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Simple Compressionless Backup Solution?

I work in a computer repair shop.  One of the most time consuming tasks I perform is removing a customer's hard drive, connecting it to another computer, backing up all the data, then formating and reloading the drive (unless the drive is failing in which case I install a new drive and try to recover the data from the old one).  

Their are a few different methods I use to get this done.  I don't like any of them:

1) I connect the drive to another computer and copy the data using "xcopy olddrive:\*.* localdrive:\backup\ /s/e/v/c/h/y".
2) I use OnTrack's EasyRecovery software to select the folders/files I want to backup.
3) I clone the drive using Norton Ghost, then reconnect the cloned drive after the format/reload and copy the data with 1) or 2).

I don't like the xcopy method because it is time consuming, it copies many files I don't need, and requires that I go into each user account to delete the Temporary Internet Files so it doesn't give me an "Insufficient Memory Error" in the middle of the copy.  I don't like the OnTrack method, because in many cases it dumps a bunch of otherwise perfectly copyable files into a huge LOSTFILE folder for no reason whatsoever.

What I do like about the xcopy method is that it tends to insure that I get all of the customer's data backed up.  What I REALLY like about the OnTrack method, is that it gives me a directory tree to select the files I want and don't want, and allows me to recover data from problematic hard drives.  What I like about both is that they do not require compression/decompression and copy the files as is.

I know there is a better way to get done what I have been doing for years the long and laborious way.  I know the experts here can help!

Thank you in advance.
3 Solutions
if their system isn't functional, or they don't have a cd/dvd burner, i hook up their drive to a (win2000) system that has a burner, and i backup their data directly to cd or dvd. i don't monkey around with copying stuff to the other system's hard drive, making an image, etc..  if the work is due to a failing hard drive, i will attempt to make an image of the whole drive first, to try to keep their existing windows install and data completely intact.

because data could be *anywhere* on their drive, i weed through all the common (and some not-so-common) locations and drag-n-drop them right into the cd layout, then i do searches for common document filetypes for anything i might have missed. if i'm reinstalling anyway, i'll take ownership of any protected directories so i can access the files inside them.  if the reinstall involves a regular installation and not a 'recovery' cd, i'll fetch the necessary drivers, unzip them and stick them on the cd too.

by putting stuff right onto cd or dvd, i get the temporary backup i need to restore the data to their system after reinstall, and the customer gets a complete backup of all their data files on cd or dvd, which is something they all appreciate getting (and most have never had one before).

so i guess i do it the 'long way' too, but it is the only way to ensure you don't miss anything important.
"I know there is a better way to get done what I have been doing for years the long and laborious way.  I know the experts here can help!"

Sorry to burst your bubble, friend, but I too do this every day, and I have used EVERYTHING imaginable, from tape to Ghost to Acronis, to OnTrack, you name it, I have tried it, and NONE are more efficient than xcopy.

Here is what you do -- 1. flag certain directories to delete before you start the xcopy -- (a) Local settings/temp, and Temp internet files, and even the pagefile.sys, you can get rid of 5 GB of useless files in 30 seconds with a good "hit list", which is common to all users.  In Mozilla Firefox, kill the cache, in IE, there are 3 lists of temp internet files to kill.

Once you do this, a simple XCOPY D:\*.* E:\ /r/h/k/s/e/c  will get everything cloned 100% flawless, and it takes just about the same time it takes you to clean up their system and get the hardware ready for the new drive.  Sorry to tell you, there is no mor efficent way.  I see people waste hours with ghost trying to recover drive setup and make the SID correct again, and it is all blown away by xcopy, which works while you do work, have lunch, whatever.
Hi ,  Hillyman
You certainly have to try an excellent hard-disk clonig tool XXCOPY.

good luck

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