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Author Topic: best image backup method with multiple partitions on a disk  (Read 489 times)

Steven Avery

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best image backup method with multiple partitions on a disk
« on: October 03, 2016, 10:52:02 AM »
My goal in image backup is simply to have a clean reinstall. Preferably using the simple Linux method rather than Windows PE. (Why not, for simple clean reinstall?)

Thus, my images will be made either when the OS is super-clean, or a few weeks later when all the basic programs are loaded, and lots of little tweaks are made (e.g. settings, Firefox and Chrome extensions, etc.). Not when the system is getting sluggish.  At that time, I am simply backing up data files.

We start with a couple of partitions that are:

Recovery or Dell or stuff like that, small. 
*: -           39 Mb FAT "Hidden"  (maybe the file allocation table? for the OS?)
*Recovery: 10 GB "Active and Boot"
c: OS
d: data file for programs - Linkman Notezilla, and dozen more.
e: email for 70 GB of Eudora mail, and maybe mirrored on a search program or Bat later.
l:  a place for future linux dual boot

(I would generally stick c: and d: on an SSD when I have one, I want to see if Linkman works quicker)

That is all one disk.   On data backup, I make up my own schedules with d: and e:  (recently I decided to separate them, so a backup of d: was not cumbersome).

What about image backup?  (I am willing to have a pro program from Aomei or Macrium or Paragon or Easeus or somebody.  I am bypassing Macrium for dropping the Linux disk in ver 6.)

Do I simply choose the c:  With the idea that the recovery and fat will still be there.
Or do I do the selected partitions on the disk (all except e:,why backup that huge system file that is backing up another way?)
Or is it better to bite the bullet and simply backup every partition.

What programs do you like.  Am I right that I should not put the huge unnecessary e: into the partition (after a reinstall I would take a recent email backup).

Does any of this make sense?

What programs do you like? Do you get a pro? Do you wait for them to be onsale? I did pickup a free Paragon Backup & Recovery™ 16, version 10.1.28.101.  And do like Aomei. 

Feel free to give free-form thoughts about your own image backup.

Steven




MilesAhead

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Re: best image backup method with multiple partitions on a disk
« Reply #1 on: October 03, 2016, 01:23:09 PM »
If you haven't visited this page it may be worth a look as it has a variety of freeware solutions:
http://www.thefreeco...backupandimage.shtml

I suspect Macrium went solely with WinPE due to the GPT partition scheme.  If your drives are GPT based it limits your options for image backup.  Although that is changing it can still be dicey as some systems that claim they support both MBR and GPT don't always work as expected.  Just making a bootable USB stick that will boot with UEFI enabled on my machine is touch and go.  Most of them don't work.

Of course it is tough to say what is the problem, the bootable image or my Laptop.  It has always had booting, update and system restore issues.  My experience with MBR was much greater as even trying to boot a VHD seems like an impossible task on this Laptop.

Now is a good time if you have a guinea pig PC with a similar layout in drives and partitions to verify things actually restore as advertised.

Edit: what you describe though, sounds like a good candidate for a physical drive cloner utility.  Get the OS and baseline applications installed and configured as you want, then clone the drive to one of exactly the same size.  Store the drive in an anti-static bag in some safe place.  If the HD fails or gets really scrambled, just insert the backup and power up.  I mentioned this a bunch of times but a guy I know on another forum has quick release drive rails and images his system to an identical HD in a docking station.  Unlike your scheme he makes a new image perhaps twice a week so that he doesn't lose more than a couple of days if disaster strikes.  But you could still use a similar strategy only making one optimal image of a tuned system.  His method has the advantage that you don't have to run a restore program.  Insert the backup HD then determine later if the hosed drive has a physical problem or if the contents is merely corrupted etc..


« Last Edit: October 03, 2016, 01:31:09 PM by MilesAhead »

xtabber

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Re: best image backup method with multiple partitions on a disk
« Reply #2 on: October 03, 2016, 03:59:24 PM »
For many years my program of choice has been Paragon Hard Disk Manager Pro. Not cheap ($100 and usually $50 upgrades every 2-3 years when new versions come out), but it does everything in one tool: Imaging, cloning, OS migration, partition management, wiping, backup media creation, virtualization, mounting  images as drives, etc.

I keep my OS and critical data (financial, working data files, etc.) on C and most other program data on D. On my desktop system, I also have E for long term archiving of data files, backups, etc. On my desktop system, C and D are on a single SSD and E on an HDD.

I image C at least once a month. Other partitions are never imaged but everything on them is duplicated on two or more external drives.  Images of C are created on E and copied as needed, which is much faster than imaging to external media.  I keep USB sticks formatted as Paragon recovery media for emergencies. If I travel, I copy the latest backup image to one of those USB sticks to take with me.

My sequence in setting up a new system is to image the entire drive as received from the manufacturer before the first initialization, then image again after the system is initialized and before any of my own software is installed, then again after I have the essential backups installed.  That gives me three critical restore points in case I ever decide to go back to the beginnings.  I don’t usually bother keeping a restore partition or Windows restore points after that.

