Advisable steps to take when creating backups and system images
1. – If the computer has one or more hard disk drives of very high-capacity, you should partition it or them to make disk management as easy as possible. For example, use the C: drive for Windows only and install software programs and individual files, such as image files and documents on separate partitions and drives. The My Documents/Documents folder can be moved to any location.The My Documents folder is now called Documents in Windows 8.0/8.1. Use a search query, such as moving my documents in windows 7, to find out how to do it for your version of windows.
2. – Use the drive-imaging utility in Windows 7 to make a whole-system backup. If you have just done a clean installation, install everything you need and then create the image, which is best saved to an external hard disk drive or to DVD/Blu-ray discs. The drive should not be left connected to a computer in case an electrical spike takes the whole lot out. Discs should be stored in a fireproof place, preferably offsite. If you don’t have Windows 7, use a third-party imaging utility, such as Acronis True Image.
3. – You should make traditional data folder/file backups to save any data you create after you created the disk image of the entire system, so that it can be restored after you restore the disk image if you have a major system failure. If you make major changes to the system, create a new disk image of the entire system. You should scan the entire system for malware using anti-virus scanners before you create a master image so that it is clean. The major paid-for scanners and the best free ones (AVG, Avast) scan for all types of malware, including rootkits that install themselves under Windows in order to evade detection. For example, when AVG is installed it places its icon in the Windows Notification Area in the bottom right corner. Right-clicking on its icon and clicking on the Scan option reveals three options -> Scan Whole Computer -> Scan Specific Files or Folders -> Anti-rootkit Scan. The free version of Malwarebytes can only be used to do manual scans, it can’t monitor the system in real-time, which the paid-for version does, but the free version of AVG and Avast monitors the system in real-time. Nevertheless, it is advisable to make sure that your main real-time scanner is updated and scan the entire system at least once a month for malware and rootkits. The free Malwarebytes can be used as an excellent secondary scanner. The paid-for versions are also first-class.
Building a Standard Image of Windows 7 Step-by-Step Guide –
The Storage Team at Microsoft has created the following page that provides information on backup problems that occur with Windows backup software:
Common causes and solutions to Backup, System Restore, and Complete PC Backup problems –