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Author Topic: Best Free Hard Drive Image utility for Windows 7?  (Read 11582 times)

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DaveLembke

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Best Free Hard Drive Image utility for Windows 7?
« on: July 19, 2012, 07:04:52 AM »
I have seen a number of free Image utilities online, but was curious as to which one is best for Windows 7 which will allow burning a spanned DVD image set?

Recently I found that my licensed copy of Norton Ghost 2003 does not like Windows 7 32-bit Home Premium. I am trying to find a suitable replacement to Ghost 2003 that will allow burning of spanned disc's to create a restore set for my highly configured Windows 7 box. Recently when I had to rebuild my Windows 7 box I was reminded of how important it is to create a good image set to baseline my machine and save from hours of rebuilding with software installs, security updates, and custom configurations.

I know that I could just use a restore point if the HD remains healthy, but as was the case with this most recent rebuild, the 250GB Hard drive crashed with the clunk of death and all data was lost, so I want to avoid restore points as my only method of restoration. Back in the days of my Windows XP builds Ghost 2003 had my system back up and running from burned CD and DVD's quickly and all I had to do is perform security updates for updates/patches that were released after the burn date of the image.

Allan

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Allan

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Re: Best Free Hard Drive Image utility for Windows 7?
« Reply #2 on: July 19, 2012, 07:08:04 AM »
Additionally, here's something I put together a while back in response to a question on another forum. It may be of some use to you:

Disk Imaging software takes a "snapshot" of your drive as it exists at the time you create the image. You can then restore the entire image or any file(s) or folder(s) you choose. It is a virtually foolproof way of backing up your system and providing a safe haven in the event of a catastrophe that requires you to blow away your system partition and restore it to a previous state. It also allows you to "test" various software and be confident that you have a the ability to return to the prior state any time you choose.

 
I use Acronis True Image. It is the best of breed, but it isn't free. The best free alternative is Macrium Reflect.


1) I create an image of my system partition once a week to a second hard drive and keep the 2 or 3 most recent images. I also image my other partitions about once a month. I always enable "verify image" in the options. It takes a little longer, but insures a valid image.

2) I also create an image before performing any drive level function (ie, changing the size of a partition) or making any significant change to the OS (installing a service pack, upgrading IE, etc). Also sometimes before installing new software.

3) Images may be created on any medium (cd, dvd, external drive, etc). For obvious reasons they should not be stored on the same drive you are imaging. The best option is a second internal hd if you have one.

4) Images may be created "in the background" within the OS. If you need to restore the system partition, that will need to be done before the OS loads. You can start the process within the application in the OS and it will then tell you it needs to reboot to finish the process. Alternatively, you can boot to a "recovery disk" which you can create when you first install the software (or to the application disk itself if you have one). Other partitions can be restored without a reboot.

overthehill



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Re: Best Free Hard Drive Image utility for Windows 7?
« Reply #3 on: July 19, 2012, 10:28:34 PM »


 
I use Acronis True Image. It is the best of breed, but it isn't free. The best free alternative is Macrium Reflect.



Allan.
As far as free, how would you compare Macrium Reflect with Paragon Backup and Recovery 11. If memory serves me, I believe that it was you that informed us of these free apps. on Giveaway of the Day. I did take advantage of both. Just recently though I also backed up my systems with Paragon 11 (compact version) but have not yet used recovery. The compact version appears to be just that. Simple and easy to use.
Your thoughts? and thanks, overthehill


             

Allan

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Re: Best Free Hard Drive Image utility for Windows 7?
« Reply #4 on: July 20, 2012, 05:20:30 AM »
Paragon is a solid product, no question. But if I had to rate them I'd put Macrium at the top of the free list.

overthehill



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Re: Best Free Hard Drive Image utility for Windows 7?
« Reply #5 on: July 20, 2012, 09:31:35 PM »
Paragon is a solid product, no question. But if I had to rate them I'd put Macrium at the top of the free list.

Thanks Allan, you just did :). Appreciate that. overthehill


             

BC_Programmer


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Re: Best Free Hard Drive Image utility for Windows 7?
« Reply #6 on: July 20, 2012, 10:34:42 PM »
Just recently though I also backed up my systems with Paragon 11 (compact version) but have not yet used recovery.

Part of testing a backup system is doing both the back-up and recovery portion. It's important because if you cannot properly recover a backup- it's pretty much useless.
I was trying to dereference Null Pointers before it was cool.

overthehill



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Re: Best Free Hard Drive Image utility for Windows 7?
« Reply #7 on: July 21, 2012, 01:14:41 PM »
Part of testing a backup system is doing both the back-up and recovery portion. It's important because if you cannot properly recover a backup- it's pretty much useless.

Thks, BC_ and I hear what you're saying. I do however have my systems backed up with other "tried and trusted". These I know work. In the event that this Paragon "compact version" could have possibly??? gave me action, I threw the question out there. Right now my systems are running as they should. In this case the thought came to mind; if it ain't broken, don't fix it.
overthehill


             

hartbeatmr



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Re: Best Free Hard Drive Image utility for Windows 7?
« Reply #8 on: July 21, 2012, 04:17:00 PM »
Good evening overthehill

Just in case you are not aware of it W7 has it's own imaging tool. When you use it you will be prompted to make a disk and where you want to store the image. I don't know if W7 basic has image function but I do know W7 Home Premium does.

