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RE: Win 7 Backup & Restore Centre vs. 3rd party backup softw
It really depends on what you are doing...
If you have a complex setup such as Apple BootCamp or Dual boot with Linux, I would recommend to use third party software such as Acronis, Paragon, Backup Exec, etc... From experience Windows built in backup software doesn't work well with multiple partitions or various partition formats.
If you have a single drive and a possible data drive, Windows built in backup can work flawlessly and has the ability to backup the whole drive to a VHD, so it's even recoverable on a virtual computer. I've tested this out well on Windows workstations on both recovery of the computer to the same computer clean and recovery to a Hyper-V environment.
As far as third party improvements, good third party software can usually backup complete images as well as incremental backups and restore to different hardware or various VM environments without any issues. Restoration can be simply a file or the complete computer and usually at specific time. Looking at my Windows backup, it stores a month worth of daily backups of system images incremental. The added cost usually comes with added support as well, and that can definitely be a benefit when your down.
Hope this details some of the finer points of Windows backup vs third party software. In all honesty, Windows has come along way since the XP days for backup and restore and although they are still not the best, the free price tag definitely makes it something to look at.
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