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protecting a xp machine for longer term

there is an older version of program that was built on xp and is running on a stand-alone pc.. the program needs to run for a longer time as there is no upgrade option to win7 etc.

xp is also outdated.. what are the best ways to make sure to persevere the system, in case of any xp crash or a system crash (cpu/disk etc).

should we be cloning on a daily basis? so that if there is a crash we can recover on a new machine if need be?

there is manual backup of this system once a week. but on the other newer system, Carbonite does an online backup often.

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12 Solutions
sarvjitaSystem AdministratorCommented:
1. make image once on dvd by using norton ghost or acronis and take backup of your data regularly.
2 if you what to use that program in win7, you can use it by run it in campatibility mode set to window xp
If it will not run in Compatibility Mode under Windows 7, another option would be to use it in Virtual Machine under Windows 7.  It is more work to set up, but unless it is requiring access to some odd hardware, it should work well.

If you were to back up the VHD file from that regularly, you should be well protected as long as Windows 7 is available.  You should also be able to run the VHD under other versions of Windows, giving you an even longer-term solution.
you can clone the image to a second disk drive, so you only have to connect it after acrash.
what PC model is this?  if it is old, you may look for newer hardware, that still supports XP drivers
Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
Two options:

I.    If the need is to run this on a standalone system that's loaded with XP (if, for example, it uses some unique hardware that won't work from a virtual machine), then I'd do the following:

  (a)  IMAGE the XP partition in a fully up-to-date state.   You don't need to do this often ... in fact if you do it after the last round of XP updates in early April you'd never need to do it again.    Save this image in at least two places (on another PC, an external drive, a set of DVDs, etc.) => you can restore the system by simply restoring the image, regardless of what the reason is ... i.e. system corruption, failed hard drive, etc.

  (b)  Set up a daily backup of the data files.   I'd use a simple synchronization utility to automatically do this every night.   Save the data to a 2nd physical drive; across your network; etc. ... but be sure you ALWAYS have a current set of backups.

  (c)  If the system ever crashed and needed to be restored, the restore process would then be very simple:   (1)  restore the OS from the image file;  and then (2)  IMMEDIATELY run the backup program in "restore" mode (i.e. copying the latest data back to the system).

II.  The other, preferable alternative is to load this system in a virtual machine (I'd use VMware Player); and run the virtual machine under the native OS on a more modern standalone PC (i.e. Windows 7 or Windows 8).    This can then be trivially backed up by just copying the virtual machine directory.    And in the event of a system failure, it can be run on ANY system that can run VMware Player.  (or whatever hypervisor you choose to use).
25112Author Commented:
thank you for all the useful comments and pointers.

i should mentioned this- this may be a decision maker..

the old pc is dedicated to only one access program that runs in access 2000(2). so xp is one issue, ms-access is another. the program is not supported in later versions of access (2007 or 2010). so it is preferred to keep using 2002 license to use this program for the foreseeable future.

in the above scenario, would you advice be the same?

i will find the machine model for you later today.

for the backup part, would you suggest Carbonite as OK?
I don't think your comments about Access change much.  As long as you are trying to keep this running under XP, that should not be an issue.

I don't have experience with running older versions of Access on Windows 7.  Are you sure there is an issue with that?

My issue with keeping this running natively on XP is that if you have a motherboard failure, you may have some challenges getting the drive to run in another computer.  Though it is possible to move a booting XP hard drive from one motherboard chipset to another, it is not trivial if you've not done it before.  Since you are looking at a long-term solution, I think that virtualization is a much better approach.

The key advantage of virtualization (that offsets the initial effort to set it up) is that it becomes very portable.  As long as you have a good backup (either a frequent one of the VHD file or an initial one and then just data updates as suggested by others above), it should not be difficult to restore the VHD and the newer data to any computer running the appropriate VM software.

