Discussion in 'backup, imaging & disk mgmt' started by ErikAlbert, Nov 15, 2005.

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  1. ErikAlbert

    ErikAlbert Registered Member

    Jun 16, 2005
    I never worked with partitions. So I'm quite new to this.

    For awhile I thought it was all about separating Operating Software (OS) from Application Softwares (AS), but that seems not to be true.
    It looks to me more like separating OS and AS from your personal files.
    When you install Windows, you don't install Windows only, but also alot of AS, like Internet Explorer, Windows Explorer, Outlook Express, Notepad, ...
    It's all very confusing to me.
    Nevertheless ShadowUser recommends you to install Windows in a separate partition. What does that mean in practice ?

    If I want to do this I need at least TWO partitions :
    1. One partition ("C:") that will contain :
    - my OS : MS Windows XP Professional SP2"
    - all AS that come with winXP, like Internet Explorer, MS Outlook Express and many others.
    - all AS I bought on CD, like MS Office 2000 Professional (Word, Excel, Outlook, ...)
    - all AS I downloaded from the internet, like ZoneAlarm Free, ShadowUser, ...
    I call that one my Windows Partition

    2. One partition ("D:") that will contain :
    - all personal files, I created with MS Office 2000 Professional.
    - all files, I downloaded from the internet, like MP3, movies
    I call that one my Personal Partition

    The big advantage of all this seems to be that I can reinstall or restore my OS and AS without losing my personal files, created or downloaded by myself. I hope I'm right about this so far.
    I could be wrong, but I don't think that's enough.
    For instance, I have Mozilla Thunderbird as email-software and Thunderbird has, like any other email-software, also an Address Book, where you store email-addresses of your family, friends, ...
    This Thunderbird Address Book is normally on your harddisk at this location :
    C:\Documents and Settings\EVM\Application Data\Thunderbird\Profiles\2p6d9i4y.default\abook.mab
    So I don't want to lose this file either when I reinstall or restore my Windows Partition.
    Unfortunately this Address Book isn't located on my Personal Partition.

    In order to solve this, I think I have to redirect the folder "Application Data".
    According my readings and if you have winXPproSP2, you can redirect FIVE folders under
    the folder "C:\Documents and Settings"

    1. Folder "Application Data", which is normally HIDDEN.
    2. Folder "Desktop"
    3. Folder "My Documents"
    4. Folder "My Documents\My Pictures"
    5. Folder "Start Menu"

    This can be done by right-clicking these folders and clicking the "Target Tab",
    where you can redirect the folder to a new folder on another partition.
    The other folders under "Document and Settings" can't be redirected.

    Are you redirecting folders ?
    I also assume that each time your OS and AS have any upgrading or updating or change in settings, you have to backup your Windows Partition in order to keep these changes.
    In order words you have to backup every day.
    The same counts for the Personal Partition.
    Frankly, I'm not really convinced that working with a Windows Partition and Personal Partition makes sense, because you have to backup all the time.
    I don't see any difference with a single partition, it's even more complicated.
    Maybe I'm missing something.
  2. Rmus

    Rmus Exploit Analyst

    Mar 16, 2005
    The principal protection of ShadowUser and Deep Freeze is for the OS and Registry. Any changes will be wiped on reboot. The trick is to keep everything that writes changes to disk on another partition.

    You might be able to use a single partition running SU. Unlike Deep Freeze, SU, as I understand it, allows you to commit changes. From the ShadowStor site:

    "If system changes and folder or files changes occur during a virtual session, then these changes can be automatically or manually committed to the PC or server. If malicious or unwanted changes occur during a virtual session, then they can be discarded with a simple reboot."

    However, I think to have a second partition will be a lot easier in the long run, which is probably why they recommend it. Using Deep Freeze, I have to have a second partition. Once you have everything set up, you'll find that it's no hassle to maintain.

    You can install TweakUI to remap additional directories:

    If you install Mozilla on your second partition, that should take care of your address book problem - assuming that all Mozilla files are kept in its program directory. (It's that way with Opera)

    This is true, whether you back up 1 or 2 partitions, the total amount of space is the same.

    But it's easy to set up your backup or imaging for two partitions instead of one.


    ~~Be ALERT!!! ~~
  3. AnthonyG

    AnthonyG Registered Member

    Aug 3, 2004
    Partitioning means (as to what i believe) it is in a sence making your hard drive into two separate hard drives. Thus protecting each from Non physical problems on the other.

