none
Backup And Recover Two Computers To One External Hard Drive?

    Question

  • Is it possible to successfully backup (and recover if necessary) two Windows 7 Ultimate computers to the same external hard drive. I intend to take both file and image backups.
    Tuesday, January 05, 2010 10:56 AM

Answers

  • Hi people,

    Let me clarify your concerns. It is very much possible to store backups of multiple computers on the same external drive. Windows backup stores the file backups in a folder named after the machine-name on the target. Image backups are stored inside WindowsImageBackup\<MachineNameFolder> on the target. So, none of these will be overwritten since the machine names are unique.

    Also, please do not move the backup folders to other folders since that way the backup program may not find it when you are trying to perform a restore.

    Hope this clarifies.

    Thanks,
    Sneha
    [MSFT]
    • Marked as answer by MalcH Thursday, January 07, 2010 9:05 AM
    Thursday, January 07, 2010 6:16 AM

All replies

  • Yes. I had to look at my backups just to confirm this. What it did on my backups was t create a folder for the machine names, it then put the specific backup files and image files in those computer names folders. My 3 laptops are on the network wirelessly (I have a domain setup at home). Each one did a full backup with system image to my Windows 2008 shared folder to a folder I created for backups. When I did this, all I did was point it to the shared folder to the backup folder specifically. All 3 laptops have individual folders named after the machines that was created by the backup (I didn't tell it what folder to create). I did uncheck the libraries but checked drive C to include a system image. Over the network I think it took 10 minutes or so.  The same will work for you if you will create a backup folder on that external hard drive (or not), I also have backups to another external drive that is shared on an XP machine, I had also connected to that drive wirelessly and did backups with the same results. The first time I used this external drive directly on one of the windows 7 machines, it just dumped the image file to the root of the drive (since I didn't direct it to a backup folder), that did not create the machine name folder. Try that and see what it does for you, with directly to the external drive, or create a backup folder, point to it and try it and see if it makes a difference.


    MCSE, MCSA, MCDST [If this post helps to resolve your issue, please click the "Mark as Answer" or "Helpful" button at the top of this message. By marking a post as Answered, or Helpful you help others find the answer faster.]
    Tuesday, January 05, 2010 12:59 PM
  • Thanks for your reply.

    At the moment I've got an external hard drive that I've connected to a Win 7 Ultimate laptop. I take daily file backups using Windows Backup which are stored on this external hard drive in a folder whose name is the same as the machine name (automatically created by Windows Backup). After I'd set this laptop up and I took an image of it with Windows Backup and it dumped the image file in the root of the external hard drive.

    I've now got a second Vista Ultimate laptop which I'm going to setup and I want to do the same with this machine, i.e. connect the same external hard drive for daily backups and image the machine to the external hard drive when it's setup.

    I'm not sure what will happen when I image the second machine - wil it just overwrite the image of the first machine? If I try and move the first image into a folder before I take the second image, will I still be able to recover from the first image if I need to?

    I don't want to lose the first image and if necessary I will buy a second external hard drive to backup the other laptop but I would like to avoid this if possible.

    Tuesday, January 05, 2010 8:20 PM
  • If you make image backup in the same drive, the original backup will be covered. Because the image backup will be stored in the folder WindowsImageBackup, if you move the original folder to another folder, it will still exist if you do a second image backup. 
    Arthur Xie - MSFT
    Wednesday, January 06, 2010 7:48 AM
  • Could I just check that I am understanding you correctly.

    Are you saying that if I image the second computer to the same drive it will overwrite the original backup image?

    Are you also saying that if I move the original image backup into another folder before I image the second computer, the original image backup will be preserved and I will be able to successfully recover from it?
    Wednesday, January 06, 2010 5:01 PM
  • Yes, that's correct
    MCSE, MCSA, MCDST [If this post helps to resolve your issue, please click the "Mark as Answer" or "Helpful" button at the top of this message. By marking a post as Answered, or Helpful you help others find the answer faster.]
    Wednesday, January 06, 2010 11:16 PM
  • Hi people,

    Let me clarify your concerns. It is very much possible to store backups of multiple computers on the same external drive. Windows backup stores the file backups in a folder named after the machine-name on the target. Image backups are stored inside WindowsImageBackup\<MachineNameFolder> on the target. So, none of these will be overwritten since the machine names are unique.

