Learn how to a build a cloud-first strategyRegister Now

x
?
Solved

Near Disaster XP Restore

Posted on 2004-11-18
10
Medium Priority
?
423 Views
Last Modified: 2016-10-27
I thought I had the perfect backup strategy for Windows, but it failed.  XP crashed 4 days ago, and it has taken me this long to recover.  I need a backup strategy "guaranteed" to restore my hard disk in less than two hours.

Here is what I have:  Windows XP, fully updated, running on an eMachines T2698 desktop with backup on an external hard drive via a USB interface.  I'm running Acronis True Image 7.0 for an automatic nightly backup of the entire C partition to the external drive.  I supplement this with hourly updates of "My Documents" using Second Copy, and a nightly offsite backup of this and some other critical folders using Data-Insure Online.  I'm happy with all but the reliability of the C-partition backup.

Here is the problem.  What should have been a quick "load a rescue disk and restore the C image" to the new drive, failed for reasons unknown.  Trying to boot from the restored image got as far as the Windows logo, but no user icons, no error message, and no response to anything but a power-off reset, which would only come back to the same hung state.   What finally worked is using a friend's CD to install a fresh copy of XP, then using the Acronis Restore Image command to delete that copy and restore my backup image from the external disk.  The XP CD was in the drive during the entire procedure, so maybe it "blessed" the restored image, and avoided whatever made it hang before.  Note:  The Acronis Restore Image command reboots the machine and runs independent of Windows, so that it supposedly can restore everything, including Microsoft's secret copy protection gimmicks.  ( I've been told that some of this obfuscation is actually outside of the partition, but that seems impossible.)

I worry that this "bootleg" recovery procedure won't work on the next incident, assuming Microsoft is making continuing efforts to defeat this kind of copying.  I appreciate their worry about piracy, but I resent that it impacts my ability to keep a legitimate backup of my entire system.  I see in their article 314070 that they want us to use NTbackup to avoid "problems" with registry keys, HAL files, etc. etc.  Presumably, they will keep NTbackup "in sync" with these copy protection schemes, but I just don't trust a program from a company that has conflicts over providing a simple, reliable backup program.  On the other hand, my recent experience with True Image has made me worry that all non-Microsoft programs risk being defeated as the copy protection gets ever more sophisticated.  And I won't know that there is a problem until I need to do a restore!  True Image restore worked perfectly in a test I did when I first installed it.

I'm going to try running both NTbackup and True Image.  If each has 90% reliability, that will get me to an acceptable 99.  I give each program only 90%, because the complexity of NTbackup means I might not get it set up properly, and the simplicity of True Image won't help if Microsoft slips in some trick that Acronis can't keep up with.

Suggestions would be greatly appreciated.  Reliability of the restore is my over-riding concern.

-- Dave
0
Comment
Question by:macquigg
9 Comments
 
LVL 97

Assisted Solution

by:Lee W, MVP
Lee W, MVP earned 450 total points
ID: 12620449
Backup the System state using NT Backup.  With that, you can restore your Windows directory, including registry and other important files.  Then keep doing your other backups as you have been and I'd suspect you'll be just fine should this happen again.  (SYSTEM STATE is CRUCIAL!)
0
 
LVL 6

Expert Comment

by:davexnet
ID: 12620506
Wow.  Using the Acronis rescue disk to restore your partition should have worked.
That's a little disconcerting.  I'd get in touch with Acronis.

It might have been worth while (after your restored XP wouldn't boot properly) to boot up to the recovery
console and running chkdsk.   Water under the bridge now.

Dave

0
 
LVL 1

Accepted Solution

by:
ajschw earned 300 total points
ID: 12620711
i've hever heard of Acronis before...have you ever used Norton Ghost? I've never had a problem restoring an image from ghost, and i've had to do it a few times ;) that's interesting that it didn't work...
0
 
LVL 9

Expert Comment

by:tosh9iii
ID: 12621636
0
 

Author Comment

by:macquigg
ID: 12629850
>> leew 11/18:   (SYSTEM STATE is CRUCIAL!)
I've been assuming that the state of the OS is completely contained within the partition, and that a byte-for-byte copy will be the same.  I know that it is technically possible to put some information into a boot record, the CMOS memeory, or other places within the computer.  But I think if Microsoft were doing that, it would screw up *all* non-MS backup programs.  I keep hearing rumors, however.  Does anyone here have a definite answer?  It might also be that the restore failed because the new disk was different.  But in that case, I would expect not a hung system, but a sensible error message, like "We suspect you are trying to steal this software.  If this copy is legit, click here to re-register."

