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 Post subject: PC back up routine ?
PostPosted: Thu Jan 16, 2014 1:31 pm 
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I've got a good back up system for my Mac machines but on the windows side I find myself somewhat uncertain how to devise a solid back up plan. My mac scheme includes a bootable backup, a time machine back up, archival of older stuff, and off site back up of really important things like music and photos etc. The general concepts probably remain the same on the PC side but how to accomplish it is my dilemma. I'd appreciate ideas and any software (free is good) that might help to accomplish a solid back up scheme. Thanks!


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 Post subject: Re: PC back up routine ?
PostPosted: Thu Jan 16, 2014 3:08 pm 
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The concepts are fairly different, simply because Windows doesn't like arbitrarily booting off a particular disk. You can tell it to boot off a disk, but once it loads drivers, it still treats the disk in port 1 as drive 1, and will freak out if you're suddenly booting off drive 3 in port 3 because it'll reach the point where it looks at its rigidly-defined drive numbers and expects them to be exactly the same. A way around this is to physically move cables between drives, but that's kind of a PITA and frankly once you have more than a couple drives in the system it gets hard to remember which drive is which.

You can either use the built-in Windows Backup system which works kind of similar to Time Machine, in that you can recover your system back to it's earlier state (at least in theory) using the OS and installation functions, or you can use third party software and rely on that software to do the heavy lifting.

I use some product by Acronis that's basically imaging software. It dumps the entire contents of my C: drive into a tightly compressed file on another disk. To recover I need special bootable media (which they can help you create) that boots into an environment that can read all my mounted disks and copy data from the image to my new C: drive. I can select multiple disks and dump them all into the image file, but backing up multi-terabyte disks and the image can get freakin' huge quick. I've used it for testing purposes and even live purposes (moved my Windows install between disks), so I know it works, but I don't use 90% of the features available.


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 Post subject: Re: PC back up routine ?
PostPosted: Thu Jan 16, 2014 5:14 pm 
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Thanks for the info MB. What exactly is difference between "create system image", "create system repair disc", and "Back up now"? Can they all reside together on an external USB drive (one partition)?


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 Post subject: Re: PC back up routine ?
PostPosted: Thu Jan 16, 2014 6:48 pm 
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Are you referring to Windows Backup? I actually have very limited experience with it. It used to be, well, extremely lousy and crummy. I understand it's been replaced with something less crummy in 7, but aside from scheduling backups I haven't used it a whole lot.


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 Post subject: Re: PC back up routine ?
PostPosted: Thu Jan 16, 2014 7:47 pm 
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I wish that Carbon Copy Cloner existed for Windoze PCs. It would make life easier.

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 Post subject: Re: PC back up routine ?
PostPosted: Thu Jan 16, 2014 9:42 pm 
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By the way, if I had to guess, a "system image" would be an image of your hard drive as it exists at this point that can be used to later return a bootable disk back to that state.

A system repair disc could be bootable media that is used to recover the bootable disk, probably using either the system image or a backup disk. It could also be some media that contains critical system elements, like the system password database, that are then used to recover a system in conjunction with the install media or after a fresh installation of Windows.

"Back up now" is makes either a full or incremental backup of your system, ala time machine, to a backup disk. This is the part I'm somewhat familiar with.


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 Post subject: Re: PC back up routine ?
PostPosted: Thu Jan 16, 2014 10:26 pm 
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Isn't Norton Ghost good for this?

I'd mention another great App, but they refused to remove me from their frequent eMailngs, & when they did it'd come back a few months later… it was a great Suite of every thing you need for Windows.


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 Post subject: Re: PC back up routine ?
PostPosted: Thu Jan 16, 2014 10:43 pm 
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Symantec abandoned Ghost. They laid off the Ghost development team nearly a decade ago, even though they still (to this day) sell their product to corporate customers. It has serious issues, but you can work around the worst of them using the network client/server functionality. They then tried to repackage PowerQuest's Drive Image as Ghost for consumers (even though Symantec screwed it up).

When that failed they came up with a cloud backup product that's going over like a lead balloon (pay Symantec a monthly cost to access your backups in perpetuity? Where do I sign up?), and I can't imagine they've increased sales ever since the NSA revelations came about.


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 Post subject: Re: PC back up routine ?
PostPosted: Thu Jan 16, 2014 11:00 pm 
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Ah.. only ten years ago… that's like last week! :P


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 Post subject: Re: PC back up routine ?
PostPosted: Fri Jan 17, 2014 12:11 pm 
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Am I accurate in saying that Recovery partitions shipped with many HP and other manufacturers are simply system imaged files of the system at time of purchase? The reason I am asking is that if this is in fact the case, it may make sense to reclaim that space (perhaps even increase partition size a bit) and use the backup management tool "create system image" to recreate a system image which presumably will be a more accurate image of the complete system as it exists currently. Rather than restoring the system from the point at which it was purchased.

