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Hard drive mirror/back-up question
Old 08-15-2004, 09:10 AM   #1
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Hard drive mirror/back-up question

To all the computer experts on this board does anybody have any advice on the best hard drive mirror program to use.

What I am trying to do is mirror my hard drive so that if it crashes all my settings, update, favorites (IE.) will be on my back up hard drive, so all I have to do is remove the old drive and replace it with the back up drive, so that I do not need to reinstall all the programes and setting. I intend to back up once a week or so.

The back up hard drive will be in an external case run through a USB 2 port as there is no room in the main case.

Thanks, Brit
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Re: Hard drive mirror/back-up question
Old 08-15-2004, 09:23 AM   #2
 
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Re: Hard drive mirror/back-up question

I don't mirror my drive, just back up the data. A good place to check for reviews is cnet.com, then maybe pcmagazine.com
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Re: Hard drive mirror/back-up question
Old 08-15-2004, 10:12 AM   #3
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Re: Hard drive mirror/back-up question

I always back up my data but I have so much upgrades to XP and other program setting that if the hard drive goes down it take forever to re install all these settings. With a mirrored drive all it takes is a hard drive swap and you are up and running with all your settings set.

Brit
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Re: Hard drive mirror/back-up question
Old 08-15-2004, 10:30 AM   #4
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Re: Hard drive mirror/back-up question

I used to use Norton (Symantec) Ghost a lot, but lately I use PowerQuest Image Center. No preference; that's just what work had at the time. They both work fine for me.

I use each of them as DOS boot disk utilities, and I don't know if they would recognize a USB drive like that.

They have Windows programs, too, but I've never used them. I'm not sure if you can image your drive while booted to it, but then why else would they have Windows versions? Perhaps someone who's used either under Windows can help here.

(The DOS and Windows versions are on the same CD in the same retail package.)
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Re: Hard drive mirror/back-up question
Old 08-15-2004, 11:15 AM   #5
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Re: Hard drive mirror/back-up question

Are you running Windows XP?

If so, there is a backup program included with the Pro install, and on the Home CD that can be installed optionally.

It is capable of a full, compressed backup with a bootable automated system restore floppy disk.

You can restore all of the original contents, just system settings, or individual files from the backup set.

Free.

I've used 3rd party backup tools with mixed results. The problems I ran across are cost, having to rebuy new versions or updates to keep them compatible, inability to restore a backup made from one drive geometry to another, and occasional file system incompatibilities.

But I'm sure some of the newer ones have lots of cool bells and whistles. I see the ghost stuff now allows network backups to servers and all sorts of good stuff.

If you dont have a floppy in your machine, you should be able to get a USB floppy drive (or a used one off of ebay) for less than the copy of a backup tool, and many of those require the floppy anyhow.
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Re: Hard drive mirror/back-up question
Old 08-15-2004, 11:32 AM   #6
 
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Re: Hard drive mirror/back-up question

Quote:
Are you running Windows XP?

If so, there is a backup program included with the Pro install, and on the Home CD that can be installed optionally.
TH,

Tell me about this! - What is this backup tool called. I have XP Home, a floppy drive and plenty of extra disk. I should do this! Thanks
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Re: Hard drive mirror/back-up question
Old 08-15-2004, 12:24 PM   #7
 
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Re: Hard drive mirror/back-up question

Quote:
If so, there is a backup program included with the Pro install, and on the Home CD that can be installed optionally
I've used this tool on XP Pro. It's called 'Backup Utility' and is included in:

Control Panel/Performance and Maintainance/Backup Your Data

Backup was very simple. I haven't tried a restore.

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Re: Hard drive mirror/back-up question.  
Old 08-15-2004, 12:25 PM   #8
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Re: Hard drive mirror/back-up question.  

As is typical of microsoft products, this is really easy to do

In XP Pro the tool is automatically installed and its under start/all programs/accessories/system tools and is called 'backup'.

On XP home, insert your cd...unless you've fiddled with your cd settings you should get the 'welcome to xp home' menu...if not, double click on 'my computer' and then double click on the cd drive.

Choose "perform additional tasks"
Then "velue add"
then "Msft"
then "ntbackup"
then double click the ntbackup installer
and you're off to the races.

Its easy to use, run it as abover from 'system tools', theres a wizard, select 'backup everything on this computer including settings and so forth' or whatever its called, choose a target location, and when its done with that it'll ask you to stick in a blank floppy.

The floppy is bootable and has the tools to partition and format a hard drive, do other odds and ends, and restore that backup set.

