1 USB drive recovery & back up image solution wanted.

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  1. Posts : 33
    win 10 x64
       #1

    1 USB drive recovery & back up image solution wanted.


    I got a 128GB USB drive to make a win10x64 recovery disk.
    When I started, the brand new empty drive had only 110GB free (not 128GB?). OK I only have about 34gb on the concerned laptop used. I made a Recovery disk from the MS windows 10 build- in tools. When it was done, it formatted the drive to fat32, so it only now had a total of 32GB. 22Gb is used for the recovery disk files. So there is also not enough room to make a Recovery Disk Image.
    Several questions
    - Can I convert the drive back to NTSC and still be bootable and usable for recovery. If so how? Can I use the unallocated 81GB of empty space some how?
    - Which is better to have? A recovery disk or a disk image? Though I really want to have both on the same drive. I think this would be best so I get two options in case of disaster. Any way to do it with this 128GB(110Gb) USB drive.
    The laptop is just the way I want it. I just finished installing all the stuff I want, and set it up just right for me. But I have not used it for normal work yet.
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  2. Posts : 25,331
    10 Home x64 (21H2) (10 Pro on 2nd pc)
       #2

    KLund1 said:
    I got a 128GB USB drive to make a win10x64 recovery disk.
    When I started, the brand new empty drive had only 110GB free (not 128GB?)....
    Often the case. The stated '128GB' is a decimal value (1000='1K') while the reported free space is not (1024='1K')

    ... - Which is better to have? A recovery disk or a disk image?
    The two things are quite different and intended for different purposes.

    A recovery drive (if you tick the 'include system files') contains everything needed to reinstall Windows to original factory specs. If the manufacturer has added their own custom drivers/utilities these would be included as part of those 'system files'. It also includes other repair tools, restore a system image being one of them. It is always formatted as Fat32, to a maximum size of 32GB. Converting it to ntfs would make it unbootable.

    A disk image can be used to restore your PC to the state it was in when you made the image. The problem is that the built-in 'Backup & restore (windows 7)' will only allow you to put the system image on an ntfs formatted hard drive (internal or USB). It won't accept a memory stick.

    Your best solution would be to have two USBs, a smaller one as a recovery drive and your large one for a system image. You should look for more versatile and flexible imaging solutions, Macrium Reflect (free) is the preferred choice of many on this forum. You would need another small USB for Macrium's recovery boot media.
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  3. Posts : 56,182
    Multi-boot Windows 10/11 - RTM, RP, Beta, and Insider
       #3

    The cost of a 128GB USB flash drive, approximately $25-$30, versus a 1TB external USB 3.0 drive, approximately $60-$70, should be considered.

    Backing up, even with Macrium (Best choice), to a thumb drive is painfully slow, and you would get 2, maybe 3 images on it....nothing else. 1TB external 3.0 is SATA @ 6GB/s, with plenty of storage for daily, weekly, monthly backups......plus other partitions for other purposes.

    OP should consider his choice of media. Small 2-4GB thumb for Recovery and another for Macrium Rescue.....External for backups and other data.
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  4. Posts : 25,331
    10 Home x64 (21H2) (10 Pro on 2nd pc)
       #4

    f14tomcat said:
    OP should consider his choice of media. Small 2-4GB thumb for Recovery ...
    I believe the windows Recovery Drive will require a 8-16GB USB, particularly if you include system files. I would agree that an HDD USB is best for system images.
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  5. Posts : 13,784
    Windows10
       #5

    KLund1 said:
    I got a 128GB USB drive to make a win10x64 recovery disk.
    When I started, the brand new empty drive had only 110GB free (not 128GB?). OK I only have about 34gb on the concerned laptop used. I made a Recovery disk from the MS windows 10 build- in tools. When it was done, it formatted the drive to fat32, so it only now had a total of 32GB. 22Gb is used for the recovery disk files. So there is also not enough room to make a Recovery Disk Image.
    Several questions
    - Can I convert the drive back to NTSC and still be bootable and usable for recovery. If so how? Can I use the unallocated 81GB of empty space some how?
    - Which is better to have? A recovery disk or a disk image? Though I really want to have both on the same drive. I think this would be best so I get two options in case of disaster. Any way to do it with this 128GB(110Gb) USB drive.
    The laptop is just the way I want it. I just finished installing all the stuff I want, and set it up just right for me. But I have not used it for normal work yet.
    Firstly, the 110 GB is just due to way windows calls 1 GB as 1024*1*1024 bytes but USB seller calls is 1000*1000*1000. Actually usb seller is correct strictly and windows wrong but always been that way.

