Cleaning the computer and creating an image

Discussion in 'backup, imaging & disk mgmt' started by Pedro, Dec 19, 2006.

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  1. Pedro

    Pedro Registered Member

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    Hello,

    I'm seriously thinking about cleaning my computer: installing XP again, installing all the software needed, setting it up, and making an image of the disk so i can return to this state.
    I'll be using an external Hard Drive.

    As i'm not very knowledgeable, i have some doubts that can look silly:rolleyes: , but i have to ask, to understand the concepts:

    1- Reformatting the disk clears everything? Even malware? (not concerned with the latter, but i have to understand the process)

    2- With Acronis True Image 10, for instance, i create an image of the HD. So if i clean everything, i can still use the image? Or are there things that can't be erased, i would have to use the XP CD/ recovery CD?
    (is everything in the image)o_O

    3- As i don't need to do anything else other than image the whole HD (to back up files, I can copy them to the external HD), what are my best options? Aditional features are OK, and i can change my mind. Best free and paid.
    I’m very interested in Acronis’s products, but confused with the differences. Is TI the best for me, or Migrate Easy?

    4- What’s the difference between cloning and imaging? Cloning transfers the image from 1 HD to another and erasing the original?

    I know there must be other threads that approach this. Just try to explain these concepts, and give me links if you must.

    Thank you!

    PS. I haven’t bought the HD yet, any suggestions? Money is not much of a problem, as it is a good investment. But it must be a good HD in terms of quality/price ratio.
     
  2. Notok

    Notok Registered Member

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    1. Yes, it deletes every file on the partition. Malware could potentially survive if it hides in a location outside of the partition, but that is rather uncommon. The easiest way to be sure is to delete the partitions and recreate them, which is a good practice anyway. Just be careful you don't delete "recovery partitions" if you want to keep them.

    2. Yes, a disk image will work on even a brand new hard drive that has never been used, although it will need to create the appropriate partition first.

    3. If I remember right, Migrate Easy was integrated with Acronis True Image. ATI is a fantastic app. The main reason I like it is the ability to create and restore images from within Windows, running outside of Windows is exactly the same as within, it's fast, and it has a lot of useful utilities like mounting images as a drive (useful for when you forget to back something up before formatting), and the aforementioned Migrate Easy options.

    4. Cloning is where you put in a new drive, copy the entire contents (including the master boot record) from disk "A" to disk "B", so that you can then remove disk "A" and have your system exactly as it was before, just with a new physical hard drive. This isn't meant to keep the image for backup, that's what imaging is for.

    And hard drives - I go with Seagate whenever possible, they're the only ones I know of with a 5 year warranty. They also usually have the best shock protection, and so are best for external drives IMO. They are also usually competitively priced. When it comes to external drives I very highly recommend getting an internal hard drive and an external enclosure. It saves a lot of money, carries better warranties, can give you exactly the features you want, and also usually gives you a more attractive looking unit :) The main thing to look for is an aluminum case (disepates more heat) and, if possible, a fan. Heat is a major drive killer, so you want one that will keep it as cool as possible. Also make sure to stand it up on it's side, and not flat down where it will trap in heat.
     
  3. Pedro

    Pedro Registered Member

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    Thanks Notok :thumb:
    You answered everything.:)

    I had a Lacie HD, but it was stolen... Now i'm looking for a replacement that never leaves home :p . Too much pain, as you can guess.

    I'll have a close look at Seagate and case. But is it that cheaper to buy them separately? And do you have a good site referenced to check them out?

    And TI... boy i'm i eager:D . Is it really the real deal? I've read it's the only truly reliable solution, and complete.

    Other opinions are still welcome, even if Notok covered everything:D
     
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2006
  4. lodore

    lodore Registered Member

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  5. Peter2150

    Peter2150 Global Moderator

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    I just bought my first Lacie big external drive. Did based on size, and the fact I've had good success with the 40gig mobile fingerprint job.

    The drive I bought is the extreme USB drive. What I find amazing is with it's USB 2.0 connection it is as fast as the secondary internal drive, and that is pretty darn fast. What I don't know is how much is the drive, and how much is the new machine.
     
