How to Create an Image Backup, Part 2

By Ronald Pacchiano | Posted June 01, 2009

In Part 1 of this article, we explained the benefits of creating an image backup of your PC and showed you which application and hardware components you would need to do so. We also walked you through creating the Bootable Rescue Media that you’ll need for the restore. Next, we’ll walk you through the image-creation process and the steps to restore your image when the time comes.

If possible, you should perform this project on a PC other than your primary computer. This lets you test the entire process from start to finish, verifying that it works and avoiding any accidental damage to your primary PC during the testing. If you do perform this on your primary PC please have a current backup of your data just in case.

Part 2: Creating the Backup Image

We’ll create this image from within Windows. Using the full version of the Acronis True Image 2009 software, you can perform the image backup outside of Windows (my preferred method) by booting the PC with the Bootable Rescue Media, but unfortunately you can’t do that with the trail software. Now just follow these steps to create the image.

  1. Boot your PC into Windows and launch the True Image application. From within the True Image Application select Backup and Restore from the bottom left menu.
  2. Now on the right side of the screen select My Computer. On this next screen we will select which disk to create an image of. Click on the Disk that contains your C: drive. This will automatically include all of the partitions on that disk. Then click Next to continue.
  3. On this next screen you need to select the Target location where your image will be stored. Under Target selection click the button Create new backup archive. Under Backup location click the Browse button and select the drive letter of your External USB HD. Ours was E. You can keep the default file name or give it something more descriptive. We’ll keep the default which is MYBACKUP.TIB. Press OK and then Next to continue.
  4. This brings us to the optional steps. The first one is Scheduling. Select Do not schedule and press Next.
  5. For the Backup method select Full and press Next.
  6. Don’t Exclude any files and press Next again.
  7. This brings us to the Backup options page. Here you can select passwords, compression levels, error handling options, etc. We are going to keep all of the default settings except for one. The one we want is under Additional settings. We want to check the option to Validate the backup archive once it has been created. This ensures that there were no errors during the image creation. Press Next to continue.
  8. Lastly we have the option to create a description of the image that we are creating. I suggest you do this as it can help you remember exactly what your image contains.
  9. Click Next to see a summary of the procedure to take place and when ready, press Proceed to start the image creation process. 

We backed up approximately 25GB of data on our test system in about one hour and 15 minutes; including the validation.

Part 3: Restoring the Image


With the image successfully created, we can now proceed with the most important part of this process, which is to restore the image to your system in the event of catastrophic Windows corruption or total HD failure. So now let’s pretend that you just replaced your failed HD with a brand new one. If you’re using a secondary PC as suggested, you can erase the HD now to make the process more authentic, but it’s not necessary. 

1.    Attach your external USB HD drive to the PC and insert the Bootable Rescue Media CD into the drive and reboot the system. The PC should automatically begin to boot off of the CD. If not, you might need to make the CD the first bootable device in the system BIOS.

***IMPORTANT*** Some external USB hard drives might not be visible to the Rescue Media CD as it is in Windows. Even if you don’t do the restore now, be sure to test that the drive is accessible to the Rescue Media CD before storing your backup image on it. Otherwise you might not be able to restore your image when the time comes. 

2.    Once the system boots you’ll be presented with a Windows-like login screen. Select the Acronis True Image Home (Full Version)

3.    Select Backup and Restore from the bottom left menu. Under the Backup and Restore menu at the top left of the screen select Manage and restore. This will show you a list of all of your backups. Select the one you would like to restore. From our example that would be MYBACKUP.TIB. If you had multiple backups here you can select any of them and press Details on the menu bar to read the file’s description to see what it contains.

4.    Now just press the Restore button on the menu bar.

5.    For the restoration method choose Restore whole disks and partitions then press Next

6.    On this screen you need to select which items to restore. Check the box next to Disk 1 and press Next.

7.    Now this is the important part. Here you will select the destination disk where the image will be restored. You can usually identify this by either the disk capacity or the interface it uses. On our test system our external USB HD was disk 1 and the PC HD was disk 2. In this case disk 2 is the one we need to restore to. Press Next to continue. 

***IMPORTANT*** Examine the disks being displayed and their associated drive letters carefully because it’s possible they might not match the configuration found when running Windows.

8.    Again, under Additional settings you’ll have the option to validate the image before the restoration. With the restoration I consider this step optional, but for the backup, I recommend doing it. Press Next when ready

9.    Now to begin the restoration process, press Proceed and just sit back and relax.

Once completed, remove the CD, restart the system and the PC should boot right up. You should find it fully functional with all of your applications, data and printers all present and accounted for. Our test system was fully restored in less than an hour. In the 16 years I’ve been with technology, image backups have been an invaluable time saver, and I don’t know what I would do without them. After this experience, I hope you feel the same.

Ronald Pacchiano is a contributing writer for SmallBusinessComputing.com.

Do you have a comment or question about this article or other small business topics in general? Speak out in the SmallBusinessComputing.com Forums. Join the discussion today!


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