Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Windows 7 free backup/restore solutions, happy end !

In my previous posts I described how I shrinked my system partition, bought a pretty 500 GB 2.5inch SATA hard drive, but then was disappointed to discover that the first backup/restore free tool I selected (redoBackup) couldn't restore to a smaller drive than the original one.

I then gave a try to the second backup/restore tool in my shortlist, Macrium Reflect Free.

Partitionning the new drive

Before starting the backup/restore stuff, I first created as many partitions as needed on my brand new drive. After shrinking the system partition on my actual drive, it was divided in 5 parts :
  1. a 18GB Packard Bell Recovery partition
  2. a 100MB "system reserved" partition
  3. the 168GB C: partition
  4. 407GB unallocated (freed by the C "shrinking")
  5. 803GB D: partition (user data)
So I used the very handy EaseUS Partition Master Free Edition to create same size #1 to #3 partitions on my new drive. I incidentally created a fourth partition with all the remaining space (about 278GB).

Creating an image of the actual drive

Installing Macrium tool was a breeze. Once started, it was very easy to use too.

I just had a few clicks on its visual UI to select which partitions I wanted to dump from my genuine drive, select a destination folder on the fourth partition of my new drive (connected through an USB2 adapter).
Then I simply asked it to start the partition snapshot, while Windows7 was running !
Less than 2 hours later I was stunned to see the image generated, its size being only 76GB.
During the processing, a progress bar showed clearly the pace.

Restoring the image on the new drive

Okay you seem smart Macrium, let's see now if you can restore this image on my smaller drive, huh ?

Once again, only a few clicks were required to select which partitions to restore from the image, and where it had to be written on the new drive. Once again less than 2 jours later it claimed the job was done. No complaints, no problems.

The final test

It was time to open the desktop and put my hands in its guts.
2 screws to remove; hopefully the drive connecting plugs are very easy to catch; just had to unplug both power supply and SATA wire from the genuine drive, plug them onto the new drive and switch on the power.

It booted without even noticing the drive has changed.
It just took a bit more longer to show up, I guess because Macrium avoids dumping pagefile and hiberfil Win7 huge files when generating the image, so boot process had to re-create them when starting the first time.

My first tests on the new drive show no problems at all so far.


Wow, Macrium really rocks !

From now on I have my handy toolset :
Now I just have to run the backup / restore above procedure (2x2 hours) from time to time to have a ready-to-use spare drive in case my current one crashes.

And I have 200GB  spare on this drive to store more stuff.
That's pretty cool.

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