BootIt questions

Discussion in 'backup, imaging & disk mgmt' started by Stro, Dec 30, 2004.

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  1. Stro

    Stro Registered Member

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    I'd like to install & trial BootIt this weekend. I've read everything on TeraBytes website on BootIt (including the manual) and played all the video tutorials, and searched this Forum, but I'm still unclear/confused on some topics. I'm hoping some of you with a good working knowledge of this software (calling nod32_9!) can clue me in.

    I'm pasting below the questions I wrote up in Word. Please forgive any jumbled sentences. It's 8:45 PM and I'm still at work and exhausted.

    As always, thanks Wilders members and guests for your help.

    Regards,
    Stro

    Below are some questions on topics I don’t understand. Page numbers reference locations in the “BootIt NG Installation and Getting Started Guide.” I would greatly appreciate if you could advise me in these areas.

    FYI, I am interested in using BootIt’s imaging and partition management functions to make easy, organized backups of my internal NTFS HD to an external HD (FAT32). I am confused, however, about what I can and cannot do when creating and restoring images as it relates to partition structures (primary partitions or volumes / extended partitions).

    On page 20, the Guide states “If you move the EMBRM partition after installation, you should reinstall BootIt NG to update the pointers on the installation disk.”
    Does this refer to moving the EMBRM partition on the hard drive (into which the BootIt files have been uploaded) during the process of partition resizing and management?
    And do I understand correctly that inserting the BootIt installation floppy and reinstalling the BootIt files will result, in turn, in the hard drive writing these pointers back onto the installation floppy?

    Page 21 of the Guide displays a “Work with Partitions” screenshot. I have also seen the on-line video tutorials using this screen. What is unclear is how you relate the partitions in the Work with Partitions screen to the C:, D:, E:, etc partitions you see using Windows Explorer. How do you determine the one-to-one correspondence?

    I understand from the TeraByte video tutorials that if you install BootIt into its own partition on the hard drive, the partition must be a primary partition. That is, BootIt cannot be installed into a Volume within an Extended Partition on the HD. Why is this? Is it because Volumes / Extended Partitions only exist in the NTFS file type world, and BootIt must be installed into a FAT file type partition?

    Can you confirm that compressed Images created by BootIt can be restored to either Primary Partitions or to Volumes within Extended Partitions?
    Can BootIt create an Image from either a Primary Partition or from a Volume within an Extended Partition?

    My internal HD uses the NTFS file structure, I therefore understand I can make Volumes and Extended Partitions (although I’ve never done it) in addition to Primary Partitions. Is there any advantage, therefore, for me to click YES during initial BootIt installation (see Guide, page 10) when asked if I want to enable more than four primary partitions? Can’t I just create several extended partitions with several volumes inside each…..won’t this give me a lot of additional drive letters (D, E, F, etc) on my PC for segregating data, application software, etc.

    Will creating a compressed image of already compressed music or picture files (such as mp3 or jpg) degrade the quality of the files when they are restored? Is it preferable to use the BootIt uncompressed Copy and Paste partition contents function for these types of files?

    *** END ***
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2004
  2. nod32_9

    nod32_9 Guest

    As always, IMAGE the primary C boot partition containing WXP PRIOR to any type of major mod such as non-destructive partitioning! At the very least, you should install Bootit in the C partition, and use Bootit to create an extended logical partition AFTER the C partition. Now run Bootit to image the C partition. Dump the image file in the extended logical partition.

    If you install Bootit in the primary C active partition with WXP, then you shouldn't have to "reinstall" Bootit after you repartition the HD. To reload Bootit, you need to boot into the Bootit screen and remove Bootit. Reboot with the Bootit floppy and reload Bootit.

    Don't have access to page 21. In general, one should put the OS in a primary partition. I have 3 primary partitions. All are Cs. But only one primary active C partition can be active. Other primary C partitions are hidden from view. The active primary partition is the one that you can boot into. They can be FAT32 or NTFS.

    It's best to put all other data and programs in an extended logical partition. You can create an unlimited number of extended logical partitions. I put these extended logical partitions AFTER the C primary partitions. If you don't have multiple OSes, then you only need ONE primary C active partition.

