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I recently installed Windows 7 and I now want to set up a backup schedule. Previously, I had been using Norton 360's backup facility, but I was wondering if it was advisable to use the built-in Windows Backup system instead.

What are the differences between the two? What are the advantages and disadvantages? Is one a clearly better choice than the other?

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3 I read this article the other day which is pretty scathing, you might find this interesting. – Richard Jun 29 '10 at 5:47
@Richard: You should post this as an answer. – Jeff Yates Jun 29 '10 at 12:37

Windows 7 backup is great - low overhead, can restore from bare metal from a CD, and has some degree of file level recovery. Its a full system backup as well. It does some degree of differencial backup so its fairly fast after the initial backup

Norton 360 is a file level backup - it isn't meant for bare metal restores. More critically it comes with a whole load of other software, and well, norton isn't very well thought of, since its traditionally slowed down systems, been a pain to remove, and as such mainly used by people who don't know better.

I personally go for the built in windows 7 backup. Its simple, troublefree (i set it for the middle of the night, plug in my backup media, and forgetaboutit).

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As a minimalist, I'd say always used built-in tools when possible unless those tools prove to be inadequate.

Give it a try. If it's not what you want, continue with N360.

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I have used the full image backup in Vista and W7, it works very well and was very fast but is not flexible at all, I guess I could say it is better than nothing, If you are happy with Norton backup, stick with it.

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I worked in the data protection and management field for 6 years in a previous incarnation. I am also exploring the Norton 360 backup solution. What is very scary is that Norton selects files for backup by file type (extension). This means that if you have critical files of a file type that Norton does not know about or regard as vital, then they are not going to be included in the backup. How many people will discover this at recovery time? I am much more comfortable with a "traditional full" backup that includes everything, and then incrementals (resets the backup flag and captures changed data since last incremental) or differentials (does not reset the backup flag and captures changed data since last full). Norton does not seem to be capable of that strategy. Does anyone know different?

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I have used the Norton 360 backup utility -- alas, I am now depending on it to restore my files and it has been hell. Go with the default! I chose Norton because I thought it would be easier, and I was very wrong. It is most certainly not meant to backup your entire system! I lost files in my backup after several unsuccessful attempts to complete a full restore.

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The backup function in Norton 360 takes hours to back up my files each time (hundreds of GBs, Windows 8.1 Pro). The bad thing is that the animation (i.e. moving documents to the backup location) may not actually represents that it is really backing up your files. I have to cancel the backup process time and again because it has been going on several hours and Task Manager shows that Norton 360 is not responding.

Norton 360 does not check whether your destination location is big enough before it starts backing up. It ends up in "error" after several hours because of space problem, yet when you start Norton 360 again, it says "your data is safe" under the Backup tab.

The instruction manual is not user friendly. It is not concise, telling you the essential things. It does not say whether backup is incremental. It does not advise you how to manage the backup copies (such as whether you have duplicate backup sets; what should you do after you have deleted no longer needed files from your computer--should you manually go to the backup drive to delete the unwanted files too--this is especially so for junk emails).


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The question isn't asking for a comparison of 360 and Windows' built-in backup, not a review of Norton 360 (the asker already uses it so is probably aware of the issues you mention). – David Richerby Aug 12 '15 at 9:49

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