  6. Roger_

    Roger_ Registered Member

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    It must be your new machine, lucky guy... ;)
    In mine, it does not get past 16MB/s which is considerably under the 45-50MB/s speed for my next slowest one, an IDE/ATA100 drive.

    Quoting http://www.everythingusb.com/usb2/faq.htm:

     
  7. Pedro

    Pedro Registered Member

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    So to build my own external HD, i find one with SATA interface, and then find a case that has thato_O?
    What are the other details that i have to pay attention?
     
  8. Roger_

    Roger_ Registered Member

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    As Notok stated, also take care with the physical characteristics of the box for good heat dissipation.

    If you want to choose a box for your future upgrade, look for one with internal SATA300 and external eSATA besides USB 2.0, for the new SATA hot-plugging systems.
     
  9. Pedro

    Pedro Registered Member

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    This guy here says it's not worth having a HD with SATA interface if i use an USB 2.0 output only. Is this accurate?

    So i only buy a SATA one if i use Firewire or if prefer to be prepared for the near future? (new pc with firewire, or using on a pc as a secondary drive)

    If not, i use one with IDE, being cheaper, and uses USB 2.0 capacity to its full?
     
  10. Ice_Czar

    Ice_Czar Registered Member

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    Id say no, parallel ATA (IDE) is really a dinosaur on its way out and the small savings to be had when buying a PATA\IDE I think can easily be offset by the flexibility you'll have over the lifetime of the drive if you treat it nice.

    External HDD are more likely to be damaged, they regularly get moved and accidentally get smacked. The real concern of course is when they are spinning.
    2.5" Laptop HDDs are seriously more advanced at self preservation than the typical 3.5" Internal dives generally enclosed in the "popular" external drives sold. One of the main reasons is the flex you get as you increase the HDD platters diameter (and explains why 1" micodisk memory for cameras ect is so damn robust)

    But if you employ care and a 3.5" SATA HDD you can also use an external SATA port. Of course your friend down the street likely wouldnt have one (but you could probably just open the box these days), then youd get the full 150mb\s burst rate throughput.

    the question would really be do you need it?
    As The Hard Disc Spins @ Lost Circuits
    external transfer speeds as a basis for comparison of performance is misleading

    How youd employ it really dictates how you build it.
    If its going to really be "portable" go laptop to USB2.0
    If its a speed demon your transfering massive blocks of data onto and off of go external SATA
    if its just something you occasionally employ for backups and the odd (careful) trip USB2.0\SATA
    (you can always build it to be both USB\external as you need it, open top bypass USB, connect direct)
    if you happen on a screaming deal PATA\USB2.0 (again bypass USB, connect direct)


    just an example not a recommendation of that vendor\product

    I dont employ "external" HDD enclosures, keeping them bare reminds me to treat them like they are loaded full of nitro
    and to put my toys away where they won't get hurt :p
    (and I practice strict ESD precautions of course)

    Thats not to say I don't regularly have a drive sitting on top of a case transfering 100GB of sequential data at the max sustainable rate.
    All my boxes dont have Gigabit NICs yet
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2006
  11. Ice_Czar

    Ice_Czar Registered Member

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    all a format does is overwrite the Master File Table, it simply breaks the chain of pointers to the data that is written to the platter and deletes nothing. The data is sitting in plain sight to any direct sector scan. But generally speaking once the malware is unable to bootstrap into memory since the OS can't see it, its busted. Technically incorrect but right in context anyway :p Depends on what "delete" actually means, to the OS it means its forgotten where it is, to people it generally means its gone or destroyed.

    to really get rid of the data you overwrite it, to get it all at once you zero the drive which would also get the boot sector
    easy to do with Darik's Boot & Nuke on the the UBCD (just one pass it takes time, do it overnight)

    malware looking to hide in the Master boot record \ boot sector wasnt so uncommon that long ago. There is also proof of concept attempts and theories about hiding in EEPROM (BIOS and PCI BIOS memory) as well as real USB flash memory malware.

