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Windows Backup & HDD Migration with Free Veeam Endpoint!

Windows Backup & HDD Migration with Free Veeam Endpoint!
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As months go by and those months slowly creep into years, it seems as if the days of backing up your computer seems far less important. With extremely cheap online storage available to just about anyone, why would we still keep files on our local hard disk? With online storage, you’re obviously able to access those files from any device that you own without the need to email them to yourself first or fiddle with USB drives. Okay, so I’m obviously kidding. There are many reasons why someone would still keep files locally on their laptops or desktops. Whatever the case may be though, I’ve noticed that backup software seems about to have peaked in their usefulness where the consumers are concerned. No longer does a backup software advertising a hundred different features are needed or required. These days, its all about simplicity and that’s why I was so excited when Veeam made available their free Veeam Endpoint backup software. I’ve used it numerous times to make a quick full backup of my laptop and PC. More importantly though is being able to use the software to migrate my Windows system to a new HDD. With SSD hard drives being so cheap, it doesn’t make sense for someone to not really have one. In this article here, I’ll go over how you can easily use Veeam Endpoint to migrate your Windows computer to a new hard drive. More awesome is that you’re even able to restore it to a new albeit smaller hard drive then your original!

Keep in mind that when you purchase a new SSD, the manufacturer usually includes some type of free backup utility to actually help you migrate data from your original drive to the new one. For example, Samsung includes their migration utility when you purchase their lineup of consumer SSD drives. Recently, I noticed that my Crucial m.2 SSD drive came with a license for Acronis True Image HD. Therefore, although Veeam Endpoint is not the only solution out there, it is one that I’ve always counted on when doing quick migrations. However, there are extra steps you need to perform when using this method so keep that in mind as you follow along. In this day and age, most casual users are more likely to get ransomware installed on their machines than their hard drive physically failing. Ransomware is no joke and I have seen it wreck havoc upon businesses. Not being able to access your files is not fun at all and although you can either hope that your antivirus software catches it before it gets installed or depending on a reverse decryption software for the ransomeware, I don’t think you’ll want to find last minute that neither worked. Being able to restore your now encrypted files back to its original form from backup is crucial. Therefore, don’t think of backing up your computer is only required to protect you from a hardware failure!

Veeam Installation, Configuration and Backup

You can download Veeam Endpoint from here. Note that at the moment, Veeam requires you to create an account prior to being able to download the program.

Installation is a breeze. All it takes is just two clicks: one to accept the EULA and the second for the actual install button!

Endpoint Installation
Installation

Once finished, we’re going to configure our backup job. Your laptop usually only have one physical hard drive and so in most cases, you’ll want to save your Veeam backup files to an external USB drive instead. Create a folder in a USB drive large enough to hold the backup and we’re ready to begin. For the backup mode, select the Entire Computer option.

Backup Mode
Backup Mode

Under Destination, keep the default at Local Storage.

Destination
Destination

Next, select the folder you’ve created to hold the backup files on the USB drive.

USB Backup Drive
USB Backup Drive

Uncheck the option to create scheduled backups. In our scenario here, we just want a one-time full backup of our computer to restore to the new hard drive.

Backup Schedule
Backup Schedule

Finally, save the configuration to exit out of the wizard. To begin the backup process, simply click on the Backup Now button.

Backup in Progress
Backup in Progress

Once the backup has completed, we are now ready to create our recovery disc. This disc is needed in order for us to boot our computer into the Veeam recovery environment to start the actual restore. Remember that because we are swapping hard drives, we wouldn’t be able to actually boot into Windows because the new drive is empty. This is one of the main reason why I am calling this procedure a hard drive ‘migration’ instead of a ‘clone’. You should see a notification in Veeam Endpoint that you haven’t created a recovery media yet. Clicking on this link will start the process. If you don’t see this notification, simply search for “Veeam Recovery” in your Windows start menu. The actual Veeam Endpoint and Veeam Recovery Media creator are two separate programs.

In the first screen, you should have several options of where to create the bootable recovery media. DO NOT in this screen select your USB drive! You can either insert a blank CD/DVD if your computer has one or select the Image option to have Veeam Endpoint create an ISO file of the recovery media. In the tutorial here, I will go with the Image option because most laptops today does not include a CD/DVD drive. Therefore, I will show you how to create a bootable USB thumb drive with the recovery image afterwards. It’s also very important that you do not deselect/uncheck the two default options of saving your network connection settings and hardware drivers.

Recovery Media Type
Recovery Media Type

In the Image Path screen, browse to where you want to save the ISO file. I choose to save it back on the USB drive but it wouldn’t matter too much because we’ll be creating a bootable USB drive from this image file soon. Simply continue on to have Veeam create the recovery image file.

