Why Should You Create a System Image!

#1
Hi If you aren't creating back up images of your OS, you should read this that I copied from a web page.
I like sharing these things, but I never know where to post them. If this is a appropriate thread and needs to be moved, please do so! This is so important for users to know about!
Thank you!
What is System Imaging?

Imaging is quite simply a "snapshot" of the partiton or Hard Drive you Imaged.

It is an exact copy of your Windows installation, files,folders settings etc at that exact moment in time the image is created.





Why is System Imaging important?

As we all know, the first defense against a Virus and/or Malware attack is your Security system itself. (AV & Firewall)
Generally speaking, the name of the game is preventing an infection from ever happening.

But what happens when dispite our best efforts something gets through?

Many times, you can remove & recover from an infection.
However, occasionally the damage may be so severe there simply is no recovery, in which case a clean install of Windows may be needed.

There are also other factors you must consider that may not involve a Malware or Virus infection at all.

Such as:
1) A failing or defective harddrive.
2) A Bad software or driver Update
3) File Corruption
4) Registry corruption or system file corruption
(which may not be able to be repaired)

These things can be caused by faulty software, user error etc.


In the event something bad does happen, and all resources including System Restore fail, you can simply re-image the Entire system back to a know good state.

Quite lierally, anything that happened or changed after that image was created, never happened.







What is the best method to use for a System Image?

There are a few options at your disposal. Many of which are free, and cost only a couple minutes of your time. The payoff however, should you ever need it, will be worth its weight in gold.



Some of the most common & recommended software is as follows:

1. Windows 7 built in Imaging
Free & included with Windows 7

Tutorial: Backup Complete Computer - Create an Image Backup

2. Macrium Reflect ( Macrium Reflect Backup and Hard Disk Imaging for Windows 7, Vista, XP and Server 2003/2008)

Tutorial: Imaging with free Macrium
Macrium offers a free and paid version of their software.

3. Paragon Free Backup Software: Paragon Backup & Recovery Free Edition - Overview
Paragon offers a free and paid version of the software.

4. Acronis ( Backup and restore system software and PC system utilities for Windows and Linux OSs)
Acronis is a paid software & offers many advanced features such as Incremental, Differential backups. As well automatic scheduled task and much more.

** Many HD manufactures also offer a free version of Acronis (such as Western Digital) This is a basic version of the software allowing you to clone and make basic back ups. You just need to register your product to gain access to it.




When should I make a Image and how often?

1) The first Image you should make should be right after you install Windows.
Install your prefered imaging software and activate Windows.
Make a image right then!
This way, you always have a fresh, clean activated image Windows with no drivers or software you can fall back on.
Burn this Image to a DVD, or an external HD and store it somewhere safe.

2) The next main image you should make is after you get all your main software installed, activated, updated, and Windows set up the way you want it.

3) Before any major system change.
This includes installation of any new software, Updating or rolling back graphics drivers etc.

4) Before any major update/patch such as Windows updates.

5) How often you image will depend how often you change things on your system, and your own habits.
I would suggest a complete Image at least once a week.
As long as space is not a issue, you can really never make to many.

For how often, just keep in mind:
If something devastating happened right now, how many days could you lose without losing to much work? A week, 2 days?


Remember, its a good habit to keep a few images in store. Perhaps 1 or 2 a week fro the last month.
Not just the most current.





I can not stress the importance creating System Images has.
Many of the tools are completely free (unless you wish to have extra features) and cost only a few minutes of time.
The time it can & will save you in case of disaster however, will be significant.





.
 


Last edited:

davehc

Essential Member
Premium Supporter
Microsoft MVP
#2
There is a sticky om the subject, by Mike (The administrator). It seems that even though, users still seem to ignore it. Might be a good idea if your post was transferred to the sticky, as it needs reviving.
 


#3
What ever you need to do is fine with me. I guess I missed the sticky by Mike. I'll see if I can find it!
Yes sir, users ignore this it and that's very sad! A image has saved me hours of work. I keep preaching and hoping just one will see my signature and make back up images!;)
 


Joe S

Excellent Member
#4
I can restore an image in less than 20 min. I keep several on different drives.
Joe
 


davehc

Essential Member
Premium Supporter
Microsoft MVP
#5
Whilst it is interesting, and educational, to fathom out how to get rid of malware - viruse, etc, and unexpected problems with software installation, it would certainly make helpers on forums have a much easier time!
 