Actually, since manufacturers typically gouge for larger drives, I buy systems with the smallest drive offered and get a larger one elsewhere. That lets me clone what I want from the original drive on to the bigger one and stash the original away so that I can put it back system if I need to return the computer for service or replace it.

Steven Avery

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Re: best image backup method with multiple partitions on a disk
« Reply #3 on: October 04, 2016, 08:51:18 AM »
Thanks, guys!

====

xtabber, your situation is very similar

when you image the c: do you bother with things like the small FAT and Recovery partitions with the C: OS?

===

Macrium apparently simply did not want to keep up with the Linux and liked extra functionality in using Windows PE (perhaps stuff like working with the saved files or restore alternatives?).  However there are various flavors of PE for different Windows OS, so it does not make sense for the quick and simple restoring of an image.  There seems to be more possibilities for glitching out in making the CD as well. They even inquired of their customer base, with mixed returns. They sort of said .. well use the older version 5.x but that is a kludge method AND every time I found what was supposed to be a 5.x version it started to install .. as 6.x.  I really liked them otherwise.

===

The cloning idea is good.  My fav local store in Hyde Park showed me how he does that for anything he sells (also he mentioned the Apricorn cable).  However, a clone tends to require the same system, or one identical or close to identical, to be sure of working, so it does not seem to have much advantage for me over the simpler placing of an image on a Terabyte drive, or two. Wouldn't the burner test puter have to be pretty similar, more than just disk save? 

Ideally, I will use redundancy, e.g two image programs, and two externals.   Since the actual image can be done from Windows, the 15-30 minutes mean little, although I try to keep the system steady.  They claim to be able to image while you work, (some sort of snapshot technology?) .. I am not sure if that is a fine idea.  So far, I have not seen a need to shell out for actually making the image. Your thoughts?
« Last Edit: October 04, 2016, 08:57:21 AM by Steven Avery »

MilesAhead

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Re: best image backup method with multiple partitions on a disk
« Reply #4 on: October 04, 2016, 05:53:41 PM »
What you are saying now sounds like a custom unattended install setup.  For example when I was at IBM we had a Dos boot disk with networking software and a menu program.  You booted the PC which automatically logged onto the network to access OS and other software images.  A simple console menu was shown.  You picked the one with the combination of OS, networking and other software you wanted installed and hit Enter.  Go get a coffee.  :)

On a smaller scale something similar may be possible with NLite or a similar tool.


Shades

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Re: best image backup method with multiple partitions on a disk
« Reply #5 on: October 04, 2016, 08:08:12 PM »
Recovery partition? If you have your Windows installation DVD or image of it separate, you have all the required drivers for your machine and installers (or portable versions of your favorite/needed tools? (on any other partition than C:\) Then don't bother with your recovery partition...because you have everything you need to re-install your 'puter from scratch.

But that little partition in front of all other partitions, that is used by your Windows installation during booting of your system (it contains information essential for Windows to operate). If you don't have it, you have a nasty time getting Windows to start at all. While there are tools and instructions for handling that problem, it is not a given that any of these methods will work. What it will be: a huge time-sink and no 100% guarantee your system will be online.

So if you have such a small partition, do not forget to include it in your imaging procedures.

All versions of Windows (after XP) create by default such a small partition (when you install Windows from scratch on an empty or emptied hard disk). Only when you use a tool such as GParted to create the partitions beforehand (leaving no space for that little partition) you could install Windows without this little partition. In that case it is possible that during the installation procedure you will get a window asking you for permission to create this little partition. When you deny this, the installation procedure will continue and you won't have to worry about that little partition again.

What also helps is to know that you are not allowed to create more than four 'Primary' partitions (with the MBR system) on a hard disk. That little partition is actually a 'Primary' partition. But if you already divide up those 4 'Primary' partitions with a tool such as GParted, Windows Won't make this little partition either (because it isn't allowed to). That will help you getting rid of that little partition too.

You can have more than 4 partitions on any hard disk if you so desire. Occupy all 'Primary partitions, on the remainder of storage space you need to create a big 'Extended' partition in which you create 'Logical' partitions. Old school, but it works just fine and all partition software are able to work with such a setup without any problem. Most people have enough options with those 4 'Primary' partitions...but there are more possibilities for freaks like me.  ;)

Dual boot would not be the option I would go for. Easier to create a Virtual Machine and either "link" inside the VM to your separate partitions for programs, data and TEMP. That way you can use your tools and/or data directly in the host PC and the VM if you so desire. Oracle's VirtualBox software allows you create hard coded links to the partitions on the host. I make heavily use of that functionality, because it allows me to have multiple partitions inside any of my VMs. My host runs Windows Server 2012 R2 and I often have a Windows 7 VM, a Windows XP VM and/or a Windows Server 2008 R2 VM active. And I can use practically all portable applications in any of these VMs (simultaneously!) even though there is only one instance of these portable applications available on the D:\ partition of the host. Saves me a boatload of storage space and all my tweaks/configurations I only have to do once.

At least now you have a (hopefully) clear(er) idea of my freakishness.  :D