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Discussion Starter #1
On another computer that has the latest Windows 10, I'm using the "create a system image" option in the built-in "Backup and Restore (Windows 7)" to create a system image. I use a USB 3 HDD docking station that has a 2 gb desktop hard disk drive inserted in it to do the image creation. I've used the same docking-station/hard disk combination many times before and there has never been a problem with it. So far the image creation has taken well over 4 hours and looks to be maybe three quarters complete. I have done this about every other week and the last time I did it it took maybe 2.5 hours. There has been a rather large Win 10 update since the last time I created a system image, so I think that that may be responsible for this really slow system-image creation.

Anybody else expeiencing this problem and, if so, did you find any way to speed up this process?

Thanks.
 

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I think the easy answer is to use something else, like Acronis or Macrium. The long time it takes to make an image via the Win 7 B&R is one of the reasons I only do that twice a year. The rest of the time, I use File History either to NAS or, on the computers that have it, built-in SD card drives. Each one also has a bootable USB recovery drive. I use Acronis on the Win 7 computers but I'm too cheap to buy it for all of the others.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I think the easy answer is to use something else, like Acronis or Macrium. The long time it takes to make an image via the Win 7 B&R is one of the reasons I only do that twice a year. The rest of the time, I use File History either to NAS or, on the computers that have it, built-in SD card drives. Each one also has a bootable USB recovery drive. I use Acronis on the Win 7 computers but I'm too cheap to buy it for all of the others.
Thanks for your advice. Here's a hypothetical situation. If one installs Acronis and uses it to create a system image on a hard disk, as I do now, obviously the Acronis program itself will be part of that system image on that hard drive. If the hard disk in the computer fails, what is the procdure to install the hard drive that has the system image on it? Presumably, one removes the failed hard drive from the computer and installs the one with the system image. Then the power button is pushed and .................what happens then?

BTW, the system-image creation last night did in fact successfully comptete after around 6 hours. Soon after, I shut down the computer. This morning when I started the computer, the typical screen that appears after a Win10 update appeared first thing. It gives the option of exploring new features, etc. I rejected that option and my desktop soon appeared, as normal. The reason I mention this is that I'm now thinking that Win10 updated itself DURING the creation of the system image, and that this was the reason for the slow system-image creation. Do you think that this is possible?

Again thanks for your input.
 

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The system image isn't a bootable clone. With Acronis (or anyone else) you go through the steps to make a bootable thumb drive that can restore the image to the machine or, if the HDD fails, to a new HDD.

Anytime my system suddenly gets sluggish, it's usually because a Windows Update has half-installed. Often, I'm tearing my hair out before I think to check the taskbar for the "pending reboot" message. So, yeah, that's possible.

I have a Lenovo Yoga Book C930. Rarely use it plugged in and get 4-6 hours battery life. Set it to do a system image on a full battery and it aborted 3 hours later when the battery died. Happened, again, plugged in. That's how I discovered the AC adapter I was using with the C930 was defective, only supplying 5v instead of 20v.
 

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If one installs Acronis and uses it to create a system image on a hard disk, as I do now, obviously the Acronis program itself will be part of that system image on that hard drive. If the hard disk in the computer fails, what is the procdure to install the hard drive that has the system image on it? Presumably, one removes the failed hard drive from the computer and installs the one with the system image. Then the power button is pushed and .................what happens then?
All of the backup programs I have used allow you to create a bootable CD or USB stick with a minimal OS and the restore program on them. I use Aomei free backup and it gives you a choice of creating either a Windows ME or a Linux restore disk / USB. You boot from this to do the restore. Also (obviously) you don't put your backup image on your system partition or disc. I use a trayless hot swap on all my systems for backup.
5.25in Trayless Mobile Rack for 3.5in HD - Hard Drive Racks - HDD Mobile Racks & Backplanes
 

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I've been using Windows system image forever and I've made hundreds. On average, it takes about 10 mins start to finish to create one for me. My C: drive is imaged. It is a 256GB SSD and is written to various local internal 3.5" HDD's. I could understand if someone was imaging massive amounts of terabytes, it is going to take longer. My image ends up much smaller than the actual C: drive. On average about 50GB because that's all I'm using of my C:.

