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Author Topic: making a recovery partition  (Read 10978 times)

techidave

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making a recovery partition
« on: November 22, 2008, 04:57:34 PM »
is there an easy way to create a recovery partition on a desktop like Dell or HP?  I am needing to setup some computers that will be used offsite by some of our students and need an easy to do an offsite restore by a non techie person.

I will install XP Pro SP3, open office and a few other applications and all of these would need to be recovered.

preferrably it should be made up of free or open source software as I don't have any budget to spend on this project.

I have looked at some of the other threads on DC and also googled but didn't find any real clear solutions.  I know my friends at DC will come through!  :P

thanks in advanced,
Dave

4wd

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Re: making a recovery partition
« Reply #1 on: November 22, 2008, 11:50:33 PM »
This site may help: Optimizing Windows

More specifically:

Setting up a multiboot/dualboot
Imaging: create a Windows system image

By installing the image recovery software on a DOS bootable FAT32 partition, (instead of a floppy/CD), along with the image you should be able to set it up so that choosing the appropriate option in the boot menu automatically restores your normally booted NTFS OS partition.

Uses all free software.

techidave

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Re: making a recovery partition
« Reply #2 on: November 23, 2008, 12:10:54 PM »
Thanks 4wd for the links.  I hadn't heard of this site but looks to be very informative.  I didn't see it posted anyware on the linked pages but how does the recovery menut get started?

Shades

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Re: making a recovery partition
« Reply #3 on: November 23, 2008, 02:19:20 PM »
Pressing F8 before Windows starts booting, shows you a menu that gives you a lot of ways to start Windows, including a Recovery option.

(That would be the answer if I understood your question correctly)

techidave

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Re: making a recovery partition
« Reply #4 on: November 23, 2008, 02:40:54 PM »
Actually I was referring to the recovery menu that was being used off of this site here

they had some kind of dos menu that gave different options.  I will just have to go back and look at those links 4wd posted to see if I can find them.

mouser

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Re: making a recovery partition
« Reply #5 on: November 23, 2008, 02:45:16 PM »
depending on the size of the image of your hard disk, you might be able to make a dvd that can restore the pc to its good state.  that would avoid having to make a special recovery partition on the hard drive, which i would avoid if at all possible.  a complete self-contained recovery dvd seems much preferable.

techidave

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Re: making a recovery partition
« Reply #6 on: November 23, 2008, 04:40:16 PM »
Mouse, that would be a great idea except... I don't have dvd drives in these computers.  It would need to be as simple and fool proof as possible so that anyone could do it.  Not to mention, it should be simple for me to setup.

4wd

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Re: making a recovery partition
« Reply #7 on: November 23, 2008, 05:52:43 PM »
Thanks 4wd for the links.  I hadn't heard of this site but looks to be very informative.  I didn't see it posted anyware on the linked pages but how does the recovery menut get started?

The Setting up a multiboot/dualboot shows you how to install MrBooter, a small boot loader that resides in the MBR that opens a menu so you can select which OS you want to boot into.  It always gets displayed when the PC gets booted, exactly the same as the normal XP ntldr when you have more than one OS installed - in fact you could just use the normal XP ntldr.

eg. In your case you'd have an NTFS partition which contains the normal bootable XP OS plus a smaller FAT32 DOS partition that contains the partition restore program and the XP OS image.

I haven't looked at MrBooter but most boot loaders have a way to specify a default boot option with a timeout value, ie. after 5 seconds load XP.
However, within that timeout period you can select to boot into the DOS partition which you can set up with an autoexec.bat file to automatically restore the NTFS partition from the image stored on the DOS partition.

This is basically what Acronis and other similar programs do, albeit in a bit more colourful fashion.

As a simple safeguard against accidental restoration you can have your batch file ask for acknowledgment, (eg. Enter 'I want to restore' to proceed: ), before continuing or you could make it more complex.

