Which software to recover from System disaster?

Discussion in 'backup, imaging & disk mgmt' started by bellgamin, Jul 2, 2006.

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  1. bellgamin

    bellgamin Very Frequent Poster

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    Yesterday was a baaad day at Black Rock. I was messing around with an open source boot manager & got a blue screen. When I tried a restart, I got the message "Cannot find a system disk."

    Rollback didn't help. I finally got up & running again by doing a reinstall of Windows. My data was backed-up, but I still have to reinstall all my programs, download & reinstall the updates, etc. :oops:

    LESSON LEARNED- I must henceforth have a full-on disaster recovery system of some sort.

    ADVICE REQUESTED- I am going to lay out my *plans* for installing a disaster system and would VERY much appreciate any & all comments, alternatives, & suggestions.

    NOTE: I am a doofus about computers so PLEASE keep it simple.

    MY PRESENT PLAN:
    1) Buy an external Hard Drive with 250Gig capacity (it's on sale next week)

    2) Use the Windows back-up wizard at...
    Start > Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Backup

    3) On the Wizard's "What to Back Up" tab, I will select the option which says...
    4) I will do back-ups at least weekly, & retain ~3 such back-ups on the external HD.

    GOAL- If I have a disaster again, I want to be able to restore my full system to the state that it was in before the fit hit the shan.

    ADVICE? Will the plan I have outlined above meet that goal? Does my plan have any major disadvantages? Is there a better way that even a doofus can understand?

    aloha... bellgamin
     
  2. crofttk

    crofttk Registered Member

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    That's easy ! First Defense-ISR from Raxco
     
  3. bellgamin

    bellgamin Very Frequent Poster

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    Thanks for the fast reply. I understand that FD is a superb recovery system. However -- before I spend $$$ on new software -- is there some fatal flaw in my plan to use Window's own back-up system?
     
  4. Peter2150

    Peter2150 Global Moderator

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    I agree with Crofttk.

    I use FDISR for anything but disk failure, and Acronis and Image for Windows/DOS for hardware failure.


    But you have to understand with FDISR as with Rollback, you shouldn't be messing with anything that messes with the MBR(Master Boot Record)

    FDISR is significantly more reliable then Rollback, but if you mess up the MBR you might still not be able to recover with it.

    Pete
     
  5. gerardwil

    gerardwil Registered Member

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    Hi Bellgamin,

    I don't know anything about the build-in backup feature. But if I understand you well you want an image of your drive. I don't know if that is possible with that build-in feature. But I am sure there are experts here who can answer this issue.
    I myself use True Image (the Personal Edition that is).

    Gerard
     
  6. pvsurfer

    pvsurfer Registered Member

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    I won't make any disparaging remarks about Rollback (but believe me, I'm tempted). You need a 'disaster-recovery' backup system and none of the instant-restore products such as Rollback and FDISR qualify.

    Disk-imaging programs serve this purpose very well by allowing you to create an Emergency Recovery CD. So when your system won't even boot to the point of getting you to your instant-restore program's subconsole, you can use the ER CD to startup its own OS (e.g., Acronis True Image uses Linux) followed by some sort of disk-recovery wizard. You can then restore any image previously created with that disk-imaging program.
     
  7. crofttk

    crofttk Registered Member

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    Well, I'm not completely familiar with Windows' Automatic System Recovery (which is what you're talking with the system recovery disk). I used it once a long time ago but never any more. I am a little concerned how that would dovetail with FD-ISR.

    As Peter2150 pointed out and if Windows ASR does it, messing with the MBR would not be an action supported by Raxco after First Defense-ISR is installed.

    I wish I could recall the specific limitation and requirements of Windows ASR.

    In any event, I'm also concerned that you could test a boot management program with FD-ISR, which otherwise is perfect for testing softwares from an isolated snapshot.

    pvsurfer brought to mind that I should point out that FD-ISR will protect your system partition, but not other partitions. It's never let me down in a pinch and gets my system partition back in about three shakes of a lamb's tail.

    As far as imaging programs go, if you want reliability the most: Image for Windows/DOS from Terabyte Unlimited, or, if you need to have a more "user friendly" interface with a fancy GUI and all the bells and whistles, Acronis True Image is serviceable as long as there are no compatibility issues with your system -- if it works, it will work quite well.

    If instead you were interested in a good file based backup program and would consider $60-$80 (don't know best price right now) worth the investment, then I would take a good look at Restrospect Professional for Windows.
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2006
  8. pvsurfer

    pvsurfer Registered Member

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    Windows XP Backup/Restore and Automated System Recovery will work only if Windows XP is functional.

    If your PC will not start properly, you will have to resort to using Windows' Recovery Console (available on your WinXP CD) which is command-line oriented and very 'iffy'. It is far better (easier and more reliable) to use a disk-imaging product, such as Acronis True Image.

