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  1.    23 Apr 2017 #1
    Join Date : Jul 2016
    Posts : 184
    Windows 10

    Behavior of Windows 10 system imaging


    I have a new desktop with a 500 GB SSD [C:], a 2 TB HDD [D:], and a 2 TB HDD [Q:].

    C: is the boot drive, and it contains most of the apps, along with anything that requires speed.
    191 GB consumed

    D: contains some big items that are not as speed critical.
    345 GB consumed

    Q: is the backup drive. I do local backups of selected folders of this computer, and of another desktop computer.
    249 GB consumed

    I want to run the Windows system image, placing that image on Q:

    What will that image look like on Q: ?

    Is it a single file, stored in Q: (GOOD),. Ih that case I can image another computer and store that image on Q:, too.

    Or will the image "own" the entire drive? (BAD)
    Last edited by margrave55; 23 Apr 2017 at 11:52.
      My ComputerSystem Spec
  2.    23 Apr 2017 #2
    Join Date : Dec 2015
    Posts : 5,961
    Windows10

    Firstly, it is pretty much the overwhelming advice on this forum NOT to use the windows system imaging tool as it is slow and unreliable, but to use Macrium Reflect Free.

    Backup and Restore with Macrium Reflect - Windows 10 Backup Restore Tutorials

    The images are single files assuming the Q drive is NTFS or ExFat formatted (even ReFS I think). You can store backup files from another drive. Only restriction is you cannot create an image backup to a drive that is being imaged.
      My ComputerSystem Spec
  3.    23 Apr 2017 #3
    Join Date : Aug 2016
    S/E England
    Posts : 4,516
    10 Home x64 (1709) (10 Pro on 2nd pc)

    Quote Originally Posted by cereberus View Post
    Firstly, it is pretty much the overwhelming advice on this forum NOT to use the windows system imaging tool as it is slow and unreliable, but to use Macrium Reflect Free.
    I would second that advice. Having said that, I don't follow my own advice and regularly use the built-in Windows system imaging. Unreliable is perhaps the wrong word, temperamental and fussy would be a better description. Too often you find that, just when you need it most, the System Restore software doesn't recognise a system image as being restorable. It's at its most 'reliable' (if that's the right word) when saving the system image to a separate partition on the same drive.

    My 'Second System' (see my 'specs') is a test machine with multiple system images, all held on its fourth 'Data' partition (ntfs formatted). I can (and do) regularly restore these as required for test/support purposes.

    Windows creates the system images in a folder called WindowsImageBackup. Beneath this is a folder with the same name as the PC for which the system image was made. You don't have access to this folder at first, but Explorer offers to grant permanent access if you try (this is 'safe' to do). Beneath this are various folders and a 'Mediaid' file (it's this that seems to be at the root of the 'unreliability', touch this file at your peril). The images themselves are in a folder named 'Backup yyyy-mm-dd hhmmss' where the date/time is when you started the system imaging. This folder holds a .vhdx file for each partition that was imaged.

    Windows will overwrite the system image when you make a new image, so if you want to keep multiple revisions, you'll need to rename the WindowsImageBackup folder before making a new image. For my test machine, each 'PC' has a different name with the version (1703, 1607 etc.) as part of the PC's name, so I can keep multiple 'PC's in the one WindowsImageBackup folder. But for each PC there will only ever be one system image.

    The .vhdx files can be mounted as virtual drives should you wish to retrieve individual files from one. The largest one will invariably be the one for your 'C: drive'. You may have to take ownership or change permissions in order to mount them. I usually take a copy of the .vhxd file and work with that, rather than risk modifying the original and making it 'un-restorable'.

    All of the above is much easier using Macrium Reflect, but you did asks how windows' system imaging works


    PS: I also keep a system image of all four partitions (including the data partition with the system images) on an external HDD (you can never have enough backups).
    Last edited by Bree; 23 Apr 2017 at 12:59.
      My ComputersSystem Spec
  4.    23 Apr 2017 #4
    Join Date : Jul 2016
    Posts : 184
    Windows 10
    Thread Starter

    OK, trying Reflect.

    I first created an image of the D: drive.
    That drive has 417,652,464 KB used.
    The image file is 347,566,771 KB.
    The job took 70 minutes.

    I'm now imaging the C: drive. That's the SSD.
    It has 201,886,984 KB used.
    Not yet sure how long this one will take, but probably half as long.

    So why is this beast so slow?

    For comparison ... I had a old laptop years ago. It was an early Core Duo @ 1.7 GHz ..... SLOOOOOOW.
    I replaced the 80 GB drive (almost full) with a 330 GB drive. The new drive went into a USB 2.0 enclosure for the copying, and I used cloning software to copy the old drive to the new. Done in 17 minutes.

    At that data rate I could have done the 409 GB of this job in 90 minutes. So why does a much faster computer with faster drives take 70 minutes? I could have done a straight copy in less time.