    You need to create free space from any partition before you can make a primary or extended logical partition. Most PCs come with one large C primary active partition. Create free space from this partition by reducing the size of the partition.

    Bootit needs an primary partition because an extended logical cannot be set to ACTIVE mode. Remember that extended logicals are use for data storage only. You cannot boot to extended logicals. It is possible to load some parts of WNT to an extended logical. But the core boot data must reside in the primary active partition.

    If the image files was created in a primary partition, then you must restore the data back to any primary partition. The same with extended logicals. Failure to do so will foul up the boot loader, and you may not be able to boot into windows.

    Bootit can image primary and extended logical partitions.

    You do not want to enable more than 4 primary partitions unless you need to install more than 4 OSes. Remember that you can created an UNLIMITED number of extended logicals AFTER the primary C active partitionl

    Image compression does not alter the "quality" of audio/video materials.
     
  3. Stro

    Stro Registered Member

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    Thanks nod32_9 so much for the reply. The information in your post, combined with extensive reading in the thick Windows XP Inside Out manual has greatly increased my knowledge of partitions and file systems.

    One more question, if I may. I'll download & install BootIt NG then image my C: primary partition (the only partition I currently have on my PC) to my external hard drive (configured as an extended partition containing several logical drives). But then how do I verify that I'll be able to restore C: from the image on the external hard drive if I need to? I'll want to veryify I can restore C: from the image before I start resizing C: to make room for new partitions.

    My external HD has 232 GB. Can I restore to an empty partition on the external HD and test out the restore function that way? I know from your post below that I'll need to create a primary partition on the external HD to restore to so that I don't foul up the boot loader.

    Also, have you ever used the free software from the TeraByte called SFC (Subdir File Compare)? The website says, "SFC (Subdir File Compare) is a command line utility you can use to compare a base directory with a target directory. It verifies that all files from the base directory (and all sub-directories) exist on the target with the same content. Differences in file time and date are ignored." Can this be used to compare a BootIt NG image with its source partition, I wonder?

    Thanks again.
    Regards,
    Stro
     
  4. HandsOff

    HandsOff Registered Member

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    I'm just wondering if there is any advantage to having the external drive formatted with FAT32, other than thats probably how it shipped.

    - HandsOff
     
  5. nod32_9

    nod32_9 Guest

    You can restore the image file to another HD. I don't know of any other method that you can use to check that the image file is good. Non-destructive partitioning is a low-risk operation, but anything can happen.

    Restoring to an empty partition on the external is NOT a valid test. First, you don't have an active primary partition. Second, you're restoring an active primary partition to an extended logical partition, Third, you're not transferring data from one HD to another. I could go on....

    The only idiot proof method of testing the image file is to restore it to a partition and make sure that the partition is functional in WINDOWS. I don't trust test software.

    FAT32 is faster than NTFS. I use FAT32 because I also run W9.x along with WNT.
     
  6. Stro

    Stro Registered Member

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    nod32_9,
    Thanks for the information. I could restore my C: image from the external HD back onto my PC's HD into a newly created primary partition, then use the BootIt boot mgr to change the active partition. But of course I'll have to create the partitions first.
    I think I'm ready now to try BootIt.

    HandsOff,
    The Microsoft Windows XP Inside/Out manual has a good two page spread on selecting either NTFS or FAT32. I recall (the manual is at home; I'm at work) that NTFS beats FAT32 in almost every category: stability, reliability, storage efficiency (less hard drive space wasted). But NTFS can only be used by Windows XP & 2000. Windows ME or any of the 9x series can't use NTFS. So the external HD mfrs format their HDs using FAT32. After reading the Inside/Out manual, and knowing I'll only use the external HD with Win XP, I reformatted the external HD to NTFS and got rid of the primary partition, using an extended partition instead.

    Regards,
    Stro
     
  7. nod32_9

    nod32_9 Guest

    NTFS is NOT more stable when compared to FAT32. A huge FAT32 partition will require a larger cluster size (16kb), resulting in more unused free space. The use of multiple partitions will overcome this problem. A bunch of 30GB partitions don't waste any more space than NTFS.

    It requires more CPU clock time to manage NTFS. That's why I only use FAT32 with high end gaming systems.
     