Also, if you have a zillion small files, although they don't use massive amounts of space, because there are so many individual files, they take longer to write. A Kodi image cache for example is a considerable amount of that 10 mins. Without backing up Kodi in the image, that time could be cut in half.

Because you are creating an image to your external USB drive, write times will be slower too. Add to that you use a docking station that in itself is probably slowing writes down. You might want to adjust it's write properties in Windows Device Manager so it can be all it can be not that it's guaranteed to be any better. 4 hours... 2.5 hours to make a system image sounds ridiculous to me. You have a bottleneck somewhere but Windows isn't to blame and I can't possibly see how another additional software is going to fix your problem. Good luck and happy holidays.
 

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Huh that's weird. I just made a windows 10 stick the other day and it took maybe 15 minutes total to have the usb ready to go.

I still have my windows 7 disc so I just use that, only PC i ever put it on is my own.

If the computer has an optical that can burn maybe consider torrenting the disk? Sounds like you have the key nothing morally wrong with that....

edit - oh you're building an image of your own drive not a fresh install, disregard never done that before yea i would expect it to take a lot more time given the same tools
 

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When you do a windows update to a major new version, windows keeps a copy of the old windows installation. This means that you have a LOT more storage being used, thus a lot more to backup. You can get rid of the extra storage space used by the copy of your previous windows version:

1. Right click on drive C
2. Choose Properties
3. Under the general tab choose disk cleanup
4. The choose clean-up system files.
 
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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks for all of your great comments! I will see how long the next image-creation takes and take it from there.

While I have your attention, I need some more advice. I use two hard drives for image creation. One has an older image than the other. For example, the date of the image I created last night will be written on the cover of that hard drive. When I want to do another image, I will take the hard drive with the older image, quick-format it and use that hd to record the new image. This way, if the HD in the computer were to fail while actually creating the new image, I could replace the failed drive with the drive that has the newer image. For example, if I do one weekly image creation, the newer image will be one week old (the older, two weeks old), which is not the best situation (compared to, say, a daily image creation, which ain't gonna happen) but better than no image at all.

Now to my request for information. Rather than using the above method of re-formatting the drive that has the older image (before putting on it the new, up-to-the-moment-accurate system image), is there any way that I can "update" that image in a way that would be equivalent to my format-then-create-new-image method? I'm thinking that if I could do that, the process of creating an up-to-the-moment-accurate image would be much quicker than the start-from-scratch method.

Thanks again.
 

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WindowsImageBackup is always created in the root of the drive you select. When you create a new one, it's overwritten if you select the same drive. Rather than resort to storing images on different drives, you can just create a new folder, cut and paste WindowsImageBackup into the folder, and then create a new separate one. I have about 10 system images stored on the same drive... all in their own folders. Usually I put a text note in there too describing that particular unique image. To use any one of them, I just cut and paste it back into the root of the drive. When finished, I cut and paste back into it's respective folder. Any image uses up-to-the-moment data from the moment you press go. Anything you change during the image creation will not be reflected. Think of it as a snapshot of time.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
WindowsImageBackup is always created in the root of the drive you select. When you create a new one, it's overwritten if you select the same drive. Rather than resort to storing images on different drives, you can just create a new folder, cut and paste WindowsImageBackup into the folder, and then create a new separate one. I have about 10 system images stored on the same drive... all in their own folders. Usually I put a text note in there too describing that particular unique image. To use any one of them, I just cut and paste it back into the root of the drive. When finished, I cut and paste back into it's respective folder. Any image uses up-to-the-moment data from the moment you press go. Anything you change during the image creation will not be reflected. Think of it as a snapshot of time.
My objective is not to save drive space or reduce the number of hard disks from 2 to 1. It is to reduce the amount of time that it takes to create a system image. The computer is probably close to ten years old, so its definitely not the fastest PC on the block, not by a very long shot. But, for its daily use, it's been a real work horse.

