easiest image backup system?


M

Mike S

What is the easiest software available for backing up and restoring a
working valid XP installation? My dentist doesn't want to learn a lot
but he would like an easy way to restore his system after his young son
corrupts it with viruses, games, bad configurations, etc. He's not too
technical when it comes to computers, so I was wondering if anyone knew
of a very straightforward software that would allow him to restore his
system, even when it wasn't booting.
 
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K

Ken

Mike said:
What is the easiest software available for backing up and restoring a
working valid XP installation? My dentist doesn't want to learn a lot
but he would like an easy way to restore his system after his young son
corrupts it with viruses, games, bad configurations, etc. He's not too
technical when it comes to computers, so I was wondering if anyone knew
of a very straightforward software that would allow him to restore his
system, even when it wasn't booting.
For my money there is no substitute for cloning the current drive to
another. It is an immediate answer to the type of problem you describe
above. Images work, but take time. A clone is immediate and you are
working again.

For the cloning there are several answers, but I have seen Casper work,
and it is worth looking into.
 
V

VanguardLH

Mike said:
What is the easiest software available for backing up and restoring a
working valid XP installation? My dentist doesn't want to learn a lot
but he would like an easy way to restore his system after his young
son corrupts it with viruses, games, bad configurations, etc. He's
not too technical when it comes to computers, so I was wondering if
anyone knew of a very straightforward software that would allow him
to restore his system, even when it wasn't booting.
Use Returnil. It will virtualize all disk I/O after being activated
which means everything to the hard disk, including the registry (since
that is stored in .dat files), can be discarded on a reboot. After
activating its safe mode, all changes made thereafter are gone after a
reboot. Just reboot and you're back to where you were. So the
"restore" is just the time it takes you to reboot your computer.

And it's free. This doesn't obviate the need for backups since, after
all, hard disks go bad. However, for the scenario you presented or for
any computer to which physical access is granted to others, Returnil
makes a great way to let others putz and fark your computer and just a
reboot brings it back to a known good state. While it's free, there is
a payware version with more features. Both versions can be password
protected so others cannot change its configuration. You can either
activate Returnil when you want, like before you do something you think
might be hazardous or you just want to test something and completely
wipe it afterward, or you can configure it to activate everytime your
computer boots up so it's always protected.

Schools use Returnil because they can schedule a reboot of their class
computers (or have the power cycled on them) so those computers are back
to a clean state the next morning for the next class. Users running
kiosk computers can use this (although there are also kiosk software
utilities) so they can let anyone use their computer but have an
immediate method of wiping out all changes, good or bad, made by those
users. I use it to protect the state of my hard disk when I want to
trial some software (that doesn't require a reboot to complete its
install else the reboot would wipe all changes so the install would
disappear - I only have the free version, not the paid version that
would let me elect to save changes). While a virtual machine is a more
isolated environment to test unknown or untrusted software, all hardware
except the CPU is emulated by software which means the virtual machine
runs slow. Everything crawls that you run inside a VM. Virtualizing
just the disk I/O incurs almost no impact to responsiveness of the
computer and you get access to your real hardware, so everything runs at
native speed on your computer when using Returnil. While the video card
in a VM is virtualized, slow, and is old software-emulated hardware
which means you won't want to play anything more than some crossword
puzzle game in a VM, you can run your video game while protected by
Returnil and it'll use the real video card and run at full speed.

Paragon, Macrium, and Easeus all have freeware backup programs. I'm
using the Workstation (payware) version of Easeus ToDo Backup. They all
let you create a bootable CD so you can run their restore program even
when the OS on the hard disk won't load. There is a WinPE version of
the bootable CD but you have to buy the payware version to use that. It
lets you boot into a Windows environment upon which their backup/restore
program will load which gives you the opportunity of using Windows tools
for more advanced recovery. The free versions come with a Linux-based
bootable rescue CD. These are backup programs. The Easeus product lets
you create full backup and the much smaller incremental backups. The
doctor may not know how far back he wants to restore his computer and
just one backup, like a clone, means he can only go back one image - AND
it assumes that the cloned hard disk doesn't have the same problems as
the master hard disk that you cloned. If the computer is infected and
you do a clone then your only backup, the clone, is also infected.

Cloning is easy but requires you have another hard disk of equal or
greater size on which to store the image. You can then later simply
swap in the other hard disk for the bad one (the hard disk went bad or
the OS won't boot anymore). Cloning is really for hardware recovery:
your hard disk failed, you swap in the cloned hard disk, and you
continue working while you get a replacement hard disk on the side.
Backups are for when you want the availability of restoring your
computer back to more than one prior state.
 
L

Linea Recta

Mike S said:
What is the easiest software available for backing up and restoring a
working valid XP installation? My dentist doesn't want to learn a lot but
he would like an easy way to restore his system after his young son
corrupts it with viruses, games, bad configurations, etc. He's not too
technical when it comes to computers, so I was wondering if anyone knew of
a very straightforward software that would allow him to restore his
system, even when it wasn't booting.


I have been using Macrium Reflect for some time.

http://www.macrium.com/reflectfree.aspx


--
regards,

|\ /|
| \/ |@rk
\../
\/os
 
K

Ken Blake, MVP

What is the easiest software available for backing up and restoring a
working valid XP installation? My dentist doesn't want to learn a lot
but he would like an easy way to restore his system after his young son
corrupts it with viruses, games, bad configurations, etc. He's not too
technical when it comes to computers, so I was wondering if anyone knew
of a very straightforward software that would allow him to restore his
system, even when it wasn't booting.