Just go to control panel > system and security > back up and restore and look on the left for "create a system image" and "create system repair disk. The down fall to this built in UT is you cant pick to restore say a couple of files but you can restore the PC to the point when the image was made in-case of hard drive failure.

Hope this helps  :)   
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overthehill



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Re: Best Free Hard Drive Image utility for Windows 7?
« Reply #9 on: July 21, 2012, 04:51:29 PM »
Good evening overthehill

Just in case you are not aware of it W7 has it's own imaging tool. When you use it you will be prompted to make a disk and where you want to store the image. I don't know if W7 basic has image function but I do know W7 Home Premium does.

Just go to control panel > system and security > back up and restore and look on the left for "create a system image" and "create system repair disk. The down fall to this built in UT is you cant pick to restore say a couple of files but you can restore the PC to the point when the image was made in-case of hard drive failure.

Hope this helps  :)



Thks, hartbeatmr for your input.
But, my question was more related to Macrium being the best free backup and recovery.
If you notice my profile you will see that I'm running Vista. EASEUS and Macrium Reflect have worked well for me but I was a little curious about Macrium being the best and was simply wondering about the comparison (Macrium vs Paragon) which Allan has already answered. I didn't mean to stick my nose into a Win 7 thread but was curious about the comparison. overthehill


             

DaveLembke

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Re: Best Free Hard Drive Image utility for Windows 7?
« Reply #10 on: July 23, 2012, 11:41:17 AM »
Thanks for everyones input on this... going to have to check into what hartbeatmr stated with W7 built in image feature. I created the System Repair Disc, but wasn't aware of a System Image Feature built into 7 for full recovery. I am using Windows 7 Home Premium.

Long time ago I use to use the windows backup utility, but I got burned with that utility with system/data state recovery one too many times failing and then having to perform a full lengthy rebuild.

When first introduced to Ghost 2003 I was like OMG FINALLY a system recovery tool that I can count on and with so many recovery features. At first I used it just burning CD's back then,( like 12 CD-R's per system image) but then when I found the ability to save money and time not burning disc's and backup system image from work stations to a system with large hard drive to store images of the many systems and being able to push the image over the LAN to the workstations, that then became my most favorite feature. Even converted my 1.44MB floppy of ghost boot for network support with static IP to a bootable CD that acts like A: drive. This was the perfect method until Windows 7 came along and didnt play well with Ghost 2003. Also newer versions of Ghost to have the Network Imaging options, you have to buy into Enterprise Licensing of Ghost which is costly. I decided to buy 4 boxes/Licenses of Ghost 2003 to be properly licensed for my 4 Windows 2000 & XP machines.

Will also check into Macrium Reflect to see which one I like better. And as BC stated and I learned with the old Windows System Backup/Restore utility, you should always test to make sure you have a good backup/image. I have a spare HD that I will place into my system to push the image to and test for success before labeling my DVD-R's as being a tested "known to be good" recovery set.

Salmon Trout



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Re: Best Free Hard Drive Image utility for Windows 7?
« Reply #11 on: July 23, 2012, 12:01:32 PM »
I created the System Repair Disc, but wasn't aware of a System Image Feature built into 7 for full recovery. I am using Windows 7 Home Premium.

All 6 versions of Windows 7 (Starter, Home Basic, Home Premium, Professional, Enterprise and Ultimate) have the backup image feature. However, to backup to network share you need one of the last three on that list. All will backup images to hard drive or DVD sets. I have been using it for 2 years.



Quote
... you should always test to make sure you have a good backup/image. I have a spare HD that I will place into my system to push the image to and test for success before labeling my DVD-R's as being a tested "known to be good" recovery set.

This is very sensible. Without knowing your backup solution will work, you are taking a big gamble.

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DaveLembke

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Re: Best Free Hard Drive Image utility for Windows 7?
« Reply #12 on: July 23, 2012, 02:16:31 PM »
Cool... I found it!   ;D

I guess I never found this feature because of my grudge against MS Backup and Restore of years past. Sweet that they finally made the transition to an Image vs *.bak files which never worked out well for system recovery for me, even when installing say a clean install of Windows 2000 Pro and then using the backup - restore from backup utility to stomp on top of the clean OS to push original build system state/ programs over top of clean.

Many thanks everyone. Going to try this out tonight ... And TEST   8)

Salmon Trout



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Re: Best Free Hard Drive Image utility for Windows 7?
« Reply #13 on: July 23, 2012, 02:39:45 PM »
I know it says if you make a system image backup you cannot restore individual files or folders, but in fact the image is a standard vhd and you can mount it as a drive letter and copy whatever you like.

« Last Edit: July 23, 2012, 03:43:22 PM by Salmon Trout »

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Re: Best Free Hard Drive Image utility for Windows 7?
« Reply #14 on: July 23, 2012, 03:57:29 PM »
When i 1st installed Vista 64bit Ultimate after everything was setup the way i like with all important apps having a fresh install i created the image...

Then threw a spare HDD in to test and the image got to 91 % and failed...

Needless to say i have no impression of Win7's image app as i refuse to try it.
   
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