Windows 8.1 back up questions plus optimize extra drives

Discussion in 'Windows 8 Software' started by kkay, Dec 21, 2013.

  1. kkay

    kkay Well-Known Member

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    I recently got an external hard drive, and I need help. I finally got Windows running good, after the recent update to 8.1...I do see I have on optimize drives C drive, Winretools(12% fragmented), PBR Image, and some long winded VOLUME file. The VOLUME file is 56% fragmented, and even though these are set to optimize, they will not, either by schedule, or manually.

    I had to set the C drive to protection ON. The PBR Image drive is set to OFF. I do not know why. This is under System Properties, when you want to create a system restore point. There are only 2 drives showing here.

    I am new to backing up anything other than documents and photos. I did do a back up with FILE HISTORY, in WIN8.1....but I don't believe that will do a full system image. If you look at File History, restore files, you do not see any system settings. I clicked on that to see what was in File History. I am using SmartWare which only does basic backups. I thought File History would be an added safety back up. Does this File History back up overwrite the previous one? If not, they will build up, and take up too much space on my external drive. I wish I could add a mirror image from Windows, the basic SmartWare backup of documents, pictures, videos etc.., and File History. I have plenty of room on my external hard drive. I definitely would like to do a system settings back up, in case I had to completely redo the computer from scratch.
    If I do a mirror image with 3rd party software, would that wipe out all the other info too? I am hesitant to just do a mirror image, because it may copy a virus, or malware, if I were to get that. So I thought other types of back ups, were added insurance. I wish Microsoft would improve backup options for their customers. Sky Drive is fine, what little I know of, but it won't hold all my info, without PAYING for that.
    Last question I can think of, do I have to make a separate boot dvd, in order to restore the mirror image, if I must start over? Or can I just restore the mirror image straight from the external hard drive?
    If you can help me here, I'd sure appreciate it.
     
  2. patcooke

    patcooke Microsoft MVP
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    I have used Acronis True Image for many years and IMHO it is the best third party app for system imaging. My routine starts with having the system drive (C) dedicated to op sys, installed applications and associated system and configuration files. This should typically require a partition not exceeding about 60gb. All user data files are stored on a second partition, typically using the remainder of the hard drive. I create a new system image whenever some major changes are made to the system drive (updates, installs etc), storing the system image on the data drive. This enables me to recreate the system drive including all updates and installed apps in about 20 minutes. There is still however one weakness - all data is still contained on the same physical drive so on a regular basis I copy any new user data across to an external drive. (I store newly created data files in a folder called temp on the data drive and use that to periodically transfer the files to their proper place on the data drive, at the same time updating a complete replica of the data drive on an external drive. In this way I have a system drive, a data drive with all use files (including the three most recent images of the system drive) and an external drive with a complete copy of the data drive. If the system drive gets a problem (corruption, bad install, virus etc) I can restore completely to any one of three latest images from the data drive. If the hard drive fails completely I can recover system and data from the external drive. In the case of complete hard drive failure Acronis has a tool for previously creating a bootable copy of itself from dvd. I have three copies of the external drive - not because I am paranoid but because I have some thirty years of software development and other data I could not afford to lose.
     
  3. Saltgrass

    Saltgrass Excellent Member
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    I suppose a question first. Since we know nothing about your system, if it is an OEM that came with 8.0 installed, have you made all the recovery media the OEM recommends?

    Do you have a UEFI system or Legacy (MBR)?

    Your references the the Hidden partitions makes me wonder why, since those are not normally user accessible, and for a reason.

    As Pat mentions, many folks prefer third party Imaging software because it gives you more options for backups and recoveries. I have never felt I needed to go that way and just use the Windows version to maintain my backups.

    I will usually make one image after I set up a system and have it activated. Then a second image which gets refreshed on a regular basis. I do of course move an image to a safe place every now and then, just in case.

    Images are the quickest way to recover a system if it becomes necessary. You can make a Recovery Drive, which if it works correctly, will also recover a system back to bare metal. But that process is very slow in comparison to recovering an image, especially if you use a flash drive.

    Make sure whatever you use is Windows 8.1 compatible. Most of them will back up the critical partitions necessary to return your system to a working condition. If you want other partitions backed up, like data partitions or the PBR partition, as you call it, you may need to add those to the list.

    If you have a UEFI system, does Disk Management show two "Winretools" partitions?
     
  4. kkay

    kkay Well-Known Member

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    I have a Dell Inspiron 660s. It is an OEM, and yes, I did do the factory backup disk burn to dvds.
    I don't know how to tell if I have UEFI system or Legacy (MBR). I am afraid much of what has been said, is a little over my head. As I mentioned, this backup deal is totally new to me. I don't know about doing partitions and the like.

