Originally Posted by Lsbcal
The other is the Windows 7 system backup (image plus incrementals). How would one check this out short of trying to do a restore? ... Doing a full restore is not something I'd want to take a chance with unless experiencing system problems. So isn't this in the end just an act of faith?
This is why I like how it works on Macs so much. Simple, reliable, verifiable:
A) You clone to another drive (I use a free program named SuperDuper, but there are other ways). SuperDuper (among others) only needs a destination drive as large as your 'used space', not the size of the entire drive.
B) When cloning is complete, reboot, holding the OPTION key. You will be presented with a list of boot-able systems (your original, the clone, any other systems attached, and since Lion, a 'recovery' partition). This can even be selected to do it automatically.
C) Select the newly made clone - it should boot like a normal system. Take it for a test drive. You can verify your apps, files, setups, network settings, etc - everything is carried over.
D) Keep an external drive or two partitioned properly, and you can keep as many clones active as you have drive space. These can even be booted on other systems (some limitations apply).
So this is totally verifiable, w/o touching or risking your installed system. Just be careful not to select a clone as the source and over-write your source as destination instead - but that's actually pretty hard to do.
I agree with you, having to replace your system to test the clone doesn't make sense to me. Yet, in the Linux world, that's what people keep telling me to do. Making a boot-able clone in Linux has limitations. Many processes require the destination to be as large as the entire source (not just the used space), and you can't boot it w/o removing the original, unless you do some rather tricky mods.
edit/ad: I agree on having two types of backups. I copy my data, and subsets of data more often than a full backup.