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Author Topic: Best USB/Bootable recovery and "utility" tools  (Read 44553 times)
Josh
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« on: January 12, 2012, 02:27:39 PM »

All,

I am looking to generate a set of USB keys that I can use for various purposes. Right now, I have copies of the following and wanted to see what everyone else used.

Ultimate Boot CD - This is supposedly a really good toolset. However, every time I have attempted to use it, I can boot from it but each tool launch hangs after the initial menu selection with nothing happening. This occurs on multiple systems of varying configs.

Hiren's Boot CD - Another tool similar to UBCD.

There used to be a tool, Winternals ERD Commander, which seems to have gone the way of the Cody....errr...I mean DoDo.

I have several USB keys containing bootable installers for Windows 7 x64/x86 and Windows XP Pro SP3.

I have a couple for varying liveCD Distros of Linux to include: Latest release of BackTrack, OpenSuse and Fedora.

Are there any other tools/suggestions that you, the community, can make to have for carrying around and utilizing in various scenarios?

On a side note, has ANYONE been able to make UBCD work?

Josh
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40hz
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« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2012, 06:10:09 PM »

On a side note, has ANYONE been able to make UBCD work?

I have.

Problem is, even following the directions, it's not always easy (or sometimes possible) to get it customised exactly the way you want it. I prefer BartPE over UBCD for exactly that reason.

Are there any other tools/suggestions that you, the community, can make to have for carrying around and utilizing in various scenarios?

Create current copies of all the Microsoft updates and patches for Windows and MS Office, and burn them to CD/DVD or load on a USB key. You can use a utility called WSUS Offline Update to do that. Now you don't need to connect to Windows Update and get them via the web.  It's a "must have" for any Tech's toolkit IMO.

Great tool for when you're setting up a new PC or need something at a client site and can't get an Internet connection. Huge time saver! I mentioned it in a previous thread. Link here.
 Thmbsup
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steeladept
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« Reply #2 on: January 12, 2012, 06:20:32 PM »

I have used Hiren's with some success.  BartPE is great, but I have never been able to create my own collection, I have only ever used one someone else created to good success.  UBCD?  No. Never have.

40Hz - That WSUS Offline Update is interesting, but it does limit you significantly in a heterogeneous environment.  If everything is Windows, I can see it.  Where I work, not so much.  Like you Josh, I yearn for the days of Winternals ERD Commander.  THAT was a great tool during XP's heyday.
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NigelH
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« Reply #3 on: January 12, 2012, 08:48:37 PM »

A few others

sarducd
unetbootin
linuxliveusb
xboot
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4wd
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« Reply #4 on: January 12, 2012, 09:16:27 PM »

@Josh: Did you mean UBCD or UBCD4Win?

Driver Pack Solution 11 - DVD or copy the files to a flash drive.  Identify and, optionally, install/update drivers and other common programs, (eg. Firefox, µTorrent, etc).
D7 - Kind of a multi-tool.

Other than that I usually roll my own using WinBuilder, (over UBCD or BartPE), for the same reason 40hz said.

Everything installed on a ~30GB bootable FAT32 partition on a 2.5" external, (using SARDU) - I've found more computers are willing to boot off of a real USB HDD rather than a flash drive posing as a HDD.
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Josh
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« Reply #5 on: January 12, 2012, 09:23:20 PM »

@Josh: Did you mean UBCD or UBCD4Win?

I meant the original UBCD. I have never played with UBCD4WIN. UBCD launches fine at POST, but individual apps never seem to launch.
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Ath
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« Reply #6 on: January 16, 2012, 02:52:24 PM »

Is USB Pendrive Linux helping any in this context? Or are you actually searching for recovery/repair tools to be able to fix crashed systems?
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Josh
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« Reply #7 on: January 16, 2012, 03:39:28 PM »

It might. I am really looking to setup a set of usb drives for help calls and troubleshooting/installs. The more tools, the better!
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40hz
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« Reply #8 on: January 16, 2012, 04:41:57 PM »

If you're not afraid to roll up your sleeves (and maybe get a little bit outside your comfort zone) there are several good Linux based tools that are worth their weight in gold when dealing with persnickety Windows issues:


SystemRescueCd and Trinity Rescue Kit are bootable "live" Linux distros that contain a wealth of powerful tools for PC troubleshooting and repair work.

