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Windows Thread, Backup and Win7/XP multi-boot in Technical; As many are well aware of, it is not practical to backup a running system. There are simply too many ...
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    Backup and Win7/XP multi-boot

    As many are well aware of, it is not practical to backup a running system. There are simply too many open files.

    Years ago, certain multi-user systems would simply shut down for a specified period while a special operating program booted and ran the backup.

    In years past I maintained 2 bootable OS images (MS pre-Vista Windows) in separate partitions: one to boot and use on a daily basis, and another 'utility' image to run backup once a week (and for emergencies). I used Partition Magic to generate backup copies.

    I'd like to do something similar with my new Win7/XP multi-boot desktop build. Apparently Win7 presents some new problems with this approach.

    My system has 2 500gb SATA hard drives. Win7/XP multi-boot is installed on disk 1. When I duplicate the 2 partitions on disk 2 with Partition Wizard, the result has special characteristics. The BCD boot-manager allows booting of Win7 only, and the booted OS is useless except to tell the user that the Win7 install is invalid. The install on disk 1 is fully legal and verified. To my knowledge there is no restriction on running a second copy of the OS.

    Does anyone have a handle on what is practical and not-practical (and why) as regards this approach? I would very much like to avoid using any Microsoft software for backup, couldn't bring myself to depend on it.

    Any/all help/info much appreciated.

    P

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    ZeroHour's Avatar
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    You dont actually need to do this as vista onwards has a feature (shadow copy) in the backup manager that gets around the open files problem and will back everything up (or should)
    Look for any windows software which supports shadow copies if you dont like the built in backup manager as that will get around the open files.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ZeroHour View Post
    Look for any Windows software which supports shadow copies if you don't like the built in backup manager as that will get around the open files.
    ^ This. Programs such as Acronis True Image Home or Macrium Reflect can both backup open files within a live Windows environment.

    However, if you prefer to create images outside of Windows you can still do this. In TrueImage, you can use the SecureZone and/or Startup Recovery Manager features which would mean you could finally ditch your XP install. There's also the Rescue Media Builder that can create a bootable CD/DVD or flash drive which enables you to create/restore disk images. If you get the Plus Pack add-on, you also have the option of using Windows PE too.

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    Proper backups require a lot of work and considerable inconvenience. I suppose it's inevitable that numerous software vendors would make all manner of claims for their backup products. Such claims are often not fulfilled in practical terms.

    It has been estimated that something like 90% of backups won't restore/recover in a timely manner, and 40+% won't restore/recover at all without drastic measures.

    If I understand a problematical process like backup as implemented by a software product, I will invest the resources necessary to test and implement it. Unsubstantiated claims re overcoming a major obstacle like open files affects me like water off the proverbial duck's back .

    In addition to the other considerations, I *think* it should be practical to boot a true image-backup in an emergency. I've done so with pre-Vista Windows systems. Apologies if I omitted this detail in the original query.

    MS loves its Cash Cows. They invest little or nothing on bundled utilities. To depend on Win backup without hard evidence of viability, extensive testing, etc is, for me, to exhibit faith above and beyond reason.

    I've been doing backup as described with pre-Vista Windows systems. I *think* it should be practical with Win7 using freeware/shareware. If it is not practical, I would like to know why. If such info is not available here, of course, I will understand.

    Any/all on-topic responses would be very much appreciated.

    P

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pudding_Man View Post
    I *think* it should be practical to boot a true image-backup in an emergency. I've done so with pre-Vista Windows systems.
    As stated above, both programs can be used outside of Windows to create exact sector-by-sector images of individual partitions or an entire hard drive, so it's perfectly possible to do what you are asking. You may also want to take a look at O&O DiskImage Pro and ShadowProtect Desktop as they both offer similar functionaility.

