(Solved) - How do I properly image / back up data so I can perform a new OS installation?(15 posts)
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I regularly image my C:\ drive to my external USB drive, using EaseUS (i.e. system backup). Imaging this way, you can restore your system exactly the way it was at the date and time you performed the backup -- all the data, all the apps and all the settings, etc. at the time you did the imaging.
If all you care about is data -- assuming you wish to reinstall Windows and apps and re-customize settings, etc., then just copy your data to your external drive. You do not need to image (or clone). Remember, restoring from a system image will get you back to where you were -- and that will undo your clean install completely!
I'd recommend an Image, also recommend storing data on either a separate partition or an external hard drive or both. I just have all my apps and OS on my C Drive and I image that at least once a month after running updates and AV and updating all my apps. This way my image size on Windows 8 is only about 12GB and all my data is stored on 3 different hard drives all synchronized. No data stored on the C drive at all.
I've got an SSD that I use for the OS and apps and another Hard Drive with a couple of partitions on it, one for the Image and another for my data.
350GB on a C Drive is crazy in my opinion if that's what you have, if the OS goes belly up your kind of screwed, better to move the data to a separate external hard drive, may take a while but will be worth it in the end, always have at least 2 backups of your data, you never can be to careful.
Another option is to partition the hard drive, leave maybe 80gb for the OS and apps and store the data on the other partition and another external drive just to be safe.
Just reading your original question, you say you are doing a fresh install of windows, to create an image of the 350GB while take about the same time as moving the data to an external drive.
What I would do is, move the data to an external drive. During the re-install of windows create a partition for the OS and Apps of about 100GB and create another partition for the rest of your data, going forward store all your data there, you can also sync your data between the partition and external drive using something like this
gedstar is absolutely right. Leaving that much data on the C drive is very risky. For starters make an image of that partition to your external disk. Then you can start sorting the rest - at least you have a fallback with the image.
Assuming you have Windows 7, I would do the following:
1. Copy all your user data to an external disk. Then delete the user folders in C.
2. Shrink the C partition down to 60 - 80GB. You may need the bootable CD of Partition Wizard for that (last entry on the webpage). Download this .iso and burn it to CD (use this program). Then boot with the CD. -- If you don't know how to use the Partition Wizard program, post back for guidance.
3. Create a new partition in the unallocated disk space that you got from shrinking C.
4. COPY your use folders from the external disk where you saved them to that new partition. When all is well, you can delete them on the external - unless you want to keep them as an extra backup for later sync.
5. Right click on the highest level user folder (Documents, Pictures, etc.) in that partition and INCLUDE them into the appropriate library. Now you find them under Libraries in Explorer.
"That's very helpful however, my drive has little over 350 gigs used and the data that I intend to back up is scattered in the middle of it."
Now would be a good time to determine how best to organize your data -- and not necessarily just copying them to the external drive "as is". There are all different ways to organize and lots of subjectivity... for example, I find nothing wrong at all saving data onto my C drive. For myself...
1. I like all my data to reside within "My Documents" -- with different folders for different types of data. Of course, a few apps will insist on storing data within its own folder, but I try to minimize those. This way, I know where most everything is. And then...
2. Using the free Microsoft SyncToy (very easy to use) -- I set up to copy all data from C drive to my external (E:) drive -- pairing folders to folders. Once set up, at a press of one or two buttons, SyncToy will compare all your folder pairs and keep everything in sync the way you wish it to be.
3. Not that you asked, but I assume you have a system of backing up your data to an offsite location? This can be a combination of storing stuff that don't change regularly (music, photos) in a drive or disc offsite -- combined with some sort of cloud sync for data that do change regularly (your office data files).
Anyway, back to your question, reorganzing (if needed) and copying your data is the way to go. Don't image. But after you finished installing your new OS and apps and all that -- then do an image at that time.
I realize now that it was not a good idea to use my drive in this manner. I will s to drag 'n drop my data and will image the C: drive to and external HD to make sure that no data is lost. Then, I will clean install Windows. Does that sounds like the correct way to do this Gedstar?
Sounds good to me, but as I said when re-installing Windows make sure that you partition the Hard Drive, maybe use about 80GB for OS and Apps and the rest to store your data, this way at least you will have 2 backups with the external drive too!!!!
Just a note, after transferring the data to the external drive, delete same from the C Drive that way your Image won't be to big!
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