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Author Topic: After re-installing XP - what?  (Read 4237 times)

JennyB

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After re-installing XP - what?
« on: November 11, 2010, 12:46:42 PM »
Last week my three-year-old Packard Bell began blue-screening, and finally refused to boot. I hadn't any system disk, so it was back to the dealers. Fortunately my documents were backed up - but I lost some programs, and it took a day or two to get everything back more or less the way I liked it.

On the bright side I also got rid of a lot of programs that had looked useful at the time, and everything looks cleaner, simpler and faster. For now. 

But I've still got that itch to try stuff out, so what is a best strategy for keeping a clean fall-back before I start messing it all up again?  :tellme:
If you don't see how it can fail -
you haven't understood it properly.

MilesAhead

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Re: After re-installing XP - what?
« Reply #1 on: November 11, 2010, 01:14:44 PM »
If you can afford docking stations and/or external USB drives, the simplest is to make a backup image using a program like Macrium Reflect or Paragon Software or one of the other imaging programs.

If the machine becomes unbootable, or you just want to go back, you boot from CD and restore an image from the external drive.  Some will also restore over network if you have networked drives.

On my systems I installed a USB 3.0 card.  It gives you 2 USB ports.  I plug in a USB 3.0 docking station and just stick an internal drive into the dock.  USB 3.0 is fast.  I have WD Caviar Black 6 Gbs and 3 Gbs internal drives I use in the docks.  By keeping a lot of data on these I can keep my system disks lean enough that I can clean 'em up a bit with CCleaner, defrag, then have greater than 70% free space. I back up that image.  Even from a USB 2.0 drive you can restore in less than an hour if you keep your system drives lean.

I haven't had to restore from USB 3.0 yet. I have to make a WinPE boot with the USB 3.0 driver to get the speed. (But I have USB 2.0 docks in case of emergency.)

For the additional storage it depends how  you want to set up. If you want everything in the tower you may want to use some of those drive adapters that let you can plug drives in like sliding in a drawer. I don't mind having docks all over my desk so I went with docking stations. Or you can do NAT networked externals etc..

But the simplest with no messing around is, back up the image to USB 2.0 external drive.  Make a boot CD.  You can try a new OS. I put Windows Seven Beta on my Vista machine, tried Windows Seven 64 bit.  Didn't like it.  Put the Vista64 that came with the machine back on.  Using the images and Macrium Reflect.

The main thing is make sure the restore program on the boot CD can see your HD and the external drive when you boot it.  If you have a Raid driver or some other unusual hardware you can get an unpleasant surprise when you go to restore.

They are easy to use once you've done one.  If you have an expendable machine or know someone with a guinea pig machine, you could do a backup and restore just to see how it goes.  When your machine won't boot the mood is usually one that hampers thinking. You don't want to figure it out then.  If you've done a run through, then you have confidence you can fix it.

Also if you can afford more than one external or use the approach that allows you to remove internal drives, it's a good idea to keep a backup image not connected to the machine. If you get a virus that spreads across your Lan you can disinfect, then hook up the external that wasn't connected to get a safe restore.

For free backup programs for imaging you can try:
http://www.thefreeco...backupandimage.shtml
« Last Edit: November 11, 2010, 01:21:06 PM by MilesAhead »

widgewunner

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Re: After re-installing XP - what?
« Reply #2 on: November 11, 2010, 06:12:19 PM »
You may want to try out one of the virtual PC softwares such as VirtualBox (which is free). Each virtual PC you create (which can have any major operating system you would like installed) is completely isolated and you can be very brave playing around with it. If it crashes or catches a virus, no problem - just reset it back to its original fresh install state.

I have very limited experience with this technology so far but I know others who swear by this method. (I've been playing around with VirtualBox recently.)

MilesAhead

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Re: After re-installing XP - what?
« Reply #3 on: November 11, 2010, 06:49:31 PM »
VirtualBox is nice.  Also you can use vLite to create an XP install CD with some of the stuff, like games, stripped off.  You can set it to automatically fill in the product key.  Makes for a smoother install.  Just be conservative what you strip out. If you try to take out things like IE it may install, but not run correctly.

