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Author Topic: Backing up to protect against operating system or hard drive failure  (Read 8275 times)

JeffK

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I want to access the thinking of all you gurus here regarding this subject which is somewhat perplexing me.

I have had my current computer for I suppose five years.  I have had Windows XP on it for about a year after it was released so my original disks predate Service Pack 1.

In that time I have had computer problems which required me to reinstall XP about 8 times.  On four of those occasions I have done a "repair" reinstall which has left my registry settings and documents intact.  But on the other occasions the problem have been so severe I have had to do a complete reinstall thus losing access to both documents and installed applications because registry settings are overwritten.

This is becoming more and more problematic as Windows XP needs to be updated with the service packs as well.

I have a backup regime sorted out.  I use Paragon Drive Backup to take images of each of my partitions and Genie Backup Pro to take file backups.  The images are on a second internal hard drive, and the file backups are on external USB drives

However what will happen if my OS or the hard disk fails again.  How will I use these backups to restore the OS as it was with my settings intact.  Or in other words what backup should I make of the system partition, so that if the OS fails and I cannot boot I can restore that partition as it was with as little fuss as possible?

Any comments and advice would be appreciated.

Best wishes (and by the way Happy Easter to Donation Coders),

Jeff

mouser

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Re: Backing up to protect against operating system or hard drive failure
« Reply #1 on: April 16, 2006, 08:10:29 AM »
Quote
I have a backup regime sorted out.  I use Paragon Drive Backup to take images of each of my partitions and Genie Backup Pro to take file backups.  The images are on a second internal hard drive, and the file backups are on external USB drives

Well it sounds like you are doing exactly the right thing.
As i understand it you are making images of your operating system partitions, and storing them on an independent hard drive.

so if your main hard drive completely dies, your recovery procedure would look like this:
1) buy a new hard drive of equal or larger size.
2) replace the dead main hard drive with new one.
3) boot up with PARAGON rescue cd (i assume there is such a thing or something related)
4) use that rescue cd or floppy to RESTORE from a partition image to the new hard drive.
5) reboot and you should be back to the last saved image.

(note you could test this out by buying a new hard drive and pretending your main one has died and replace it - it's always useful to do a test run to see if their are any unexpected snags).

f0dder

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Re: Backing up to protect against operating system or hard drive failure
« Reply #2 on: April 16, 2006, 09:59:45 AM »
A thing to remember: keep OS + programs on one partition, and ALL data files (source code, "My Documents", etc. yadda yadda) on another. That way you'll "only" lose program settings when you revert to a drive image.
- carpe noctem

JeffK

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Re: Backing up to protect against operating system or hard drive failure
« Reply #3 on: April 16, 2006, 10:31:12 AM »
Actually I've probably gone a bit overboard in that respect.  My setup is

Drive C: OS and things such as the startmenu files
D: Applications related to the management of the computer itself eg my backup software
E: regular applications eg MS Office
F: data, My  Documents etc
G: downloaded software
H: essential downloads (stuff I've purchased and backup more carefully)

And that's just disk 1.

Jeff

f0dder

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Re: Backing up to protect against operating system or hard drive failure
« Reply #4 on: April 16, 2006, 10:37:15 AM »
Hehe, does sound a bit overkill to me. for my mirrored 160gb, I have windows+apps on C, source+docs+data on D, downloads+games on E, and other stuff on F... I'm probably going to merge E and F since that split doesn't make sense. Got a separate 80gig Q partition, which I use as a "scratchpad" - it's nice having a separate *drive* when you do disk-intensive stuff, even if you main drive(s) supports NCQ. And I do a lot of messing around with creating unattended windows setups with nLite, which involves a *lot* of shuffling around.
- carpe noctem

JeffK

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Re: Backing up to protect against operating system or hard drive failure
« Reply #5 on: April 16, 2006, 10:45:36 AM »
If you have the OS and your applications on the one drive/partition would you potentially lose your installed applications if the OS goes bad and needs reinstallation.  Perhaps not because the reinstall would leave the applications alone anyway.  Still have to reinstall the apps where their settings are overwritten but that's necessary regardless of what drive they are on.