  8. Stro

    Stro Registered Member

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    nod32_9,

    I successfully used BootIt NG last night to image my C: drive to a USB 2.0 Western Digital external hard drive. My C: drive is 8 GB used + 141 free. The image process took 2 hrs 46 mins.

    What exactly did I image? Used space plus all the free space on C:? Do the math (166 mins / 149 GB) and it works out to 1.11 mins per GB if I imaged everything (used plus unused space) on C: Is this what I did, and are these time parameters within the norm?

    My next step is to rename the drive letters for the built-in CD & DVD players (currently D: & E:). My Windows Inside/Out manual explains how to do that clearly. But I do wonder about my Western Digital external HD. I partitioned this WD HD already and it's showing up currently as drives F, G & H. What happens when I rename letter drives on the CD & DVD players (to M & N), then partition C: with the WD HD unplugged? I want to make/add logical drive partitions D, E, F & G on my PC's HD. When I add these logical drive partitions and then plug in the external WD HD, will the WD HD's logical drive partitions be assigned new drive letters (say, H, I & J)?

    Or should I plug in the WD HD and rename its logical drive partitions before partitioning C:? Windows XP assigned the drive letters to the WD HD when I partitioned it using Windows XP; I don't know if you can designate the drive letter to be used by an external HD when it's plugged in (or if the OS always assigns the next available letter(s) to an external HD). I want to backup files & make images from 3 different PCs using the WD HD so I don't want to create a situation which may result in conflicts when I plug the WD HD into another PC's USB port.

    Another task I'm uneasy about is moving My Documents (and all its subfolders) to another partition on the PC. Again, the Inside/Out manual explains how to do this, and which button to push to move all the My Docs data as well. The kids got iPods for Christmas so now we have a lot of songs and some iTunes software in My Docs. The primary piece of iTunes resides in My Programs which I plan to move to a partition dedicated to application software. I though maybe you'd have some thoughts on moving My Docs and My Programs each to their own partitions and still have iTunes be able to find all the mp3 & mp4 music files, save new music files to these folds, etc.

    Long post, but moving this stuff makes me nervious !

    Thanks & regards,
    Stro
     
  9. Stro

    Stro Registered Member

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    Today I defragged my hard drive and went into BootIt "Settings" and enabled the "Support for USB 2.0."

    Tonight I again imaged the 7.97 GB (used space) C: drive to my Western Digital hard drive. It took 14.5 minutes. Wow, what a difference! Was my 2 3/4 hr ordeal last night because I didn't click on the USB 2.0 support setting?
     
  10. nod32_9

    nod32_9 Guest

    The default Bootit configuration will image ONLY the data at normal compression. This should yield an image file around 5GB. Check the size of the image file. USB is not reliable for mission critical tasks such as drive imaging. That's why I use a quick release internal bracket to swap out HD. USB 2 (Hi Speed) will provide better data throughput.

    Bootit's transfer rate using master/slave IDE connectors can hit 1.5GB/minute with a powerful PC. The speed can drop as low as 120MB/minute with PII CPUs. The nominal speed is around 400MB/minute.

    It's best to format the internal HDs, then add and format the external HDs. PartitionMagic may be able to change the drive letters of the partitions in the external HD. Dunno if windows will reassign new drive letters for the external HD.

    For maximum system compatibility and stability, you should not connect the same external HD to multiple PCs via USB. If one PC wipes the external HD, then you will lose all data. There is no need to set up several partitions in the external HDs. I'd make one Z extended logical partition.

    If you have a working image file of the C partition, then you shouldn't have to worry about destroying My Doc or moving other applications. There are several ways to move documents. Post back if you encounter issues.

    Easiest solution is to give the kids their own WXP primary C partition.
     
  11. MIGHTYMAN

    MIGHTYMAN Registered Member

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    Can you have the Acronis Startup Recovery console running with Bootit ngf at the same time.
    Would you be able to restore a image?
     
  12. nick s

    nick s Registered Member

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    Hi MIGHTYMAN,

    As both require exclusive control of the MBR, you can only use one or the other. With BootIt, you can boot from its install CD or floppy and perform maintenance such as imaging/restore (select the "maintenance" option rather than the "install" or "upgrade" option).

