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Confusion over Windows backup files

  1. Feb 9, 2015 #1
    As my computer kept urging me to back up my system onto an external hard drive, I decided I would buy one, but first I needed to find out which size to buy; so I backed up the system on the computer itself to find out how much space it takes up. This created two files (one, WindowsImage, and another one which shows an icon of a disc.) However, when I click on the icons and then on "Properties", it tells me that there are 0 bytes in the file: which is of course nonsense, since the file ("New Volume (F:)") into which I stored them shows over 60 GB being taken up. So, two questions: why the "0"s? And will it damage anything if I delete these two files?
     
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  3. Feb 9, 2015 #2

    phinds

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    It's not at all clear what you mean by "backed up the system". Do you mean that you created you Windows Recovery Disks on the hard drive? If so, that's a terrible idea since the point of those backups is in case the hard drive fails and you have to reinstall the O.S.

    Do you mean you backed up all the files on the C drive? What DO you mean?
     
  4. Feb 9, 2015 #3
    Thanks, phinds. Yes, I know it would be a terrible idea to back it up this way: as I said, the point was not for the back-up, but just to see how much space such a back-up (yes, Windows Recovery Disks, on the C drive) would take up, so as to know what size external hard drive I will need. I had in mind that I could then delete the bogus-back-up files after finding this out. Anyway, we can agree that it was a stupid idea. Given that, let's move on to answering the original question. Why do they show 0 bytes? More importantly, can I now go ahead and delete them (and defragment the disk afterwards)?
     
  5. Feb 9, 2015 #4

    phinds

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    I see no reason why you can't delete them, but you probably now won't be able to create a DVD version since the installed O.S. only allows for one such creation and you've used your up by doing what you did.
     
  6. Feb 9, 2015 #5
    Oops. Oh, blimey. :H(Stronger language is prohibited here, I believe.) Um, could I just somehow simply copy the folders now on my C drive? I would guess that the "0 Kb" readings are telling me that I can't.... Any idea?
     
  7. Feb 9, 2015 #6

    phinds

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    No, the recovery disks are bootable disks and cannot be created by copying files. If your computer crashes and you need to restore the O.S. you can take it to Staples and they will do it for you for $70 using their OEM recovery disks. Do NOT go to Best Buy and let the "Geek Squad" do it. Those guys could screw up a ball bearing.
     
  8. Feb 9, 2015 #7
    No danger of the one, or possibility of the other: I am not in the same country as Staples or Best Buy.
     
  9. Feb 9, 2015 #8

    phinds

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    Bummer. Do you have some similar facility available in case you need it? On the other hand, if you know a friend who cut recovery disks from the same version of the O.S. you can likely use them.

    You can USE the backup disks more than once, you just can't create them more than once. Also, I seem to recall that they can't be copied successfully although I'm not 100% sure on that.
     
  10. Feb 9, 2015 #9
    Most of the computer techies in my neck of the woods are amateurs. :( So I try to solve as many software problems on my own, despite the fact that I am, although not completely computer illiterate, not too far from it. I am wondering: as I recall, there is a function to put your computer back to the state it was at a given date. I forget what it is called, and there is no assurance that the necessary data is in place, but perhaps you can at least remind me of the term, and also whether you think that it would renew the chance to back up the system. Thanks.
     
  11. Feb 9, 2015 #10

    rcgldr

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    So say you buy an external drive, perform an image backup of your C: partition onto the external drive. Your version of Windows may include a bootable cd/dvd for re-installation / repair. Some oem versions have a hidden partition on the hard drive to perform similar operations, but that doesn't help if the hard drive goes bad. So assuming you've done an image backup to an external hard drive, and you have the bootable cd/dvd, then if the internal hard drive failed, you could replace it, boot up from the cd/dvd, chose the repair option, and then do an image restore onto the new hard drive.

    A folder / file backup could also work, but there could be issues if the recovery path involves a re-install, since user id keys will be diffferent, possibly preventing you from accessing the folders / files you backed up. With an image backup / restore, this shouldn't be an issue.
     
  12. Feb 10, 2015 #11

    phinds

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    I know exactly what you are talking about (I also can't remember the name) but it is useless for what you are looking for; it is designed to recover from a single (or even multiple) software application installations that have caused problems. It won't get rid of a nasty virus, for example, that requires you to reinstall the whole O.S.
     
  13. Feb 10, 2015 #12
    System Restore?
     
  14. Feb 10, 2015 #13

    phinds

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    Yes. That's the name he was looking for. Thanks for the reminder. The "points" where you set it are called "restore points". I have found the facility to be utterly useless but some people seem to think it is worthwhile.
     
  15. Feb 19, 2015 #14
    Thanks for the additional answers, phinds, StevieTNZ and rcgldr, including the term "System Restore". But one oddity: phinds said that Windows only gave me one chance at a back-up. However, this seems not to be the case: I could indeed back everything up onto an external hard drive, despite having backed it up uselessly once before.
     
  16. Feb 19, 2015 #15

    phinds

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    When you say "backed up" do you mean creating the windows restore disks so that you can exactly recreate the "factory-fresh" windows installation? If so, that's great.
     
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