Image Path
Image Path
Image Creation
Image Creation

Creating a Bootable USB Thumb Drive

So now that we have our recovery ISO image file created, it’s time to create our bootable USB drive with it. Although this may seem like a daunting task, there are several utilities out there that does all the work for us. One such tool is Rufus USB. With this awesome utility, all we really need to do is point it to our USB drive, select the image file and it does the rest!

You can download Rufus USB from here. My personal preference is to download the portable version.

Simply fire up the utility and leave the default settings alone. The only two setting you really need to change is selecting the right USB device and selecting the right image file to use by clicking on the little disk image icon and browsing to our ISO image.

Rufus USB
Rufus USB
Before clicking on the Start button, remember that this will completely format your USB device and erase any and everything within it!

Once the process has completed, we should now have everything needed to restore our Windows installation to the new drive. In my scenario, I will be restoring to a smaller hard drive than my original. This works ONLY if the actual amount of data used on your source drive is smaller than your new drive. For example, although my original drive was 60GB, I’ve only used 20GB out of that chunk of space. My new drive will be 50GB so in this instance, the restore process should work out just fine.

The Restore

For the restore, we need to first boot our computer via the USB drive we’ve just created with Rufus. Eventually, you’ll come to the home page of the Veeam Recovery environment.

Veeam Recovery Page
Veeam Recovery Page

From this page, select the Bare Metal Recovery option. Veeam will then scan your connected devices to automatically find the newest Veeam backup file. If it can’t find it, then manually browse to it on your USB drive.

Backup Location
Backup Location

Next, select the restore point. If you’ve only made one full backup, then there should only be one restore point.

Restore Point
Restore Point

In the Restore Mode page, select Entire Computer.

Restore Mode
Restore Mode

At this point, if your new hard drive is as big as the original, hitting the Next button will present you with the Summary screen and the restore process will kick off. However, because my drive is smaller in size than the original, Veeam will complain about this and present me with an error message about needing to use the ‘Manual Restore’ mode instead. This mode is needed because we need to manually tell Veeam how to restore the original partitions onto the smaller drive.

Original Partition Layout
Original Partition Layout

From here, I’ll have to click on the ‘Customize Disk Mapping’ link at the lower right corner. Here you can see my 50GB drive that is currently blank and unallocated.

Unallocated Drive
Unallocated Drive

What I would now do is right-click on the unallocated disk and choose the partitions I would like to restore from the backup file.

Partitions to Restore
Partitions to Restore

As I begin to select each of the partitions, Veeam will alert me that my C:\ partition is larger than the specified destination and if I would like to shrink it to fit. Hitting the OK button will allow Veeam Endpoint to work its magic to analyze exactly how much disk space is actually required.

Shrink to Fit
Shrink to Fit

Finally, below is how my destination drive looks like after the mapping has been done.

Final Layout
Final Layout

All that’s left to do is sit back and let the restore finish. Once done, unplug your USB drives from the system and reboot. If all goes well, you’ll be right back inside Windows.

Restoring
Restoring
I did stumble upon an issue once where the laptop would boot after the restore but it would boot directly to the F8 prompt screen, the one where it would ask you if you’d like to boot into Safe Mode, etc etc. Choosing the option to boot normally would result in a reboot cycle or a blue screen. Turns out the fix was to select the “Last Known Good Configuration” option. This resulted in the computer booting up normally from then on. I believe this happened with one of the earliest versions of Veeam Endpoint and I haven’t encountered this error since using the newer versions.

Wrapping it Up…

There are definitely many ways to clone or migrate your existing Windows installation onto a newer and bigger drive. What I’ve shown here with Veeam Endpoint is just but one of the methods that I’ve been using for a while now. In fact, some readers might have realized that using Veeam Endpoint to do the migration seems no different than using Windows built-in system image backup utility! You backup to a USB drive, create a recovery media to boot from, swap out hard drives and then restore the backup file over it.

I personally like Veeam because they are the most popular VM backup application in the enterprise today. If your business runs on virtual machines, then chances are very high that your IT staff is using Veeam to do its daily backups. Even if you’re not using it to migrate hard disks, it’s still a very good and easy to use stand-alone backup application for Windows. It has more options builtin than the barebones Windows backup utility and their level of compression is probably better as well. Depending on how you use your computer and how much data gets changed on a daily basis, daily incrementals might be overkill. But if you’re like me and the many others out there whom believe in having a good full PC backup from time time, then Veeam Endpoint definitely is a winner.

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