RECOVERY Method for a NEW PC Build - Planning beforehand

Hi, i bought all new parts for my new PC build, and i have decided to BUILT IT today.

It will be a HASWELL i74770k PC, and the OS will be Windows 7 ULTIMATE.

So, as soon as i finish putting it all together and installing the OS, i want to make a DVD, an IMAGE or a RECOVERY SOMETHING of the Computer in its Brand new state, so if something goes wrong when i install new software, or etc, i can REVERT to its original State.

What will be an EASY, FREE, but mostly importantly, RELIABLE method?

I only have a 1 TB HDD for this computer, and i was planning on using it as it is, with no partitions, UNLESS you recommend me that i should Partition it to make a RECOVERY PARTITION similar to what BRAND computers (Dell) have...

Anyways, if making a DVD or an image is easier than making a Recovery partition, i will prefer the easiest way...

I will start assembling the parts right now, and i guess that it will take me around 4 hours. By then i will start installing the OS.

Thanks in advance.
unrinoceronteAsked:
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rindiCommented:
You can simply use Windows builtin backup utility to make an image of your installed system to either another partition, or an external disk.

When needing to restore the system, you'll just need to boot from your installation DVD, and then use the installer's recovery / repair option to restore the image you made.

Some motherboards have built-in functionality for a proper recovery partition, but to get that working you'd have to check the manual for exact instructions / details.

A good 3rd party tool would also be paragon's free backup and recovery utility. You would also first backup to another partition or external disk, but you can tell the tool to limit the size of the files it makes so they aren't larger than 4.7GB each, so that after that you can burn those files to DVD's.

http://www.paragon-software.com/free/

Just remember to create a CD so you can boot the utility when needed.
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TheAvengerCommented:
I would recommend you Acronis True Image. It has a bootable CD (can be made a bootable USB as well) and it boots a very user friendly UI, similar to Windows (although it is Linux beneath).

So you boot with the Acronis CD and it recognizes your hard drive. You can now tell it to make a backup. It has two options: 1:1 copy or file based copy. The 1:1 copy will be as big as your hard drive (1TB) which is enormous, so I always prefer the file based backup. This takes only as much place as your files on the disk. It also skips some unneeded temp files (e.g. pagefile) and can give you a good compression.

Acronis will also save your partitioning information, which means you can recover the disk 1:1. It has also the option to restore on a bigger or smaller disk, i.e. if you decide to change the disk in the future.

In order to make the backup you need to have a second disk however (which you will need for any solution anyway). So you need to have that one plugged in when you boot your computer. I personally use external USB disks for backup but you can also use a second internal disk.

Acronis is paid because it also has a version which runs under Windows but what you can do is download the trial from http://www.acronis.com/homecomputing/trueimage/index.html#close and then follow these instructions to create the bootable CD: http://www.whatsabyte.com/P1/create_cd.htm. I think the CD has no limitations at all.
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Steven HarrisPresidentCommented:
I support rindi's comment for a System Image.  Not only do I keep as-built images of my PC's, I also keep yearly images for archival purposes.  Quick, Simple and effective.
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jcimarronCommented:
unrinoceronte --
I would highly recommend the system image be put on an external hard drive or in the cloud rather than on a partition on the internal one hard drive. That way if you have a hard disk failure you still have the data.
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unrinoceronteAuthor Commented:
Excellent, so i like the WINDOWS option, since its integrated, but i am not sure if  i got it right, Will Windows NOT do the 4.7GB files for DVDs? compared to PARAGON?

I will read about all 3 options>: Windows, Paragon, Acronis and see the Pros and Cons.

I think it might not harm to make a partition and have a RECOVERY option there, and ALSO have the same recovery on a DVD or external HDD, right?  

If i put the System Image on an External HDD how do i use it to recover the computer? Do i have to burn it to a DVD anyways?

How many DVDs could a NEW untouched Computer need for this Recovery Image? (I will use Windows 7 Ultimate, a Quadro GPU, and only 1 HDD, so i dont think i will have plenty of drivers to backup)....

Also, how big should i make the HDD Partition for this if i decide to go the HDD way?
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TheAvengerCommented:
You will probably need 4-5 DVDs. It will be pretty slow. I suggest you get a hard drive (you can get a USB one, big enough, for probably 50 bucks).

I personally don't trust Windows backup and like Acronis much better because it makes a copy while Windows is turned off, so it doesn't even know it is being backed up.
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rindiCommented:
I'm not sure whether Windows backup can split it's files, but I don't think so. Also, I don't think it compresses it's images like paragon does, but you can save them on a partition where compression is enabled, that would do the same as compressing the image. But when you save them on a DVD they would again need the uncompressed space.

A bare Windows 7 installation needs about 12GB, and if you use paragon to do the image, 2 to 3 DVD's should be enough. If your burner supports DL disks, you could also use those.
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Steven HarrisPresidentCommented:
Now, if you don't mind paying $50 for Acronis, then step up in features and down in price for the $45 NovaBACKUP.  Outperforms Acronis in usability, and offers drive spanning.