    What i do is i have my windows OS on one partition, Linux on the other, and all my personal files (Word Docs, MP3's, Jpegs and all things like this on a separate partition.

    This means if windows messes up and i need to reformat, i will only need to reformat the windows patition and the partition with all my files will still be there safe. If i did not have this in place i would need to reformat the entire drive and loose everything.
  4. ErikAlbert

    ErikAlbert Registered Member

    Jun 16, 2005
    Thanks for mentioning TweakUI, I think this software can be very handy.

    I fully agree with your reason for partitioning and I would have done the same thing.
    In the future I will have two hard disk with two partitions on each harddisk.

    Partition "C:" for winXPproSP2 and all Application Softwares and Security Softwares
    Partition "D:" for Personal Files (documents, spreadsheets, ...)

    Partition "E:" for backup of partition "C:"
    Partition "F:" for backup of partition "D:"

    This way my Personal Files are separated from all softwares and therefore pretty safe and I have a full backup of everything.
    I guess you are working the same way.
    But I would like to have something more than that.

    1. Most softwares have default settings, which can be changed by the user and this happens usually only one time right after the installation.
    I would like to backup these settings in "E:" in order to save them.
    If "C:" is in trouble, I can restore it from "E:", not only the software but also their settings and that would be very convenient.
    I also don't need to backup "C:" every day, but only when there is an upgrade of a software or a change in the settings.

    2. There is however a problem with software files that are updated by the user and I know at this moment only one example : the Address Book and email-folders of Thunderbird, but I assume that several other softwares have also such files, that have regular updatings from the user.
    So all these files have to be re-directed to "D:" and I hope that this can be done.

    This requires a study of each software of course, because you need to know which files receive regular updatings and these files MUST BE on "D:".
    If these files are on "C:", they won't be updated, because ShadowUser will not allow any change after the next reboot.
    I'm also planning to protect my new computer with only TWO softwares :
    1. Firewall : ZoneAlarm Free or maybe a better firewall, like Outpost, installed on "C:"
    2. ShadowUser, installed on "C:"

    ShadowUser will protect "C:" against any change and that's why it's important that the "Address Book" and email-folders of Thunderbird are on "D:" and not on "C:".

    What do you or any other member think about this ? Is it possible ?
  5. Rmus

    Rmus Exploit Analyst

    Mar 16, 2005
    I have similar, with the second HD in a removeable carriage that is stored off site when I'm away.

    Why not? You will be known as a "minimalist"! to use the description by another poster.

    (I install my firewall on another partition so that changes to the ruleset and logs will stick)

    Yes, you have to study each software. Those that write to the Registry are a problem. That's why I like Opera and Agent, and other such programs that don't store settings in the Registry, but still use .ini and .dat files stored in their program directory - wherever you install the program.

    Some caveats:

    1) Changes to Windows settings, (stored in the Registry) such as MRU lists, won't stick between reboots. Start Menu and My Documents, etc, can be remapped if you want.

    2) Programs that store recent file lists in the Registry: Microsoft Word, etc - these changes won't stick.

    I've never bothered about MRU and recent file lists, so it's not a problem here, but needs to be considered.

    Of course, using ShadowUser or Deep Freeze is not convenient if you are constantly installing/uninstalling, but if you have become sedentary in your habits :cool: it's ideal.


    ~~Be ALERT!!! ~~
  6. ErikAlbert

    ErikAlbert Registered Member

    Jun 16, 2005
    I didn't mention this, but when my harddisks become too small, I will change it into :

    Harddisk-1 = 74GB
    Partition "C:" for winXPproSP2 and all Application Softwares and Security Softwares
    I also can use harddisk-1 to install another OS in separate partitions, like winXPproSP2 (64-bit)

    Harddisk-2 = 74GB
    Partition "D:" for Personal Files (documents, spreadsheets, ...)

    Harddisk-3 = 160GB, but this will be an EXTERNAL harddisk.
    For backup of "C:" and "D:"

    But I don't expect volume problems in the first year and I can buy an external harddisk anytime.
    I guess an external harddisk is safer for backup.

    LOL @ Minimalist, but that's indeed my dream for security and that's what I really want.

    Thanks for mentioning it. Frankly, I forgot the Registry completely.
    I hope I can handle this : study each software and registry. Time will prove it LOL.

    I don't mind about MRU and recent file lists either. I never used them, so I won't miss them.