Quote
About SystemRescueCd

Description: SystemRescueCd is a Linux system rescue disk available as a bootable CD-ROM or USB stick for administrating or repairing your system and data after a crash. It aims to provide an easy way to carry out admin tasks on your computer, such as creating and editing the hard disk partitions. It comes with a lot of linux software such as system tools (parted, partimage, fstools, ...) and basic tools (editors, midnight commander, network tools). It requires no installation. It can be used on linux servers, linux desktops or windows boxes. The kernel supports the important file systems (ext2/ext3/ext4, reiserfs, reiser4, btrfs, xfs, jfs, vfat, ntfs, iso9660), as well as network filesystems (samba and nfs).

Quote
Trinity Rescue Kit or TRK is a free live Linux distribution that aims specifically at recovery and repair operations on Windows machines, but is equally usable for Linux recovery issues. Since version 3.4 it has an easy to use scrollable text menu that allows anyone who masters a keyboard and some English to perform maintenance and repair on a computer, ranging from password resetting over disk cleanup to virus scanning


It is possible to boot TRK in three different ways:

-as a bootable CD which you can burn yourself from a downloadable isofile or a self burning Windows executable

-from a USB stick/disk (optionally also a fixed disk), installable from Windows or from the bootable TRK cd (which is easier and safer)

-from network over PXE: you start 1 TRK from CD or USB and you run all other computers from that one over the network without modifying anything to you local network.

Ever since version 3.4, TRK has received an easy to use textmenu but has equally kept the commandline.

PartedMagic is a Swiss Army Knife disk partitioning utility with some additional bells & whistles you may not want to live without.

Quote
The Parted Magic OS employs core programs of GParted and Parted to handle partitioning tasks with ease, while featuring other useful software (e.g. Partimage, TestDisk, Truecrypt, Clonezilla, G4L, SuperGrubDisk, ddrescue, etc…) and an excellent set of info to benefit the user. An extensive collection of file system tools are also included, as Parted Magic supports the following: btrfs, ext2, ext3, ext4, fat16, fat32, hfs, hfs+, jfs, linux-swap, ntfs, reiserfs, and xfs. Parted Magic requires at least a i586 processor and 312MB of RAM to operate or 175MB in “Live” mode.

Features

   
  • Format internal and external hard drives.
  •     Move, copy, create, delete, expand & shrink hard drive partitions.
  •     Clone your hard drive, to create a full backup.
  •     Test hard drives for impending failure.
  •     Test memory for bad sectors.
  •     Benchmark your computer for a performance rating.
  •     Securely erase your entire hard drive, wiping it clean from all data.
  •     Gives access to non-booting systems allowing you to rescue important data.
  •     Runs from the CD, no install required.


Has a real pretty GUI too! Grin



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

In general, it's not a bad idea to get some familiarity with Linux system utilities and tools.

They're powerful; sometimes succeed when Windows and DOS-based tools fail you; and help stretch your technical knowledge.

Besides, if Microsoft ends up going down the road with Metro/Windows 8 the way they seem to want to, half of us will be permanently switching over to Linux or BSD anyway. So now might be a good time to start gaining some experience.  Thmbsup

(Note: I'm only half joking here. Cool )
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40hz
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« Reply #9 on: January 16, 2012, 04:50:17 PM »

Oh yes...and let's not forget Darik's Boot & Nuke (DBAN) disk.

Quote
About DBAN

Darik's Boot and Nuke ("DBAN") is a self-contained boot disk that securely wipes the hard disks of most computers. DBAN will automatically and completely delete the contents of any hard disk that it can detect, which makes it an appropriate utility for bulk or emergency data destruction.

Although primarily designed to be a data wiping utility, I've found good use for it when you're recycling a hard drive and your current Windows installation refuses to partition or format it.

Running DBAN using the quick option for 10-15 minutes is usually enough to get rid of whatever gremlins are lurking in the boot sector or partition table that are preventing you from formatting it.

Just run DBAN for a short while, then create a new MBR on the drive, and then proceed to partition and format as you usually do. You can do this with either Windows or PartedMagic.
 Cool

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Stoic Joker
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« Reply #10 on: January 16, 2012, 06:47:02 PM »

Oh yes...and let's not forget Darik's Boot & Nuke (DBAN) disk.

I love that one.

I've also found the Kaspersky Rescue Disk quite handy a few times.
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absoblogginlutely
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« Reply #11 on: February 15, 2012, 06:39:43 AM »

The Winternals ERD commander is still alive and well under Microsoft but you need to go through a couple more hoops to get it. It is now part of Microsofts Desktop Optimization Pack and is only available through a few methods. You need to have purchased Software Assurance AND the MDOP licence that gives you several benefits including the new ERD distro. Alternatively if you have technet or a MSDN subscription you can get the software for evaluation purposes too.
Search your Technet/MSDN downloads at technet.microsoft.com for Desktop Optimization Pack and download.