I have only worked with Microsoft's VM software so can't comment on the alternatives.
Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
Access 2000 runs just fine in an XP virtual machine -- so I'd definitely move this to a VM as long as you have the install media for Access.   [If not, find it !! ... or buy a copy on e-bay]
25112Author Commented:
this is the existing machine details:

OS Name      Microsoft Windows XP Professional
Version      5.1.2600 Service Pack 3 Build 2600
OS Manufacturer      Microsoft Corporation
System Name      ULTRAIII
System Manufacturer      INTEL_
System Model      D845GBV_
System Type      X86-based PC
Processor      x86 Family 15 Model 1 Stepping 3 GenuineIntel ~1699 Mhz
BIOS Version/Date      Intel Corp. RG84510A.86A.0009.P04.0206051327, 6/5/2002
SMBIOS Version      2.3
Windows Directory      C:\WINDOWS
System Directory      C:\WINDOWS\system32
Boot Device      \Device\HarddiskVolume1
Locale      United States
Hardware Abstraction Layer      Version = "5.1.2600.5512 (xpsp.080413-2111)"
User Name      ULTRAIII\RonW
Time Zone      Eastern Standard Time
Total Physical Memory      768.00 MB
Available Physical Memory      397.72 MB
Total Virtual Memory      2.00 GB
Available Virtual Memory      1.96 GB
Page File Space      1.83 GB
Page File      C:\pagefile.sys
25112Author Commented:
great..thanks.. to go to VM is the consensus.. will do..

can you suggest what is the resources/cost I need to plan for?

1)do you recommend me to move access 2000/xp clone to VM right away, or only after a potential crash? is the warning we got few days ago.. hence this urge to get some planning.

1a)does the above solution mean a new Win7/8 machine right away?
1b)plus VM player? (is that a software that comes with new machines?)

2)is there a native tool for cloning? what is your recommendation for either one time use or once a month use?
3)right now, the service from Carbonite  is being used on another machine. we can either tap into it, or use another recommended service.. (if it makes easy to use one tool for clone and also backup files)
Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
The Intel Active Monitor was a nice little system monitoring utility that would monitor voltages and temperatures from various internal sensors.   An intermittent voltage warning can mean many things -- or simply mean there was a spike in a voltage bus that put it outside of the nominal range.    It doesn't mean the systems in imminent danger ... but if it happens regularly then something is failing -- likely a capacitor (which would explain a voltage that's deviating more than it should.

In other words an isolated warning message isn't anything to worry about; but nevertheless I'd get the system in a position to migrate it and ensure you have a complete image of the system - you do NOT want to wait for a crash !!

VMware Player Plus is a low-cost hypervisor you can build an XP virtual machine in.     It's the commercial equivalent of the free VMware Player.     If you have VMware Workstation, you can easily do a "physical to virtual" conversion of the current system and then run the resulting virtual machine in VMware Player.    If not, you can easily create a new virtual machine in Player;  load XP in it; and then install Access in that virtual machine -- and then copy all the user's data to that new system.

The resulting virtual machine can be run in ANY computer that can run VMware Player -- Windows XP/Vista/7/8, Linux, etc.
25112Author Commented:
thanks Gary for that detailed answer.. yes, we might as well move to something better than what is setup right now.

so if my understanding is right from the expert guidance, the main need right now is VMware Player. With it, I can make a VM in the xp machine, and is possible to run the same VM in the same xp machine (or any PC, for that matter). am I missing any other part?

would you suggest if the xp machine described above capable of running VMware Player and then using the VM created?

in this sense, is VMware Player a cloner? or do I need a tool over this to do clone+backup?

thanks much again!
Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
You'll need installation media for XP and for Access to create a new virtual machine, which is the best option.

Alternatively, you could use one of the P2V (physical to virtual) tools that let you create a virtual machine from a physical one -- these are fairly reliable, but not 100%.

Once you have the virtual machine, you can run it on any machine that can run VMware Player.

Note that VMware Player (free) and VMware Player Plus (commercial -- $99) are the same product ... the only difference is in the licensing.   So if you have a personal copy, you can experiment a bit to be sure you're comfortable with it before you purchase a copy for your client.

