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Software testing Hard drive/partition fast mirroring

Posted on 2004-08-31
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We have a situation here. We have to test 50 software installations on Windows. We wish to test them on fresh installations of Windows 98 and XP (FAT). Please let us know the steps or techniques for creating a mirror partition for both so that we do not waste much time between two tests. The worst I consider is a total reformat and re-installation of both OS for each software pack, which here I guess is out of question. Experts please advice.
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Question by:SandeepThite
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kronostm earned 500 total points
ID: 11949599
Well ... you should install once and then clone the partition.          After one test is over, you delete the partition and reload the config as new from the copy. You'll need a separate partition where to store the file with the image of the windows installation(s).

Here's a bunch of software to clone&backup an existing working partition.


     Drive Imaging
Reviews By PC Magazine June 17, 2003
At some point, you may need to preserve your entire hard drive exactly as it is—byte for byte. Drive-imaging software does exactly that: It saves a snapshot of every bit of information on a drive or partition so you can restore the system to an identical state. But beware: The product you choose may not work well with your CD-RW drive. We ran into some compatibility problems during testing. Fortunately, each of the programs in this roundup has a money-back guarantee. So be sure to give the software a test run as soon as you buy it.

Drive Image
http://www.powerquest.com/driveimage/
PowerQuest has clearly put a lot of effort into making Drive Image 2002 easy to use. When you launch the program, a straight forward wizard walks you through the process of either creating a backup of your hard drive or restoring it, detailing each step of the process.

Norton Ghost
http://www.symantec.com/sabu/ghost/ghost_personal/
The most impressive aspects of Norton Ghost 2003 are its advanced features and versatile functions in a business setting, where you might need to set up hundreds of systems using the same hard drive image.

*Acronis TrueImage
http://www.acronis.com/products/trueimage/
Acronis TrueImage 6.0 has an interface that makes it an ideal solution for users with basic drive-imaging needs and a desire for simplicity. The wizard for backing up a hard drive is extremely intuitive; it lets you back up partitions of a hard drive to another partition on the same drive or to optical media. Unlike Drive Image and Ghost, TrueImage does not require exclusive access to the file system to make a copy of all files. And whereas other programs require you to reboot into DOS mode to complete most operations, TrueImage needs to leave Windows only to restore a hard drive.

not reviewed by PC Magazine

Casper XP
is the next generation of Drive2Drive, designed exclusively for Windows XP and Windows 2000 systems.
http://www.fssdev.com/products/casperxp/

Drive2Drive (Win 95, 98, ME)
makes upgrading to a new hard disk faster and easier than ever.
http://www.fssdev.com/products/drive2drive/
==================================

     Traditional Backup
Reviews By PC Magazine June 17, 2003
The programs in this section can back up data, files, and even your entire system—applications and all—to CD-Rs or other types of media. Backups can be performed on demand or scheduled to occur at any convenient time. Between full backups, you can copy additional files using differential or incremental backups. This is the most comprehensive tactic, but because it requires the most discipline, you should also consider the approaches in the other sections.

BackUp MyPC
www.stompinc.com
Stomp's BackUp MyPC 4.85 —formerly Veritas Backup Exec Desktop— is a full-featured solution with multiple methods for backing up and restoring files. The fastest and easiest method is the One-Button Backup, which handles all your hard drives and critical system files such as the Registry. For a more hands-on approach, use BackUp MyPC's detailed wizards.

NTI Backup NOW! Deluxe  
http://www.ntibackupnow.com/default.asp
NTI Backup NOW! Deluxe 3.0 is easy to use and powerful. To back up or restore your data, you follow a simple wizard. The program's scheduling options are the most thorough in the group, even letting you choose specific days of the week or month for backups.

*Retrospect Professional
www.dantz.com
Retrospect Professional is the most expensive product in this group. But for the extra money, you get advanced options such as disk cloning, scripting, and open file backup, plus the best interface and scheduling tools here. Although this wealth of options makes Retrospect the best choice for advanced users, novices are likely to find it overwhelming.

WinBackup
http://www.liutilities.com/products/winbackup/
At first glance, WinBackup appears to be well designed, with useful options and a simple interface. Unfortunately, the program was too slow when backing up, writing to our CD-RW drive at a much slower rate than the drive supports.
==================================

     Online Backup Services
Reviews By PC Magazine June 17, 2003
When you think of backing up data, CD-RWs and tape drives probably come to mind. But online backup services have become a reliable alternative. In choosing a service, you do have to consider such criteria as speeds and scheduling capabilities, since you'll be transferring large amounts of data over your Internet connection.

@Backup
www.backup.com
Although the interface looks a bit primitive, @Backup is very easy to use. You simply right-click on a folder or a file—say, a Word document on your desktop—and add it to your backup schedule.

IBackup
www.ibackup.com
If you're thirsting for a feature-rich backup service, try IBackup. This service is set apart by an extensive set of tools and wizards, which guide novices easily through backing up data, restoring files, and scheduling backups.