    Also, a bug in Macrium. After the first job finished I could not create the second one. The complaint was:
    Code:
    Reflect is busy. A backup or restore operation is currently running.
    A quick online search revealed that the macrium.exe and macriumbin.exe jobs sit around rather than terminating.
    The support team said "reboot".
    That seemed pretty silly. I just killed those process and all was well.
    But you'd expect that the problem, posted in 2009, would have been fixed by now, eh?
    I guess you can't set high expectations when you're getting free software.
      My ComputerSystem Spec
  5.    23 Apr 2017 #5
    Join Date : Jul 2015
    Posts : 9,403
    Windows 10 Pro

    Quote Originally Posted by Bree View Post
    It's at its most 'reliable' (if that's the right word) when saving the system image to a separate partition on the same drive.
    And if it is a hard drive failure that you need the backup image to restore from.....ummmm.....where is that backup image? On the drive that just failed.
      My ComputerSystem Spec
  6.    24 Apr 2017 #6
    Join Date : Aug 2016
    S/E England
    Posts : 4,516
    10 Home x64 (1709) (10 Pro on 2nd pc)

    Quote Originally Posted by NavyLCDR View Post
    And if it is a hard drive failure that you need the backup image to restore from.....ummmm.....where is that backup image? On the drive that just failed.
    You missed my 'PS' The local image is just for convenience. The entire system, including the partition with the images, is also imaged to an external HDD. That has a small bootable partition with the recovery environment on it. I understand you do something similar.
      My ComputersSystem Spec
  7.    25 Apr 2017 #7
    Join Date : Sep 2015
    Posts : 58
    Windows 10

    Quote Originally Posted by margrave55 View Post
    OK, trying Reflect.At that data rate I could have done the 409 GB of this job in 90 minutes. So why does a much faster computer with faster drives take 70 minutes? I could have done a straight copy in less time.
    You might want to examine your imaging strategy. Although I haven't imaged more than 20gb, that takes 2 minutes.
    I can say that Reflect is considerably faster than any other imager I've used.
    As to strategy, I only image my system drive, and use FreefileSync for all else.
    And I use a bootable USB stick to load Reflect. I never take an image with my OS running.
      My ComputerSystem Spec
  8.    25 Apr 2017 #8
    Join Date : Jul 2015
    Posts : 9,403
    Windows 10 Pro

    Quote Originally Posted by Bree View Post
    You missed my 'PS' The local image is just for convenience. The entire system, including the partition with the images, is also imaged to an external HDD. That has a small bootable partition with the recovery environment on it. I understand you do something similar.
    Yes. My laptop and desktop have an SSD and a HDD. A backup image of the SSD is stored on the HDD and the HDD has a bootable partition with the recovery software on it :-). Second images are kept on a NAS.
      My ComputerSystem Spec
  9.    25 Apr 2017 #9
    Join Date : Jun 2014
    UK
    Posts : 1,051
    W10 pro x64 and W8.1 x86

    Just to go back to the original question about Windows own backup utility, well I've gone back to using that since clean installing the Creators Update.

    Why... well I knew a new release of Macrium Free is imminent and I didn't want to install that and then have to overwrite it.

    Windows backup gets a bad press. I've used it with impunity while rebuilding my system (perhaps 5 or 6 restores) and its worked faultlessly.

    The OP asked what the image would look like. Well as mentioned above, its a single file that is always called WindowsImageBackup. Every time you run the backup a new differential image is added but there is nothing for you to see. When you restore you are offered all the backups in the sequence to choose from. It does not overwrite the existing image, all the images and dates are available in an easy to use interface when you restore. It just makes sense to start new sequences off now and again... as in my picture below.

    You can rename the backup (and its then not recognised anymore until you name it back again), and start new sequences off as here. You can also move and copy the files to other locations as and when you wish.

    I used Macrium (and was very pleased it must be said) but Windows backup is a joy to use, its quick, and restores seem to be completed considerably quicker than with Macrium.

    Click image for larger version. 

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  10.    25 Apr 2017 #10
    Join Date : Aug 2016
    S/E England
    Posts : 4,516
    10 Home x64 (1709) (10 Pro on 2nd pc)

    Quote Originally Posted by Mooly View Post
    ...as mentioned above, its a single file that is always called WindowsImageBackup. Every time you run the backup a new differential image is added but there is nothing for you to see....
    Actually, it's a folder - and if you are an administrator you can get permission to look inside it just by clicking on it. There you'll find a sub-folder with the name of your PC, and inside that folders holding various catalogue files and a .vhdx file for each partition.

    ...It does not overwrite the existing image...
    Very much depends on available space. If space is short the oldest image will be overwritten. There's very little control over this, Backup decides what's best. If you really need to keep an older image it's best to rename or copy it elsewhere.
      My ComputersSystem Spec

 
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