. Is there anyway to find out?
2) I searched in vain for some way to restore individual files. Im told by HP support that the only thing one can do with these backups is to restore the entire thing.

Are there other backup system that I might consider?

When teaching Backup Strategies, I've always addressed the very concerns you've mentioned.

So lets take my old time favorite backup program Ghost, for instance. It's been around almost as long as windows itself. Ghost 2003 is great for backing up XP or older OS's. For Vista or Win-7 Ghost 11.5 is the minimum version that will work. Both are DOS based programs and will not run from within Windows, but must be run from a DOS boot disk. That totally bypasses Windows and all the problems that can entail.
You can't run windows anyway, when you're Restoring a backup to a brand new HD, after your old drive has gone up in smoke. You need something that can boot a system and run independent of Windows.

There is no data file or incremental backup with either version of Ghost. It will back up either a partition or entire drive only. To retrieve a single file or folder from a Ghost backup Image file, they provided a program called Ghost Explorer. It works a lot like Windows Explorer to open a backup file and let you look at all the files and folders. Then you can select any file or folder to restore. I've only had to use Ghost Explorer a very few times, but when I have it's really saved the day for me.

So in spite of all the other backup programs, both on and off the market, I stick with the one program that's never let me down in 13 years. GHOST!

I backup my own system every week with Ghost, booted from a DOS boot disk.
My XP drive is in FAT-32 format, so from my Ghost boot disk I can run a series of batch files to remove all the junk files from C before I to the backup. With careful drive maintenance I can still get an entire backup of C on a single DVD, with Ghost's High Compression.


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Senior Member
Try Handy Backup, it's reliable backup software for Windows 7. I have used several backup programs for years, and I recommend Handy Backup.


Microsoft MVP
Staff member
Premium Supporter
Microsoft MVP
Before considering what backup software to use you need to define your storage strategy. One of the greatest mistakes any computer user makes is to maintain just a single hard drive containing everything - op sys, apps, downloads, user data . . . etc. This bad practice has been encourage by Windows having user folders embedded into the system drive with names like My Documents, My Downloads, My Videos. The end product is a great monstrosity called drive C which just keeps on growing until one day the system is found to be unbootable, the op sys is reinstalled and user data is lost, all applications gone all downloads and updates need to be repeated . . . Drive C should be limited to storing just the operating system, along with all installed applications programs. All user data files, downloads etc should be stored on a separate drive or partition. This way the system drive is unlikely ever get bigger than say 40GB unless you have masses of extremely large installed apps.

We all have our favourite backup software and mine is Acronis True Image (you can get a free trial download). True Image runs under Windows, creates a full image of the drive (compressed down to about 50% of the size). This image can be used to fully recover your system including all configuration settings, installed update and applications programs in about ten minutes as opposed to all the time and effort in having to reinstall the op sys and recover all your apps. The image should be stored on the data drive and I save the three most recent images. The images can also me mounted as a virtual drive to recover individual files or folders as well as recovering the entire drive. It can be used to recover from anything such as bad installs, malware, file corruption etc.

If you only have one physical hard drive as I have in my laptop then the system and data drives will just be logical partitions of the same physical drive. If (when) the physical drive totals you lose the lot at ne stroke so the data drive should be copied in its entirety to an external medium (I maintain two external usb hard drives for this). This may sound a bit of overkill bit it depends on how important your data is - you only have to read thru forums like this to discover how many people have lost years of records, photographs etc thru not securing their systems.

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