    Nick
     
  13. MIGHTYMAN

    MIGHTYMAN Registered Member

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    Thankyou.
     
  14. nod32_9

    nod32_9 Guest

    Want to backup Linux? Read this article from Langalist...

    In your letter, you've mentioned a number of useful
    links to Linux stuff. One thing I would like to know however,
    having installed SuSE about 6 weeks ago as my first venture in
    Linux, is HOW DO YOU MAKE A SYSTEM BACKUP IN LINUX? None of the standards like Drive Image and Ghost can even see the ReiserFS
    partition or contents. I believe one of them in their latest
    addition has support for Ext3, but I am not sure. Any
    enlightenment in this area would be greatly appreciated. A
    google search has produced nothing useful.

    I have been using Drive Image for 3 years now in Windows, after
    you told me that was what you were using, and I feel extremely
    vulnerable without any ability to back up the Linux partition.
    Thanks, Karl Tipple

    I used to recommend Drive Image, Karl, but that was some time ago. My
    current recommendation, BootIt, is perfectly happy imaging FAT, FAT32,
    NTFS, Ext2, Ext3 and ReiserFS file systems; and can directly write images
    to hard drives or to CD-R/RW or DVD+R+RW-R-RW drives. It's also a
    partition manager, letting you create/delete/copy/move/resize partitions
    at will; and it's a boot manager, too! Thus, this one $35 tool can
    replace a separate boot manager, imaging tool, and partitioning tool;
    typically costing over $100, combined. And it's vastly more flexible than
    any of the Windows-based backup/imaging/partitioning tools, because it's
    OS independent. See this special issue for more info, including BootIt's
    drawbacks: http://langa.com/newsletters/2003/2003-07-03.htm

    OS-independent imaging (as above) is the gold standard of backups:
    Nothing beats it. But if you want a traditional backup solution for
    Linux, there are many offerings available, both free and commercial. For
    example, Linspire (formerly "Lindows") has this step-by-step guide that
    can be adapted to almost any version of Linux: http://langa.com/u/7f.htm
    Plus, there are classic guides like this "Linux Complete Backup and
    Recovery HOWTO" ( http://www.linuxforum.com/linux-backup-recovery.php );
    or animated guides like this IBM tutorial on "How to back up your Linux
    machines" ( http://www-106.ibm.com/developerworks/edu/l-dw-linuxbu-i.html
    ; registration required); and lots more general info:
    http://www.google.com/search?q=linux backup
    http://groups-beta.google.com/groups?q=linux backup

    But again, a tool like BootIt works on *any* operating system, so it can
    back up whatever you're running, including dual-boot or other setups.
     
  15. Stro

    Stro Registered Member

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    Hello again nod32_9 and nick,

    When using BootIt, can you please tell me the proper method of restoring an image back to the C: partition if OS becomes corrupted? Will I need 1) to delete the C: partition and restore into the resulting free space, or 2) delete the C: partition, then create a new, empty C: to accept the restored image, or 3) simply restore the image over the existing corrupted OS files in C:? I came across a forum post during a Google search of BootIt in which a user advocated the first approach, but haven’t seen anything else written on which is the preferred method.

    Thanks & regards,
    Stro
     
  16. nod32_9

    nod32_9 Guest

    Just restore the good image file ON TOP of the corrupt partition. DO NOT restore an extended logical partition back to a primary active partition. The PC will not boot because you've just wiped out the primary partition. If this happens, then you need to need to select the image file with a primary active partition and restore it to the proper location.

    To me, Acronis, Ghost, and various windows-based imaging proggies are overpriced "crippedware".
     
  17. Stro

    Stro Registered Member

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    nod32_9,
    Now I'm getting confused.

    In your Jan 2 post below you said, "At the very least, you should install Bootit in the C partition, and use Bootit to create an extended logical partition AFTER the C partition. Now run Bootit to image the C partition. Dump the image file in the extended logical partition."

    In your post immediately above, however, you seem to be saying that the image of the C: primary partition must be stored also in a primary partition. That if one takes an image residing in an extended logical partition and restores it back to a primary partition, then significant file loss can occur. This seems to contridict your earlier post.