    As far as drive optimization should PBR Image be set to ON protection? (under system properties, same as the create system restore point page....it only shows two drives as I mentioned. But the defrag and optimize drives page shows 4 drives. I think the extra drive, the volume drive, was made when I updated to Win8.1.
     
    #4 kkay, Dec 22, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2013
  5. Saltgrass

    Saltgrass Excellent Member
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    Could you get us a picture of your Disk Management window showing the graphical presentation of the partitions.

    I can't give you a for sure answer concerning the protection question. What I know is the Recovery partitions and EFI partitions are not used except when needed. They do not need to be checked as would an OS partition or Data partition where reads and writes are done constantly. But Pat may have better info.
     
  6. kkay

    kkay Well-Known Member

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    Okay, here it is.
     

    Attached Files:

  7. kkay

    kkay Well-Known Member

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    I will check into this. I was looking for a free back up software. I will see if they have that. Thank you.

     
  8. kkay

    kkay Well-Known Member

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    Maybe I am wrong, but it looks like True Image is a paid version only, with a free trial, if you'd like.
     
  9. patcooke

    patcooke Microsoft MVP
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    Quite right - paid for software with a fully working free trial download . . . but . . . I have always considered system backup far too important to make economies . I have always considered TI the best backup package on the market and it is not expensive - the very first time you need to use it you will consider it worth every penny.
     
  10. badrobot

    badrobot Senior Member

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    There is an option to create System Image Backup under file history on OEM PCs. I save my image back up using this feature on external hard drive.

    I usually create image backups while my system is new and clean after creating recovery medias.

    Another great and free 3rd party image backup utility is Macrium Reflect free edition.

    Screenshot (7).
     
    #10 badrobot, Dec 25, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2013
  11. kkay

    kkay Well-Known Member

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    I can't afford anything else at this time. But I will keep that software in mind.
    Badrobot, I did a File History back up. If you hit recover, just to LOOK at what it has been saving though, it
    does not list system files. It shows Contacts, Desktop, Favorites, then Downloads, Documents, Music, Pictures,
    and Videos. I definitely want system file back ups. I will look at that software you mentioned too.
     
  12. badrobot

    badrobot Senior Member

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    I have 2 win 8.1 machines and I know that the system image backup under file history works. I just don't understand why it doesn't work for you.
     
  13. kkay

    kkay Well-Known Member

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    File History works, but it is not saving system settings I don't believe, since I can't see them. I have no idea why, but I wish I knew.
     
  14. badrobot

    badrobot Senior Member

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    It does save system settings or programs installed when you create an image backup from File History. The last time I did an image restoration was when I had problems updating to Win 8.1. I reverted back to Win 8 and all my installed programs and settings are exactly what it was when I created the image.

    I keep redundant images of my PCs on a dedicated external hard drive using that utility. Always works for me.

    imagebackup.
     
    #14 badrobot, Dec 25, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2013
  15. kkay

    kkay Well-Known Member

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    That is awesome news then. I wonder why it only showed the files I mentioned? I am very relieved to hear this.
     
  16. badrobot

    badrobot Senior Member

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    I think you are only doing data back-up and not system image. Look at the pic I posted above. That's how you create a system image.
     
  17. kkay

    kkay Well-Known Member

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    File History was on, and I used the same place at the bottom left, to do the backup. It says system image backup.
     
  18. kkay

    kkay Well-Known Member

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    Well, I give up. It seems nobody at Dell is willing to resolve the issue with the extra drives I mentioned. (or they just don't know) I ended up being passed around, and talked to six different people there. The last one said it was a software issue, and they could help me get back to factory conditions. (It's a software issue, no it's a hardware issue, no it's a software issue...spent about 2 hours on the phone with them, and I'm done with them.) So maybe these extra drives were created when I updated to Win8.1, but nobody could tell me this. Mostly I was put on hold, and transfer. So if anyone happens to know the answer to that, feel free to post to this thread. I would appreciate it. My warranty is about to expire. I had a very good experience with Dell, until today. I certainly do NOT want to go back to Win8 and go through hours and hours of problems, only to get right back to this exact same thing. This time I won't have a tech to help, so I am going to just try to ignore it for the time being.
     
  19. patcooke

    patcooke Microsoft MVP
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  20. kkay

    kkay Well-Known Member

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    I downloaded the free version, but I don't have it figured out yet. I do have the ISO, and the documents, pictures and so forth backed up. I plan to try to do a clone with the Macrium Reflect free version. :)

    Any ideas about the 2 extra drives issue?
     

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