When is it worth restoring a system image?

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  1. Posts : 68
    Windows 10 Home 64-bit (20H2)
       #1

    When is it worth restoring a system image?


    I try to keep my system as clean as possible by restoring when problems occur that could potentially corrupt files. My question is: how do you determine when it is worth restoring a system image vs. other options that donít require a restore? What criteria do you use? Here are some scenarios to consider:

    * Your system locks up requiring a hard restart by holding down the power button for five seconds.
    * A Windows component (e.g., Windows Explorer) crashes and restarts by itself.
    * An application program crashes.
    * You make significant application changes that donít work out as expected.

    I use the free version of Macrium Reflect 7.1 to make images on a regular basis. I donít mind restoring and donít see any downside except the time it takes to do it. But again, the question is when is it worth doing it vs. looking at other options?
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  2. dalchina's Avatar
    Posts : 31,808
    Win 10 Pro (1903)
       #2

    When you have a significant problem you can't resolve by any other means. (Perhaps = a 5 page thread here with 4 contributors over 3 days and no success ). Don't forget disk failure...

    If you are finding you frequently (more than once a year? - depends on what you're doing...) have to restore a disk image, then I'd suggest looking at the underlying pattern leading to this being necessary.

    restoring when problems occur that could potentially corrupt files.
    I find that a little puzzling- any change could potentially lead to some sort of corruption, amongst other things.

    Problems with just one particular program would seem less likely to indicate the need to restore an image. Depends on what could be determined on a case by case basis.

    Looked at another way, restoring an image also restores any data included in the image. Depending on what data you have on C: for example, if that were the partition in question, that could be very detrimental unless you have a separate backup of the data and remember to restore it. I try to keep personal data off C:
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  3. jimbo45's Avatar
    Posts : 10,806
    Windows / Linux : Arch Linux
       #3

    dalchina said:
    When you have a significant problem you can't resolve by any other means. (Perhaps = a 5 page thread here with 4 contributors over 3 days and no success ). Don't forget disk failure...

    If you are finding you frequently (more than once a year? - depends on what you're doing...) have to restore a disk image, then I'd suggest looking at the underlying pattern leading to this being necessary.

    I find that a little puzzling- any change could potentially lead to some sort of corruption, amongst other things.

    Problems with just one particular program would seem less likely to indicate the need to restore an image. Depends on what could be determined on a case by case basis.

    Looked at another way, restoring an image also restores any data included in the image. Depending on what data you have on C: for example, if that were the partition in question, that could be very detrimental unless you have a separate backup of the data and remember to restore it. I try to keep personal data off C:

    Hi there
    I'd advise taking backups as well at least of the OS BEFORE any updates and BEFORE applying any major software / adding new hardware.
    Incidentally restoring an image from something like Free Macrium works far better than any amount of HDD Defrags and is far quicker too -- on a typical half way decent computer with an SSD a backup should only take up to 30 mins max with the same time as restore.

    Why not take a backup in any case weekly -- it makes sure that the backup medium is still OK and you should always have more than one backup even if the oldest isn't the most up to date. It's no point trying to restore say a backup you took a YEAR ago and then find that the HDD fails or some other reason why the restore won't work.

    You CAN NEVER HAVE TOO MUCH BACKUP -- certainly if your DATA is worth more than the actual machine itself -- Music, video, special documents etc -- loads of this stuff can't easily be recovered -- and even if it could would you like to say re-rip 2000 CD's - again - even if you still either had them or any means of reading them (most modern machines don't have optical media devices any more - CD / DVD etc).

    Cheers
    jimbo
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  4. Posts : 68
    Windows 10 Home 64-bit (20H2)
    Thread Starter
       #4

    dalchina said:
    When you have a significant problem you can't resolve by any other means. (Perhaps = a 5 page thread here with 4 contributors over 3 days and no success ). Don't forget disk failure...

    If you are finding you frequently (more than once a year? - depends on what you're doing...) have to restore a disk image, then I'd suggest looking at the underlying pattern leading to this being necessary.

