Prior to making any changes to your computer’s drive you need to establish a baseline backup of the entire drive in case you need to restore Windows 7 to its current state (containing all your data files and applications) after your evaluation of Windows 8.1 has completed or for whatever reason after installing Windows 8.1 you are no longer able to boot to Windows.
The screenshot below shows a typical 500GB drive with 3 partitions when using the Disk Management utility. The very first partition is a small 100MB partition (System, Reserved) which is normally hidden when using Windows Explorer and Windows relies on its contents to boot. If this partition were to become corrupted you need a way to restore it.
The second partition contains Windows 7 and the third is your recovery partition provided by the computer manufacture as a means of restoring Windows 7 back to a “fresh out of the box, when you first turned your computer for the first time” state, note that using the built in recovery function will result in all your data being lost and any application you installed will need to be reinstalled.
The image backups you will create, eliminates the need to use the recovery partition to reinstall Windows 7, your applications and data files. It’s your safety net!
1) EaseUS Todo Backup has a ‘Disk and Partition’ backup option in the ‘Home’ tab. This is a single backup of the drive or partitions you select. No scheduled or incremental backup options will be selected as part of this Windows 7 Baseline backup. I will use this option to create my initial Windows 7 baseline and it will include all the drive partitions.
2) As you can see below, I’ve included (by placing a check mark next to the Disk 1 drive icon) the 100MB hidden System, Reserved partition, the Windows 7 partition and the Recovery partition. Obviously the destination external USB drive (Disk 2) cannot be included in the drive image. Whichever backup product you use make certain the all important System, Reserved partition is included as part of the backup.
My personal style of where and how to store the Image Backup file includes the use of an external USB drive and a destination folder (created prior to launching Todo backup) name that has some meaning (Example: Windows 7 Baseline Backup). Inside this folder I also create a small Notepad Readme.txt file that includes notes about why and when the backup was created. The contents of the readme file are also pasted into the Description box as shown above. This may seem like repetition of the same information but the readme file saves me from starting Todo Backup and clicking on the ‘Management’ tab just to see why a particular backup was created.
3) Todo Backup options: Located at the bottom of the ‘Home’ tab are 3 links, the first (Schedule) should be left ‘off’ as no scheduled backups are required. The last link ‘Image-reserve strategy’ should also be left unchanged. The ‘Backup options’ link is the only one you need to click on.
Set the ‘Compression’ level to ‘Medium’, which is the best compromise between the size of the image file and the amount of time it takes to complete a backup. All other options can remain at their default settings. Click the ‘OK’ button to save the change to compression level. You will now be back to the ‘Home’ tab.
4) Destination: As shown below, click on the small Yellow folder icon located in the lower right corner of the ‘Home’ tab, this will open up a Windows Explorer like browser where you can navigate to the USB drive. You can enter a folder name on the fly or like me, create the folder in advance of using Todo Backup, in which case you need to select (Highlighted) the destination folder (Example: Windows 7 Baseline’ ) Then click the ‘OK’ button to return to the ‘Home’ tab.
At this point you should now see the destination (USB drive) and the folder you selected listed in the ‘Destination’ box near the bottom of the ‘Home’ tab. The ‘Description’ you entered and the ‘Plan name’ which is automatically filled in by Todo Backup. The drive (Disk 1) that contain Windows 7 should be highlighted from beginning to end (all partitions have a check mark). My drive also has a very small amount of unused space at the end of the drive which is also included as part of the image backup.
Click the ‘Proceed’ button to start the image backup.
The time to complete the backup is dependent on the image compression level, amount of data / used drive space your Windows 7 partition contains and to some extent the size of your recovery partition. I choose Medium compression as it provides a good balance between the size of the image backup file on the USB drive and the time to complete the backup. Higher compression levels usually do not save all that much space and can add significant time to the backup completion time.
Now that your baseline backup is complete, click the ‘Finish’ button and exit EaseUS Todo Backup.
The next step is to shrink the existing Windows 7 partition to make room for an additional partition to be used when installing Windows 8.
How to Shrink and Create space for a Windows 8 partition on your drive ----->