I've done a bit of searching around to see if it's possible to, essentially, edit an existing system image by adding or removing files/data. Apparently it can be done, but with expensive software not really intended for home use. For now I'll stick with what I'm doing. "I'll be back" if I need further assistance.

Thanks again, all.
 

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My objective is not to save drive space or reduce the number of hard disks from 2 to 1. It is to reduce the amount of time that it takes to create a system image. The computer is probably close to ten years old, so its definitely not the fastest PC on the block, not by a very long shot. But, for its daily use, it's been a real work horse.

I've done a bit of searching around to see if it's possible to, essentially, edit an existing system image by adding or removing files/data. Apparently it can be done, but with expensive software not really intended for home use. For now I'll stick with what I'm doing. "I'll be back" if I need further assistance.

Thanks again, all.
You might want to look at GImageX if you haven't already seen it. It allows you to capture the disk image, including all partitions by appending, to a 'standard' Wiindows disk image file, .wim. Once the image is captured you can mount the image and add drivers using dism or add/copy/delete files from the image and then save it. If your W10 laptop has a USB-C or an eSATA port, you might want to consider purchasing a simple adapter to attach the drive you want to image to the computer.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I think the easy answer is to use something else, like Acronis or Macrium. The long time it takes to make an image via the Win 7 B&R is one of the reasons I only do that twice a year. The rest of the time, I use File History either to NAS or, on the computers that have it, built-in SD card drives. Each one also has a bootable USB recovery drive. I use Acronis on the Win 7 computers but I'm too cheap to buy it for all of the others.
I've taken a look and Macrium and I am intrigued by its "clone disk" option, which it says is a bit-for-bit transfer of one drive to another of equal or larger size. Supposedly, you can swap the cloned drive for the original, press the power button and the computer boots up as it would have with the original drive. Is this true? If it is, I don't see why that would not be the prefered way to go, rather than create an image and have to boot up with a recovery disk, etc.

What, if any, are the advantages of creating a disk image versus a bit-for-bit clone?

Would cloning the drive using Macrium be faster than creating an image of the drive using "Backup and Restore (Windows 7)"? Anybody have experience using both?

Thanks.
 

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Macrium works well but it is very similar to the windows imaging with a few extra tools thrown in. It will take about the same amount of time.

a disk image is a single file where a bit for bit clone is a copy of the original with all of the files in the same place on the target drive. Thus all of the files are no longer in a single container file.

A clone takes longer to create as it needs to reposition the read/write heads to constantly write to the file allocation table area after each file write.
 

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It's also more expensive. I can store images from four computers on one backup drive. A clone is one drive per computer if you want it to be able to boot. When I upgrade a drive, I keep the original just in case, but I'll go to an image to restore. There's very little data on my system drive and what there is is backed up in two other places. Every now and again, I'll put the original drives in an enclosure just to check on them.

If you want to know just how nuts I am, for my main laptop.. the one I depend on, I have a slightly-less-powerful duplicate. Duplicate programs and everything. Every computer meltdown I've had happened right at a deadline. It's worth the extra money for the peace of mind in knowing I can just flip open the backup computer and pick up right where I left off, fixing the main one some other time.

Doc
 

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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
Thanks again for the advice, guys. Tonight I'm going to try out Macrium's clone-drive option.

Obviously, the reason I do this backing up tedium is to not lose a bunch of files that my wife an I find dear, including emails should the drive fail, as well as to be able to slip in the backup-drive and be up and running in a few minutes. We're over the age of 70 and aren't going to be around for that much longer, so, with that in mind, I'm thinking that maybe I should just buy a so-called "enterprise" class 1TB HD such as the one linked below; do one final clone; install the new drive and be done with it for the rest of our lives. The advertised MTBF of the one below is 2 million hours, which is over 228 years and it's not expensive. Therefore, I'm thinking that it's a near certainty that this HD will outlive both of us and I wouldn't have to do any more backing up of anything. Do you think that this is a more or less safe way to proceed or is any HD always a toss of a coin? Thanks.

Edit: If my calculation is correct, a HD that has a MTBF of 2 million hours is 92% likely to last 20 years and has a 96% chance of lasting 10 years. Presumably, this means that if 100 of these drives are all put into operation on the same day, in 10 years 4 will likely have failed and in 20 years, 8 will likely have failed.
 