Jeff

f0dder

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Re: Backing up to protect against operating system or hard drive failure
« Reply #6 on: April 16, 2006, 10:49:15 AM »
Well, I have two "program files" folders. One is "C:\Programs" (I hate "program files" so I rename it to "Programs" with my unattended setup) which is "complex" applications that need a reinstall, and then a "C:\Wprg" with small apps that either work without install, or are simple enough that I can just export a couple .reg files for them. When I reinstall or recover from image, I unpack my wprg-YYYYMMDD.rar file after recovery.

I've got install CDs/DVDs/files for all my apps, so I don't lose anything :)
- carpe noctem

mouser

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Re: Backing up to protect against operating system or hard drive failure
« Reply #7 on: April 16, 2006, 10:52:07 AM »
i also advocate using 2 "program files" type directories, one for programs that use an installer, and one for those you manually place somewhere.

i use the default "Program Files" for installer apps
and "Programs" for manually placed programs.

JeffK

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Re: Backing up to protect against operating system or hard drive failure
« Reply #8 on: April 16, 2006, 10:53:04 AM »
"my wprg-YYYYMMDD.rar"?  What is that is that a backup of your registry?  Do you have a workable way of distinguishing between applications that do or do not require reinstallation?

Jeff

f0dder

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Re: Backing up to protect against operating system or hard drive failure
« Reply #9 on: April 16, 2006, 10:55:18 AM »
That's just the C:\Wprg files - with a date tagged on (I *could* use file datestamp for this, but prefer it in the filename - easier to quickly remember when I last made a backup of those file).

As for registry... I don't currently back this up. I have .reg files for those few apps that need it, and various system tweaks are done at OS install time (again, <3 unattended setup :)).
- carpe noctem

JeffK

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Re: Backing up to protect against operating system or hard drive failure
« Reply #10 on: April 16, 2006, 11:01:55 AM »
Thanks for that - plenty to think about.  I had a system crash just before Christmas, where I had to reinstall the OS (Win XP) and I have only just now had time to go through my D: drive and check that all the apps still work.  This is the sort of rework I am trying to avoid.

Jeff

JeffK

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Re: Backing up to protect against operating system or hard drive failure
« Reply #11 on: April 16, 2006, 05:51:38 PM »
I didn't mean to kill discussion on this so if people have any more ideas/advice or info about what they do I would welcome it.

Jeff

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Re: Backing up to protect against operating system or hard drive failure
« Reply #12 on: April 16, 2006, 07:30:29 PM »
I use 3 "Program files" directories.
ProgNew - Applications that are new, I don't know if they will need to be reinstalled or not.
ProgRedo - Applications that I know I will have to reinstall.
ProgKeep - Apps that I will still work after a format.

I left out spaces because some programs take a crap if there is a space in the path.

Personally, I think 2 partitions is enough. 1 for Windows ("Formattable" as I call it) and 1 for the rest. This way I can format C and still have everything else.


About backing up system partitions: You might check out "PC Inspector: Clone Maxx" it's a free bootable drive imager. You'd have to shut down your comp and make the image manually though, which could be a pain.

JeffK

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Re: Backing up to protect against operating system or hard drive failure
« Reply #13 on: April 16, 2006, 07:41:55 PM »
Do you put your Prognew etc directories on your non C: drive? 

Jeff

Hirudin

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Re: Backing up to protect against operating system or hard drive failure
« Reply #14 on: April 16, 2006, 09:18:16 PM »
Do you put your Prognew etc directories on your non C: drive? 

Jeff
Yeah.
Pretty much everything except windows goes on my D.

