How can I make sure that my backups and system images work when I need to restore them?

There is no point in having file backups and system images created by the backup software provided by Windows or third-party solutions unless you can be sure that they can be restored – file-by-file from a standard file backup or as a whole from a system image, which is a snapshot containing the entire system that restores everything as it was when the image was created. Note that if you restore an old image, Windows will have to add the updates that have been released since its date of creation and you will have to reinstall any software that was installed after the image was created.

Just remember that the system BIOS has to have the CD/DVD drive set as the first boot device in order to boot from a CD/DVD disc in order to restore a system image or backup using a rescue disc created by the backup/imaging tools you are using.

The standard and UEFI PC/Computer BIOS –

http://www.pcbuyerbeware.co.uk/the-pccomputer-bios/

It has happened to me a few times and probably has to most PC users who have created a backup or system image – that when we need to restore it completely or partially in the case of a file backup (system images have to be restored completely, individual files or folders cannot be chosen to be restored), we find that no restoration is possible for some reason, which could be due to being saved to a corrupted CD or DVD disc or or because the backup wasn’t completed properly for some known or unknown reason.

Software that just creates standard file backups is available but most paid-for backup software can create standard file backups and system images.

You should remember that if you restore a system image created on a particular desktop or laptop PC and you restore it on a different computer, the components and their software device drivers will probably be markedly different having been created by different hardware manufacturers and the restoration is therefore most likely to fail. However, a standard file backup can be restored to any computer because selected files and folders can be restored apart from the operating system’s files, as is not the case with restoring a system image. That why it is a good idea to do both types, which, for instance, the backup program supplied by Windows 7 and 8.1 can do.

Most backup/imaging software – free and paid-for – allows the software-driven verification of the system images created with it, including the backup programs provided free with Windows. You can also test standard file backups by restoring selected files and folders to, say, a test folder.

I use the free version of Macrium Reflect, which can only create system images or clone the drives created on hard disk drives. I use EaseUS Todo Backup Free to create file backups. Those two programs are all that a home PC user requires.

Note that it is also possible now to back up your files to online backup service providers. For example, Microsoft’s OneDrive is now built into Windows with Windows 10, due for release in the northern hemisphere’s summer of 2015. It gives users of Hotmail and Outlook.com email services and some of Microsoft’s applications 15GB of free storage space. “Keep all your files and photos in OneDrive. Access and share them from your phone, tablet and computer.”

Here is the page on Macrium Reflect’s website that provides information on what its free and paid-for versions provide:

Macrium Reflect Free –

http://www.macrium.com/reflectfree.aspx

Here is the information provided on creating and restoring backups on PC Buyer Beware! website:

http://www.pcbuyerbeware.co.uk/backup-methods/

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