VMware Player runs fine on XP SP3 -- at least the last time I tried it.   Just for grins, I'll install the latest version on a spare XP system and confirm that this is still the case ... post a comment to remind me tomorrow and I'll post the results of trying that.

As long as Player will run, you can run the VM on it.

... and yes, once you create the VM and load the appropriate programs in it, you can VERY easily move it to ANY system that can run VMware Player -- the host can be any recent version of Windows or Linux.     To "clone" the VM you simply copy the folder that contains the files that describe it [there will be a .vmx file that describes the characteristics of the machine, a .vmdk file that contains the virtual hard disk, and a few other files.   These will all be in a single folder => you simply copy that folder (with the virtual machine shut down) to completely capture the state of the machine.    You can then "reboot" it on ANY host PC that's running VMware Player or Workstation.
Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
Just for grins, I installed the latest VMware Player on an old Pentium-IV machine running XP SP3.    It installs fine.    I then created a virtual machine and installed XP Pro in it -- so I had "XP running under XP" :-)

Then (I DO sometimes get carried away) ... I installed Office 2002 Pro, which includes Access 2002.    So I now had a virtual machine running XP SP3 with Access 2002 :-)

So here's a picture of Access running in an XP virtual machine which is running under an XP host :-)      This whole thing took me ~ 30 minutes of "my time" ... not counting the "computer time" while the OS installed.     And I could now simply move the folder containing the VM to any other PC and run it there with no modifications (no new activation requirement, etc.).   [You can, of course, run the VM in full screen mode so it "looks" like it's the native OS -- I ran it windowed so you could see all the details in the properties screens.]

Access running in Virtual XP under XP Host
25112Author Commented:
Wow... thanks very much for your kind efforts to kind and prove the case! that settles is :)

now, can you comment on the tool for clone+backup also please?
Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
Not sure what you're asking about r.e. cloning.   Are you trying to create a virtual machine from the existing physical machine (i.e. not loading the new VM from scratch) ??

Or are you referring to how best to backup the virtual machine?
25112Author Commented:
>>Or are you referring to how best to backup the virtual machine?
the above Gary..

the below is what I envision.. please correct If I missed anything.. specifically I am asking about point #6 from below:

1)Get VMPlayer (this is like a bare PC with nothing installed, right?)
2)Install WinXP on/inside  VMPlayer (this is like install OS for the first time on a machine, right?)
3)Install Access 2000(2)
4)Copy mdb/mde files.
5)save VMPlayer - this is the complete new 'machine'.
6)how to backup this machine? is it a clone process or just a regular backup process? what tools are best recommended for backup/clone of vmplayer machine?
7)like a regular PC or OS can be corrupted or crash, can a VM crash/get corrupted? how about the XP inside a VM, is it equally vulnerable to corrupt/crash as a regular PC install crash/corruption?

in one of the earlier posts you mentioned "This can then be trivially backed up by just copying the virtual machine directory." - is this a manual process you had suggested? can you elaborate this more please, since this will be my first time dealing with backups of VM.

thank you.
Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
A few comments on each of your notes ...

"1)Get VMPlayer (this is like a bare PC with nothing installed, right?)"  ==> Almost.   Technically, VMware Player is a "hypervisor", which allows you to CREATE bare PC's (VMs) that have nothing installed.   You can create as many as you want -- subject, of course, to having enough disk space for them.   [I have ~ 40 VMs]   But for your purposes, you'll probably just create one virtual machine.

"2)Install WinXP on/inside  VMPlayer (this is like install OS for the first time on a machine, right?)"  ==>  Exactly.   You will create a virtual machine (like building a PC); and then you will load it with XP (exactly as if you were loading a "bare metal" machine).

"3)Install Access 2000(2)" ==>  Yes

"4)Copy mdb/mde files."  ==>  Yes

"5)save VMPlayer - this is the complete new 'machine'."  ==>  I presume you're referring to backing up the virtual machine you just finished loading.   To do that, you simply copy all of the files in the folder where you created the machine.    For example, if you stored the virtual machine in C:\MyVMs\XP ... then the simple command Copy C:\MyVMs\XP  D:\VirtualXP Backup   would completely back up the VM -- the equivalent of "imaging" the machine.