    The bootable rescue media usually takes the form of a CD-R/W, DVD±R/W or USB flash drive which contains a custom Linux, Windows PE or Bart PE-based operating system along with the disk imaging program itself. Both Windows PE and BartPE are essentially a stripped-down versions of Windows which load entirely into RAM when booted and give you full access to the files on your HDDs (the same applies to Linux). In TrueImage, you can also create a special bootable partition on your HDD which already has the imaging software loaded on it. Acronis call this the SecureZone partition - see page 169 of the user guide or this page on Wikipedia for more details. Because the rescue media and the SecureZone partition contain their own OS there is no need to keep your Windows XP partition around because they essentially serve the same purpose.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pudding_Man View Post
    MS loves its Cash Cows. They invest little or nothing on bundled utilities.
    Perhaps Microsoft would bundle a lot more if it wasn't for the European Commission, US DOJ or complaints from certain software vendors? Microsoft do invest a lot of time and money in other parts of Windows, which are then used by third-parties in their applications. As with most businesses, Microsoft exist to make money so they can't bundle everything.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pudding_Man View Post
    Proper backups require a lot of work and considerable inconvenience.
    If you are dealing with VSS-aware applications like Exchange is it really easy to create backups of a system which is constantly in use. As with all backups, you obviously need to test/verify them to ensure you can restore the data, but it's not as difficult or inconvenient as you seem to think it is with the correct tools.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Arthur View Post
    As stated above, both programs can be used outside of Windows to create exact sector-by-sector images of individual partitions or an entire hard drive, so it's perfectly possible to do what you are asking. You may also want to take a look at O&O DiskImage Pro and ShadowProtect Desktop as they both offer similar functionaility.

    The bootable rescue media usually takes the form of a CD-R/W, DVD±R/W or USB flash drive which contains a custom Linux, Windows PE or Bart PE-based operating system along with the disk imaging program itself. Both Windows PE and BartPE are essentially a stripped-down versions of Windows which load entirely into RAM when booted and give you full access to the files on your HDDs (the same applies to Linux). In TrueImage, you can also create a special bootable partition on your HDD which already has the imaging software loaded on it. Acronis call this the SecureZone partition - see page 169 of the user guide or this page on Wikipedia for more details. Because the rescue media and the SecureZone partition contain their own OS there is no need to keep your Windows XP partition around because they essentially serve the same purpose.
    The one I'm somewhat familiar with is Partition Wizard. I have 2 identical 500gb SATA HD's on my new system, with win7 and XP in multi-boot on disk 1. A bootable Partition Wizard CD was used to duplicate the 2 partitions on disk 2. When I test-boot on disk 2, I find BCD recognizes only win7. It boots to a blank screen and tells me that Windows 7 is not genuine (or similar). It lies: the W7 copy has been verified (on disk 1) on precisely the same hardware. The XP partition won't boot at all (NTLDR missing).

    Can you explain this behavior? Should I expect better using Acronis etc??

    Quote Originally Posted by Arthur View Post
    Perhaps Microsoft would bundle a lot more if it wasn't for the European Commission, US DOJ or complaints from certain software vendors? Microsoft do invest a lot of time and money in other parts of Windows, which are then used by third-parties in their applications. As with most businesses, Microsoft exist to make money so they can't bundle everything.
    From what I've heard, the Europeans had very good reasons to ask many, many questions of MS.

    MS simply abuses its Windows users to no end. A good example is the Windows Media Player experience. Just google "WMP problems", "uninstall WMP", etc etc. I have no interest whatsoever is debating this issue.

    Quote Originally Posted by Arthur View Post
    If you are dealing with VSS-aware applications like Exchange is it really easy to create backups of a system which is constantly in use. As with all backups, you obviously need to test/verify them to ensure you can restore the data, but it's not as difficult or inconvenient as you seem to think it is with the correct tools.
    The issues with backups of a system which is constantly in use are simple. There are many, many open files. When a backup is run, one simply doesn't know exactly what one has for a backup (what open files were in what state precisely when the backup copied them). Such backups are often not useless, but are certainly not precise.

    When/if I backup an inactive system, I get an exact copy of the state of each file at a precise point in time. If practical, this is very much desirable.

    As regards XP, I have installed/investigated Win7 extensively, find it lacking in more ways than I can "shake a stick at", and choose to run XP on a daily basis so long as it is practical to do so. I will maintain Win7 as an "emergency" system.

    I appreciate the info re Acronis, etc. My DSL service went dicey last week and I haven't been able to look into them to date, but I hope to do so later this week.

    Thanks,
    P
    Last edited by Pudding_Man; 28th December 2010 at 10:17 PM. Reason: forgot XP mention

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