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  1.    14 Mar 2016 #1
    Join Date : Jul 2015
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    Win10 x64 Pro -2 desktops, 1 laptop

    How to validate system image backup


    A couple days ago I took a system image backup of Windows 10 to a 3TB drive - something unsupported in Windows 7 because of the 4k segment size. At least I think I took a backup - it did something for a long time. But I just looked at it and Windows says it's 0 bytes long. Is there any way to know whether I actually have a backup short of trying to restore it?
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  2.    14 Mar 2016 #2
    Join Date : Apr 2014
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    When seeing a full system image backup made here my first move is to browse directly to the folder afterwards to see how large the system image is. You simply to the location with an explorer window. For verification of the integrity that would take having a spare drive you can restore the image to and boot from afterwards long enough to verify a working image had been created.

    I think you may the following quote about the differences seen between MBR and GPT are not simply the limitations in Vista, 7, 8, 8.1, 10 to 2tb but how changing from MBR to GPT is used to overcome the 2-2.2tb limitation seen with MBR.

    Let me take a few minutes to talk about the mysterious 2TB limit. In fact, in a word, it is due to the type of initialization performed on the disk. Your disk is MBR type! The MBR supports up to 2TB per single partition. So you can only see and use 2TB in your computer. How To Solve The Problem?

    Now that you have known 2TB is the max volume in a MBR disk. I also want to tell you that there are two types of disk, another is called GPT(GUID Partition Table), a new partition/disk style, which support bigger than 2TB. So the solution is converting MBR to GPT? Yes, it is!
    At first, verify that your computer equipped with UEFI if your system partition is in the pre MBR disk. The UEFI will show up in the bios. Second, it is about operating system requirements. You can consult the chart below.
    The chart showing each version and the need for UEFI can be looked at How To Solve MBR Disk 2TB Partition Limit in Windows 8/8.1/7/Vista? The other option for making use of the other 1tb unavailable of course would be to simply split the drive into two working partitions. seeing a drive letter assigned to each. 10 is still limited to the same partition size as 7 since the file system remains the same.
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  3.    14 Mar 2016 #3
    Join Date : Jul 2015
    Pacific Northwest, USA
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    Win10 x64 Pro -2 desktops, 1 laptop
    Thread Starter

    Quote Originally Posted by Night Hawk View Post
    When seeing a full system image backup made here my first move is to browse directly to the folder afterwards to see how large the system image is. You simply to the location with an explorer window. For verification of the integrity that would take having a spare drive you can restore the image to and boot from afterwards long enough to verify a working image had been created.
    Very odd. File explorer now shows the size. When I checked folder properties an hour ago it showed 0 bytes. I don't understand what changed, but I feel better now.

    Quote Originally Posted by Night Hawk View Post
    I think you may the following quote about the differences seen between MBR and GPT are not simply the limitations in Vista, 7, 8, 8.1, 10 to 2tb but how changing from MBR to GPT is used to overcome the 2-2.2tb limitation seen with MBR.

    The chart showing each version and the need for UEFI can be looked at How To Solve MBR Disk 2TB Partition Limit in Windows 8/8.1/7/Vista? The other option for making use of the other 1tb unavailable of course would be to simply split the drive into two working partitions. seeing a drive letter assigned to each. 10 is still limited to the same partition size as 7 since the file system remains the same.
    While that is true, that wasn't what I was referring to. And I don't really understand the details of what I was referring to so what I'm about to say may be complete rubbish. As I understand it, the system image backup process makes use of a low level I/O process that directly handles disk sectors. Prior to Win10 the process knew only about 512 byte segment size; it couldn't write to a disk that used 4k segments regardless of the partition size. That limitation does not exist in Win 10.
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  4.    14 Mar 2016 #4
    Join Date : Apr 2014
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    W10 Pro x64/W7 Ultimate x64 dual boot main - W10 Pro Insider Preview/W7 Pro x64 - remote pc

    The size of an image will be limited mainly by the option used whether the Windows backup option itself or the 3rd party program you select. Then you are dealing with software related limitations. Being able to utilize more drive space on the larger capacity drives however employs the method used for servers as far as the GPT partitioning scheme. Windows by default will use the MBR while still seeing the other option available.

    As for 4k Advanced Format was considered a breakthrough until commercially available drives arrived during the early 80s being nothing new but simply not supported until 8 and Server 2012 arrived while the other OSs were the ones that did have the support like Linux servers. Mac, other UNIX based OSs. Something I should add in here would be the MSDN reference that does include XP, Vista, and 7 in the mix of versions that are still capable of seeing support for 4k volume.