#6
Hi! If everyone would create back up images, we could all take a lot of coffee breaks!
It will never happen, so I think our job is secure!:(
 


MikeHawthorne

Essential Member
Microsoft Community Contributor
#7
Hi

I've been pushing for this for a long time, (to the point that it gets kind of boring, I'm sure people think "Not again?".

But I've seen so many people struggle for days trying to fix something that could have been done and back up and running in 20 minutes.

People can use whatever software they want but I always push EaseUS Todo backup (which is not on the list above).

I've used a number of different programs over the years, some failed me when I needed them, some were just so confusing to use that I could barely figure out what I was supposed to do, and would drive a novice up the wall with all the tech jargon and some cost a substantial amount of money and have pay updates.

Todo is so simple to use that it literally only takes 3 clicks to backup your C:\ drive.

Open the program, click on the System Backup Icon, (it already knows where your C:\ drive is) type in the location you want to save it to, (first time only after that it will default to that location) and select Proceed.

It will create a backup in about 17 minutes on my computer.

It creates it's own boot disk in either Linux or Windows PE directly in one step, just put in a DVD and select the format you want.

And the best part is that I've never had it fail to work.

I update it once a month and keep the previous 2 along with the new one, though I've never had to go back to a previous one it's better safe than sorry, files do get corrupted sometimes.

Anyway it is so simple to do that anyone can do it.

The other message is, don't put any important, "Can't lose" information on only your C:\ drive or one physical hard drive.

Everything important should be in two locations on different physical hard drives.

I'm so paranoid that I have 3 internal hard drives (one just for Windows) and 3 external hard drives and have all my important files, photos, music etc, on at least two of the external drives.

These I only turn on when I'm using them.

I also unplug my computer every time we have thunderstorms.
I've been hit by lightning 2 times, (the last time frying my computer) after the second time I got the message. LOL

Mike
 


Last edited:

davehc

Essential Member
Premium Supporter
Microsoft MVP
#8
"I also unplug my computer every time we have thunderstorms"
Me too. I have had a couple of unpleasant experiences with storms and electronic gear.
 


#9
I have been lucky! I just have a Toshiba laptop. I just pull the plug to the adapter!;)
 


MikeHawthorne

Essential Member
Microsoft Community Contributor
#10
Hi

My wife is in that situation too, it's easy for her.
I have to crawl under my desk, unplug my surge protector, and then disconnect my router from my PC and my smart TV.

At my age I then need to rest for a couple of hours.
By that time the storm is over and I have to plug it back in.

But the last time we were hit it did a lot of damage, literely melting the connectors on our satellite dish, and frying my computer, our heating system, router, my wife,s kiln, even our electric blanket.

We weren't home at the time, I can't imagine what it must have sounded like in the house.

The price one pays for living on the second highest spot in the county!

I can't even tell you how many modems I lost over the years.
I remember, driving away from home one day and hearing the lightning boom nearby.
I thought there goes the modem, when I got home, sure enough it was dead.

Mike
 


Neemobeer

Windows Forum Team
Staff member
#11
I guess I've never felt the need to keep system images. I tend to accumulate programs for a one time job and don't really want my system to reflect that if I have to rebuild it. I have several copies of important data and everything else I can install through a script I keep and all my custom tweaks.
 


davehc

Essential Member
Premium Supporter
Microsoft MVP
#12
I always make an image, after a first install, after I have completed the essentials (no customisation)
I then install all of my "daily" software and customise the OS to my liking, and then make another image.
Like yourself, I am often engaged in projects , sometimes only for curiosity, if I find something outstanding, then it goes into my bag of tricks, and a subsequent further image.
Data..etc.. is kept on my external, and is easily copied back to its appropriate pace(s) after the need to revert back to an early image.- no scripts needed.

This about takes care of any near disasters I could have - takes about 10 to 15 minutes to get back into ops mode.
 


#13
I guess I know the importance of create a system image than ever since I got several BSOD in my Windows 7. But I use Windows 7 snap in backup utility to create system image once. There is nothing wrong during the process.
 


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