If you then copied that entire folder to another PC, you could load VMware Player on it;  select "Open a Virtual Machine"; "point" to the virtual machine you had moved; and Start it, and it would run perfectly.   It would ask if you had "moved" or "copied" it -- but as long as you moved it there's nothing addition required.   [If you "copied" it, you'll need to re-activate the OS]

"6)how to backup this machine? is it a clone process or just a regular backup process? what tools are best recommended for backup/clone of vmplayer machine?"  ==> If you shut down the virtual machine; then copy the folder as I noted above; you have just completely backed it up.   YOu can also, however, use any standard backup utility within the VM to backup your data ... e.g. Carbonite;  Windows backup; SyncBack or SyncToy; etc.

"7)like a regular PC or OS can be corrupted or crash, can a VM crash/get corrupted? how about the XP inside a VM, is it equally vulnerable to corrupt/crash as a regular PC install crash/corruption? "  ==>  The virtual machine is just a computer ... it just happens to be "virtual."   Anything that can happen to a regular "bare metal" machine can happen to a VM.   Viruses, spyware, etc.    It is, however, much simpler to recover -- just copy the latest backup of the virtual hard drive back to the folder and start the machine :-)

"in one of the earlier posts you mentioned "This can then be trivially backed up by just copying the virtual machine directory." - is this a manual process you had suggested? can you elaborate this more please, since this will be my first time dealing with backups of VM."  ==>  It can be manual; or you could automate it on the host.

If you haven't used a hypervisor before, you should really download the free version of VMware Player and create a virtual machine or two and "play" with them a bit.   Once your understand how powerful these are, you'll find all kinds of good uses for them !!
25112Author Commented:
Gary- truly appreciate your help. i will get to work on the machine in concern tomorrow. if you dont mind, i'll keep the ticket open till i finish through.

one question: what abt licensing? can i use the same license for xp/access on both the original and also on VM?
Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
r.e. licensing => You'll need to activate the virtual machine just like you would a real one.   If the XP license you have would work on a "real" system, it will work here -- if not, it will refuse to activate.   Access is likely to work fine, as it usually allowed more than one activations (but that depends on how many times that specific license has been activated ... doesn't hurt to try it; but if it won't activate you'll need another key.
25112Author Commented:
Gary, wanted to update and need to close the post soon too.. it has been open a while.

the reason i am still waiting is the person in charge to get the CD into the PC will bring said will bring in 20th and hence waiting. i should probably close this ticket and open another if there are any issues later.

could you tell me this. when this person puts the CD in the PC, I have to install VM on the machine through teamviewer (as there is some distance between me and this PC). Do you envision any issues installing VM, then XP into through teamviewer, with the XP CD in the CD drive?

thanks again for your great help!
Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
"...  Do you envision any issues installing VM, then XP into through teamviewer, with the XP CD in the CD drive? " ==>   Absolutely not.   In fact that's much easier than trying to do a remote install on "bare metal" ... since the PC will be running the whole time and you'll just be running VMware to do the installation.

If the install CD is in a physical drive; then you just run VMware Player; and in the settings for the VM you created assign the CD device to that drive ... then start the virtual machine (this is like "booting") -- and the XP installation will start as normal (as if it was a "real" machine).    One thing to remember:  Until you get XP installed and the VMware Tools installed, if you click inside the VM window the cursor will stay there until you press Ctrl-Alt to "release" it ... so you can move it into the "real" computer's display area.    Once VMware tools are installed, you can freely move the mouse in and out of the VM.

I'd install VMware Player on one of your machines and "play" with it a bit so you feel comfortable with the process -- just install ANY OS in a virtual machine that you happen to have install media for (you don't have to activate it ... just use it to get a feeling for how simple this process is).
25112Author Commented:
thanks Gary.

I see a limitation.. any thoughts to overcome this, please:
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