    Summary of new large sector related features
    The below list summarizes the new features delivered as part of Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 to help improve customer and developer experience with large sector disks. More detailed description for each item follow.


    • Builds upon the Windows 7 SP1 support for 4K disks with emulation (512e), and provides full inbox support for disks with 4K sector size without emulation (4K Native). Some supported apps and scenarios include:

      • Ability to install Windows to and boot from a 4K sector disk without emulation (4K Native Disk)
      • VHD and new VHDX file format
      • Full HyperV support
      • Windows backup
      • Full support in the NT file system (NTFS)
      • Full support with new Storage Spaces and Pools (SSP)
      • Full support with Windows Defender

    • Provides a new API to query for physical sector size (FileFsSectorSizeInformation):

      • Available for network volumes
      • Can be issued to any file handle
      • Available for unprivileged apps
      • Friendlier usage model

    • Includes enhanced “fsutil” command line utility to query for logical and physical sector size of volume with alignment info (basic version of utility without alignment info is available for Windows 7 with Microsoft KB 982018 and Windows Server 2008 R2 with Microsoft KB 982018)


    You can follow that up further at: Advanced format (4K) disk compatibility update (Windows)

    The question I have for you now would be are you using the Backup option or a 3rd party program? If it's the Windows backup option you are having a glitch in Windows which could explain why the image isn't saved unless the 3tb has errors on it. That might prevent the copy by Windows or the backup program in use from being able to write to the drive. Don't worry I was considering a 5tb drive for a new backup/storage drive but settled for seeing a pair of 2tb server class drives instead to replace a pair of 5yr. old 1tb drives!
    Last edited by Night Hawk; 15 Mar 2016 at 00:05. Reason: additional information added
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  5.    15 Mar 2016 #5
    Join Date : Jul 2015
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    Thread Starter

    I was referring only to the Windows backup process. I created a an Acronis backup with no problem - both Win 7 and Win 10. It does validate the backup, but it has a clumsy stand-alone restore system. And to be doubly save, I downloaded Macrium Reflect and created a Win 7 image backup. Both Acronis and Macrium have reportedly supported the 4k sector drives for some time. (At least for backup. I still need to confirm restore using their bootable recovery systems, but don't want to risk wiping out a PC if they don't work.)

    But I still wanted to try creating a system image on a 4k segment drive using the Windows backup procedure. That was the one I was asking about. And it looks like it was created with no trouble. I have no idea why File Explorer initially showed 0 bytes in the folder attributes, but it now shows reasonable sizes of files.
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  6.    15 Mar 2016 #6
    Join Date : Jul 2015
    Posts : 9,552
    Windows 10 Pro

    Doesn't the Windows backup image create a VHD or VHDX file? I believe that you can just right click on those files and mount them to explore them without having to fully restore them.

    Macrium Reflect has a mount option, right click on the image file and select explore and Macrium will mount it as a virtual drive letter.
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  7.    15 Mar 2016 #7
    Join Date : Jul 2015
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    Thread Starter

    Yes, vhdx files are created. Windows says I don't have authority to mount them (even though I have administrator authority). As in the corporate world, administrative authority is a fiction designed to make the administrators feel important. Real authority lies elsewhere.
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  8.    15 Mar 2016 #8
    Join Date : Apr 2014
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    Taking ownership over the file should solve that fast enough. As for using Acronis TI I still have the 2010 Home edition in use here on the 64bit 10 Pro and never have any issues while the latest 2016 however gets the "bloatware" tag according to someone who was also looking at it. The compression of data however keeps the images smaller taking up less disk space then the Windows backup option.

    But having a spare drive would be needed to see the actual results when restoring any backup without effect on the main drive itself. That's still going to prove to be the best method for testing the integrity. Here besides having images for each Windows install on several machines not just one I also maintain two 2tb storage/backup drives where everything is backed up as I go along so if one of the OS drives has an "OOPS!" moment or fails no worry! Clean er up or replace and put everything back onto a fresh clean install if needed if not simply restoring the latest image made.
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  9.    15 Mar 2016 #9
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    Windows 7
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  10.    15 Mar 2016 #10
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    Don't forget to check the guides here at 10F as well! Take Ownership - Add to Context Menu in Windows 10 - Windows 10 Forums

    When going to look something up fast simply type what you are looking for in the forum search option seen at the top right side of the toolbar. You will a guide as one of the first links as a rule for just about anything.
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