The XP install CD made with vLite is handy for doing VirtualBox installs.

The trouble with vLite is it doesn't package your currently installed programs. Just the Windows stuff.  But there are other scripting tools that will create an install CD or DVD with your favorite programs already set up.  But the hassle is testing the scripts. (Another case for VirtualBox. You can test your installs without actually creating a partition.)

You can find out just about anything to do with custom booting here:

http://www.boot-land.net/forums/

« Last Edit: November 11, 2010, 06:51:18 PM by MilesAhead »

4wd

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Re: After re-installing XP - what?
« Reply #4 on: November 12, 2010, 01:12:34 AM »
Also you can use vLite to create an XP install CD with some of the stuff, like games, stripped off.

vlite for Vista.

nlite for XP.

For already packaged addons that can be added via nlite:
johndoe74's addons
rado354's addons
Addon list

MSFN is the place to go for anything related to Unattended, Addons or stripping down Windows installations.
« Last Edit: November 12, 2010, 01:17:28 AM by 4wd »

MilesAhead

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Re: After re-installing XP - what?
« Reply #5 on: November 12, 2010, 01:55:56 AM »
For the OP I think an imaging program and an external USB will be useful with little in the way of learning curve.  Make a boot CD. Do a backup.  Done.

« Last Edit: November 12, 2010, 02:05:41 AM by MilesAhead »

Curt

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Re: After re-installing XP - what?
« Reply #6 on: November 12, 2010, 03:18:45 AM »
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JennyB

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Re: After re-installing XP - what?
« Reply #7 on: November 12, 2010, 03:54:15 AM »
For the OP I think an imaging program and an external USB will be useful with little in the way of learning curve.  Make a boot CD. Do a backup.  Done.



Yes. I need to be sure that I can get back to where I am now without having to take the machine back to the shop before I start "optimising" any further!  ;)
I did actually have an external USB drive, but I just hadn't got got round to using it before the crash.  :-[

I'm a bit unclear on the "make a boot cd" step. How do I do that? I take it the CD does not hold the image, but a program to restore the image from the external drive?

If you don't see how it can fail -
you haven't understood it properly.

4wd

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Re: After re-installing XP - what?
« Reply #8 on: November 12, 2010, 04:14:02 AM »
I'm a bit unclear on the "make a boot cd" step. How do I do that? I take it the CD does not hold the image, but a program to restore the image from the external drive?

Both Paragon Backup & Recovery and Macrium Reflect, (including free editions), allow you to create a bootable CD, (and/or Flash drive in the case of Paragon), that you can boot your system off so as to restore a previous backup from, for example, an external USB drive, CD/DVD discs or another internal partition/drive.

snap.jpgAfter re-installing XP - what?

eg. For Paragon Backup & Recovery Free Edition just click on Recovery Media Builder and follow the prompts, you'll have your choice of writing to an ISO, (to burn to CD later), writing a CD immediately or installing it to a Flash drive.

Addendum: FWIW, I'd do the following, (this is using Paragon B&R), if you have a Flash drive of around 8GB it should be more than ample for your OS with quite a few applications installed, (unless they are really big spacehogs):

1) Install PB&R Free Edition
2) Create Recovery Media on the Flash Drive
3) Create a system backup using maximum compression
4) Copy the backup to the Flash drive
5) Put it somewhere safe you can find it when necessary, (whenever I put something "somewhere safe" I can never find it again  :-\ )

This is what I've done with my netbook, I can get 2 complete OS backups on a 4GB Flash drive.
« Last Edit: November 12, 2010, 04:27:24 AM by 4wd »

MilesAhead

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Re: After re-installing XP - what?
« Reply #9 on: November 12, 2010, 01:48:27 PM »
No matter which imaging program you want to use, the first thing I would do is make the Boot CD.  Then power your machine down.  Power up, put in the CD, make sure your external drive is already connected and has power.  Boot from the CD.

