Backups, System Images and Cloud Storage Services


Backup problems: Enter the word backup in this site’s Search box for a list of the backup problems that are dealt with under Windows 7/8.1/10 problems.

This page – Introduction – The main ways of storing backups and system images used by the home user.
Page 2The five golden rules for creating backups or system images – Also: Using Restore Previous Versions – Backing up and system-imaging in Windows 7, 8.1 and Windows 10.
Page 3Online –  Cloud backups  – Also: Using pre-encryption to protect backup files uploaded to cloud-storage services – Can a Windows backup or system image be restored to a different computer from the one it was taken from (created on)? – Backing up a webmail email account – More detailed information on backups and system images.
Page 4Advisable steps to take when creating backups and system images
Page 5When creating a system image using Backup and Restore, Windows 7/8.1/10 overwrites the previous system image

POST: Restore a backup or system image created on one PC to a different PC –

Restore a backup or system image to a different PC


The following article should convince those of you who have valuable data on your computer(s) – and don’t do so – to make restorable backups of it in several ways to ensure that it is not lost forever…

Windows 10 and 11 provide built-in backup/restore tools that are spread across three built-in systems.

1. – OneDrive via a Microsoft account backs up files to the cloud that the user can restore back to the computer.

2. – File History makes it possible to back up and restore local copies of your user files automatically on an external hard drive.

3. – Windows’ Reset is a built-in tool with several options that provides reliable restoration services from the computer itself  or from cloud-based sources.

A recent article on cloud backups

Analysis: Outage shows how Amazon’s complex cloud makes backup plans difficult [December 9, 2021] –

Free Macrium Reflect imaging and cloning tool

The following article provides instructions on how to create system images using the three best free reputable backup tools, including Macrium Reflect

How to make a Windows 10 or 11 image backup –
“Making a full system image backup preserves not only your files, but Windows and all its settings as well. Here are the best free Windows backup and recovery tools with step-by-step instructions.”

If you install Windows 11 on an NTFS MBR file system…

If you install Windows 11 on an NTFS MBR file system, the BIOS that has a UEFI mode uses the old-style standard legacy BIOS mode that cannot provide Secure Boot. Therefore, to qualify for Windows 11, I will have to make a standard backup of my system (not a system image that would restore the NTFS file system) and format the drive to use the GPT file system and then restore the backup to it. You also need to use GPT when formatting a drive larger than 2TB. Just make sure that your backup software supports GPT.  The free version of Macrium Reflect does. Read the following article on that provides the relevant information.

MBR and GPT –

Read the following post on the requirements of Windows 11.

Will Windows 11 run on your current Win10 computer? –

Backups are broadly divided into standard backups of an entire drive or drives from which individual files or folders can be restored or system images that make a restorable copy or clone of the entire system or drive from which individual files or folders cannot be selected for restoration. Standard backups allow full or incremental backups that only backup changes made after a full backup has been created. If a full backup was created on say the first day of a week (Monday) and incremental backups were created daily until the next full backup was created on the next Monday, a full backup restored six days after the first full backup (on the following Sunday) would require that the six incremental backups be restored after that first full Monday’s backup was restored.

If your computer is rendered a write-off  by an electrical spike, etc., if have files-and-folders backups that can be reinstalled on a different computer, you can recover pretty quickly. Just copy the files to a new computer which has Windows 10 installed on it. Restoring a system image – a snapshot of the old system – to a new computer would be more difficult because it contains the software device drivers for the old computer that won’t work on the new computer because they can only work on the specific hardware they were created to work on. You need to use a third-party system imaging tool that has that capability, such as Paragon Backup & Recovery 15 Home, which allows the system images it creates to be restored to a different computer. Note that the Paragon Backup & Recovery Free Edition can only restore to the same computer that the system image was created on.

Microsoft says: “Microsoft does not support restoring a system state backup from one computer to a second computer of a different make, model, or hardware configuration,” which means that if you have created a system image using the Backup & Restore software that comes with Windows 7, 8.1 and 10 you won’t be able to restore it to a different computer unless its hardware matches the one that was put out of action as fully as possible – is running the same motherboard that supports the same processor (Intel/AMD CPU). In short, for Windows to be able to restore to a different computer it must be using as many of the same device drivers as the one that was put out of action as is possible.