    In partition "C:" I will install and try lots of untrusted and trusted softwares of course, but I won't keep these softwares and they will be removed automatically by ShadowUser during the next reboot. So I don't even have to uninstall them.
    I only want to SEE these softwares to get new ideas for my job, but I'm not planning to keep them.
    Lots of users install softwares and ditch them, because they don't like them, but they can be infected by malware after doing this.
    ShadowUser lets you try software without any infection and that is for me an ENORMOUS IMPROVEMENT.

    Thanks for the info !!!
  7. anoob

    anoob Guest

    Hello Rmus

    Being a minimialist is fine, if you know what you are doing.

    There is no doubt that Erik (and pretty much every poster here who has being here for a while) is capable of protecting himself with a minimal setup, espically given a cautious and sensible approach towards surfing which he admits to doing. However he is unhappy with this, because it stifles his curiousity.

    The impression I get is that Erik is seeing Shadowuser as an ultimate cureall, and once it is installed he is intending to go crazy, abandon all his previously cautious and sensible practises and give in to his curiousity so to speak.

    I would not call this a minimialist approach myself or perhaps not a correct one worth emulating.

    A minimalist does not believe in using too many security software that is true. But this is because he believes that a well selected security arsenal is nothing if not backed by correct security practises. More importantly he is aware that all security software has flaws and it would be folly to rely only on them.

    On the other hand, Someone deciding that he has found the ultimate security software in X, that not only frees him from the need to use other security software (possibly true), but more importantly thinks that frees him from the need to practise prudence (definitely false), is I think not really a minmialist, at least not a wise one.
  8. NGRhodes

    NGRhodes Registered Member

    Jun 23, 2003
    West Yorkshire, UK
    Instead of messing about redirecting folders, I simply move the document and settings location, note you need to copy the folders to the new location before hand.
    The registry key is:

    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\ProfileList

    The Key is called "ProfilesDirectory"

    Also, you will probably find things break because hardcoded paths are used, so make sure you search through the registry and correct these paths, find and replace works fine with a decent registry tool (I use jv16 powertools).
    Also MUCH easier if this is done after a clean install.

    I have 2 partitions at work, one is my OS and installed programs, all data is on the 2nd partition so its quick and easy to reimage my machine when win 2k dies (it happens regularly), without loosing data.

    At home I run 2 hdds, one OS, on data drive, seems to aid performance as well.
  9. Mrkvonic

    Mrkvonic Linux Systems Expert

    May 9, 2005
    Most people already answered you this, but here's my story:
    You should not have two partitions, you should have two PHYSICAL hard drives. If a drive gets damaged, all your partitions will be destroyed.
    I would suggest, if you have money:
    Two hard drives, let's say 160gb each.
    Partition them to your needs.
    The primary hdd with OS and if you want more partitions for programs, downloads etc.
    The secondary hdd for personal files and backups, with partitions as you like.
    Personally, I have a computer with 200Gb primary and 160Gb secondary with a total of 10 partitions on them.
    However, you should also have a Knoppix bootable cd / dvd and even more importantly a Bart PE or Ultimate Boot CD for Windows live bootable cds, which will allow you to access the hard drives and burn your data even if OS is totally fukced up.
    As to your programs and personal preferences and settings, you can back these up.
    I would recommend a nice utility called Karen PT Replicator, which allows you to copy files on scheduled basis. You can make as many jobs as you want and copy files and folders to their backup every hour, day, week or month.
    This way, you won't have to think too much about backup, you'll have separate drives in case of physical failure and bootable disks for recovery and salvation of personal files in case of OS failure.

    To sum it up:
    Bootable disks - Knoppix, Suse, Ubuntu and Windows-based Bart PE / UBCD4Win
    2 or more HDD, with as many partitions as you like.
    Karen PT Replicator for continuous backup of data.
  10. ErikAlbert

    ErikAlbert Registered Member

    Jun 16, 2005
    I'm not going to discuss the word "minimalist", because it doesn't mean anything to me. After all words are just words.

    I don't believe in definition/heuristic-based softwares, which means I want to get rid of all AV/AS/AT/AK-scanners and tools like IE-SPYAD/HOSTS.
    These softwares have also many problems and cause also other problems and it will only get worse in the future. That's my personal vision of course and nobody has to believe me.
    I wouldn't be surprised that most members consider me as the forum idiot :D

    I don't see ShadowUser as a cureall software either, on the contrary.
    I will use all my knowledge to prove that ShadowUser is NOT foolproof.
    I'm not in love with any software and I don't trust any software. I don't think or work that way.
    Software is written by people and people forget and make mistakes, that's why each software has so many versions.
    The bad guys are trying to compromise all these softwares and one day ShadowUser will be compromised too. I have no doubts about that. I don't need to be smart for this, history has proven this over and over again.