A simple procedure:

First a few assumptions:
1) You start from scratch with a blank HDD - it is a LOT simpler;
2) The target PCs have no floppy/CD/DVD or anything other than a HDD to boot off, (you will need a floppy for installing the MS-DOS system files though - USB floppy drives are cheap);
3) You know what you're doing.  :P

a) Using a MS-DOS 98, or better, system floppy, use fdisk to create a FAT32 DOS partition of about 3GB then format it with the /s switch to copy across the system files to make it bootable, (check BootDisk for floppy images).
b) Now install your XP OS, (plus any base programs you require), into the remaining area of the HDD, (it'll need to be NTFS IIRC).  The XP install will see the DOS partition and add it to the boot.ini menu - XP will be the default with a timeout of 30 seconds - this can be changed later.
c) Create your XP OS image using the programs/instructions found at Imaging: create a Windows system image - you should end up with an image of your XP install and a boot floppy that's used to restore it, (at least I assume so, I haven't actually read/done what the page says).
d) The programs on the floppy can now be copied to your DOS FAT32 partition along with the image you created.  If the image is too big for the 3GB partition you created then you can resize the partitions to suit using GNU Parted.
e) Edit the default autoexec.bat on the DOS partition to do what you want, eg. run restore immediately, ask acknowledgment, etc.
f) Boot into XP, if you're not there already, and open My Computer->Properties->Advanced->System Startup.
   The top section describes the contents of the boot.ini file.  Set the 'Time to display list of operating systems:' to 5 seconds.
   Click the 'Edit' button, boot.ini will open in Notepad.  Under the section [operating systems] you'll see two lines similar to the following:
Quote
[operating systems]
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(0)\DOS="C:\DOS"
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional" /noexecute=optin /fastdetect /usepmtimer

    Change the "C:\DOS" to read "Restore OS" or something similar, then exit Notepad, saving the file.

g) All being well, you've just finished - sit back, relax, go fishing.

Upon booting the PC you should see a boot menu giving you the two choices for a period of 5 seconds before it defaults to booting XP.

NOTE: The only possible drawback to this simple method is that the XP system will reside on D:\ because MS-DOS is C:\ - most people are sheep1 when it comes to following instructions to install software and the instructions almost always say, "Install to C:\..........." - however I'm sure that suitable threats instructions can be made to make the sheep people aware of this.  >:D
          Also, it might pay to make the MS-DOS partition Read-Only from within XP - you don't want your recovery image being inadvertently written over or deleted - see Addendum.

Addendum: There's probably a way in which you can make the MS-DOS partition hidden, (by setting a bit in the partition identifier like they do in Acronis, etc), but I'm not sure if it is able to be booted into if that is done.  ie. The Partition Type for a standard FAT32 is 0x0B, for a Hidden FAT32 it is 0x1B.  It is easy enough to try though, download ptedit (ftp://ftp.symantec.com/public/english_us_canada/tools/pq/utilities/ptedit.zip), (free PowerQuest Partition Type editor), extract and run it.
  It should show two partitions, click in the Type box of the first one, (which should be 0B), click the 'Set Type' button, scroll down and select 1B, (Hidden FAT32), then OK, then 'Save Changes'.  In theory, it should no longer show up in XP - all you need to check is whether you can still boot into it via the Recovery option on the boot menu.

1) I apologise to the sheep out there.
« Last Edit: November 23, 2008, 11:40:50 PM by 4wd »

40hz

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Re: making a recovery partition
« Reply #8 on: November 23, 2008, 11:28:43 PM »
If your primary goal is to "lock down:" the PC, you could use Windows SteadyState. It's from Microsoft and it's free.

Link & Info:

http://www.microsoft...daccess/default.mspx

From the website:
Quote
Windows SteadyState in Action

Depending on the purpose and requirements of your shared computers, different features and configuration options of Windows SteadyState prove particularly valuable. Click the scenario below that most closely matches your situation.
   
In the classroom

Classrooms and computer labs can offer groups of users a consistent and reliable computer learning environment more efficiently, while increasing the productivity of the teaching staff.
   
In an Internet café

Internet cafés, kiosks, and other businesses offering commercial access to shared computers can help increase customer satisfaction while reducing computer down time, administrative costs, and total cost of ownership.
   
At the library

Libraries and community technology centers can help protect computers against tampering cost effectively. They can customize shared user profiles to meet the needs of different patrons.
   
At home

Parents can use Windows SteadyState on a household computer to let their children share it without causing harm or accessing inappropriate sites on the Internet.

Other uses for Windows SteadyState

Anyone whose work involves repeatedly installing and uninstalling programs on a computer can make good use of Windows SteadyState. Software testers are a good example. If disk protection is on when they install a new program, any problems the program causes won't become permanent. Even a complete uninstall of a faulty program is only a reboot away.

techidave

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Re: making a recovery partition
« Reply #9 on: November 24, 2008, 05:54:19 AM »
I have thought about SteadyState but if I lock it down too much... then that is not good.  The computer will not be on our school network and could be quite a ways off.  Which is why I was considering a recovery method.  That looked to be the best option to me.