For what it's worth, the tool is very good at recovering data in the case of a missing Boot loader or virus or something else mangling the system.

Another useful tool that you might have seen and that is partly related is the ZALMAN ZM VE200 SATA hard drive caddy. Add your hard drive with all the iso's installed, and then attach the drive to your machine, select the iso you want to boot from with the jog wheel and boot away.  Note that I don't actually have one yet but I have seen it in action.  A good review with some hints and tips for using it is at http://www.rmprepusb.com/tutorials/ve200 ($43 at newegg - http://www.newegg.com/Pro...aspx?Item=N82E16817379025 ) (Note there is also a USB version at $55 but thats out of stock)

Hope this helps.
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« Reply #12 on: February 15, 2012, 06:46:29 AM »

I don't know where to start with all these suggested tools! They all sound so useful.
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4wd
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« Reply #13 on: February 15, 2012, 07:14:42 PM »

Another useful tool that you might have seen and that is partly related is the ZALMAN ZM VE200 SATA hard drive caddy.

Well, there goes some of my birthday money  Sad

Just ordered the Zalman ZM-VE300 USB3 version - I'm thinking a nice reasonably cheap SSD, (probably a HDD until I see cheap SSD).

Curse you absoblogginlutely  Angry



But thanks for mentioning it  Thmbsup
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Steven Avery
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« Reply #14 on: March 31, 2012, 03:13:24 AM »

Hi,

For the sometimes critical issue of easy backup from defunct Windows to USB, Parted Magic is very strong (in addition to being graphical pleasant).  The file manager is PCMan (which is is not available on many rescue CDs and is now being developed as SpaceFM). Not officially dual pane, but you simply open a window (also has tabs), and there is drag-and-drop capability for copying.  Also very strong on recognizing the disks and drives and externals and describing them sensibly (not just in Linux-geek-speak).  I have a big backup going on now on an XP puter not booting. (Then, after the backup, I will try a non-destructive OS reinstall, and if that does not work, a full reinstall.)

Many of these tools have Midnight Commander, quite cryptic. There was another one in UBCD, Volkov, that was also cryptic.

SystemRescueCD seems to specialize in network backup with tools like RSync, network stuff, SFTP.  Nice to know, but I would always want to try a local USB external if possible especially if large amounts of data is involved. SystemRescue also has Midnight Commander, although you could probably add PCMan if you are geeking the install.

Once, years ago, one of these Rescue CDs had Free Commander, I remember because I used it.  Dunno how that was done.  MuCommander and Double Commander (multi-platform) might be strong like PCMan, if they are on any rescue CDs. BootMed is a rescue disk that looks, by pics, to have a decent file manager, but I did not catch any name.

For the ISO burning, I found ImgBurn to be very nice, again. InfraRecorder was more finicky, and I switched back to ImgBurn, my main old-tyme fav.

Parted Magic is also a strong contender in below Windows partition stuff, of course (its mainstay). Interesting to compare with the Terabyte products for happy partitioning.  Terabyte is not free, but you have strong support, maybe some niceties.  It is also nice to see Firefox usable in the midst of the rescue and partition stuff.

I looked at the BartPE and tried to do it, since I had the Windows XP install CDs (copied to a directory and pointed Bart to the directory.) Bart had 2 errors and some warnings and the errors stopped the CD from burning. As a test I will try it out natively on an XP puter later (the attempt was done on a Windows 7). However, I am skeptical now that it is really worth the special attempt.

Steven
« Last Edit: March 31, 2012, 06:58:55 AM by Steven Avery » Logged
Carol Haynes
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« Reply #15 on: March 31, 2012, 07:16:14 AM »

Anyone know of Vista and Windows 7 equivalent of "UBCD for Windows".

In particular I miss the registry tool for manually applying System Restore points when System Restore fails.

You can do also this manually from anything that accesses the hard disk in Windows XP but I haven't found a way of doing it Windows Vista or 7.
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« Reply #16 on: March 31, 2012, 10:19:57 AM »

Hi,

Can the regular Ultimate Boot help ?  However, I do not see a direct System Restore reference so far.

Ultimate Boot CD
http://www.ultimatebootcd.com/

I see they added Parted Magic.