*Connected TLM
www.connected.com
Like @Backup, Connected TLM was one of the first online backup services. And the experience shows. Our initial backup took only 1 minute 40 seconds, and the restore time was a blazing 56 seconds. Connected also has excellent scheduling options.

OnlineBackupCenter
OnlineBackupCenter.com
OnlineBackupCenter is loaded with features; it offers scheduling, filters, wizards, and three types of encryption. But we were disappointed by its speeds. Backing up and restoring files took over an hour, compared with about a minute using @Backup or Connected.
==================================

     Real-Time Backup
Reviews By PC Magazine June 17, 2003
Most backup tools work on a schedule or on demand. What if something happens to the files you are currently working on? Imagine you've spent hours editing an important document and suddenly there's a power outage. That won't be a problem if you're using a real-time backup solution. Such products back up your files as they are being modified—and take very little in the way of system resources to run seamlessly in the background.

*Iomega Automatic Backup
http://www.iomega.com/na/landing.jsp
Iomega Automatic Backup is well designed, simple and flexible. The most reliable approach is to set it so that it manages backups without any user input, backing up files as you edit them. Data can be saved to another system, a network drive, or even a folder on the same computer. (Backing up to the same system is not the best idea, since you'll lose your data and the backups if the computer or hard drive fails.)

AutoSave
http://www.v-com.com/product/as_ind.html
Although AutoSave doesn't have quite as polished an interface, the program is still quite easy to use. By default, it automatically backs up files every time they are modified. A host of options let you exclude specific file extensions, enable backing up files that are currently opened, and perform extensive validity checks on the consistency of the backup database, among other things.
==================================

     Other Backup Tools
Reviews By PC Magazine June 17, 2003
The needs of computer users vary greatly, even when it comes to backup. Fortunately, companies that create backup solutions offer a variety of approaches, from letting you back up to a remote online server to backing up your data in real time. Here are a few backup tools that don't fit into the standard

Argentum Backup
www.argentuma.com
Argentum Backup is a good choice if you're looking for a very basic, hassle-free way to back up while using only a minimum of system resources. This very tiny utility saves backups in ZIP format to minimize file size. Argentum Backup includes templates that help you back up your e-mail messages and contacts database. The program also backs up important system information, such as the Registry and shell settings. To back up data, you define data sets and schedule each set to be backed up on a monthly, weekly, or daily basis. You can also opt to back up these sets manually. Unlike the traditional backup programs, Argentum Backup can't back up directly to CD and DVD burners.

Second Copy
http://www.centered.com/
Second Copy can back up your data to any local or network hard drive for safekeeping, but like Argentum Backup, it doesn't natively back up to removable storage media. The interface is somewhat primitive, although the wizard simplifies the process of backing up information. The wizard helps you create a profile for each backup session so that when you need to view or revert back to old files, you can quickly find and access the appropriate data by clicking on the profiles.

ABSplus
http://www.cmsproducts.com/product_abs_software.htm
ABSplus 5.0 bundles a portable 20GB or larger hard drive and a backup utility. ABS doesn't use any compression technology, so you get a 1:1 ratio. The software supports a host of features, such as scheduling, file filters, and validity checks. You can obtain other features, including synchronizing and versioning, by upgrading to ABS Pro for an additional cost.
==================================



I personally recommend Norton Ghost or Drive image from Power quest
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by:aspirine
ID: 11949626
testing a software twice in the same OS with the same hardware configuration is a total waste of time
but if you do want to do it, the faster way would be doing a fresh install of the OS, then backing up the entire OS, you can use a drive mirroring program such as:

http://www.drive-backup.com/ (Paragon's drive backup)
http://www.symantec.com/sabu/ghost/ghost_personal/ (Norton ghost)

Then you just need to test your software and revert to the backup when you're done testing
Alternatively, you could use a hard drive freezing program, that would let you revert to the fresh install as soon as the computer was rebooted, not storing changes you did before
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by:aspirine
ID: 11949635
woops, I didn't refresh before commenting :)
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Complete Microsoft Windows PC® & Mac Backup

Backup and recovery solutions to protect all your PCs & Mac– on-premises or in remote locations. Acronis backs up entire PC or Mac with patented reliable disk imaging technology and you will be able to restore workstations to a new, dissimilar hardware in minutes.

 

Expert Comment

by:frustrationtoo
ID: 12189326
I see everyone recommending Power Quest products, but it appears Symantec has bought them out. I've relied on Power Quest since Win95 was new. They always had the best manuals with step-by-step instructions and all bases covered. And, if you needed to call, you actually got someone who knew more than you did. Symantec is notorious for inadequate help, information, and support. Has that changed any recently?
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by:kronostm
ID: 12397677
Well .... how many options are there anyway ? :)
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by:Luc Franken
ID: 12405164
kronostm,
Way too many :o)

SandeepThite,
Thanks for returning, you might want to let us all know what exactly you decided to do, so we know how to help others even better in the future.

LucF
EE Cleanup Volunteer
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