Meanwhile, I *will* use NTbackup to at least capture the "System State" (414MB on my machine).  Can anyone tell me how to run this automatically?  The scheduler in NTbackup puts the jobs on the calendar, but they never run!  Yes, I did see the footnote in the Help screen about starting the Task Scheduler.  It seems to be running.  At least, I do see the status of the Task Scheduler as "Started" in the listing under Computer Management - Services.  I can run the jobs manually with no problem.

>> ajschw 11/18:  I've hever heard of Acronis before...have you ever used Norton Ghost? I've never had a problem restoring an image from ghost, and i've had to do it a few times ;)
Acronis got the top ranking from PC magazine.  I chose it over Ghost, because Ghost required manual backups.  I've never been successful at getting people, including myself, to run manual backups as often as they should.  Is there a way to set up Ghost using the Task Scheduler?  I think the problem may be that you have to shut down Windows in order to capture everything, including open system files.  Acronis claims to get around this by temporarily "freezing" the IO to these files until the copy is complete.  There is more discussion at  http://www.acronis.com/company/inpress/2003/01-ctr-disk-imaging.html

-- Dave
0
 
LVL 97

Assisted Solution

by:Lee W, MVP
Lee W, MVP earned 450 total points
ID: 12629981
If you look at the properties of the task in Scheduled Tasks, the command it uses and you would use should be there.
0
 

Author Comment

by:macquigg
ID: 12630832
Ah, I see the confusion.  I was stuck on the "Scheduled Job Options" dialog in the Backup Utility, instead of All Programs -> Accessories -> System Tools -> Scheduled Tasks.  I see there is a lot more control via the "Scheduled Tasks" dialog.   There are so many tricks with a program of this complexity, that I worry I'll miss something critical, and my restored image will be no good.  I'll have to do a "fire drill" with a newly installed disk to ensure this works, and then repeat the drill once a month to make sure nothing has changed in XP which would make my initial setup wrong.

One last question.  If I do a restore with both a full-disk image AND a System State restore, there could be a conflict between different versions of the same file in each backup.  I assume the proper procedure will be to restore the full image first, then restore the System State files on top of that.  Is that the right procedure?

-- Dave
0
 

Author Comment

by:macquigg
ID: 12739115
Does anyone want to take a last crack at this question before I close it?  I've got essentially the same setup as I started with, except I'm running NTbackup in addition to True Image.  My confidence in recovery from the next crash is still low.

One more last question :>)  I'm keeping a separate partition on a second drive, where I can restore images from my external drive.  ( This is not a complete "fire drill" restore, because that would involve changing drives, but it is easy to include in my regular schedule, and hopefully will detect problems in the backup images before I need them.)  I've been told by a local expert (the one who helped me restore my system) that keeping another copy of XP on a separate partition is dangerous, because Microsoft then uses that extra partition to store critical files from your primary partition, making images of the primary partition likely to fail when restored.  This sounds like paranoia to me, but can anyone confirm or rebut this allegation?

-- Dave
0
 

Author Comment

by:macquigg
ID: 12915164
I'm a little disappionted we couldn't get a more definitive answer, but the answers I got were valuable, so I will divy up the points.  Meanwhile, I have switched to Norton Ghost.  ( The newest version *does* support scheduled backups :>)  I also ran a complete "fire drill" restore to a separate hard disk.  This went a lot more smoothly than my recent experience with a real crash, but still had a few glitches.  The Master Boot Record needed to be separately restored.  The drive letters were all messed up.  The system time was moved ahead a few hours.  Other than that it went smoothly.

-- Dave
0
Question has a verified solution.

If you are experiencing a similar issue, please ask a related question

Adoption of Microsoft’s Enterprise Mobility and Security solution and Office 365 will re-order the File Sync and Share market Microsoft has stated that its Enterprise Mobility + Security (EMS) is the fastest growing product in the history of the …
The recent Petya-like ransomware attack served a big blow to hundreds of banks, corporations and government offices The Acronis blog takes a closer look at this damaging worm to see what’s behind it – and offers up tips on how you can safeguard your…
Two types of users will appreciate AOMEI Backupper Pro: 1 - Those with PCIe drives (and haven't found cloning software that works on them). 2 - Those who want a fast clone of their boot drive (no re-boots needed) and it can clone your drive wh…
As many of you are aware about Scanpst.exe utility which is owned by Microsoft itself to repair inaccessible or damaged PST files, but the question is do you really think Scanpst.exe is capable to repair all sorts of PST related corruption issues?
Suggested Courses

810 members asked questions and received personalized solutions in the past 7 days.

Join the community of 500,000 technology professionals and ask your questions.

Join & Ask a Question