Also, as I understand it, creating a "restore point" is an additional component of a complete back up scheme (separate from what we discussed thus far) which provides an easy way of moving the state of the computer back to a point just prior to a catastrophic event (or something less). It helps for installs that might screw something up but does not really provide a mechanism for restoring from a complete drive failure. Have I got this right or have I misunderstood what I have read?

So really a complete back up of a pc (win 7 let's say) should include:
1. System repair disk -(DVD or CD medium)
2. Current restore point (resides on internal drive?) -separate or same partition?
3. Incremental Back up (back up now) for user files which might happen daily for example- (external drive or 2nd internal)
4. System image which contains everything from a snapshot in time. Includes OS and all files and programs etc. Maybe done monthly for example- (External drive)

Does this seem right? I know I am missing an off site component.
Can the 'Back up now' and the 'imaged system file' coexist on the same external hard? (same partition?) Can 'imaged system file' be undertaken incrementally?

Thanks


Last edited by db5owat on Fri Jan 17, 2014 1:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: PC back up routine ?
PostPosted: Fri Jan 17, 2014 1:27 pm 
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Restore points are on-the-fly snapshots of particular system files and data that can restore those files & data to their earlier states. If the problem exists in a file that isn't included in the snapshot, then restore points aren't going to net you anything. Malware, for instance, usually exists outside the restore point and will survive recovery to an earlier restore point.

A recovery partition is mostly only useful for recovering the system to a factory state. This is useful to have around, because many times the things that munge up Windows occur gradually, so recovering to a state 1 month ago may not be particular useful if it'll end up just as munged up in a month's time. On the other hand, it's also not useful to have around, because it restores all the factory add-ons that OEMs preinstall, many of which are the root cause of Windows getting screwed up in the first place.

That being said, some OEMs will allow you to enter recovery mode or run a backup utility that will update the recovery partition with your user data, at least to a point, so you don't lose everything in the event of needing to recover data. The problem is the recovery partition is usually so small that you can't realistically back up a whole lot of user data to it.

In terms of HP's recovery partition, I normally remove the drive letter from the partition and completely ignore it unless I really, really need it for something. Most of the time, though, the HD fails or gets upgraded and I don't go through the trouble of transferring the recovery partition, at which point the recovery option stops working and screams mercilessly at you for breaking it if you try to enter recovery mode.

I'll have to read the rest of your message later, trying to get out of work on time tonight - but these things didn't require a lot of thought since they're stuff I've used/encountered before.


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 Post subject: Re: PC back up routine ?
PostPosted: Fri Jan 17, 2014 5:31 pm 
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For an emergency PC repair you should have:
1) Bootable Windows installation media - if all else fails, you may need to reinstall Windows to bootstrap the process
2) Bootable Windows recovery media (assuming the recovery method you chose isn't available from the installation media)
3) A form of backup available from the recovery media that it understands and can use to build a bootable disk in the state it was at the time of the backup.

Once you get it into a bootable state, if you want to recover the incidental/minor files that have changed since your catastrophic image-ish backup was performed, then you would need to have been performing regular backups (typically this means doing something other than 3 above, but for instance with Acronis an incremental backup is simply appended onto the earlier full image-based backup) and use your backup software to recover those files.

System restore points are fairly worthless in my experience, in theory they can return a running computer into a working computer, but I've never actually seen them do anything except gloss over the underlying problem. It's something to try before resorting to a backup system, but they're not a replacement for it.

In a nutshell that's the complicated method that I use, short the daily backups because the primary role of my PC is to play games and I can just re-download games from Steam. Everything else I care about on it is distributed across the 5 drives in the system, or on my Mac, so in theory if a single drive fails I don't lose anything I care about.


If you're using Windows backup, and are willing to put up with reinstalling Windows, you could simply reinstall Windows and then use Backup to restore everything that's different from your fresh installation. In this instance you would need:
1) Windows install media
2) Backup media (typically a HD of some sort)


Ideally, you should have an off-site component, sure, but that can be as simple as duplicating your backup system to a second set of otherwise-identical media and periodically refreshing them to be current.


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 Post subject: Re: PC back up routine ?
PostPosted: Sun Jan 19, 2014 6:35 pm 
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MonkeyBoy wrote:
I use some product by Acronis that's basically imaging software. It dumps the entire contents of my C: drive into a tightly compressed file on another disk. To recover I need special bootable media (which they can help you create) that boots into an environment that can read all my mounted disks and copy data from the image to my new C: drive. I can select multiple disks and dump them all into the image file, but backing up multi-terabyte disks and the image can get freakin' huge quick. I've used it for testing purposes and even live purposes (moved my Windows install between disks), so I know it works, but I don't use 90% of the features available.