    Also, please do not move the backup folders to other folders since that way the backup program may not find it when you are trying to perform a restore.

    Hope this clarifies.

    Thanks,
    Sneha
    [MSFT]
    • Marked as answer by MalcH Thursday, January 07, 2010 9:05 AM
    Thursday, January 07, 2010 6:16 AM
  • Many thanks for your replies, we can close this one.
    Thursday, January 07, 2010 9:04 AM
  • This is rediculous.  It forces a location in the root of a drive?  Are you kidding?  I'm very concerned as I use this, because I see it letting me pick a drive, but not a specific location, so I'm afraid to click "Start Backup", because I'm afraid it's going to overwrite the parition or something.  It's so confusing.  I used something like this with Windows Server backup, and I was horrified at all the arbitrary files and folders it created with highly restrictive permissions.  The backup was useless to me.

    Is there a way I can create a disc or partition IMAGE, like an exact copy of the data on the drive, in a single file, with a name and location that I choose?  I used to do this with Acronis True Image, and it was a breeze and simple.  I like that Windows has a built-in backup solution now, but it's convoluted, confusing, sucks, doesn't let you pick a location, doesn't even tell you where it's going to put it, or how it's going to name the files... it's like a huge surprise, and then it's not even one file... it's a bunch of them... and subdirectories.  Rediculous.

    Friday, February 19, 2010 12:08 AM
  • Hi Triynko,

    Unfortunately, Windows backup does not allow you to pick a folder inside a drive to store your backups. As explained, they are stored on a folder named after the MachineName for file backups and as WindowsImageBackup\<MachineName> for image backups. If you need this functionality, you can use the workaround of creating a folder on the drive and sharing it as share and configuring this share as target in the backup configuration wizard.

    These are the names that the backup software recognizes during recovery and hence have been retained as such. Do not fear that it will replace any old data.

    Regarding your query about image backups, you can use Windows backup to create an image of your drives. It is stored as a VHD file which is easily mountable using Diskmanagement if need be.

    Hope this clarifies.

    Thanks,
    Sneha
    [MSFT]
    Tuesday, February 23, 2010 2:44 PM
  • Hello,

    Do not rename the Windowsimagebackup folder. Instead open the Windowsimagebackup folder and rename the child folder, which is the name of your computer (ex:TomsPC) to 2011-03-25_01_TomsPC.

    Now you can do more software installations and create more images, where the next image will also have 'TomsPC' child folder in the 'Windowsimagebackup' folder.

    For instance, now you installed AutoCAD. Go create another image and once done go to the Windowsimagebackup folder and find the 'TomsPC' child folder and rename it to '2011-03-25_02_TomsPC_AutoCAD'.

    Now you see how you can manage many images based on what software you installed, where you can switch back and forth between images using the 'Restore' image. It would be must easier if you add a 3rd hard disk drive, where you store all of your data files, so you do not have to constantly back them up from the 'C' drive.

    Then when 3 months go by and Microsoft has added many more OS updates, then you can 'Restore' the 1st image '2011-03-25_01_TomsPC'. Then go download and install all of the updates. Now create an new image and go to the 'WindowImagebackup' folder and rename the 'TomsPC' child folder to '2011-06-25_01_TomsPC_microsoft-updates'.

    As you can now see, it is best to do a fresh Win7 install from scratch, download all of the updates, install your anti-virus (recommend Microsoft Essentials), install your email software, (recommend Win Live Mail), then add your email accounts and move the 'DBSTORE', which is your addressbook, onto drive 'E' or 'F' along with moving the email folder to 'E' or 'F' drive, which is done within Win Live Mail 'Options' 'Advanced' 'Maintenance' 'Store Folder'.

    By moving your addressbook and email folders from the 'C' drive to another drive, such as 'E' or 'F' and when you do a 'Restore' image, then you do not have to back them up prior to doing a 'Restore' image.

    Also, when you do a 'Restore' image, you will see the list of images with the new names you give them.

    • Edited by usnetxp Saturday, March 26, 2011 4:11 PM added the last line of text
    Saturday, March 26, 2011 4:08 PM
  • How may computers can you back up on 1 external source? Lets say you have 500GB and each PC is 40GB, can I backup 12 PCs on the one ext. HDD?
    Monday, April 04, 2011 7:02 PM
  • I have been running windows back up on three machines into one external hard drive. I do have to manually plug in the usb to whichever I wish to back up to since Win 7 premium does not do a network backup.

