2019/01/09 02:18:36
Begging help from the experts again.
I had a laptop go down. Windows corrupt beyond any fix I could throw at it. Computer was freezing and deteriorating fast until it booted to a black screen. Graphic driver corruption I think from one of the damnable automatic win 10 updates since the forced update was going on as the computer went south.
No problem because I had a an external hard drive clone.
Had used Todo backup to create the external clone which I swore I would never use again.
Thought I was safe returning a recent clone to the laptop. C drive would no longer boot after the rescue. Tried to repair the MBR, no luck. Rescue disc could not fix errors. Access to system restore failed. No safe mode.
Was able to get a fresh install of win 10, and am now day 2 into the hell of trying to rebuild the system.
I did a disc image so far with the internal win 10 system image creation tool.
Does anyone have any experience with this. Seems like the image is smaller than the drive size.
Is this something that can reinstall everything to working order after a catastrophic failure, or does it just back up a few documents.
2019/01/09 11:32:40
The Windows built in backup does not backup everything. 
I have no experience with "ToDo"
I, and most techies I know, use Macrium Reflect (free).  Macrium Reflect from many posts on computer forums is the most popular.  
I make periodic full drive (all partitions) backup "disc image" to a separate drive.  If the system drive becomes corrupt or fails its about an hour for me to completely restore from the backup.  I make full drive backups, not incremental types at least once a week, sometimes more depending on PC usage.
Clone is OK but a clone copies everything from the source drive including bad disc sectors and corrupt data.  A disc image does not copy that data.  In addition Clone is iffy.  Will work for most but not all.  I've had mixed results with Clone but the best results with Macrium Reflect.
Macrium Reflect Free:
2019/01/09 17:36:35
Windows 10 has a built in image backup utility.  It is accessed by opening Windows Control Panel and selecting "Backup and Restore (Windows 7)".  Then choose "Create a system image".  Follow the prompts.
Then create a system repair disk (available in the same menu) to boot the computer from.  This will provide the tools you will need to restore a Windows image file, if necessary.
I used this method exclusively for several years to create full system images, but like fireberd says, I find Macrium Reflect much easier to use now.
An image file size can vary due to the number of allocated sectors that are copied.  The free space will not be copied, so the image file can be smaller than the source drive full capacity.
I find that with the added image compression in Macrium, backup images are also generally quite a bit smaller that the native Windows images.
The only advantage that I still see with the Windows image version is that native Windows image files can be mounted directly as VHD (Virtual Hard Drives) where they can be browsed with Windows explorer.  Then if you wish you can copy and paste any files/folders directly from the image, no 3rd party software required.
You can also do that with Macrium images, but Macrium must be installed on the PC in order to mount the proprietary Macrium image file format for browsing.
I still take one native Windows image once a month just as insurance in case that Macrium ever gets borked with an update at some point and I cannot get a good restore from it.  That may be overkill, but I sleep better at night.
2019/01/09 18:44:28
I have used TestDisk to restore a damaged drive in the past.  It has tools to rebuild the boot sector (UEFI or MBR).  It is primarily for restoring lost drives and/or files, but you might find it helpful.  It works like WinPE, that is it's pretty linear in a cmd session.  I would suggest using the Advanced option for your situation.  You can also copy all directories/files to another drive to recover them directly without having to go through all the steps and complication of a drive restoration/rescue.
Find it here: https://www.cgsecurity.org/wiki/TestDisk
Kind regards,
P.S.  It is FREE!
2019/01/09 20:50:52
Thank you so much for this very valuable information.
2019/01/10 22:17:49
Report back from the trenches.
Slowly rebuilding the laptop and it went down again. A whole day's work wiped out. The two meltdowns happened at around the same time as the automatic win 10 updates. I've got them turned off now.
Only reason I was only taken back one day was that I did a system image from the native win program from a day ago after 3 days digital hell. When the last meltdown happened, rescue disc did not work. System restore from the win 10 install disc busted as well. Was however able to access the disc image function from the install disc and it worked.
Got Macrium free installed and will get TestDisk on the excellent advice given here. Thanks again for bailing me out.
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