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Formating and Restoring Previous Image of Computer

Posted on 2010-01-05
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Last Modified: 2012-05-08
I had raised this question previously, but it seems that I've found a different answer to my question.

Using Windows Vista, I've done a complete image backup of my laptop, say on the 1st of December. I performed installations, surfed the web, ammended certain files etc. I then deleted certain files, but did not clear my recycle bin. I then formated my hard disk, and then performed a restoration of the 1st December's image.
After it was completed I logged in, and found that in my re-cycle bin, the files I had deleted were still there. But the rest of the programs had been reverted to the 1st of December's image.

How is this so?
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Question by:ben1211
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by:torimar
ID: 26187701
The only explanation is that you must be mistaken in some way. The files in the recycle-bin must needs have been deleted before or on Dec 1, and then were included into the image.
Even without reformatting, restoring an image will overwrite all files on the partition. But you also formatted, so it is twice impossible that files survived clearly and visibly.

With which tool did you make the image?
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by:nobus
ID: 26188408
agreed, looks impossible to me too.
there is a slight chance things would show on a partially bad disk (which would have a corrupt file system) but then you should have other problems as well.
you can always test your disk, find the diag here : http://www.tacktech.com/display.cfm?ttid=287
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by:nobus
ID: 26188410
unless the recycle bin is on another disk, or partition ??
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by:torimar
ID: 26188808
"unless the recycle bin is on another disk, or partition ??"

True. Every partition/drive has its own recycle bin, which, I assume, will be reflected in the recycle bin on the desktop. So if the files were deleted on another partition (Drive D:, E:, F: etc), one that wasn't formatted/restored, and only the system partition was formatted/restored, then the bin on the desktop will, I assume, contain those files deleted on another partition *before* restoring the image.
A strange scenario which never happened nor occurred to me, but thinkable, I guess.
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by:ben1211
ID: 26197868
Well I'm rather certain of what I did. There's only 1 partition - C:\

I used Windows Vista to perform an image backup of the entire laptop on the 1st of December.

on the 4th of January in the morning, I deleted certain files but didn't clear the recycle bin.

I then performed a format of the hard disk, using the Windows Vista CD.

After that I restored the 1st December image.

And I found the deleted files in the recycle bin.

I myself was shocked, which caused me to post this question. I know its impossible.
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by:nobus
ID: 26199046
then the only option i see is some weird disk problem
test it with the diag you need from :  http://www.tacktech.com/display.cfm?ttid=287
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by:torimar
ID: 26199094
As a test, this whole procedure could be repeated.
This time use some proper third-party tool for formatting, like GParted, for instance.
I recommend the Parted Magic Live CD (www.partedmagic.com).

Also, what did you use to make the image? Was it, by any chance, DriveImage XML?
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by:nobus
ID: 26201096
i can only add that formatting a disk does not erase data, it only clears the Fat tables, so everything still exists on the disk after formatting.
however, the image should have overwritten everything
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by:ben1211
ID: 26290475
I used the Windows Vista CD to do the formating and to backup the image of the laptop, I also used Windows Vista's Backup and Maintenance.
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by:ben1211
ID: 26290486
Nobus, you mentioned that formatting a disk, doesn't erase data.I have a third party tool called Eraser. There is an option there which says "Erase Unused Space". Does this wipe out all data from the disk whereby it become unretrievabl?.
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by:torimar
ID: 26290848
Formatting does not delete files, only the file allocation table and master file tables. Hence it makes files irretrievable via normal means, and it also marks the space those files held 'unused' so it may be overwritten. As long as that doesn't happen, files may be recovered on formatted drives.

Erase Unused Space will do just what it says: it will make sure that the space marked as not taken by data is actually overwritten. This will not wipe a disk though. If you wish to clean wipe a complete disk before reinstalling, or before selling it (!!), you need to use some secure erase program like HDD Wipe Tool, for instance: http://hddguru.com/content/en/software/2006.04.13-HDD-Wipe-Tool/
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by:nobus
nobus earned 400 total points
ID: 26291055
above is correct.
personally i use bcwipe  for erasing  free space : http://www.jetico.com/
and for complete disk erasure, you can write zero's to the whole disk with the manufacturer's diak diag, or use DBAN :  http://dban.sourceforge.net/
also found on UBCD
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by:ben1211
ID: 26292076
Torimar,

I'm sorry for the dumb questions, but I need further explanation. So Erase Unused Space will make sure the space that is marked as not taken is overwritten. Now what does HDD Wipe do? Does it wipe out the entire disk, including the areas where my Windows and data is residing, or will it only wipe out the places that are marked as unused?

