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USB HDD backup of multiple OS systems


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#1
emmjay

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This is probably a really dumb question, but I can not find an answer to it anywhere...
I have 3 systems (XP, Vista and W7). Currently I back them up on a device which is attached to the respective system. I have a new 500MB USB HDD connected to my Vista system which contains a full backup of the entire system. Can I take this HDD and connect it to my XP system and do a full system backup, then to my W7 system and do the same, ending up with all 3 backed up on the same device? NB: Entire system, not file backups.

Not sure if I need to partition it to do this (seems logical). If partitioning is not required will I be able to restore the specific OS to the appropriate system if need be? Also, will formatting me a issue? The manual that comes with the 500MB device is pretty much useless in this regard.
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#2
StewBizzle

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Since they are all Windows filesystems, you should not have to worry about having different partitions, unless you so desire for organizational sake. Also, formatting the drive to NTFS is universally compatible between these 3 operating systems, and as such should make backing up pretty easy, even if you are doing full partition images/system backups.

Are you using a program to do these backups, like Acronis True Image, or any of the other 1000 available? I ask simply because I think you will have an easier time using something with a Rescue Media option, and a plethora of configuration options.

As long as you keep the images/backups under separate names/different folders, you should be able to select whichever you would like to restore through the program of your choice. Generally, the more descriptive you are (date of backup, OS drive letter, OS type x32/x64), the easier time you will have distinguishing what you will be restoring.

Alternatively, you could simply partition the 500Gb drive into 1/3 (~3 x 160Gb partitions), make your full backups, and rename the partitions according to whichever OS is on them. Personally, I think this is a little overkill, but it is extremely simple :)
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#3
emmjay

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Hi StewBizzle,
Lots of info in your response, thank you so much.
To answer your question...

Are you using a program to do these backups, like Acronis True Image, or any of the other 1000 available? I ask simply because I think you will have an easier time using something with a Rescue Media option, and a plethora of configuration options

My Vista and W7 system have a vendor provided Rescue and Recovery Program preinstalled. I run image backups monthly and have used a restore point recovery from this app. only once on the vista system (never a full system recovery). My XP system does not have a vendor supplied R+R app. and I have been using Windows Backup and Restore to do image backups (I have a boot disk (1.44) for this system). I have never had to restore my XP system, so I do not know if it will actually work.

The 500MB HDD has Backup Software on it, but it is for file backup only. I do not have any windows installation disks as all my operating systems were preloaded by the vendor.

I like the idea of not partitioning. Do you think I can get all 3 OS systems backed up (and restorable) if I use the 3 different apps as described above?
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