The following are the main ways of storing backups and system images used by the home user:

1. – Internal drives using optical discs – CDs/DVDs/Blu-ray Discs). Given the amount of data that requires to be backed up and the size of a system image, this is usually not the best solution, even with very high-capacity Blue-ray Discs. If something goes wrong with the lengthy data transfers or just one disc is damaged if more than one has been used, the whole backup or system image is lost or would be very expensive to recover using a data-recovery company. USB flash drives can be used to store folders and files and are now available inexpensively with capacities large enough (32GB and 64GB) to store full backups and system images. However, since flash drives are prone to stop working all of a sudden, mainly due to being used incorrectly, such as pulling them out of a USB socket at an angle instead of straight out, the user should never use them as the only way to store files, backups or system images.

2. – USB-connected external drives, such as external hard disk drives or networked network-attached storage devices. These are the solutions used by most home users, since the drives can be detached from the backup source or even be in a remote location. These are the safest, most secure methods.

3. – Online cloud-based data-storage services such as those provided by Microsoft’s OneDrive that comes with a Hotmail and account, Dropbox, etc., that provide a certain amount of storage space free with additional space paid for. Other services are completely paid for. Being online, there are potential security implications.

4. – Backing up to a network-attached-storage (NAS) device is gaining in popularity all the time due to the ease of use in backing up all of the computers on a network to it. The NAS device is part of the network to which all of the computers on that network have access.

Note that Windows Vista Home Premium and Windows 7 Home Premium versions cannot be used to back up to a NAS device, because those versions of Windows can’t be used to back up to a network share. You can only use Vista Business and Ultimate and Windows 7 Professional and Ultimate versions. Windows 8/8.1 Pro and Windows 10 Pro can be used.

Here is a solved problem experienced by a user who upgraded from Windows 7 professional to Windows 8 Pro.

Windows 8 backup (Win7 File Recovery system image) creation to NAS device fails with error 0x807800C5 –…

Free third-party software. Here are two suitable programs I found:

AOMEI Free Backup Software for Windows Backup to NAS Devices –

According to the Edition Comparison it supports versions of Windows from XP to 8.1, including “BR Disk, GPT Disk, Dynamic Disk, UEFI/EFI Boot”. The GPT file system and UEFI BIOS are used by Windows 8/8.1 by default on new PCs. By default, Windows 7 uses classic NTFS file system. Windows 8.0/8.1 works fine with a standard BIOS and standard NTFS file system when upgraded from XP, Vista, Win7, etc. –

Note that making Windows 7 work with GPT is difficult, but Windows 8 works perfectly with NTFS because many computers that use it need to be upgradeable to Windows 8 without changing the file system. Therefore, the usual method to add Windows 7 to a Windows 8 system is to make the system Win7/NTFS and then add back Windows 8. Alternatively, starting with a Windows 8 system, install virtual-machine software, such as Oracle’s free VirtualBox and install Windows 7 as a virtual machine.

Free NAS backup software – backup data to network storage –

“It supports Windows XP, Vista, 2000 and Windows 7, Windows Server 2012, 2003, 2008.” –

Microsoft SyncToy 2.1 –

“SyncToy 2.1 is a free very useful application that synchronizes files and folders between locations. Typical uses include sharing files, such as photos, with other computers and creating backup copies of files and folders.” – It can be used to syncronise files and folders to a NAS device. Apparently there was a bug in SynchToy and NAS devices but the release notes to version 2.1 state: “Fixed the data corruption issue when using SyncToy with NAS drives.” Microsoft no longer updates or provides the tool, but it is still available from download sites, such as this one:

Apparently, it is possible to use the tool in Windows 10.

Windows Home Server 2011 was good and its was free, but it is now dead. FreeNAS is a good alternative and is still available.

FreeNAS –

Build A Home Server For Your Music and Movies With FreeNAS! –

Page 2. – The five golden rules for creating backups or system images