From the website that you gave me, there's also another tool called Low Level Format Tool. So what is the difference between HDD Wipe Tool and the Low Level format tool?

Assuming I used the HDD Wipe Tool and it wipes clean my entire hard disk, including whatever I have installed. And then I re-apply the image of the hard disk that I had previously. This would mean that I'm back at square one, as if I hadn't run the HDD Wipe Tool on my hard disk, correct?
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by:ben1211
ID: 26292090
Torimar,

You gave me a website called (www.partedmagic.com) What is the difference between Parted Magic and HDD Wipe Tool?
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by:torimar
ID: 26292336
The HDD Wipe tool (and all similar tools) will completely clean erase a drive. No data, not even empty partitions will be left. Nothing.

There is hardly a difference between HDD Wipe and the Low Level formatting tool; in fact, you may use any one of them for the purpose. If I'm not completely mistaken, Low Level Format Tool is simply the new name (from version 2.21 on) of what once used to be the HDD Wipe Tool. The reason why both are offered for download may be backward compatibility for bookmarks. Since these are freeware tools, sometimes another developer takes over and changes the name.

Parted Magic is a complete operating system, not just a tool. It comes with practically all the good Linux tools for disk maintenance, data recovery and backup preinstalled. It also has some disk erasers. I recommended Parted Magic to you because I simply don't trust the Microsoft Fdisk tools that come on the Windows installations CDs. MS fdisk only formats partitions visible to Windows; it does not detect or format hidden partitions or those with non-MS filesystems. So its always better to use a third party software, and GParted (which comes on Parted Magic or other Linux CDs) is the best free one.


"Assuming I used the HDD Wipe Tool and it wipes clean my entire hard disk, including whatever I have installed. And then I re-apply the image of the hard disk that I had previously. This would mean that I'm back at square one, as if I hadn't run the HDD Wipe Tool on my hard disk, correct?"

Correct.
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by:nobus
ID: 26294200
i just spotted this :
>>  I used the Windows Vista CD to do the formating and to backup the image of the laptop, I also used Windows Vista's Backup and Maintenance.   <<   are you sure it is an image ??

normally, ghost, or Acronis true image, or clonezilla is used for that
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by:ben1211
ID: 26299248
Hi Torimar...thanks for the explanation. Much appreciated.

I installed HDD Wipe on my laptop, and so if I want to format or wipe out my local hard disk, it has to be done while Windows is running? Correct?

PartedMagic you mentioned is Linux based. I haven't burnt it on a CD yet, but can I use this to format my HDD running on Windows Vista?

Hi Nobus....well according to  Windows Vista Ultimate, under Backup and Maintenance, you have an option to create an image of your computer. I've formated the disk before and then done a complete PC restore using the image that was backed-up. I believe its an image backup, as what it says.
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torimar earned 1600 total points
ID: 26300625
1.) No, HDDWipe will not be able to wipe the disk that it is run from: it would have to remove itself. If you wish to erase your system disk you will have to run it from bootable media. Windows bootable media like BartPE or UBCD4Win are a pain to create, so I suggest you turn to tools that already come in a bootable form.
Download this tool: http://cmrr.ucsd.edu/people/Hughes/SecureErase.shtml
You will find a .iso image inside that you may burn to a CD using ImgBurn (www.imgburn.com). Then boot your system off that CD.

Another good option would be to get the Ultimate Boot CD: www.myubcd.com. Choose version 5 RC. This is a bootable with masses of free tools, amongst which you will find wipe tools as well in the HDD section.

2.) Yes, you can use the GParted partition manager on the Parted Magic CD to do all your required partitioning now and in the future.

3.) PLEASE NOTE: Do not use any partitioning or wipe software before this point has been made clear!
I asked you twice what imaging software you had used, and I thought this question was left unanswered. Good job nobus spotted your answers. I admit I had already forgotten that Vista offers this backup image feature. I never used it (because I tend to shun MS software in general), and I cannot tell you what it does and what it doesn't. You are in fact the first person I meet who used it. And as we all know, in your case something must have gone wrong either with backing up or with restoring.
So before you completely delete your present OS, please make sure you have a proper image. Nobus already mentioned Acronis and Ghost as imaging software, they cost money though. Clonezilla is free but not intuitive for beginners. If you want to try a very easy to use free software, take a look at ToDoBackup: www.todobackup.com. You will have to create a bootable CD in the Tools menu, because otherwise you will not be able to restore an image.
I suggest you use the bootable CD for creating the image as well, this will make sure all your hardware is supported and restoring will be a breeze.