But I am open to other ideas.  I surely am not the only person wanting/trying to do this type of thing? :-\

40hz

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Re: making a recovery partition
« Reply #10 on: November 24, 2008, 09:36:58 PM »
There are several very good "clone" type utilities at this link:

http://www.thefreeco...backupandimage.shtml

Possibly one of these apps will meet your requirements.

I've used Selfimage, PING and Durabon.
(BTW: Durabon is nowr eleased under GPL2. The restriction "for personal use" no longer applies.)


f0dder

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Re: making a recovery partition
« Reply #11 on: November 24, 2008, 09:47:34 PM »
Perhaps Clonezilla is up to the job? Never used it myself, though.

I've had OK experience with Acronis TrueImage and it's recovery partition stuff, makes for very fast and convenient image restoration - but obviously requires that the harddrive isn't defunct and there haven't been massive partition tables corruption. (And TI is only good for image based cloning, it's file- based backup sucks).

Hm, sounds like Microsoft SteadyState could take products like DeepFreeze out of business? I wish MS would focus on getting Windows done right, and let 3rd parties handle some of the somewhat more non-standard stuff... but provide the necessary kernel hooks to make it possible without massive reverse engineering and hacky code.
- carpe noctem

4wd

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Re: making a recovery partition
« Reply #12 on: November 25, 2008, 03:35:26 AM »
Perhaps Clonezilla is up to the job? Never used it myself, though.

Nice find, can't say I'd ever heard of it before.

I was also reminded of another way looking through my assorted squirreled info today, using WinPE 2.0 to boot and restore an image.

As explained here: Dual Booting with Windows XP and Windows PE 2.0

Depends on how much RAM is installed of course, (WinPE boots from/into RAM), but then you can restore the whole HDD from an image, no need for a separate partition - you just need to protect the image file.

40hz

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Re: making a recovery partition
« Reply #13 on: November 25, 2008, 11:29:36 AM »
Perhaps Clonezilla is up to the job? Never used it myself, though.

 :-*

If you can live with its dos-like interface and non-Windows terminology, Clonezilla Live is easily one of the best apps out there. I'm a big Clonezilla fan. If you have a large deployment to do, or you're supporting multi-seat Linux clients, the Conezlla-SE (server edition) is worth it's weight in whatever you value the most.

Well worth the download. :Thmbsup: :Thmbsup:

Note: If you're going to use Clonezilla with Windows, be sure to look at FAQ item 21 which addresses some potential problem areas.


edit by jgpaiva: fixed quote tag
« Last Edit: November 25, 2008, 11:41:10 AM by jgpaiva »

mikiem

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Re: making a recovery partition
« Reply #14 on: December 11, 2008, 03:09:08 PM »
FWIW would it work to 1) create the partitions, 2) create a bootable backup image on the 2nd partition (basically the same as on a DVD, only on hdd), 3) switch to booting from image drive via bios hotkey during post.

The reason for not using a boot menu is someone is going to restore an image when they didn't want to, and complain of lost work, files, etc. If it's there, someone will press it.  :'(  Fact o' life.
The reason for hdd vs other media is loss... If it can be lost, damaged, or misplaced, it will be.

What I don't know is what will be involved in having the 2nd partition fully bootable & not interfering with the primary, bootable partition. I know it's possible - this is a common feature for laptop restores, triggered by a selection in their bios BTW. If you had any problems it might pay to look at setting the 2nd partition with a file system Windows doesn't understand natively - I know some partition mgr type programs provide/use Windows or Linux boot discs for their DOS/Win apps. And/or might be able to use the HP applet for creating bootable USB sticks?

argv

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Re: making a recovery partition
« Reply #15 on: December 11, 2008, 03:41:18 PM »
I don't know in Windows but in Linux I used to install several machines over the local network using a PXE boot server and a kick start file which specifies all the options and application to install.
All is done automatically you just start the PC and later you have your system installed. No need for a dedicated partition to keep the original data, all this will be on the PXE server

app103

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Re: making a recovery partition
« Reply #16 on: December 15, 2008, 09:50:43 PM »
Acronis True Image will allow you to make a "restore partition" just like the OEM's do, with F11 access at boot time, to restore the image of the OS from a hidden "secure zone" partition, containing the image of the OS, applications, settings, and everything else.

Acronis actually makes the software that some OEM's use to create restore partitions on the PC's they sell.