I just recently built a new PC and have a somewhat complicated file structure since I'm utilizing a SSD and two HDDs. I want to back the system up in case a storage drive were to fail. I am backing data up to a WD Mybook 2TB external HDD. Can someone please tell me what I'm actually getting when I back up certain data folders plus create a system image?
My intent is to have an exact clone of my entire system, so that I can install a backup and have every file and program exactly where it was, fully executable. I want to be able to push a button and "make it so."
Is that what I'm getting by creating a system image in Windows backup? And if not, what would I need to do that?
It's generally advisable to use a different backup strategy for your OS drive than for your data drive(s). This is because the OS is essentially a monolithic "black box" and you need to back up and/or restore the whole thing as a unit. And you don't really need to back it up all that often because it typically doesn't change every day - usually only once a month (when patches are issued) or when you install new software. Not only that, but when you loose the files on your OS drive you can always get them back from the original install discs or from the Internet (not true of your personal documents, photos, etc.) - another reason why it's not that crucial to keep up-to-the-minute backups of the OS. Those kinds of requirements - infrequent backup of the entire drive - is what a "system image" backup is for.
Your data drives, on the other hand, typically hold a lot more information that's often irreplaceable, changes more frequently and for which you may need to restore just an individual file (oops, I can't find this file I need, I must have deleted it!). So it's generally advisable to use a file-based backup for those drives and to have it run at a much more frequent interval than you'd do for the OS drive.
Even though you use two different types of backup, you can still restore your entire system to its original state by first restoring the system image and then restoring the file-based backups.
A cavet - the frequency of redoing the "C" drive image may alos depend on location of email files, and where you have the "My Documents" folder (on my system I've relocated My docs to my D drive. Normally I redo my c drive image once a week, some times go for two weeks.
Thank you for the input. I feel better about using the system image feature now.
Currently I have my OS and some other programs on the SSD, with My Docs, Music, and everything else on a HDD. Since the programs use data found on the HDD, I wanted to make sure that I could restore everything to BOTH drives just the way I had it before the (hypothetical) failure.
- After two PC builds and a hard drive failure in as many months, I'm sick of reinstalling everything piece by piece. I just wanted the peace of mind of knowing that I can restore everything in one fell swoop. But yes, I understand that data backups are more frequent, with a system image once in a while.