Windows 8 and 8.1 Forums

Making backups of files and system

  1. #1

    Making backups of files and system

    I am confused by what it really means to "back up" your data. I got a Seagate drive for making backups. Before I install it I need clarification.

    The more I read about backups, files, settings and disc images I get more confused. I see that if I don't do it right and my computer crashes, I may have not saved what I needed.

    First should I use the software supplied with the Seagate drive? Or use Windows?

    Do all my files need to be in the libraries folder to get saved? Like documents, music, pictures and videos?

    Do I need to make a system disc also? This is just to boot up the PC if it fails?

      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  2. #2

    Posts : 22,577
    64-bit Windows 10


    Hello Mallen,

    You could use either or both the software or Windows to create your backups. It's just a matter of what works best for you, and what you determine is more reliable.

    File History will only automatically back up files that are in your libraries, contacts, favorites, Microsoft SkyDrive, and on your desktop.

    Windows Backup is no longer available in Windows 8.1, so I wouldn't worry about it. File History is used instead.

    A system image is good to create in case your hard drive dies, and to then be able to restore the image on a new hard drive.

    You could also create a custom recovery image that refresh will use instead to be able to restore your Windows 8 installation (including all user accounts and installed programs) to how it was when the custom recovery image was created. This doesn't restore the hard drive like a system image does though.

    Hope this helps,
    Last edited by Brink; 23 Sep 2013 at 01:11.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  3. #3

    Posts : 103
    Windows 8.1 Pro with Media Center (64 bit)

    Like a lot of users today, I have a small SSD for Windows and software, then a large hard drive for data. My backup strategy is this: -

    1. I create a system image of my SSD on my data drive. A system image is basically a bit for bit snapshot of a drive, so if my SSD was to die, I could buy a new one, restore my image, then I'm back to exactly where I was when the image was created. This is used in conjunction with a boot disc, so you boot from the disc, then you choose the location of the image and it's restored. I use Macrium Reflect for this as it's fast and free (or at least, the free version allows you to do this - there's a paid-for version as well).

    2. For my data drive, I create a backup of all of the data on it to an external hard drive of the same size. I use Cobian Backup for this. The first backup I run is a full backup, which backs up everything, then from then on I do incremental backups, which only backs up data that's new or files/folders that have changed, which means it takes a fraction of the time to run.

    3. Off-site backups. For data you can't afford to lose, keep an off-site backup. If your computer is stolen, the burglar might take the back up drive as well. Likewise if there's a fire, your original and backup drives might be destroyed. Backing up data to the cloud is a good way to do this, plus it has the bonus of making your data available on any Internet-connected PC as well as phones and laptops.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  4. #4

    I won't use Windows back up since I will be upgrading to 8.1 and that would cause an issue. Does that save everything that file history does? I have another computer that has been set up (win 7) on Windows backup and I am afraid its not saving the correct files.
    Seagate manual says it doesn't save:

    • The contents of the Windows directory
    • The contents of the Program Files directory
    • System files
    • Hidden files
    • Files on detachable USB drives

    The files I am most concerned with are all inside the library such as my documents, pictures, videos, and desktop. Also I have IIS on my C:/INETPUB drive that I store a lot of files to I would want to back up.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  5. #5

    Posts : 22,577
    64-bit Windows 10


    In your case, I would recommend to create a System Image as needed to keep it updated to be have a full backup of your entire system if needed.

    For file backups, you could use File History for those locations mentioned in my post above.

    If you like, the free program AOMEI Backupper or Macrium Reflect are also good for creating backups with as well.

    I'd say take a play with all of these options to see what works best for you.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  6. #6

    Posts : 1,875
    Windows 10 Pro Prieview x64

    Quote Originally Posted by Brink View Post

    File History will only automatically back up files that are in your libraries, contacts, favorites, Microsoft SkyDrive, and on your desktop.

    In 8.1 SkyDrive is not backed up by file history even if you put it in a library unfortunately.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  7. #7

    Posts : 22,577
    64-bit Windows 10

    Hello Adam,

    Technically, the C:\Users\(user-name)\SkyDrive folder is one of your user folders. In Windows 8.1 it is by default. in Windows 8, you will need to install the SkyDrive Desktop app first. You would also need to be synced (Windows 8) or made available offline (Windows 8.1) with your online SkyDrive to include online as well.

    Going by this:

    How to use File History

    File History automatically backs up files that are in your libraries, contacts, favorites, Microsoft SkyDrive and on your desktop. If the originals are lost, damaged, or deleted, you can restore all of them. You can also find different versions of your files from a specific point in time. Over time, you'll have a complete history of your files.
    ...then you got this bit.

    Protecting user files with File History - Building Windows 8 - Site Home - MSDN Blogs

    File History and SkyDrive

    File History doesnt back up your files to the cloud. While the cloud is great for storing files youd like to access on-the-go, or for sharing files with others, backing up terabytes of data to the cloud requires a specialized service. Many cloud services today support local synchronization, where the data in the cloud is mirrored in your local file system. Sync solutions by their very nature copy changes immediately to all locations, which means accidental deletes or inadvertent changes or corruption to files will be synchronized as well. The best way to address this problem is to couple your sync service with a point-in-time backup solution like File History.

    In the blog post, Connecting your apps, files, PCs and devices to the cloud with SkyDrive and Windows 8 we discussed how SkyDrive will integrate with Windows Explorer and the file system. File History takes advantage of that integration. If your SkyDrive is synced to your file system, File History will automatically start protecting the files stored in your local SkyDrive folder. This is a great example of local backup plus reliable anytime, anywhere access. You can access your files in SkyDrive through your PC, your phone, or the web and youll also know that File History is providing fast local backup and instantaneous access to all versions of those files.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  8. #8

    Posts : 1,121
    Windows 8.1 x64

    Something to keep in mind, if you have a Windows image backup, you can mount those images and pull files directly from there. Luckily they seem to be leaving the System Image Backup function active in the 8.1 RTM.

    The situation with the SkyDrive or whatever they call it, seems a little strange to me. I thought the selling point for having documents online meant you could not loose them..... Maybe I am just missing the point concerning the benefits of Online Storage.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  9. #9

    Posts : 1,875
    Windows 10 Pro Prieview x64

    The issue with SkyDrive at 8.1 has been noted in many places - like here for example.

    Windows 8.1’s user-hostile backup story | Ed Andersen - Software Developer in Tokyo, Japan or
    File History in 8.1 - Microsoft Community

    According to MS contributor on last link:

    "Files present in SkyDrive are synced to the cloud and are protected by the cloud in case user lose/damage their device. Library folders outside of SkyDrive can be protected by File History."

    The problem is if you make a mistake and change or delete something in your skydrive folder the error is replicated and so it is not a backup at all really. It is a pretty major shortcoming.

    You can see (screen print from fist link) the file history screen skydrive is no longer listed as backed up. I've tried moving the folder to my documents, putting it in a library and making all available off line - it just isn't backed up. It seems the File History code explicitly excludes Skydrive folder in 8.1 for some unknown reason.

    Currently I make system image through file history on ad-hoc basis, use file history for all my libraries and then just copy skydrive folder manually to backup location on a semi-regular basis. Not a great solution.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails file history.PNG  
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  10. #10

    Posts : 22,577
    64-bit Windows 10

    Yep, I see it now. I hate it when they change things like this.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

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Making backups of files and system
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