    For the moment I consider ShadowUser as a foolproof protection, until the opposite is proven by me or any other member.
    I'm glad that a few other members also use ShadowUser otherwise I would be very lonely.
    ShadowUser has also many big advantages, which I don't find in the definition/heuristic-based softwares and all the disadvantages of the definition/heuristic-based softwares don't exist in ShadowUser.
    So I have reasons enough to use ShadowUser and of course I will put ShadowUser in an extreme dangerous situation without any other protection software, except a firewall.

    I don't know exactly why I still keep the firewall. If I was more sure, I would ditch the firewall too.
    When I'm not sure, I follow my intuition and my intuition tells me not to ditch the firewall.
    I know it sounds ridiculous, but I don't care about that.
    In Belgium a policeman has always a partner, the firewall will be the partner of ShadowUser on my computer :D

    I don't recommend anybody to do the same thing like me. I consider this as a personal experiment, because I don't believe in the rest of the security softwares. They aren't worth my time, because they don't have a future IMHO. :)

    Thanks for the advice. I will try to follow it.
    I can't start doing this without having my new computer and I'm still working on that,
    I prefer to ask some basic questions in advance and I'm glad I got some very usefull tips. :cool:
  11. anoob

    anoob Guest

    Does that mean you are going to throw all caution to the wind, go to porn sites, crack sites, download warez etc etc?
  12. ErikAlbert

    ErikAlbert Registered Member

    Jun 16, 2005
    In theory YES.
    In practice :
    I normally don't visit porn sites, but I wouldn't care to visit them, when ShadowMode is ON.
    I don't visit crack sites anymore, because I had my fun with cracks in the past, but I wouldn't care to visit them, when ShadowMode is ON.
    I would download any software from anywhere, when ShadowMode is ON, just to see what it is and play with it for awhile.
    Those softwares are removed automatically during the next reboot.

    ShadowUser removes any change from your harddisk, including the infections of any existing or undiscovered malware, because ShadowUser works with a virtual environment, where nothing is real.
    Definition/Heuristic-based scanners will NEVER be able to do this.
    How long does it take to reboot : 5 minutes and your PC is back to normal.
    How long does it take to run all your scanners and you are still not sure that everything is gone ?
  13. mimijo

    mimijo Registered Member

    Nov 8, 2005
    hi all,

    i am new to partitioning too...
    can i check whether lets say if i were to partition my hard disk into 2 drives namely C: & D: drive...

    and install:

    C: = os windows xp, security softwares, other softwares
    D: = personal folders, doc, jpeg files, mp3...etc

    if one day i am infected by virus or maybe trojans,
    does it also affect my "D:" drive's folders & fileso_O
    Is my personal folders in D: drive safeo_O

    if the answer is "yes it will still affect", then whats the meaning of partitioning the hard disco_O

    anyone pls advise? (sorry for my poor english) =)
  14. Spameater

    Spameater Guest

    Theoratically, the virus might be able to access the d partition also. It should be a rather elaborated one, but it could be.

    The idea of partitioning and your proposed disposition are good, though.

    Let's say you get a virus which completely destroys your OS, but is only designed to attack "c". All your data on d would remain untouched. If it had been on the same c partition, it would be as squashed as the OS.

    Let's say you decide to try and install a new service pack for your OS. You go for it, but it doesn't work and you damage your OS to a point where a new installation of your OS is the only solution. Had the d data been on c rather, again all would be lost.

    Let's say you decide to try Linux. If you have three partitions, you have c for Windows, d for your data, and the rest is left to install and test Linux without damaging or altering Windows. You then have the choice, at boot, to select Linux or Windows for your session's work.

    It's also much clearer to have data on a dedicated partition. Not to mention that the OS partition is then lighter.

    And so on...
    There are numerous reasons to have more than one partition on a HD.

  15. Spameater

    Spameater Guest

    Also, remember to surf the net from a limited user account, not an admin account. If you get virus infected, the virus will only spread as far as the limited user is allowed. System files and Admin docs will remain untouched 'cause the virus's rights would be the same as or inferior to the limited user account's.