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... I wouldn't have to do any more backing up of anything. Do you think that this is a more or less safe way to proceed or is any HD always a toss of a coin?
There are SO many things that can wreck a hard drive outside of internal failure. Everything from power surges (never assume a surge protector is a guarantee) to malware. If it can wreck a hard drive, I've had it happen.

As for photos and other files, any data that doesn't exist in at least three places ...doesn't exist. I've got a OneDrive account in addition to spinning backup drives and thumb drives. ...and that doesn't include the clones or backups. Heck, I have some things on CDs, too.
 

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There are SO many things that can wreck a hard drive outside of internal failure. Everything from power surges (never assume a surge protector is a guarantee) to malware. If it can wreck a hard drive, I've had it happen.

As for photos and other files, any data that doesn't exist in at least three places ...doesn't exist. I've got a OneDrive account in addition to spinning backup drives and thumb drives. ...and that doesn't include the clones or backups. Heck, I have some things on CDs, too.
In all the years I've owned desktops, I've only had one hard drive potential failure. Luckily the drive started squeaking and I was able to make in image of it on another drive and swap the drives before the squeaking drive actually locked up. That was a bit of a scare, so that's when I started being more careful about making images every week or so.

Tonight I used Macrium to make a clone drive. The process took a total of 2 hours, 10 minutes, which is faster than the typical 2 hours 30 minutes that it takes "Backup and Restore (Windows 7)" to create an image; and much less than the unusually long time it took a few days ago (which prompted me to start this thread). Whether or not the clone that was created tonight could actually be put into the computer and boot up the system as normally as the original drive, I have no idea, but why would people make clones if they didn't do that? Anway, I suppose I could actually remove the original drive and install the clone to be certain that it would, but that would mean I'd have to do a bit of work ............... and I'm more than bit lazy lately.

I'll feel pretty well "backed up" for the next week, but in this case, that's actually a good thing.
 

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Thanks again for the advice, guys. Tonight I'm going to try out Macrium's clone-drive option.

Obviously, the reason I do this backing up tedium is to not lose a bunch of files that my wife an I find dear, including emails should the drive fail, as well as to be able to slip in the backup-drive and be up and running in a few minutes. We're over the age of 70 and aren't going to be around for that much longer, so, with that in mind, I'm thinking that maybe I should just buy a so-called "enterprise" class 1TB HD such as the one linked below; do one final clone; install the new drive and be done with it for the rest of our lives. The advertised MTBF of the one below is 2 million hours, which is over 228 years and it's not expensive. Therefore, I'm thinking that it's a near certainty that this HD will outlive both of us and I wouldn't have to do any more backing up of anything. Do you think that this is a more or less safe way to proceed or is any HD always a toss of a coin? Thanks.

Edit: If my calculation is correct, a HD that has a MTBF of 2 million hours is 92% likely to last 20 years and has a 96% chance of lasting 10 years. Presumably, this means that if 100 of these drives are all put into operation on the same day, in 10 years 4 will likely have failed and in 20 years, 8 will likely have failed.
Anything with moving parts is likely to fail unexpectedly.

You should seriously consider replacing your hard disk drives (HDDs) with solid state drives (SSDs). In addition to improved reliability, they’re much faster. It’s like having a whole new computer. Typical prices are about $100 per terabyte and they’re available in a variety of sizes. 500GB and 1TB are popular, although smaller and larger capacities are readily available.
 

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I have used the Windows image backup for a long time. On Win10 Pro it has slowed down. Switching to a 3rd party app has issues if your PC uses secure boot. A number of 3rd party apps are not able to create startup CDs or USB drives that work with secure boot. I found the solution to the issue was managing priority of the image backup run. Using task manager to set priority to high solved the problem. Performance impact using other apps while running the image backup in high was noticeable but not worth concerns. Usually I run the image backup in the evening after finishing work. It now runs in 3.5 hours in a 3 partition setup of roughly 500gb. I will stay with Win10 for the image as the Win10 startup disk does work in secure boot mode.
 
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