The external drive we purchased has Acronis True Imaging WD edition software. It looks very good. MonkeyBoy do you know if you can clone the system and use daily back ups on the same external drive? It is a 2 TB drive and the computer internal drive is 500gb with only about 100 GB used.
Edit:
It is quite a limited version of the program I now discover. It does allow an upgrade to the full version for $29. I do have another question. In Acronis there are two main pages. One page suggests or prompts you to Back up data and points to "disk and partition backup". The other page shows a "clone disk" option.
1. How are these different?
2. Can they both exist on one external drive?


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 Post subject: Re: PC back up routine ?
PostPosted: Sun Jan 19, 2014 7:55 pm 
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Make regular backups of your important PC files onto your Mac. Nuke-and-repave once Windoze starts acting a bit on the wonky side, and then backup said Windoze files from Mac backup.

-he who stacks pork

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Macintosh Powerbook 180, System 7.1, 100MB HD, 8MB Ram, external 20MB SCSI HD
2009 Surly 1x1 Anniversary Edition Rat Ride, 2016 9:zero:7 SS fatbike, 2014 Borealis Echo, 2013 SS PRC carbon 29er
I enjoy picnics on the beach and prefer my women crazy


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 Post subject: Re: PC back up routine ?
PostPosted: Mon Jan 20, 2014 3:30 pm 
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Cloning is typically used when you're replacing a disk (e.g. moving your boot drive to a new, larger, drive).

Backing up partitions and disks is basically imaging, where it copies data from a disk/partition/disks/partitions into a file. At least if it works similar to the version I have (which I bought quite some time ago, though since Windows 7).

If the Windows installation gets trashed, restoring the Windows installation to a date moments before it trashes itself may not be the greatest plan, however you can dig into the images and just restore select data (e.g. freshly install Windows, then reinstall Acronis, then restore the data you care about from the image). It is rather nice in that respect.

I think the product I bought is True Image Workstation or the successor product to it. It's a client/server product, so I can actually run a server on my PC and run an image backup on a second PC over the network (so the image gets created on my PC, even though the source is a completely different PC). I don't think the more basic versions can do that, but I needed it at the time... and you probably won't need that kind of functionality. Anyway, my point is that I'm running a different flavor, so while there are similarities between your software and mine - there will be differences.


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 Post subject: Re: PC back up routine ?
PostPosted: Tue Jan 21, 2014 4:13 pm 
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when i was working with PCs/Windows at my last job, i would use Hiren's BootCD 10.6 to image computers. it's a bootable windows utility CD. it has lots of great things like a bootable mini windows XP
http://www.hirensbootcd.org/hbcd-v106/ <-scroll to bottom for download. burn .iso

this specific version is the last before they started taking out the useful (licensed) software.
it has acronis and the good version of ghost. yes, it's the licensed versions.
here's the list of backup tools:
    Acronis True Image 8.1.945: Create an exact disk image for complete system backup and disk cloning. (Dos Commercial).
    COPYR.DMA Build013: A Tool for making copies of hard disks with bad sectors (Dos Freeware).
    Double Driver 3.0: Driver Backup and Restore tool (Windows Freeware).
    Drive SnapShot 1.40: Creates an exact Disk Image of your system into a file while windows is running. (Windows Shareware).
    DriveImageXML 2.14: Backup any drive/partition to an image file, even if the drive is currently in use (Windows Freeware).
    DriverBackup! 1.0.3: Another handy tool to backup drivers (Windows Freeware).
    FastCopy 2.01: The Fastest Copy/Delete Software on Windows (Windows Freeware).
    G4L Ghost 4 Linux 0.33a: A hard disk and partition imaging and cloning tool similar to Norton Ghost (Linux Freeware).
    GImageX 2.0.17: ImageX is used to backup/restore WIM images for Windows XP/Vista and Windows 7 (Windows Freeware).
    InfraRecorder 0.50: An Open source CD/DVD burning software, also create/burn .iso images (Windows Freeware).
    Norton Ghost 11.5.1: A hard drive disk imaging utility for Windows which supports Network/USB/SCSI (Windows/Dos Commercial).
    Partition Image: PartImage 0.6.9: Supported filesystem includes Ext2, Ext3, Reiserfs, HFS, HPFS, JFS, Xfs, UFS, Fat16, Fat32 and NTFS. (Linux Freeware).
    Partition Saving 3.80: A tool to backup/restore partitions. (SavePart.exe) (Windows/Dos Freeware).
    RegBak 1.0: A light-weight and simple utility to create backups of Windows registry files (Windows Freeware).
    SelfImage 1.2.1.92: To create image files of any mounted or unmounted hard disk partition. (Windows Freeware).
    Smart Driver Backup 2.12: Easy backup of your Windows device drivers (also works from PE) (Windows Freeware).
    WhitSoft File Splitter 4.5a: A Small File Split-Join Tool (Windows Freeware).