"The Linux-based distro Parted Magic is now included with UBCD V5.0. This should be the method of choice when you need to resize/rescue partitions, access NTFS filesystems or work with USB storage devices."

You could ask on the forums about the tool you mentioned, as it may be standalone as well as in UBCD4Win. Often, these disks usually have ways to add a specific tool, if it is nowhere else and there is no equivalent.

Oh, I think your concern is that the tool won't work on Windows 7 anyway.  Then you have to ask the uber-techies.

=================

My backup went fine, checked it on another puter. 
Now trying the Windows reinstall repair utility.

Steven
« Last Edit: March 31, 2012, 10:35:13 AM by Steven Avery » Logged
40hz
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« Reply #17 on: March 31, 2012, 11:03:56 AM »

I've had the best luck following the advice and directions put together by Michael Pietroforte which can be found on his most excellent 4Sysops  Kiss website.

He did a two part article some time back on creating a bootable USB rescue disk that allowed you to add your own tools to the mix. You can find the articles here and here.

While you're there, take a look at some of Mike's other articles. 4Sysops is one of the most rock solid sources for Microsoft related tech advice currently up on the web. It's one of the very few sites I check up on almost daily. Excellent reading - and a real lifesaver for me on more than one occasion.
 Cool
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4wd
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« Reply #18 on: March 31, 2012, 07:09:58 PM »

In particular I miss the registry tool for manually applying System Restore points when System Restore fails.

Is this the same as doing this: Manually restore the system registry for Windows XP ?

I wouldn't think that procedure would be all that different under W7, guess I'll have a look.

Is it a particular program that does this on UBCD4Win, (couldn't see anything that mentioned System Restore in the Version History or Tool list) ?
« Last Edit: March 31, 2012, 07:17:22 PM by 4wd » Logged

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Carol Haynes
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« Reply #19 on: March 31, 2012, 07:24:58 PM »

Yes - it is under registry tools - called Restore Registry Wizard.

It comes up with a list of restore points and you can effectively do a registry only system restore. Has been really useful a number of times.

What it does is copy various registry hive backups in a System Restore subfolder of "System Volume Information" on drive C:

If I haven't got access to UDBCD4Win I can do this from the System Recovery environment on a Windows XP installation disk.

I haven't found any method of doing the same in Windows Vista or 7. System Restore seems to be significantly different in those because it also takes file snapshots as part of the restore point and from what I can tell the folders where these things are stored have been moved. Not sure where though - just can't do it manuall and the UBCD4Win too "Restore Registry Wizard" doesn't see any restore points on systems newer than XP.
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Carol Haynes
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« Reply #20 on: March 31, 2012, 08:01:19 PM »

Hmmm found this:

Quote
These instructions apply only to Windows 7


1. Turn on your computer and press F1 or F2 to go into BIOS settings.  On "Booting" section set your computer to boot from your cd/dvd drive.  Insert the Windows 7 installation CD or DVD (either full or upgrade version) into the drive and save your new settings and exit BIOS mode.  When your computer starts again it will ask you to press any key to reboot from the disk.  You will be taken to the Windows 7 screen.  Once on this screen, you will be given the choice to install windows or to repair it.  Choose repair it.  If your problem is not solved try it again and this time when you choose "Repair" you should get some of the following choices: Repair Windows, Repair Using a Mirror copy previously made, Diagnose System hardware, or Display DOS command prompt or something similar. 


2. Choose DOS command prompt.


3. Once on the command prompt window, type c: and hit enter.


4. Type the following commands into the DOS command prompt. Each one of these statements copy the original registry files to the current registry directory.


copy C:\windows\system32\config\regback\system c:\windows\system32\config\system

copy C:\windows\system32\config\regback\software c:\windows\system32\config\software

copy C:\windows\system32\config\regback\security c:\windows\system32\config\security

copy C:\windows\system32\config\regback\sam c:\windows\system32\config\sam

copy C:\windows\system32\config\regback\default c:\windows\system32\config\default

5. Press the "Y" key after each copied file. This confirms that you want to overwrite the existing registry files.

6. Remove the Windows 7 installation disc (either full or upgrade version) from the drive and reboot the machine.

7. Press F1 or F2 right after restarting your machine to go back to the BIOS settings and set your machine to boot from the "C" drive.

The registry is now restored with original settings.

This allows you to restore a recent windows vista/7 registry backup manually (note this could be up to 10 days old).