What i've been doing is making one of these every now and then to a second hard drive, and I alternate with using the XP transfer files and settings wizard to make a user specific backup for both me and for wendy. That way I can restore the whole mess or just one of our 'identities'.

The transfer files and settings wizard is pretty quick.

I believe this backup tool was a popular 3rd party tool some years ago that microsoft bought out and has been updating since. I think its also available by default on windows 2000 and may have been an 'extra' on the windows 98 or ME disks. This guy has it as a download from his web site, you might find it also elsewhere
http://home.comcast.net/~cerelli/ntbackup.msi

I should relate that the only PC hard drive failure I've had in some time has been the second disk I was putting the backup files on. Kinda ironic.

But its saved my bacon a few times when I accidentally deleted some files or wiped out some configuration settings.

In this same vein, I've had a boatload of hard drive experience between multiple pc's and tivo's that run the drives hard 24x7, in case someone is looking for a new or second hard drive and has no idea what brand to buy. Bearing in mind this is like religion and everything I say is good, someone has had a bad experience with, and everything I say is bad, someone will feel is the best made. (shrug)

I've had five Seagate drives. Quiet, cool, quick and not one has busted yet. Three of those are in tivo's that have been running 24x7 and thrashing the drives continuously as the tivo is always recording and playing back in real time. Highly recommended.

I've had a half dozen Maxtor drives. Usually can be had for low cost. Pretty reliable, I havent had one break yet including a pair of 160GB drives that have been chugging away in a tivo. But every single one of them I've had starts whining after a year or so. I hate that.

I've had three western digital hard drives. All three croaked in less than a year. The first 'replacement' I got from WD wasnt entirely right from the get-go and died a few months later. At least they all gave me "SMART" warnings before they expired and let me pull their data.

Samsung has been highly heralded lately for quiet and coolness comparable to Seagate. I had one, it ran for two years beautifully in a small home file server and then promptly expired without warning, taking a lot of pretty valuable data with it.

I've had a number of IBM/Hitachi drives, largely in laptops, occasionally in desktops. Not recommended. IBM had a big problem with a whole class of their drives a few years ago and their response was to not leave them running all the time, including disks they sold as server products. That all by itself leaves me cold.

So if I were buying a hard drive, I'd get a seagate. If I could get a GREAT deal on a maxtor and the place I was putting it in didnt require quiet (like a noisy room), I'd be ok with that too.
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Re: Hard drive mirror/back-up question
Old 08-15-2004, 12:53 PM   #9
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Re: Hard drive mirror/back-up question

Thank you TH.

Without you instructions on how to find the backup program on the install CD I would not have found it.

My XP CD is an OEM disk that came with the computer from FRYs. I bought this computer about 2 years ago as a back up machine on my home network and it has been the best so far. ( I know I should not have said that before I backed it up)

Thanks again Brit
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Re: Hard drive mirror/back-up question
Old 08-15-2004, 12:59 PM   #10
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Re: Hard drive mirror/back-up question

Holy cow, I just heard a huge explosion and now I see a mushroom cloud off to the southwest...
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Re: Hard drive mirror/back-up question
Old 08-15-2004, 01:24 PM   #11
 
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Re: Hard drive mirror/back-up question

TH,

Also thanks for this. I would not have been able to find this without your help either. :-/

I got it installed and was able to copy my entire 'C' drive, so the program works.


But when I tried to do the recovery Wizard, it said that it could not write to my diskette. (yes, I have a writeable one in there)

Maybe it is because I am copying the 'C' drive to another 'active' disk on the system. I could do a Copy, but when I selected the 'Automatic System Recovery Wizard' - The program immediately told me that it could not create the recovery diskette'

Any ideas?


**********************************************
Backup Status
Operation: Backup
Active backup destination: File
Media name: "Backup.bkf created 8/15/2004 at 2:44 PM"

Backup Status
The files for the recovery diskette could not be created. *The operation was aborted.

----------------------

The operation did not successfully complete.
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Re: Hard drive mirror/back-up question
Old 08-15-2004, 01:30 PM   #12
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Re: Hard drive mirror/back-up question

TH
I can backup to a hard drive or floppy but not to my CD burner. It will not recognize the CD burner.

Brit.
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Re: Hard drive mirror/back-up question
Old 08-15-2004, 01:51 PM   #13
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Re: Hard drive mirror/back-up question

Cut-throat...try formatting the floppy first. Right click on it in 'my computer' and choose 'format'...uncheck the box that says 'quick format'. Either the backup tool didnt format it first, the disk had too many bad sectors on it, or there was some writing problem...a format should cure or identify the problem.

Brit - You found the one missing feature of ntbackup, it doesnt support removable media.