  16. mimijo

    mimijo Registered Member

    Nov 8, 2005
    hi, now i understand the needs of partitioning, will try when i reinstall my OS.

    regarding the Limited User Account,

    as I have Norton Personal Firewall installed in my comp, if I were to logon to Limited user account to surf the net, will Norton Personal Firewall still protect the "limited user account"? or is it that all firewall/antirus (resident) software will protect all user (limited/admin)?
  17. Spameater

    Spameater Guest

    Norton firewall and AV will still protect any user on your computer, whether limited or admin.
    Having said that, some products simply don't allow a limited account to change settings nor stop AV's and firewalls (that's very good, especially if one of your kids is surfing the net), but I don't know if such is the case with your particular Fw/AV. You may try it for yourself. If necessary, you can password-lock your FW/AV when configuring it under admin account.

    For example, I have a friend who uses AntiVir as his main av. When surfing with limited account privileges, one can suppress the active icon from the taskbar, but that doesn't matter because AntiVir still protects the whole computer: in other words, AntiVir does not allow any limited user to switch the av on or off - it's only permitted from an admin account.

    An easy way of partitioning when starting from scratch (i.e. when you decide to reinstall everything on your system) is to use fdisk in dos, but this will wipe off any data on your hard drive, so only go for this method after backing up all your precious docs on cd.

    Partition Magic or Partion Suite are pay solutions but very good solutions, and allow one to partition without losing any data.

  18. Slovak

    Slovak Registered Member

    Mar 4, 2004
    Medina, Ohio
    I have worked with partitions numerous times in the past, and what worked best for me was a partition for windows and windows only, including windows critical updates, leave enough space for growth (ie 20% of the partition) for stuff like cache, temp, windows swap, etc. I would then put all applications, Microsoft office included on another partition. Finally I would create a partition just for pictures and videos etc. (they tend to take up plenty of space), and if you are into the mp3 scene another seperate partition for music files as it eats drive space too.
    Your documents and settings has to default install to the partition where windows resides, but you can change the path to where all documents and settings are actually stored, like one of your other partitions, and access them from the documents and settings folder on your windows partition.
  19. nod32.9

    nod32.9 Guest

    Best option is to keep ONLY Windows in the C active primary partition. You can create an infinite number of extended logical partitions AFTER the C active primary partition. I'd add at least two more extended logical for programs/data, and the other for the backup image files of the C partition.
  20. SpikeyB

    SpikeyB Registered Member

    Mar 20, 2005
    I normally create two partitions, one for OS and Programmes, the other for data.

    Are there any benefits from installing your OS and Programmes on different partitions?
  21. Rmus

    Rmus Exploit Analyst

    Mar 16, 2005
    1) No, because if you have to reinstall Windows, you would need to reinstall your programs anyway. If you use an image of C:\ then everything is restored intact anyway.

    2) Yes, if you have C:\ locked down (ShadowUser, Deep Freeze, or similar) and your programs use .dat or .ini files that change settings that need to stick on reboot.


    ~~Be ALERT!!! ~~
  22. nod32.9

    nod32.9 Guest

    Based on personal experience, 99% of the problems are DIRECTLY related to conflict(s) in the OS (assuming your software is working properly after about two weeks of use). By keeping the C primary active partition as small as possible, I can quickly image this 700MB WXP partition in about one minute.

    Imaging the C primary active partition with the OS is the QUICKEST way to repair windows. I normally image the C partition PRIOR to any software change/modification. If I encounter problem, then I simply restore this good image file.
  23. SpikeyB

    SpikeyB Registered Member

    Mar 20, 2005
    Thanks Rmus and nod32.9.
  24. Please pardon the interruption people ....

    Good to see you contributing in these part's again nod. :cool: Hope all has been well.
    Had to see one more post before knowing it was you. :D;)

  25. nod32.9

    nod32.9 Guest

    Glad I could help.

    You can also create up to four primary C partitions (multi-boot system). Do note that only one primary C partition can be ACTIVE at one time. The other primary C partitions will be hidden from view.

    BootitNG will allow the user to create more than four primary C partitions. This software includes a partition manager, drive imaging, and boot loader in one package. You can try the FULL software for about 30 day.

    This imaging software DOES NOT run in Windows. Therefore, ALL data in the OS remains "static" during the imaging process. This greatly improves the chance of having a good image file for future restoration.
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