It is very similar to the method I used in XP but doesn't give access to all the restore points but it might save the day. Apparently these backups are made automatically.
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« Reply #21 on: March 31, 2012, 08:29:36 PM »

Yes - it is under registry tools - called Restore Registry Wizard.

Found it, also found the source code in VB, (attached) - wonder if it's not too hard to update.  I would think it's only a discrepancy between the identifier on the files, (the bit between the {}), and the lookup he uses in the registry, (or wherever it hides).

Or maybe just a dirty port to AutoIt.

Hmmm found this:

Quote
These instructions apply only to Windows 7

This allows you to restore a recent windows vista/7 registry backup manually (note this could be up to 10 days old).

It is very similar to the method I used in XP but doesn't give access to all the restore points but it might save the day. Apparently these backups are made automatically.

I believe that's the backup that's used if you choose Last Known Good Configuration from the F8 boot menu.

* regreswiz_source.zip (11.09 KB - downloaded 96 times.)
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« Reply #22 on: March 31, 2012, 08:35:04 PM »

I think the system restore method was rewritten in Vista/7 and it uses Volume Shadow Copy. I don't think the mod of Restore Registry Wizard just means changing paths unfortunately.

One of the big changes is that you can use a Vista/7 recovery CD to use System Restore points - that wasn't possible in XP.
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« Reply #23 on: March 31, 2012, 09:13:34 PM »

I don't think the mod of Restore Registry Wizard just means changing paths unfortunately.

Maybe not but the biggest change seems to be in the folder names, RegResWiz looks specifically for folders in System Volume Information starting with _restore.

Under Win7 they don't, they are just identifiers within brackets, eg. {FD721EA1-0DC0-4191-85F7-4D474E00E2DB}.

Maybe making the program parse the filenames within the folders will make it a little more robust.
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« Reply #24 on: April 02, 2012, 01:07:18 PM »

Hi,

Ended up doing an early image restore.  Went fine.  Used Macrium, even though I had divided it into two partitions (which is hard for Macrium, it put Humpty back together and then I divided it up later).  Other image software can reinstall to a smaller spot, but Macrium is so good, I wanted to give them a chance.  Remember, it is an early image, so only about 5 Gigabytes .. oh, those poor pagefiles, always trying to force a couple more gigs of junk.

My c:/ and d:/ (user data) had all been copied over to an external drive en masse before this was done, just to be safe. Using PMan from Parted Magic.  Also very simple. For the re-partition I used Mini-Tool Partition Wizard, a very highly regarded freeware program.  

Last time I had a similar problem, in 2009, I had to do a full OS restore.  And that is a hassle.  First you have to have the CDs, then you have to get the Internet up (I had a built-in driver problem.).  Or spend $90 to have the guy in the shop do it, presuming your system is all fine with MS with a serial#. Lots of annoying possible little uggies that you only want to experience once, or zero.

The early images I did on that last OS reinstall one were a huge help. For most daily usage I do not believe in images, because if your system is clogged or mal-ed, the image will be clogged.  You bomb out every couple of years, then do an OS reinstall at that point.  Start clean and lean.  

(I am not talking about the techie experimenters here, who have different needs, and for whom an image restore can be a daily need.)

However, for normal personal use:

** I strongly recommend redundant images (e.g. Macrium, DriveImageXL, Paragon, Easeus, two at least, the techie below Windows ones are fine also) after any OS reinstall and with any new system. ***

(Make the recovery CDs, too, since things change there and you know it should match).

The reason for the redundancy is that images are not fool-proof.

One image, or group, right after you have the internet up, drivers, etc.

And another one or two after you have your basic programs reinstalled.  
A day or two later, still with a very light system.

Then, you should back up your data, of course, but in anything other than a disk crash or BIOS destruction, you can get the totally current data, at the moment of crash, the way mentioned above.  Thus you do not have to "over-backup" anything but critical daily data. I will conjecture that 95% or so of crashes and lockups are OS corruption and/or malware, only a small percent are disk crashes (and for that monitoring, I like Hard Disk Sentinel from Bits, but .. you never know).

============

Oh, my system runs a ton better now. The 50-100 Firefox tabs barely make a dent. Exactly why ?  Good question.  Much less loading, services and programs. And yes, the registry is "clean". This is my recommended way of registry cleaning smiley . Any other reasons ?  Not sure.  I do have the current versions now, like Firefox 11.

Steven
« Last Edit: April 02, 2012, 01:25:56 PM by Steven Avery » Logged
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