    I find that a little puzzling- any change could potentially lead to some sort of corruption, amongst other things.

    Problems with just one particular program would seem less likely to indicate the need to restore an image. Depends on what could be determined on a case by case basis.

    Looked at another way, restoring an image also restores any data included in the image. Depending on what data you have on C: for example, if that were the partition in question, that could be very detrimental unless you have a separate backup of the data and remember to restore it. I try to keep personal data off C:
    After my system was upgraded to the original Creators Update (v1703), it started locking up on a regular basis. The only thing I could do at the time was to hold the power button for several seconds until it shut down. My understanding is that this type of hard shutdown can cause system corruption (e.g., files, registry, etc.) So, the question is how do you know if something was corrupted? Sometimes itís obvious but sometimes problems donít surface for a while. Just to be on the safe side I always restored a system image in this situation. I keep my data backed up separately so that was no problem.

    Fortunately, the Fall Creators Update (v1709) fixed the problem. My system no longer locks up. And since I restored an image after any hard shutdowns I had with v1703, I donít have to worry about any hidden problems surfacing it in future.

    Are you saying there was no benefit to doing this?
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  5. dalchina's Avatar
    Posts : 31,808
    Win 10 Pro (1903)
       #5

    I gave an answer to your original hypothetical question. You cannot expect that to apply to a specific scenario which you hadn't explained.

    Glad you resolved your difficulty.
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  6. Posts : 68
    Windows 10 Home 64-bit (20H2)
    Thread Starter
       #6

    dalchina said:
    I gave an answer to your original hypothetical question. You cannot expect that to apply to a specific scenario which you hadn't explained.

    Glad you resolved your difficulty.
    I see your point about specific scenarios. Hereís another one I would like to discuss. After every monthly Windows update I assess my systemís performance. If something seems off I take an image and then restore to the image I took just before the update and install it again. I keep whichever one is better. Perhaps itís just me, but my impression is that you can get real improvements this way. I remember after one Windows update my hard drive was randomly pegged at 100%. I restored and installed the Windows update again. Hard drive was perfectly normal. No idea why. Anyway, in the two scenarios I gave, do you think it is worth doing the system image restores?
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  7. Posts : 1,554
       #7

    I'm grasping at straws, I'm wondering that, since most restores are file-contiguous (i.e. defragmented), your HD performance was partially due to the now-unfragmented HD.
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  8. jimbo45's Avatar
    Posts : 10,806
    Windows / Linux : Arch Linux
       #8

    RolandJS said:
    I'm grasping at straws, I'm wondering that, since most restores are file-contiguous (i.e. defragmented), your HD performance was partially due to the now-unfragmented HD.
    Hi there
    If you restore via IMAGE then all this is taken care of automatically - far better than defrag etc etc. (And quicker too --even on older hardware).

    Cheers
    jimbo
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  9. Posts : 1,554
       #9

    Thanks Jimbo for filling in the missing details. I was kind of hurrying myself along...
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  10. Posts : 68
    Windows 10 Home 64-bit (20H2)
    Thread Starter
       #10

    jimbo45 said:
    Hi there
    If you restore via IMAGE then all this is taken care of automatically - far better than defrag etc etc. (And quicker too --even on older hardware).

    Cheers
    jimbo
    Thanks jimbo45. I didnít know that restoring an image also defragmented your hard drive as a side benefit. On my system I think an image restore would take less time than a full defrag.

    In the second scenario I gave above it turns out that the 100% hard drive usage was caused by a Windows update, not disk fragmentation. A specific process (donít recall the name) was responsible. Many people reported it at the time. Fortunately, I created a system image just before the Windows update. After restoring and reinstalling the update the problem magically disappeared. This is just one example where I was able to fix issues caused by a Windows update by restoring. Other times I had to restore and change a few settings before installing the update again. I remember after one major Windows update my Documents and Pictures directories changed to point to the OneDrive directories and there was no way I could find to fix it. So, I restored the image I took just before the update, tweaked a few Storage and OneDrive settings, reinstalled the update, and all was well.
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