    PS. I don't know about FDISR, but Retrospect won't run with Rollback installed. Even without Rollback, Retrospect (being a file-by-file backup system) will take much longer than True Image to create and restore any given backup. While I found Retrospect to be reliable, I find True Image much easier to use (not to mention its huge speed advantage).
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2006
  9. aigle

    aigle Registered Member

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    Hi bellgamin! let me say it was a real mistake. If u have instant recovery softwares like FDISR, RollbackRx installed, u should never play with MBR. I am not surprized If RollbackRx did not help, that is obvious.
    Now coming to ur future requirement, u need actually an imaging software loke ARI, BootNg etc. Which one to choose, that u have to wait for others, opinions as personally i don,t use any one so far. BTW, as afr as I can remember FDISR can do this job as well but in a rather slow way. I wonder if any one tried this.
     
  10. bktII

    bktII Registered Member

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    bellgamin,

    I have gone through a complete system rebuild of my notebook with XP Home TWICE due to overheating problems. The second time I bought a desktop with XP Pro and was initially excited about ASR. However, after doing some internet research, I decided that ASR would not be part of my disaster recovery solution.

    A good article on ASR here:

    http://kadaitcha.cx/asr.html

    Another good article "Backup and Data Recovery" here:

    http://kadaitcha.cx/asr.html

    My solution (which may or may not be appropriate for your needs) was to purchase "BootIt Next Generation/Image for Windows/Image for DOS" as a package from Terrabyte Unlimited at http://www.terabyteunlimited.com. Look for links to online vendors at their site. This was for approx. $50 and included a partition manager, boot manager and three methods for partition image creation and restoration because in a disaster, I want optionS. The software has been flawless and their technical support (PDF files, online knowledge base and email response) has been stellar. I am not downgrading other products and vendors, free or otherwise. Instead, I am cheap and wanted a lot of value for my $. Also, I was willing to take time to dive into their manuals.

    For file (or data) backup in between images, I use a free java-based product called "Snap Backup" from http://www.snapbackup.com/. However, you can also use MS's Windows XP File Backup utility (separate from ASR) which also can package the backup in a *.zip file. No additional cost there. Or a $ solution like Restrospect Professional for Windows may be appropriate depending on the value of your data. Your call of course.

    Hope this helps.

    bktII
     
  11. furballi

    furballi Registered Member

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    A true backup application should be able to restore everything on your HDD in case of a disaster. DO NOT rely on Go Back or equivalent to do this task. You need to obtain an IMAGING SOFTWARE.

    My preference is Bootit NG. Create a small 8MB FAT16 partition at the end of the HDD and install Bootit in this partition. Next, use Bootit to create a backup copy of your MBR. With a copy of this MBR and an image file of your OS on a DVD (Primary active C partition containing Windows), you can quickly restore ALL the data to any blank HDD.

    There is NO need for a boot disc if the OS is hosed because Bootit NG resides in it's own partition. One can also repair using the Bootit floppy/CD if the Bootit partition was accidentally deleted.
     
  12. crofttk

    crofttk Registered Member

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    Or if you want to make other use of your MBR.
     
  13. Peter2150

    Peter2150 Global Moderator

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    Retrospect wll indeed run with FDISR. Just slow. It does backup all snapshots.
     
  14. bellgamin

    bellgamin Very Frequent Poster

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    Thanks to all. From what you have said, it's a good thing I asked for comments on my plan -- which (as it turns out) would have failed me. A special thanks to bktII for the excellent links.

    It sounds like BootIT is the imager-of-choice. However, unless you folks tell me that Acronis True Image (TI) is an unreliable substitute for BootIT, I shall use Acronis TI because I already own a license for that program. {A Father's Day gift that I just never got around to using.}

    I want to use TI to put an image on an external hard drive rather than on a CD. Based on certain experiences, I have a deep distrust of CD drives being able to come through in bad situations.

    TI will put an image on an external hard drive, won't it?
     
  15. Alphalutra1

    Alphalutra1 Registered Member

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    Yep :D

    Alphalutra1
     
  16. crofttk

    crofttk Registered Member

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    Yes, it will, bellgamin. If ATI works flawlessly on your system, you'll have a good thing going, especially if you go with an external drive and don't try optical media yet.

    Make sure to built your bootable rescue media with ATI in case your system partition gets taken out.
     
  17. pvsurfer

    pvsurfer Registered Member

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    To answer your last question -- of course it will... But unless you are going to uninstall Rollback, you should understand how TI will work with Rollback.

    If you want to image your Current snapshot, you have to create that image by using TI in Windows, and not by using TI's Boot CD. If you create an image using the Boot CD, you will be imaging your Baseline snapshot. That's neither apparent or widely understood, but it's a fact...

    As you have seen, Rollback does not want any other program's entry in the MBR (btw, that includes Bootit NG). Based on my horrible experiences with Rollback, if I were you I would uninstall it, but that's another story... :gack:

    Hth, pv

    PS. As a licensee, be sure to d/l the latest TI update from Acronis!
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2006
  18. furballi

    furballi Registered Member

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    Bootit can reside in it's own primary partition. Therefore, you shouldn't have to rely on a boot disc unless the Bootit partition is also compromised.

