Recently, I tried out Paragon Software's Image Backup for Windows 8, a free tool, designed to back up (and recover) Windows 8 computers. This post will go through the ins and outs of the application.
Note: For the majority of testing I am using a 32-bit copy of Windows 8 Enterprise running on an HP mini netbook. For the screenshots, I used a virtual machine instance of the same operating system.
Once the application is installed, Image Backup provides a few sets of tools, the first of which is Backup and Recovery.
Creating a backup
Selecting the backup option from the main navigation pane opens the Backup Wizard. To create a backup, complete the following steps:
- Tap or click Next to pass the Welcome screen
- Select the check boxes next to the drives or partitions you want to include in the image and tap or click Next.
- To modify the options for the backup, select the Change Backup Options checkbox and tap or click Next.
- If you do not choose to change the settings, leave the Options checkbox blank and tap or click next.
- Select a location for the backup, a local or network drive or CD/DVD media and tap or click Next.
- Specify a name for the archive to be created and tap or click Next.
- Enter a comment about the backup and click or tap Next.
- Review the details of the backup job and tap or click next to proceed.
When the job begins, the computer will restart to create the backup outside of Windows
The backup operation may take a considerable amount of time to complete depending on several factors, including speed of backup target and the size of the disk you are backing up.
Navigating the Backup WizardIf you selected the Change Backup Options checkbox, the following items were available to be modified as shown below in Figure A:
Changing options for backup
- Control archive integrity: Use this option to ensure the integrity of the backup during restoration.
- Set image filename automatically: Allows the image filename to be generated by the application.
- Compression level: Set the level of compression used for the archive.
- Enable Image Splitting: Select this option (and specify a maximum file size) to allow the archive to be split across multiple files.
Protect archive with password: Select this box to enable password protection then provide and confirm a password
Password protection for an archive
Copy and Backup Options
- Partition Raw processing: Perform a sector by sector backup.
- Skip OS auxiliary files: Select this option to skip auxiliary files like pagefile.sys, hiberfil.sys and to reduce the time to complete an archive.
General copy options
Hot Processing Options
Enabling hot processing allows the backup to use Windows volume shadow copy services.
- Always use hot processing: Uses hot processing options for all backup jobs.
- Use hot processing only when partition is locked.
- Select the drive to act as the hot processing temporary drive -- this should be different from the drive being backed up.
- Specify the number of hot processing attempts to start VSS.
- Specify the length of time between attempts.
Copy/Backup Exclude options
This section contains filters for excluding certain file types from backup. By default, email files, installers, executable files.
To enable a filter set, check the box for the category you wish to exclude
To add more filter categories, select Add category and create a filter for the file types you would like to filter.
When the restore option is selected from the main navigation pane, the wizard will initialize and land on the Welcome screen. Tap or click Next to advance.
- Select the archive you wish to recover from and tap or click Next.
- Select the files or folders you wish to restore, selecting / for all files and tap or click Next.
- Specify the location for the restored files from the following options:
- Original location: places the folders and files in their original location
- Specific folder: allows you to choose a folder to hold the restored files
When selecting the original location, you will need to specify whether original files should be replaced or kept. Choosing to keep the files, only files that are missing or deleted will be restored.
- When you have chosen restoration options, tap or click Next.
- Review the restoration options summary and tap or click Next to continue.
- Specify if changes should be applied or if you want to reconsider the settings. Note: When changes are applied, they cannot be undone.
- Select the option to apply the changes and tap or click Next to begin restoration.
While the restoration is progressing you can use your computer, but it is probably best to let the operation complete; depending on the size of the restore, this might take some time.
Creating recovery media
Recovery media can be useful if there is something causing your computer not to start correctly. Use the recovery media to boot your system and locate the files within the image created by Image Backup. You can access files within the image or restore all of the files from an image back to your computer.
To create recovery media, select the Tools option from the main Image Backup menu and complete the following steps:
- Select Burn Recovery Media.
- Tap or click Next to pass the Welcome screen of the Recovery Media Wizard.
- Select the media type for to use for the recovery media.
- Flash Media: Use a USB flash device to store the recovery media.
- CD/DVD: Use a CD or DVD for recovery media.
- Tap or click Next to select recovery media options:
- Typical: Use the standard recovery media image supplied with the program.
- User specified CD/DVD image (iso file): Select an iso image from a specific location.
- Copy from CD/DVD drive: Use an existing CD or DVD to supply the files for the image.
- Tap or click Next to proceed.
- Select the available drive where the recovery media will be created and tap or click Next.
- Tap or click OK to acknowledge that the selected media will be formatted.
- When the process completes, tap or click Finish to close the recovery wizard.
There may be times when you need to copy files out of an archive for future use. The Image Backup transfer files utility is the best way to get that done. Using this utility you can not only bring files out of an image for other use, but you can also copy files from either your computer or a backup image to a network share.
To copy a file from a previous backup image to a network share or other location, complete the following steps:
- Select Transfer files from the Tools menu on the Image Backup main navigation screen.
- Tap or click Next on the Welcome screen for the file transfer wizard.
- Select the location of a previous backup, in my case, drive D, and choose a backup file to transfer, then tap or click the left arrow in the center of the screen to add the file to the clipboard.
- Tap or click Next to select where the file or files should be transferred to: save data to local or network drive, or burn the data to a CD, DVD, or Blu-Ray Disk.
- Tap or click Next to select the destination for the transfer.
- To overwrite files that may already exist in the destination, select the check box to accept the warning.
- Review the options chosen and tap or click Next to begin the transfer.
- When the transfer completes, tap or click Finish to close the wizard.
Note: If the file being transferred might overwrite other files on the destination, a warning will be displayed, with an option to overwrite existing files. If you are okay with the overwrite option, check the box and click Next.
Sharing logs with support
Image backup has a utility for gathering and sending log files from the application to Paragon support. This can be helpful if things do not seem to be going as planned with backup and restore jobs.
- From the troubleshooting section of the program select Log Saver.
- Enter the email address used to register the application and an explanation of the issue you are experiencing and tap or click Next.
- Specify the folder(s) and file name for the zip file created and tap or click Next to collect data for support.
- Click Close to close the wizard.
Now you can email the created zip file to Paragon's technical support department
Windows 8 provides a backup and recovery application in the box by default, however, having used both of these products, I have found that the Windows utilities work very well, but are not as easy to access. The simplicity of the tools provided in the Paragon backup application is definitely a plus.
Derek Schauland has been tinkering with Windows systems since 1997. He has supported Windows NT 4, worked phone support for an ISP, and is currently the IT Manager for a manufacturing company in Wisconsin.