Note 2: If you use proper partitioning and imaging software, there will be no need to take the pains and wipe/erase your HDD before restoring an image.
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by:ben1211
ID: 26300855
Torimar, have you used clonezilla? Assuming I used it to create an image, and if I wanted to format my HDD and then reapply the image, I would first need to install clonezilla in order to restore my image, correct?
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by:torimar
ID: 26300866
If you want to try CloneZilla, simply use the Parted Magic CD: CloneZilla is on there (icon on desktop), next to some other Linux based backup/image tools.
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by:torimar
ID: 26300872
You never install CloneZilla, you always use it on bootable media.
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by:ben1211
ID: 26301185
Torimar,

The tools that you've advised me on are mainly Linux based, including clonezilla. I unzipped the zipped version and saw that its mostly Linux files. How do I use this to format my laptop and then install my Windows Vista? Or to restore an image.

Are the HDD Wipe Tools from www.myubcd.com good? Do they really clean up and wipe out all data making it irretrievable?

I checked out todobackup, I couldn't find a cloning backup software.
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by:torimar
torimar earned 1600 total points
ID: 26301242
1. I did not recommend CloneZilla, nobus did. I'd expect you to run into difficulties with CloneZilla, that's why I recommended ToDoBackup.

2. Todobackup is appropriate for you and it does images. I mistyped the URL though: needs to be www.todo-backup.com. Sorry for that.

3. All the Linux tools mentioned by me are accessible via the Parted Magic live boot CD. Burn the iso image to CD (using "Imgburn", for instance: www.imgburn.com), then boot your laptop with it and see for yourself.

4. The wipe tools on the UBCD should be good and sufficient for the purposes talked about here (you don't even need them if you format with GParted and make a proper image with a proper imaging software).
Only if you need to erase a hard drive that contains sensitive and top secret data (before throwing away the drive or selling it, for example) will you need more advanced tools; in that case consider using http://cmrr.ucsd.edu/people/Hughes/SecureErase.shtml
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by:nobus
ID: 26301389
correction ; i posted :  normally, ghost, or Acronis true image, or clonezilla is used for that

meaning you can use it to make an image of an existing OS -  and restore it later on the disk
note that you copy all problems with it...
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by:ben1211
ID: 26309795
Hi Torimar,

My apologies if I'm annoying with my million questions. Is the HDD Wipe Tool and Low Level Format good software? Do they remove totally all traces of data from the Hard Disk? Between HDD Wipe tool and http://cmrr.ucsd.edu/people/Hughes/SecureErase.shtml, which would you recommend for erasing and formating all data from the disk?

Secondly, I used the HDD Wipe tool which I installed on my laptop. I used it on my local disk where Windows etc is installed. It wiped out everything. When I rebooted the laptop, obviously it couldn't boot. So I used my Vista CD and re-applied the image I had previously.

But the point is, I was able to wipe out my local HDD with the wipe out tool.

Do let me know your recommendations between this software. Is HDD WIPE Tool a good software compared to http://cmrr.ucsd.edu/people/Hughes/SecureErase.shtm?
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by:torimar
ID: 26309937
Both are good software.
HDDGuru is a very good address for things hard drive related. Their tools are solid and time-proven.
The Wipe tool uses the older "Block Erase and Wipe" technology which basically overwrites sectors of the HDD by sequences of random or given data.
The HDDErase tool (which is the one on http://cmrr.ucsd.edu) was sponsored by the NSA and first introduced to the public on the HDDGuru forums as well; it uses a more modern approach by applying a "Secure Erase" command that is built right into the hard drive itself. This works for modern SATA and PATA drives from ~ 15-20 GB size on. If you have a supported drive (which you will, I'm sure) this SATA-SE technique has a slight advantage over the older Block Erase technique.

But there is nothing that would force you to run only one of those tools; if your HDD contains very sensitive highly classified data, simply use them both. First wipe the drive with HDDWipe, once it's been cleaned, boot off the HDDErase CD and apply that as well. This is double security.

If you cannot use both tools, or don't want to, I'd personally go for HDDErase.
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by:nobus
ID: 26311740
i used Dban, and it works well too.
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