    You cannot format drive as NTFS (NTSC is a USA TV format - alleged acroynm for Never Twice Same Colour).

    You can format whole drive as fat32 but need to use a third party tool like

    How to Format Hard Drive to FAT32 File System up to 2TB

    However, if you create a backup image to same drive, you need to use option to split image to have files less than 4GB (maximum size for fat32 files).

    As another poster says, if you are going to use usb drive as backup, probably better to format as NTFS or EXFAT, and use a smaller (say) 2GB stick.

    A bigger concern is a usb stick is not as reliable as an external hard drive. I would invest in a large capacity hard drive - you will never regret the cost.
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  6. Posts : 13,784
    Windows10
       #6

    f14tomcat said:
    Backing up, even with Macrium (Best choice), to a thumb drive is painfully slow
    I use a sandisk extreme and it writes at 100 MB/S on USB3 and is faster than my hdds!

    I have an older SSD I use as an external drive and that motors at 250MB/S on USB3.
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  7. Posts : 56,182
    Multi-boot Windows 10/11 - RTM, RP, Beta, and Insider
       #7

    Bree said:
    I believe the windows Recovery Drive will require a 8-16GB USB, particularly if you include system files. I would agree that an HDD USB is best for system images.
    Wasn't quite sure about that size, for Recovery, but the concept is the same.

    I think we're all in agreement that an External is best for backups, and leave the thumbs for Recovery and Macrium Rescue.
      My Computers


  8. Posts : 13,784
    Windows10
       #8

    f14tomcat said:
    Wasn't quite sure about that size, for Recovery, but the concept is the same.

    I think we're all in agreement that an External is best for backups, and leave the thumbs for Recovery and Macrium Rescue.
    And let's not forget the option to make a macrium boot entry (or put it in a hard disk partition with it own boot menu entry) which means you only need thumb drive if hard disk fails or boot sectors and/or windows drive get badly corrupted.

    Actually, I managed to do that that quite spectacularly recently as I was installing Windows 10 as a second dual boot option, but accidentally turned off pc half way through - when I tried to restart, PC tried to carry on installation and failed, saying try again.

    The problem was that it had set the new install as the default boot drive, and upon restart, it would only boot to that trying to continue the install (it does not revert to booting to the boot menu until installation is complete, and it would not complete)!

    I even tried setting windows boot manager as the default but it was determined to continue to reinstall Windows and just ignored the bios setting. It was only by booting from a Macrium Rescue drive could I fix things!
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  9. Posts : 56,182
    Multi-boot Windows 10/11 - RTM, RP, Beta, and Insider
       #9

    cereberus said:
    And let's not forget the option to make a macrium boot entry (or put it in a hard disk partition with it own boot menu entry) which means you only need thumb drive if hard disk fails or boot sectors and/or windows drive get badly corrupted.

    Actually, I managed to do that that quite spectacularly recently as I was installing Windows 10 as a second dual boot option, but accidentally turned off pc half way through - when I tried to restart, PC tried to carry on installation and failed, saying try again.

    The problem was that it had set the new install as the default boot drive, and upon restart, it would only boot to that trying to continue the install (it does not revert to booting to the boot menu until installation is complete, and it would not complete)!

    I even tried setting windows boot manager as the default but it was determined to continue to reinstall Windows and just ignored the bios setting. It was only by booting from a Macrium Rescue drive could I fix things!
    A nice part of the boot option is if you click restore for an OS image you are currently booted to, it will prompt you to restart and pic it up automatically from the boot entry.
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  10. Posts : 17,445
    Windows 11 Pro
       #10

    You can manually set up a bootable USB flash drive with NTFS format, but it is only bootable in legacy BIOS (CSM) mode.

    To me, the best option is the external USB hard drive or SSD. Mine is set up with a custom FAT32 recovery partition that boots into Kyhi's recovery tools that also has the Windows setup files extracted to it as well. It also has a large NTFS partition containing system images as well as individual file backups. I can boot from my USB hard drive, make a backup image, restore a backup image, mess around with the partitions on the internal drive of the computer, connect to the internet, or just reinstall Windows. I can also do upgrades or DISM system repairs with it.

    It boots in any computer that allows booting USB hard drives, legacy BIOS or UEFI.
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