    I have had no problems backing up these computers. Windows backup creates a user files backup named for each machine. It also creates one disk image folder. Inside this folder there are disk images named after each machine. There is no worry about the files getting crossed up. The only thing you must remember is that if you have to do a restore, you need to pick the correct backup for the specific machine name.

    Friday, September 16, 2011 11:01 PM
  • Quote: "A backup is only as good as the last successful restore." (anon? references anyone? paraphrased by me)

     

    Luckily, haven't had to rely on performing a restore yet, but came across a situation today where I was not able to select the appropriate system image to restore from.

     

    Can anyone comment on their experiences recoverying a specific system image on a storage device that is being used to backup multiple systems?

     

    Has anyone done multiple backups on a multi-boot system? Using bootable-VHD's vs physical partitions?

    And what does the "MediaID.bin" file do?

     

    In the past, I have NOT been able to restore system images for Windows 7 installed in an virtualized environment or as bootable VHD's. I was presuming it to be a limitation of restore process, but should this really be the case? Or is there something else going on? (Perhaps multi-booting and/or boot-configuration-database (BCD) issues?)

     


    My Story (skip over if you wish..)

    Was walking through a "restore" action with my dad over the phone and was following along on my machine to visualize better what he was seeing. The Win7 system image restore boots or restarts as a WinPE environment depending on whether the restore is via a recovery disk boot, from the Backup & Recovery UI, etc. As part of the eventual restore action a scan for viable system images to restore from is performed.

    For my dad (a single system, dedicated internal HDD used to just backup his system  (and yes, I know, not the optimal disaster recovery scenario)), the scan promptly locates the latest backup, which we accept that the other defaults and rebuild his system from. All is good.

    For myself, I use multiple USB/eSATA drives to backup multiple machines I consistently use the same drives to backup the same systems until I retire the drives.  Every once in a while I'll copy a system image with a new name to indicate a baseline recovery state of the system (typically after I've activated the OS, but before substantial application installs), as has been discussed elsewhere here.

    1. NOTE: I pretty well use exclusively bootable VHD's for my multi-boot systems.
    2. NOTE: I also backup a WinSvr 2008 R2 onto this ext. HDD (backup tool different on server, but still generates the same .VHD in the same location as Vista and Win7).

    While following along on my system the steps I was instructing my dad on, my scan only revealed the very first system image made on the disk, which was not for the system that I was running . All subsequent images were not being found as alternates/choices. A check of the external disk showed that the images were all there. (Incidentally, the image found was the "first" image alphabetically as well).

    Tried "hiding" the folder of the found system image in an arbitrary subfolder (called it "tilde '~'"), but then the scan said there were no images to be found.

    Tried hiding all but the desired system image, and still the recovery scan could not locate the image.

    End of story :>


     

    For now, I know that I can manually take the .VHD files and restructure them as bootable VHD's that will work (will have a few resizing and startup/shutdown issues initially). Comments anyone?

     

    PS: By the way, with regards to bootable-VHD's. Backup will fail if the .VHD file is located on a partition where NTFS mounts/junctions/etc are also present that point back to the VHD's internal partitions. E.g. If you are going to backup an OS installed onto a bootable-VHD, but use sure to place that VHD on a partition that you will not be using to relocate system folder (i.e. Documents, Music, etc).

    • Edited by HerbM_YVR Monday, October 24, 2011 7:37 AM Added PS
    Monday, October 24, 2011 7:30 AM
  • Thanks Sneha .......Worked a treat...now i can advise freinds etc regards, JCQC..... JOHN COLYER QUALITY CONTROL... IT MEANS EVERTHING TO EVERYBODY !

    Wednesday, December 26, 2012 5:10 PM
  • I followed this thread, when I migraded my wife's Windows 7 to a new Windows 8. Then did a full back up to an external drive.  Later I backed my Windows 7 pro on the same drive.. should have worked.. NOPE.. when her new hard drive failed under warranty and was replaced I tried to restore her back up.. It only sees the last one I did with my windows 7 laptop. Yes there is a folder for each PC, but Windows 8 refuses to see the files to recover for her.. maybe this is ok on Windows 7 but once again, MS provides tools we should use that fail in my opinion, we did not write the code, only we paid good cash for a hodge podge OS's.
    Saturday, November 09, 2013 3:49 AM