    If TI works reliably with your PC, then it is the most logical choice. TI has failed to restore several image files on my old HP PC. I've used Bootit since 2003. 100% recovery rate as of today.

    Note that some imaging software will not work properly if the PC is highly overclocked (35% or higher). Bootit NG appears to be immune from the overclocking issue.

    The Opteron 144 @ 2.97GHz (65% overclock on air) will not image properly with my trustry Drive Image 5 program. No problemo with Bootit NG.
     
  19. aigle

    aigle Registered Member

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    Out of ATI and BootNG, which one is easier to use for a novice?
     
  20. DCM

    DCM Registered Member

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    Bootit sounds good but what happens if the hard drive fails?

    Can it be used to create an image on DVD or an external hard drive?
     
  21. Peter2150

    Peter2150 Global Moderator

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    Probably ATI. I don't use BootNG, but I do use IFD/IFW along with ATI, and they are pretty straight forward.
     
  22. aigle

    aigle Registered Member

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    Thanks.
     
  23. crofttk

    crofttk Registered Member

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    Certainly, you can. Hard Drive failure is precisely why you should make a separate bootable media copy of either BootItNG or Image for Windows.
     
  24. Longboard

    Longboard Registered Member

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    @bellgamin et al:

    Sorry to hear about your BSOD problem.

    I ma having troubles setting up my Linux project: I think it will work but will take some time. (connecting to internet been tricky for me) I hav found the open source route to be full of hidden potholes. Anyway more of that another time.

    As to your system loss:
    I too have had complete write off that required full reinstall: PITA !!

    Heh; These people dont understand the ELITE doofi mentality :D LOL

    My solution is to have external removeable HD with USB to IDE connection. The drive can easily be removed for install/replacement to box if required.
    ~$A120 for 240g WD drive in enclosure with cables.

    Then I have FDISR as immediate recovery option, and, keep archive on external disc. Once you have created the initial secondary snapshot and the archive file updates of same from Primary snapshot take minutes.
    20G > Snapshot ~25 minutes
    Subsequent refresh of snapshots ~3minutes each.
    I try and do this per session

    FD-ISR will only protect the primary partition it is installed to, therefore not the best for "whole disc salvage unless "C" is your only partition on that drive.

    I then use BING/IFW ( have not yet used IFD) to create image of Primary partition and any other data on other partitions as required. Provides 40-60% compression.

    I have also got a fresh install of XP with FD_ISR only on a small partition on external HD. If required with BING I could make this the primary partition and boot into previously made FDISR archive.

    There is an option available from Terabyte: COPY/WIPE which will make a bootable copy of either drive or partition.

    I use BING from floppy as do not have need for multiboot option as yet. THere has been no conflict for me between BING from floppy and pre-boot option in FD-ISR. (have tested with boot from BING floppy with pre-boot of FD-ISR on and off.)

    Imaging from BING will capture the FD-ISR preboot if it is on primary partition when Imaged. In IFW I would disable FD-isr perboot option prior to imaging.
    (I keep primary partitin as HD0> No proprietary partition eg Dell or HP)

    There is no doubt that depending on size of partitions and data volume, the imaging process can take some time and with my method be somewhat cumbersome. Bing/IFW will not update images, just create new images.
    20G image and validate ~30mins.
    I try and do this weekly.

    There has been some talk of new applications coming from Terabyte that will "upgrade" their current apps.

    I keep external HD dissconnected except when imaging or transferring data for storage.

    I have options for software disaster (as per OP ) and HD collapse.
    Just quite labour intensive !! :ouch:
    But having been through what you have been through I am willing to sacrifice a little extra time. If both hd fry at same time, I could be done :eek:

    You might want to look at:
    http://www.fssdev.com/products/casperxp/
    http://www.itechs-systems.com/pages/order.htm
    http://www.storagecraft.com/products/ShadowProtectDesktop/

    From your experience I suspect you have appreciated the need for a bootable restore option.

    AFAIK Acronis also has this and most if not all of the terabyte options (70+mb of dl with very flash GUI VS tiny dl and crappy gui Heh )and as noted there are many happyusers.

    Sorry for droning on
    Let us know which way you go :)
    Regards
    Longboard.
     
  25. furballi

    furballi Registered Member

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    It's easier to install TI. You will need a floppy disc or boot CD/DVD to install Bootit NG.



    Using Bootit NG:

    Reboot the PC and you will see the Bootit NG splash screen. It is possible to adjust a time delay for this screen (1 sec and up). Use the mouse to click on the Partition Work icon.

    To image a partition, right click the partition and select IMAGE\CREATE IMAGE. Right click on the destination partition where you want to store the image file and select PASTE. Give the image file a NAME and select the split point of the image file (default 2GB works well). You can also validate the image file at the end of the task.

    To restore a partition, right click the partition or drive containing the image file and select IMAGE\RESTORE FROM FILE. Select the image file that you want to restore then hit OK. Right click on the partition that you want to restore this image file and select PASTE.
     
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