    I must admit, however, that I don't understand your most recent post too well.

    I do understand advice you previously provided that if you image from a primary partition, you should restore to a primary partition. I thought where the image was stored (primary or extended logical partition) was irrelevant, however.

    Look forward to hearing from you.

    Stro
     
  18. nod32_9

    nod32_9 Guest

    You can place/move the image files anywhere. Just don't put it in a partition that you want to restore. Also label them so you don't restore the image file of an extended partition to a primary partition.

    I said to RESTORE the image file of a primary active partition back to the C partition. You cannot restore the image file to the same partition that contains the image file, because the program will delete all data in that partition. To avoid confusion, just create one BIG extended logical partition and put all your image files in this partition. When restoring data, simply RESTORE the image file back to its original location.

    Again, you can put the image file anywhere on the HD. You can also keep it on a network or removable media. Just make sure that

    1. image file goes back to the appropriate partition
    2. image file does not reside in a partition to be restored


    I use this format to label my image files:

    Year, Month, Day, and Partition

    050113C for partition C
    050113D for partition D

    050113CA for partition C, revision "A"
     
  19. huntnyc

    huntnyc Registered Member

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    Don't mean to get off topic but I have installed BootIt to my hard drive. I created a separate EMBR partition and installed it there. Now, in MY Comp0uter I don't see that partition shown but I do see it in BootIt. That is normal, isn't it? All seems to work well and I thank you for your advice on this program.

    Gary
     
  20. nod32_9

    nod32_9 Guest

    Yup, normal. It's by design. Can't damage it if you can't see it. If you can access the Bootit screen during PC boot, then you're okay.
     
  21. Stro

    Stro Registered Member

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    nod32_9,
    Your last post was a model of clarity. Thanks again for the assistance.

    Based on your advocacy of BootIt, I'm about a week into the 30 trail. I've repartitioned my hard drive and imaged. BootIt is a great deal at $35 for partition, imaging and boot mgmt capabilities. Most of the criticism I've read on the Web has to do with poor documentation, not with BootIt performance. I have to agree with them. I think TeraByte Unlimited could have a much more financially successful product if they would drastically overhaul their user manual, add more instructional videos on their website, then promote the software. I've invested many hours in reading the BootIt manual, the Windows XP Inside/Out manual on hard drive mgmt, and talking with IT staff at my company (who have not heard of BootIt, BTW) before feeling comfortable with loading and using the software. And I've used PCs ever since they came into the workplace. I don't think most people would invest the time I did.

    Thanks again, nod
    Stro
     
  22. nick s

    nick s Registered Member

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    Hi Stro,

    Sorry it took so long to reply (busy day at work). nod32_9, as usual, has the technical details well covered. I'll just add a couple of general comments.

    I agree that the manual requires thorough reading. However, the relatively new Knowledge Base is getting to be a useful resource. For quick support, I would also take a look at their newsgroup where TeraByte support is actively involved. Point your newsreader at terabyteunlimited.com at port 1198.

    I am in the habit of restoring archived images 5-10 times per week when I troubleshoot software. I even have an image containing only a clean install of XP SP2 and Doom 3. I restore it just to play the game. When I'm done, I re-image, or let it go, and then restore my current system image. In other words, I have a high degree of confidence in BootIt NG's reliability (meaning 0 failures when either imaging or restoring).

    Nick
     
  23. nod32_9

    nod32_9 Guest

    Ya don't want these guys to get PI$$GY like SYMANTEC. Then we will get CRAPWARE with zero support. Bootit is a hidden gem. It's best to keep it that way.

    The program can be a tad awkward at first, because folks are used to doing things in windows. As you become more familiar with the program, you may want to give Bootit its own partition. That way, you will probably never need to use a boot disc, even when you've wiped out your boot partition.

    The next step is to restore an extended logical partition. I would create a small test partition and attempt to restore the image file back to this partition. If you don't see a problem, then you should move up to the C primary active partition.
     
  24. Stro

    Stro Registered Member

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    Thanks again Nick & nod32_9. I'll look into the Newsgroup. Thanks for the Knowledge Base link; I didn't know it existed.
     
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