    Trivia point
    a full format verse a quick format is that in a full format you also run CHKDSK to examine the platter
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2006
  12. Notok

    Notok Registered Member

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    Someone: Sorry for not getting back to this thread earlier, I lost track of it :p The interface really isn't too important. I've actually found SATA drives to often be cheaper than IDE drives. The primary thing I would look at are the advertised features. Western Digital have drives that are extra cool (and they really do run cooler than others), Seagate has great shock protection and most importantly 5 year warranties. I do absolutely recommend getting an external enclosure and an internal hard drive, you do indeed save money, get better features, the cases often look nicer, and you get way longer warranties (I've never seen a 5 year warranty on an external drive). Plus, when one or the other gives out, you can replace it without replacing everything. The 2.5" drives are more expensive, but they are indeed a lot nicer. They're a lot more portable and they can usually be run entirely off USB power (no external power supply needed, as the 3.5" drives need). With the 2.5" ones, though, you'll want to refrain from going too cheap, however, as the more expensive ones are more reliable and are more easily powered by a single USB connection (I have a 2.5" enclosure that requires a second USB connection on about half my systems to get all the power it needs). Whether getting a 2.5" or a 3.5", I would look to spend a minimum of $30-$50 for a decent one, as the cheaper ones are.. well.. cheaper (although there are a few exceptions). As far as where to look, I always recommend newegg.com for hardware, even if for no other reason than to see what's out there and see people's experiences with them. I usually go for something with a lot of positive reviews, something with 100+ reviews and 5 (of 5) "eggs". Lastly, True Image is indeed the real deal. It's one piece of software I would not go without, I love it :)
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2006
  13. Notok

    Notok Registered Member

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    Splitting hairs a bit, IMO. If there's malware on the drive, it's not going to resurrect itself after format. Yes, the data is still there, but it's not coming back unless you use some recovery software and bring it back yourself. One can certainly use a disk wiping utility if desired, but if you're not concerned with someone else potentially undeleting your personal files then a full format would be fine. Perhaps if you're going to use an old drive in an external enclosure it would be worth wiping in case it gets stolen.

    It was more common in Windows 9x, which allowed direct access to hardware. The NT OSes (including 2000 and XP) don't allow the same free access to the MBR. That doesn't mean it's not possible, but that's about when it stopped becoming common. Formatting should, however, rewrite the MBR, especially if you recreate the partitions. Antivirus software also commonly scans boot sectors these days, so it's not quite the same hiding place that it used to be.

    As for malware hiding in flash memory (including BIOS), I wouldn't expect to see that until the anti-malware vendors get a lot better at detecting the less advanced rootkits. USB memory for sure, but those also usually infect the host system so that they can infect every USB drive that comes by. Same malware, different method of spreading.
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2006
  14. Ice_Czar

    Ice_Czar Registered Member

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    true to acquire a multiparte virus to the NTFS bootsector these days would mean having to run a DOS ap, but I dont see that as such a great problem with the new USB flash threat

    USB Switchblade

    think about how many computers these days have the USB in the boot order
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2006
  15. Pedro

    Pedro Registered Member

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    You guys really know your computer! :thumb: :D

    Thank you, i see that what i really want is SATA. I will be ready for future upgrades.

    One thing i should have said before: i have a laptop/notebook. I won't be opening it. I won't be the only user either (of the HD, not the laptop).

    So it will really be a external HD, with USB 2.0 output, maybe something else. And it will stay home, so i guess i'll look for a 3.5", with at least 300GB. Maybe 500:) , so i won't be worried with space, but it will depend on the deal. 500 really isn't that necessary, lol, but like Gmail, i don't really need 2GB (it's bigger actually) of space, but i like the fact that i don't have to worry about it (privacy is another matter with Gmail, but... OT)

    Thank you both, alot to read, but now i'm not worried about Christmas, which is not that festive when there are alot of presents to buy... I hate shopping!!:D


    Edit: besides Notok and Ice_Czar, thank you lodore, Peter2150 and Roger_, for participating and sharing your opinions too! Very useful
     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2006
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