Personally, I am sticking with Windows System Imaging.
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David Johnson, CD, MVPOwnerCommented:
What I do is after the O/S installation I then use the built in shrink to reduce the OS drive to about 200GB, and then create a data partition, I then use the location tab in (Downloads, Music, Pictures, Documents, Video) and move them onto the D: Drive (you have to change the drive letters of the DVD-ROM to E: . This way I can blow away the Operating system and not worry about my important stuff (the data).. Windows System Imaging is sufficient and I've used it to restore the system many a time without a hitch.
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TheAvengerCommented:
@ThinkSpaceSolutions: you can use Acronis free if you don't want the Windows features but just the boot cd
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unrinoceronteAuthor Commented:
Hhhmmmm. Well definetely i want to use a FREE method.

ve3ofa, you mentioned something that made me think... Partition the drive in 2 in order to have 1 partition for OS and Programs, and one for DATA... I think this will be a good idea for me...

BUT, if i understood you well you said that you made a second partition AFTER installing the OS... Can it be done before? In the moment when i first install the drive and i have to format it? Isnt that the moment to partition a drive?

Anyways, i rather dont do the Compression thing for the image or DVDs, if it takes more DVDs is ok, or if it takes more space on the HDD , is ok too...
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unrinoceronteAuthor Commented:
So to wrap this up, which method do you recommend me the most?

I will like it to be easy of doing, free, and reliable, and also easy of using if i ever have to recover the system...

A) Do an image (with either windows or one of the software recommended) and Burn them to several DVDs? (my DVD writer does not support Double layer)

B) Do an image and save it on an External HDD (i have a 2 TB one which i use for backups) Do i have to format this external drive again, do i have to make a partition? or do i only save the image as a normal file?

C) Make a Recovery Partition on my internal HDD (So i will have 3 partitions: A-Os and programs, B-DATA, C-Recovery Partition) . How do i go in putting the IMAGE onto this partition? Do i just copy or save it there? Does it has to be installed or bootable or something?  (sorry i am new at this...)
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rindiCommented:
Within disk management you can shring your OS partition. After that you can create new partitions in the freed up space. You can do both, save your backup image to an external disk, and also create DVD's from the backup which you can keep stored away somewhere (That's how I'd do it). You can save your backup images to your external disk on the existing partitions, but you should make sure those are using ntfs, as that is more secure, and with fat32 you'd have similar problems as with DVD's, since the maximum file-size that fat supports is 4GB.

The recovery partition on your installation drive would normally not be bootable, unless your mainboard has a special setup for that. You'd access it just like you would the external disk.
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David Johnson, CD, MVPOwnerCommented:
Since the backup image is simply a file it doesn't require a dedicated disk. the image file will be >4G so it must be formatted as ntfs and not FAT32..

Yes you can partition the drive before/during the windows installation it is just easier to do it afterward.

The drawbacks to using DVD media is that if any of the 10 disks have an unreadable area then the whole set is useless, plus it doesn't scale very well. For instance my system drive  I'd need say 40 disks, that is a lot of work to backup (label, insert, wait a few minutes, repeat 40 times) and the same for a restore... DVD's don't have a long shelf life.. and the price/gb is rather high in comparison to hard disk backup.
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Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
I'd shrink your primary partition by 100-200GB and create a "OSRecovery" partition as the 2nd partition on the drive.

Then make a system image of the primary partition and store it on that 2nd partition.

There are a lot of alternatives for creating that image -- these have already been discussed at length above ... but "free" is a restrictive requirement.    This is a good choice:  http://www.runtime.org/driveimage-xml.htm    Download the "Runtime Live CD" and burn a copy from the ISO:  http://www.runtime.org/data-recovery-live-cd.htm

You can install DriveImage XML on your system and create the images "live" ... but if you ever need to restore from the image you'll want to use the Live CD.

In addition to the image stored on the 2nd partition, you should keep a copy of it somewhere else [so you're protected if the hard drive itself was to fail].    This can be on an external hard drive;  a set of CDs;  a 2nd hard drive installed in the system for backups;  or on a cloud-based backup service like Carbonite.
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unrinoceronteAuthor Commented:
Ok, so i put this on Hold until the weekend until i finish some very busy work. I will let you all know then.  But thanks a lot so far.
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unrinoceronteAuthor Commented:
Hi, sorry i did not returned to this question but the thing is that i didnt got the time to do this Planned recovery method. I read all yout recommendations and i will have this in hand for as soon as i can try them out.

Nonetheless this contains lots of good information, and i believe all your opinions an recommendations are valuable, and because of that i have to give you all credit. I know dividing the points in to all of you becomes a small amount for each one, but as i said, i belive every comment will be usefull.

sincere thanks
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