Backup Tips: How to Prepare for a Win7 Install

Dennis Faas's picture

Infopackets Reader 'Helen' writes:

" Dear Dennis,

Regarding the discounted Acronis True Image 2011 which is currently offered through your website (and which will expire on Wednesday, November 17th, 2010 at 11:59PM EST) --

I am currently using a HP (Hewlett Packard) 'Pocket' external hard drive, and it holds 320 GB of information.

In order to use Acronis True Image 2011 to backup my computer, do I need to erase everything on the hard drive and reformat? I use my PC only occasionally. Thanks for any help you can provide. "

My response:

The short answer is that you don't have to format your hard drive to use Acronis True Image to backup your computer.

The long answer:

For this question, I'm going to assume the 320GB external hard drive is not your primary hard drive which stores and boots MS Windows. In 99% of all cases, this is true. Thus, the "C drive" is internal to your PC / laptop, has MS Windows on it, and is also used to store most of your documents, pictures, etc. In 99% of all cases, external hard drives drives are for additional storage and backup units.

With that aside:

If, for example, your C drive is 60GB in size and is 99% full and has Windows XP on it, and you wanted to backup your entire C drive in order to install Windows 7 on the C drive at a later time, you'd need a minimum of 60GB of available space to store the backup.

So if your external 320GB drive has data on it and it has at least 60GB of space available, the backup would fit without any issues.

Windows 7 Install Tip: I do not recommend you dual boot and/or install Windows 7 on an external hard drive for numerous reasons. When you install Windows 7, it should replace Windows XP or Windows Vista which is stored on the C drive (inside your PC / laptop). Most experienced tech users will recommended that any operating system installation be done on a freshly formatted hard drive and never "over top" of an pre-existing installation. There are so many reasons why this is a bad idea, that I'm not going to list them because I would need to devote an entire page to do so. To put it succinctly: you'll more than likely encounter problems if you go this route, so don't do it. Dual booting / booting from external media is is recommended only for advanced users.

Pros and Cons of Using Maximum Compression on a Backup

Acronis True Image supports compression during backup.

If you turn on compression during a backup to the maximum setting, it would cut the size of the backup by approximately 1/2 on average. So, a 60GB hard drive would compress to about 30GB in size. That said, it would take a lot of time to compress 60GB of data -- likely 2-4 hours, or more, depending on the speed of your processor. All compression during a backup is done using the CPU (central processing unit).

If you want your backup job to take the least amount of time and you have plenty of space available on the external hard drive, then set the compression level to "None". In terms of speed: your backup would literally take minutes instead of hours if you choose not to use compression.

Archive Splitting: For Permanent Storage

I also suggest you set your Archive Splitting to 4.7GB chunks.

If your backup was 60GB in total, it would create 13 x 4.7GB files for your backup. The reason why we use archive splitting is because 4.7GB is the size of a DVD recordable; so, if you wanted to permanently store your backup onto DVD recordable media at some time in the future, having it in 4.7GB chunks would allow you to span your backup across multiple DVDs, all the while utilizing every inch of space available on each DVD disc.

It's a good idea to do this in case your external backup unit dies, or you want to store your backup in multiple locations (in case of a fire, for example).

Both the Archive Splitting and Compression level settings are part of the Backup Dialogue (options) when you choose to start a backup manually.

I hope that helps.

Acronis True Image 2011 Sale Ends Wednesday

Reminder: Our sale on Acronis True Image 2011 will officially expire on Wednesday, November 17th at 11:59PM EST. You can save 30-50% off the retail price of True Image if you buy the program through our website. Proceeds go directly to support our website and staff of writers. Acronis True Image is downloadable, which means you can download and install the program immediately after your purchase. You can also order it on CD. For more questions and answers on True Image 2011, see our Acronis 2011 Q&A page. For the full review and for the discount links to purchase Acronis True Image 2011, refer to this page.

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