But all is not lost...if the total backup will fit on one cd/dvd (and usually it wont), use windows XP's integrated cd burner to write it to disk. If its too big for one, check out whatever software came with your cd burner...for example, I use Nero. It has an option to write or backup a large file to multiple cd's. A third option is to use winzip, winrar or some other 3rd party file splitter to break it up and then write the fragments to the cd.

Note that if you do this, you wont be able to do the automatic restore from floppy as the file will have to be reassembled first...but you can reload XP from scratch, reinstall the backup tool, restore your fragmented files, and then restore over the fresh XP install with no problems.

Consider a second hard drive though...even a smaller one should do the trick. I've seen 80-100GB disks selling for under $50.
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Re: Hard drive mirror/back-up question
Old 08-15-2004, 02:47 PM   #14
 
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Re: Hard drive mirror/back-up question

TH,

I formatted the Floopy just fine, however the Program stills fails. Almost immediately !
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Re: Hard drive mirror/back-up question
Old 08-15-2004, 03:05 PM   #15
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Re: Hard drive mirror/back-up question

Hmm...only thing I can think of is I think the system recovery diskettes are created from a particular .CAB file that only has a diskette image in it. Its possible it was damaged or is missing.

You can try this:

http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=299526

To create it separately. You should also try a different floppy.

Did you by any chance update this system from Windows NT 4.0? There is a bug that produces this error if a specific type of file from NT4 days exists.

Only other thing I could suggest is to run setup from the CD, choose the option to repair the windows XP installation, run windows update from within internet explorer, and try creating the ASR disk again...this might restore the missing files.

Shoot, I retire and then get to do tech support...
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Re: Hard drive mirror/back-up question
Old 08-15-2004, 03:45 PM   #16
 
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Re: Hard drive mirror/back-up question

TH,

Thanks for your help. But I still could not get a floppy created.

But, I think more importantly, I now have a Shadow Backup of my 'C' Drive. In the event that I have a Virus or something. I know how to get my system booted and then using the Restore Utility, I can overlay the 'C' Drive with my Backup.

BTW - I was in Tech Support Also. Used to manage a Staff of 30. Now that I am ER'd I am pretty handy myself
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Re: Hard drive mirror/back-up question
Old 08-15-2004, 04:43 PM   #17
 
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Re: Hard drive mirror/back-up question

I have no problem getting a "floppy created". It's the
hard drive that gives me trouble.

John Galt
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Re: Hard drive mirror/back-up question
Old 08-15-2004, 05:05 PM   #18
 
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Re: Hard drive mirror/back-up question

Quote:
I have no problem getting a "floppy created". *It's the
hard drive that gives me trouble.

John Galt
Now this was truly hilarious
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Re: Hard drive mirror/back-up question
Old 08-15-2004, 07:24 PM   #19
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Re: Hard drive mirror/back-up question

Swell...oh well, it always tries to make one for me and I dont WANT it because I already have one.

My old company liked to stick the sales and marketing guys in charge of IT and engineering units so we'd learn what a 'real customer' experiences with our products integrated in a computing environment and how they're made.

I got to run a nice little IT unit for a couple of years. Nice learning experience. Managed to duck most of the product engineering stuff, which was a good thing.

Well it'll still work for ya, you just have to reload XP and then do the restore, which isnt too painful.
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Re: Hard drive mirror/back-up question
Old 08-16-2004, 02:03 PM   #20
 
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Re: Hard drive mirror/back-up question

Quote:
Well it'll still work for ya, you just have to reload XP and then do the restore, which isnt too painful.
Well TH,

I found out what my problem was. I had not worked on a technical problem for awhile and spent a little time on this today. *8)If you look at the 'readme' File on the Backup Folder you will see that ASR is not supported under XP Home. My guess was correct that I can still use the File, but I have to install XP first from the CD - *

- Also found the answer for Brit on how you get the backup on a CD. Dump to file first then Burn to CD

Here is the readme text.

*********************************************
NTBackup Backup/Restore and ASR release notes

Backup/Restore

ASR

1. * * *ASR is not supported on home edition.

IF you install NtBackup from the CD to the Home Edition, ASR functionality will appear to work fine during
the backup session. *Since the setup does not support ASR in the home edition, there is no way to initiate
the ASR restore in case of a disaster. If you need to restore from this session, install Windows XP manually
and then restore from the ASR media.

2. * * *Backup to CDRW

If you decide to backup to a CDRW, you cannot target that device directly. *You must create a backup set of
650MB or less and backup to a file. *After the file is complete, copy the file to the CDRW.

Please refer to the readme for XP home edition for additional notes.
*********************************************
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