When you get into the Restore Program, make sure it can see your HD and the external drive.  If you have an unsupported disk controller, usually you won't even be able to see the drives.

If you had a proven method of restoring I'd suggest actually doing a backup and restore to test it.  But if you don't have a fall back restore it's a bit risky.  My situation was I had one imaging program I was sure worked.. until I tried to actually use it.  Turns out on this machine it would only restore in "compatibility mode" meaning 9 hours instead of 45 minutes.  Still, I knew it would do it in 9 hours, so when I switched to Macrium I actually tested the backup and restore of my system partition.

Chances are your disk controller is pretty vanilla. But assumptions have a way of leading to unpleasant surprises.  You need to burn the Boot CD anyway.  Testing the boot should take less than an hour. If the Restore Program gives off some kind of message about "compatibility mode" being required, try another software. You don't want to be forced into overnight restores when an hour or two would do.


« Last Edit: November 12, 2010, 01:53:53 PM by MilesAhead »

JennyB

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Re: After re-installing XP - what?
« Reply #10 on: November 15, 2010, 12:20:38 PM »
OK, I've backed up with Macrium, and checked that the boot CD will find the backup. The next thing I did was to repartition and move My Documents to the new partition, so they will not be affected by future restores. I suppose I could go wild and do a full Linux-like partition scheme, but what is most worthwhile to separate out?
If you don't see how it can fail -
you haven't understood it properly.

MilesAhead

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Re: After re-installing XP - what?
« Reply #11 on: November 15, 2010, 03:40:06 PM »
When you back up a partition with Macrium, chances are good when you restore it's going to overwrite the partition table.  Once you stabilize the partition scheme I would do another backup right away and throw out the old one(or at lease annotate the fact it was from the old partition scheme.)

It may be possible to restore without hosing your partitions but if something can go wrong chances are good it will, esp. when doing disaster recovery.

JennyB

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Re: After re-installing XP - what?
« Reply #12 on: November 15, 2010, 04:05:44 PM »
When you back up a partition with Macrium, chances are good when you restore it's going to overwrite the partition table.  Once you stabilize the partition scheme I would do another backup right away and throw out the old one(or at least annotate the fact it was from the old partition scheme.)

It may be possible to restore without hosing your partitions but if something can go wrong chances are good it will, esp. when doing disaster recovery.


Yes, that's what I'm planning to do.  That's why I'm asking now if any further partitioning is worth doing. This is a single-user PC, and probably will never have any guest accounts. 
If you don't see how it can fail -
you haven't understood it properly.

MilesAhead

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Re: After re-installing XP - what?
« Reply #13 on: November 15, 2010, 04:55:52 PM »
Everyone has their own schemes.  I did the "small system partition" with programs and data on other partitions in the past.  Seems though, even Microsoft programs want to stick some shared something or other on C: making it difficult to predict how small is too small.

When doing that I did have Partition Magic that made it easy to steal space from the next partition if I needed to.  Now I'm more inclinded to only partition if I'm going to boot another OS and keep data on external drives.  I get the system HD < 30% usage by the time I back up. Makes restores and defrags faster. Life simpler.

I guess each person's feeling will vary with their experience.  Try a setup for awhile and see how you like it is all I can suggest. If you want to multi-partition I'd check out something like Partition Wizard as it can do more than the Windows built-in storage management.

There's something to be said for inertia. The way it is now boots so it might not be so bad. :)

« Last Edit: November 15, 2010, 04:57:35 PM by MilesAhead »

40hz

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Re: After re-installing XP - what?
« Reply #14 on: November 16, 2010, 11:35:08 AM »
If you'd also like to check out Linux stuff I'd suggest a Wubi install of Ubuntu 10.04 or 10.10 under Windows - assuming you have 10-15 Gb of spare disk space. It won't mess with your partitions or Windows environment. And if you ever snarf it up, all you have to do is uninstall it with Windows' Add/Remove Software control panel.  After that you can either reinstall or walk away. 

 Ewige Pinguinkraft! 8) :Thmbsup: ;D