Backing up and restoring user accounts

Discussion in 'Acronis True Image Product Line' started by Jim Offord, Dec 27, 2006.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Jim Offord

    Jim Offord Registered Member

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2006
    Posts:
    4
    I have some questions about using Acronis True Image.

    I have a computer that has 5 user accounts. One for each member of the family, and an admin account. I need to do a clean re-install of Windows XP, and I want to make sure that I get everything backed up beforehand.

    Will True Image backup all of the user accounts? Will it back up the settings for each of the accounts, including Outlook, Outlook Express, Internet Explorer, and Itunes? Each of the accounts has a different Itunes library, and a different password for each account.

    Finally, when I set up a backup schedule for this computer, is there anything special I need to do to make sure that I get all of this information backed up?
     
  2. Tabvla

    Tabvla Registered Member

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2006
    Posts:
    649
    Location:
    London, England
    Hi Jim, welcome to the Forum :D

    Let me see if I understand you correctly..

    1. You want to backup everything related to each user account
    2. You want to re-install Windows
    3. After the re-install you want to restore the user accounts from the previous install

    Is this correct?
     
  3. Jim Offord

    Jim Offord Registered Member

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2006
    Posts:
    4
    Yes, that's exactly right.
     
  4. Tabvla

    Tabvla Registered Member

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2006
    Posts:
    649
    Location:
    London, England
    Let me start by saying that - I hope I am wrong!

    But in terms of my understanding of how XP sets up User Accounts I don't believe that you will be able to achieve this on a single machine. If, for example, you had purchased a new machine, with XP preinstalled then you would use the Microsoft "Files and Settings Transfer Wizard". This enables you to transfer the user settings from the old PC to the new PC. But to get this to work you need 2 machines.

    When you reinstall XP you create a new Registry. At that point you also need to reinstall all your software and create new User Accounts. As far as I know it would be impossible to transfer the old User Account settings to the reinstalled OS because you now have a new Registry and all the User Account settings are tied to the old Registry. There may be a Microsoft tool to do this, but I have never heard of it. In any event I don't think it would be possible using a backup/restore process like ATI.

    Could you post why you want to reinstall XP.
     
  5. Jim Offord

    Jim Offord Registered Member

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2006
    Posts:
    4
    Thanks for the info.

    If I recreate the user accounts, I can restore the data files to each account, can I not?

    The reason I want to re-install XP is that my current installation is ~5 years old, and it is getting flaky. Indeed, I have not done a re-install since I first got the machine. In my experience in the past, when the computer begins to act like this one does, it is time to re-install.

    I know that there are ways to clean things up, but Ihave no experience with them. This is kind of the "When the only tool you know is a hammer, the whole world looks like a nail." approach, but like I say, it has worked for me in the past.
     
  6. Tabvla

    Tabvla Registered Member

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2006
    Posts:
    649
    Location:
    London, England
    Hi Jim

    Restoring data files is not a problem. In fact I would not even use a Backup/Restore process to do this. I would simply "Copy & Paste" the data files that you want to keep to another partition, disk or removeable media (CD/DVD or Flash) and then "Copy & Paste" them back when you have done the reinstall.

    Remember that you must store these files away from the Windows partition because that partition will be overwritten when you do the reinstall. If you keep the files in their original uncompressed format by using "Copy & Paste" and you store them on, for example, a DVD, then you know that you will be able to gain access to then from any computer. So if things go wrong you will still have your data files.

    Another alternative is to use an online service such as X-drive. Follow this link to find out more..... http://www.xdrive.com/homepage.jsp

    As for reinstalling Windows.......:blink: .....When things go wrong I have a list of a hundred things I can do to fix the problem - reinstalling Windows is #99 on that list - just before throwing the computer away and joining a Tibetan monestary.

    If your copy of XP is 5 years old then you will also have to reinstall SP1 and SP2 plus all the security updates; plus all your software...... it makes root canal treatment without an anaesthetic seem like a pleasant passtime.

    The Registry is often the cause for many Windows associated problems. Cleaning up the Registry is to a very large extent equivalent to reinstalling Windows. The Registry cleaner in Advanced Uninstaller Pro is possibly the best and safest on the market. http://www.innovative-sol.com/uninstaller/index.htm

    Remember to always create a Restore Point BEFORE doing any work on the Registry. If things go wrong you can always restore back to that point from Safe Mode.
     
  7. Jim Offord

    Jim Offord Registered Member

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2006
    Posts:
    4
    Tabvla:

    Thanks for the thoughtful reply. I should clarify a few things. While the initial install was quite a few years ago, I have kept my software updated. Windows has SP1 and SP2, all of the security updates and I believe it is up to date. Office has all of the updates installed that are available. I will admit that cleaning the Registry was another approach that I had considered, however the Registry scares me. I look on messing with the Registry as being close to the last resort.
     
  8. Tabvla

    Tabvla Registered Member

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2006
    Posts:
    649
    Location:
    London, England
    Hi Jim

    In your first post you wrote...

    In a subsequent post you wrote...

