Cloning Solution for Windows XP

Posted on 2013-11-19
Last Modified: 2013-11-21
I am looking for a full bit bit cloning software.  The scenario is this.  I am running some legacy software an an old XP computer, which is crucial for the business.  I want minimal interruption to the business operations.   If the hard drive crashes, I want the ability to boot from the external clone, which is an external USB HDD, and allow XP to boot from that device as if it was the internal original hard drive which just crashed.   This way all I need to do is possibly make a change to the startup sequence in BIOS, then boot from the external so as to continue running the important software.   Of course when possible I would replace the internal crashed hard drive with a new one, and then 'clone' the external to the internal one.  

The cloning software (not imaging software) must have the ability to update the clone every so often, on schedule, say every night at 9 pm etc..
Question by:100questions
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Author Comment

ID: 39659129

Expert Comment

ID: 39659149
If you are looking to ensure hardware reliability (IE. prevent HDD crashes), then a RAID system would be ideal. It provides realtime redundancy between disks, which ensures that if 1 (or more) disks fail the system will continue to function as per normal. The most robust of these (the one that I run recommend for crucial business systems) is RAID 6, which uses 4 drives, any 2 of which can fail and the system will continue to function normally.

If you prefer you can use other types of RAID which requires less (or more) drives, which can be a factor if the number of available drives is an issue.

Also, I recommend using an SSD with a large RAM cache, as this prevents frequent reads/writes to the drive. Given the fact that you're running legacy software (likely not large storage size), this would be ideal as it basically preserves the drive by only writing out the cache very infrequently.

However, sync is not backup, and this system does not replace your conventional backup. As far as imaging programs go, for legacy systems (XP and below) I use Symantec's GHOST utility, which works beautifully.
LVL 88

Expert Comment

ID: 39659232
What you are asking, can't be done (not with XP). XP won't run from an external USB drive. It may work with an external eSATA drive, but not USB...

You would at least have to remove the internal disk, and replace it with the cloned disk, then boot. That would work. Really any Cloning utility would work which you can install in Windows. I'd recommend the tools you get from Paragon:
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Author Comment

ID: 39660066
Thanks to all - to clarify, one comment was that " As far as imaging programs go, for legacy systems (XP and below) I use Symantec's GHOST utility, which works beautifully. "

To clarify, will this utility allow me to boot to the external cloned drive via usb in XP?

Expert Comment

ID: 39660620
No it will not, and I would NEVER recommend booting from an external USB in a computer "which is crucial for the business". Running a HDD over a USB interface does not expose the full ATA API which allows for crucial error checking and monitoring of HDDs.

You should always always run XP from an internal drive. You can clone images to the external drive, but you'll have to either swap out the internal drive to boot from it.

Another option is to use modified versions of XP, such as the one that comes with Hiren's Boot CD which does allow for booting to XP from a USB or CD drive.
LVL 88

Expert Comment

ID: 39660988
As I mentioned before, you can't boot XP from a USB disk. That just won't work, no matter what utility you use. You will have to move the disk to the PC internally before you can start working. There is nothing you can do to change that.
LVL 92

Expert Comment

ID: 39661787
what will work is installing a second internal drive, and clone to that drive
all you need to do in case of failure -  is changing the boot priority in the BIOS to the second drive.
you know by now that xp doesnot run from usb - but even if it did, it would be way to slow...

Accepted Solution

uniqueinfotech earned 500 total points
ID: 39661791
Can I just say again that the best way to go for making sure that a system has minimal downtime is to use raid as I mentioned above rather than cloning

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