i also have some legitimate serials for 1 year of crashplan home, a cloud backup program, which i got from code42 themselves at a vendor show. i think it's unlimited storage. let me know if you want one of those, i'd be happy to give it to you. you can do web restores on specific files from any computer. the intital upload to the cloud could take a long time though, depending on how fast your upload connection is


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 Post subject: Re: PC back up routine ?
PostPosted: Tue Jan 21, 2014 4:54 pm 
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I imagine that a full restore of data (in the event of complete data loss, like a failed drive) takes a long time as well.

Between the never-increasing data caps by ISPs and net neutrality getting skewered by the courts, I don't know how much longer "cloud" anything is going to survive.


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 Post subject: Re: PC back up routine ?
PostPosted: Tue Jan 21, 2014 5:02 pm 
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"We'll make the cloud so expensive, only the rich will burn candles".


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 Post subject: Re: PC back up routine ?
PostPosted: Wed Jan 22, 2014 12:28 pm 
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Related to this topic. I set up a back up to external USB drive using the Widows 7 Backup and Restore. I scheduled it to run at 3:00 am. The back up did not run at 2:00 am even though it is accurately scheduled. Poking around a bit makes me think that the back up does not run because the computer is sleeping or hibernating and the scheduled back up does note wake the computer. I guess I just need to wake the computer up before it backs up at 2:00 am. Can I fix this somehow using Task Scheduler? How?


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 Post subject: Re: PC back up routine ?
PostPosted: Wed Jan 22, 2014 8:15 pm 
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You can set a job in task scheduler to "wake this computer to run this task" which will take it out of sleep mode. It won't wake it from hibernate, however. One option is to disable hibernate, so it won't ever put itself into that mode. Another is to set the hibernation time at a long enough window that it can't hibernate between you stopping using the system and the backup starting. This may require you to adjust the backup start time.

Windows Backup can run while you're using the system, and except for the first backup it doesn't take long to run, so I wouldn't worry too much about scheduling it to run overnight. In my experience, which admittedly is limited, a normal daily backup can run while you're using the system and you may not even realize its running.


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 Post subject: Re: PC back up routine ?
PostPosted: Thu Jan 23, 2014 1:34 pm 
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MonkeyBoy wrote:
You can set a job in task scheduler to "wake this computer to run this task" which will take it out of sleep mode. It won't wake it from hibernate, however. One option is to disable hibernate, so it won't ever put itself into that mode. Another is to set the hibernation time at a long enough window that it can't hibernate between you stopping using the system and the backup starting. This may require you to adjust the backup start time.

Windows Backup can run while you're using the system, and except for the first backup it doesn't take long to run, so I wouldn't worry too much about scheduling it to run overnight. In my experience, which admittedly is limited, a normal daily backup can run while you're using the system and you may not even realize its running.

Thanks MB!
I got it to work the way I want. I had to do two things.
1) Use Task Scheduler to Modify the Windows backup schedule that is automatically created when you select the schedule back up button. Select the box that says "wake the computer to run this task". (Actually you have to select the windows backup folder in left column under "Task Library/Microsoft/Windows". In the middle column right click on the back up schedule that was auto created and select "properties". In the following window that opens select the conditions tab and make sure "wake the computer to run this task" is selected). see pic 1.
2) Modify" Power options" to enable "wake timers" in sleep option section. see pic 2.
Pic 1.
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Capture2.PNG [ 165.05 KiB | Viewed 2825 times ]

Pic 2.
Attachment:
Capture.PNG
Capture.PNG [ 135.22 KiB | Viewed 2825 times ]


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 Post subject: Re: PC back up routine ?
PostPosted: Thu Jan 23, 2014 4:48 pm 
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Hmm, normally Wake timers is enabled, that's why I ignored it.

If your computer goes into Hibernate mode, it is for all intents and purposes turned off, and nothing short of pressing the power button will wake it. That's why I assumed you were dealing with Hibernate (which is usually set to a fairly short delay). In Pic 2 it's just one +/- above the wake timers.

When a PC is in S3 power save it's using a very limited amount of power, usually around a couple watts, whereas Hibernate is zero (or at least as close to zero as it can get).


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