    I must assume therefore that the Windows XP installation CD that you have dates back to 2001, which is before SP1. If you reinstall XP from that CD you will have to download and reinstall SP1; SP2 and all the subsequent security updates. You will also have to reinstall all your software, relicense all the reinstalled software (which can be a painful process in itself) and then apply 5 years worth of security updates to all the reinstalled software.

    Personally I would rather spend a year wearing a hair-shirt in a Mongolian temple than do that :'(

    Cleaning up the Registry is something which should be done on a regular basis as part of your ongoing computer maintenance program. I agree that the Registry is a critical component of Windows and it only requires one mistake to render your system unbootable. With a view to that these are my guidelines: -

    • If you are non-technical or do not have practical experience then DO NOT edit the Registry yourself
    • Use a reputable Registry cleaning program. There are numerous Registry tools available that range from Excellent to Criminally Incompetent. Make sure you use a good one. The Registry tools in Advanced Uninstaller Pro are good.
    • Always take a Restore Point before working with the Registry
    • Always take a backup of the System State

    For reference go to the Windows Help & Support Centre (Start > Help and Support) and type in "System State". The Microsoft articles will provide you with the knowledge that you need.

    Read up the required literature and take hardcopy printouts of the important documents so that if things go wrong you know what to do. It serves little purpose having the documents on your PC if you can't get the thing to boot. This is one of the times when good old-fashioned printing is worthwhile.
     
  9. power_man

    power_man Registered Member

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2006
    Posts:
    25
    This is something I actually know something about. First off I use Registry Mechanic from PC tools. Maybe more knowledgable folks can do better, but for me it is simple and effective. Anytime I install or unistall something I clean my registry.

    I just wiped my HD and reinstalled XP. TWICE. Just installing updates and SP2 will take a couple of hours. For your settings all you need is space. Set up a partition like it was mentioned, or if you have an external drive move it to that. When I put everything in a file it was 7GB. That isn't much, but there was a lot of pics. I could have easily moved the pics somewhere and burned the rest to a CD or DVD.

    So, use the file and transfer wizard in XP. That will create a file that you put somewhere. You can transfer just files, settings or both. Whatever your storage capabilities are is what you will have to do. You will have to save files and setting for all users. I set up a transfer folder and had each account in that. Next I exported various settings in various programs. You can do this in Outlook or outlook express. Go to File and click on import export. Export everything to a personal file and save it in your folder. Just to be careful, I also exported my address book too. Outlook will do it but I wanted two. I use Mo Firefox. You can export your bookmark. Just look for anything you can export to a file. XP will take care of IE and other MS stuff. You might have to do this for Office too. I just use defaults so I didn't even look at Office.

    So you can export everything to a file. When you get XP back, use transfer wizard and point it to your file. You will have to do it for each user. Go to your programs and import your various files for those apps. You won't loose anything. Your only problem is figuring out storage. I have 2 HDDs so it wasn't a problem for me. Plan on an eight hour day. At he end, even though I keep my stuff clean, I still love how a fresh install runs.

    Oh ya, now that I have TI10, I made several images along the way so that I could go back to them instead of doing reinstals. I made one with just XP with all the updates and updated drivers. Then one with the same and all my files and settings. Then one final with the same and all my apps. Now in the future when things turn to crap, I can roll back to fresh installs instead of reinstalling everything. Hope that helps
     
  10. Tabvla

    Tabvla Registered Member

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2006
    Posts:
    649
    Location:
    London, England
    Although I agree with "power_man" that you can use the Microsoft "Files and Settings Transfer Wizard" to transfer user settings either to a new computer or to a new installation of XP on the same computer, the biggest problems of reinstalling Windows remains, namely that you have to reinstall SP1, SP2, all security updates, all your software and all associated software updates. This can be a considerable task.

    The "Files and Settings Transfer Wizard" transfers personal settings. It does not reinstall your software nor does it return your system to the state it was in prior to the reinstall of XP. It is purely a tool to transfer user settings.

    Personally, it is not a tool that I would recommend the use of in a standard computer maintenance program.
     
  11. power_man

    power_man Registered Member

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2006
    Posts:
    25
    First off, I'm no expert. I only know what I do when I have to learn something. I have a 2.4 GHz that I bought 4 years ago. I have wiped it twice before, and now just last week I did it again. First time was because of spy ware. Next was because of McAfee, and the last was because of Norton. Everytime I do it, I learn something in the process and realize I probably didn't need to do it. Never have I ever considered formating my HDD a "maintenance procedure", and never have I considered it a routine task that should be performed. Because of those events, I keep good anti spyware up to date, and I use a good registry cleaner and I keep everything else up to date. Live and learn.

    However, if you have had the same instalation for 5 years, it is probably quite hosed with all kinds of crap. By doing mine I got rid of all the preinstalled crap from Dell, I only installed the stuff I wanted, I actually learned how to configure my PC, and my computer runs great. I did say it took EIGHT HOURS It is not something I do on a whime. Like I said though, you can save all your settings and files, and if you are going to do it, do backup points as you go, so you won't have to go through the pain of another reinstall if a reason should come up in the future. Just my .02
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.