I make the C drive 15GB and the rest of the HDD goes to the D drive. That give me enough room to download/copy/create large files to the desktop.

brotherS

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Re: Backing up to protect against operating system or hard drive failure
« Reply #15 on: April 17, 2006, 05:36:29 AM »
Actually I've probably gone a bit overboard in that respect.  My setup is

Drive C: OS and things such as the startmenu files
D: Applications related to the management of the computer itself eg my backup software
E: regular applications eg MS Office
F: data, My  Documents etc
G: downloaded software
H: essential downloads (stuff I've purchased and backup more carefully)

And that's just disk 1.
WOW!!  :D

After using different setups over the years I now settled on this:

C: OS and all installed programs
D: all data, downloads, installer files, ...
E: for Windows page-file only

I like to keep it as simple as possible, this setup also comes in handy since my HD always tends to be full. :)

Hirudin

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Re: Backing up to protect against operating system or hard drive failure
« Reply #16 on: April 17, 2006, 07:53:12 AM »
WOW!!  :D

After using different setups over the years I now settled on this:

C: OS and all installed programs
D: all data, downloads, installer files, ...
E: for Windows page-file only

I like to keep it as simple as possible, this setup also comes in handy since my HD always tends to be full. :)

I think this sounds like the best of all (asside from putting apps in C). With the page file at the outer most ring of the HDD platters it theoretically gives the best performance (I think) and being the only file should keep it from gettting fragged.

The reason I don't keep installed programs in my C drive is that a lot of programs store their output/setting files in the install directory by default. A lot of the time, reinstalling the app, then overwriting that with the old data will return the program to it's previous state.
« Last Edit: April 17, 2006, 07:58:03 AM by Hirudin »

f0dder

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Re: Backing up to protect against operating system or hard drive failure
« Reply #17 on: April 17, 2006, 10:07:31 PM »
I think this sounds like the best of all (asside from putting apps in C). With the page file at the outer most ring of the HDD platters it theoretically gives the best performance (I think) and being the only file should keep it from gettting fragged.
...On the other hand, it might induce more seek-time. Then again, drives are made of multiple platters. Then again-again, unless you use (memory)sucky Adobe programs, you shouldn't need the paging file.

I still vouch for keeping docs/source/data on a separate partition. It doesn't matter extremely much these days with pretty stable filesystems like NTFS, but a "combined" partition like brotherS's does get more traffic and abuse. If you have docs/source/data on a separate partition, that wouldn't be affected by a FS crash on the "high activity" partition.
- carpe noctem

brotherS

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Re: Backing up to protect against operating system or hard drive failure
« Reply #18 on: April 18, 2006, 04:25:34 AM »
I think this sounds like the best of all (asside from putting apps in C). With the page file at the outer most ring of the HDD platters it theoretically gives the best performance (I think) and being the only file should keep it from gettting fragged.
...On the other hand, it might induce more seek-time. Then again, drives are made of multiple platters. Then again-again, unless you use (memory)sucky Adobe programs, you shouldn't need the paging file.

I still vouch for keeping docs/source/data on a separate partition. It doesn't matter extremely much these days with pretty stable filesystems like NTFS, but a "combined" partition like brotherS's does get more traffic and abuse. If you have docs/source/data on a separate partition, that wouldn't be affected by a FS crash on the "high activity" partition.
Maybe I should also add that I'm not only using NTFS but also RAID 1 (http://en.wikipedia....pendent_disks#RAID_1), that's pretty safe. :D


f0dder

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Re: Backing up to protect against operating system or hard drive failure
« Reply #19 on: April 18, 2006, 07:48:32 AM »
RAID1 doesn't help you against filesystem crashes, just like it doesn't help you against deleted files or virii... RAID1 is a dumb mirror that only protects you against physical hardware failure. (Yeah, I use RAID1 too).
- carpe noctem

brotherS

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Re: Backing up to protect against operating system or hard drive failure
« Reply #20 on: April 18, 2006, 07:56:41 AM »
I know, but I tend to be very, very carefully when deleting files and also backup stuff (not often enough though). I don't fear filesystem crashes, but I need to enhance my backup strategy to get better virii protection...   :-\

f0dder

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Re: Backing up to protect against operating system or hard drive failure
« Reply #21 on: April 18, 2006, 08:04:37 AM »
Heh, you should fear filesystem crashes... they happen very rarely, but when they hit - they hit *hard*. ATi vide drivers are known to cause problems, for instance.
- carpe noctem