He might be best off using an online backup service like carbonite.

http://www.carbonite.com/en/

Ken Blake, Microsoft MVP
 
V

VanguardLH

Ken said:
He might be best off using an online backup service like carbonite.
http://www.carbonite.com/en/
Might be an option if the amount to backup isn't huge. See my other
posts about Carbonite and its limitations at:

http://groups.google.com/group/microsoft.public.windowsxp.general/msg/0b8c3c2e48c41b99
http://groups.google.com/group/microsoft.public.windowsxp.general/msg/4bc5011c74ad427f

Many users forget or don't realize their upload speed is far smaller
than their download speed for Internet access. They have *asymmetric*
broadband access. Forget online backups if all you have is dial-up.
 
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K

Ken Blake, MVP

Might be an option if the amount to backup isn't huge. See my other
posts about Carbonite and its limitations at:

OK, but my recommendation was in response to the two points, "doesn't
want to learn a lot but he would like an easy way to restore his
system."

Ken Blake, Microsoft MVP
 
G

glee

VanguardLH said:
Might be an option if the amount to backup isn't huge. See my other
posts about Carbonite and its limitations at:

http://groups.google.com/group/microsoft.public.windowsxp.general/msg/0b8c3c2e48c41b99
http://groups.google.com/group/microsoft.public.windowsxp.general/msg/4bc5011c74ad427f

Many users forget or don't realize their upload speed is far smaller
than their download speed for Internet access. They have *asymmetric*
broadband access. Forget online backups if all you have is dial-up.

Some interesting info here about Carbonite Bandwidth Allocation:
http://carbonite.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/1440/~/[general]-bandwidth-allocation

I think it ALMOST goes without saying that you would not use an online
backup system with a dial-up connection!

The initial backup with Carbonite can take days, even a couple of weeks
if you're backing up 50GB, but after the initial backup, it is done
incrementally and is pretty fast.
 
V

VanguardLH

glee said:
Some interesting info here about Carbonite Bandwidth Allocation:
http://carbonite.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/1440/~/[general]-bandwidth-allocation

I think it ALMOST goes without saying that you would not use an online
backup system with a dial-up connection!

The initial backup with Carbonite can take days, even a couple of weeks
if you're backing up 50GB, but after the initial backup, it is done
incrementally and is pretty fast.
Depends on how big the "incremental" changes are. It only takes 1 byte
of change to require uploading a huge file. Say you have virtual
machines and the .vhd file is around 15GB. Then you do something in the
virtual machine which modifies the .vhd file. The backup then has to
upload the entire .vhd file. Same if you edit large video files. These
are incremental file backups, not incremental (sector) image backups.
Incremental file backup backup the entire eligible file. While
"incremental" makes it sound like the update will be small, the actual
update size may not be small if the updated file itself is huge.

As to Ken's comment about easy restore, well, that depends on how the
restore is performed. With imaging programs (ran locally), you can use
their bootable rescue CD and restore from the image backups. With
logical *file* backups, and if a bootable rescue CD isn't provided, you
first have to install the OS and then install the backup program and
then do the restore. In the case of Carbonite, you'll end up doing the
latter so it really isn't an easy restore. A file restore is easy.
Restoring the entire OS partition is not. With Carbonite, you need to
run their client (to access you files on their file server). To run
their client means you need an OS to load the Carbonite client. To have
an OS means you have to install it.

Carbonite is good for file backups. It is not a quick and easy means of
reimaging an OS partition that is no longer bootable, to recover from a
failed hard disk, or other problems with prevent the OS from loading
and/or the backup client from running.

http://www.carbonite.com/en/home/online-backup-software/easy-to-use

Look at step 2. To restore your OS partition means you have to log into
their service. Just how are you going to do that when there is no OS
installed on a freshly replaced hard disk or when the OS won't boot?
Carbonite is a *FILE* backup/restore service, not an imaging service.
What the OP wanted is recovery from corruption of his host. Simple file
backups may not allow that and a full partition restore using file
backups isn't always easy or quick.

Also, Carbonite states that *file* backups live only 30 days on their
file server. That means it is NOT a usable backup scheme for *business*
use. No business should operate with only 1 month's worth of backed up
files. This is more of an "Oops, didn't mean to do that " recovery
service. Even for home use, are you sure that just one month's worth of
file backups is sufficient?

Carbonite has its use but potential customers should investigate their
service before committing (and paying for) it to know all the
limitations. It really does not obviate the need for performing your
own local image backups.
 
M

Mike S

Depends on how big the "incremental" changes are. It only takes 1 byte
of change to require uploading a huge file. Say you have virtual
machines and the .vhd file is around 15GB. Then you do something in the
virtual machine which modifies the .vhd file. The backup then has to
upload the entire .vhd file. Same if you edit large video files. These
are incremental file backups, not incremental (sector) image backups.
Incremental file backup backup the entire eligible file. While
"incremental" makes it sound like the update will be small, the actual
update size may not be small if the updated file itself is huge.

As to Ken's comment about easy restore, well, that depends on how the
restore is performed. With imaging programs (ran locally), you can use
their bootable rescue CD and restore from the image backups. With
logical *file* backups, and if a bootable rescue CD isn't provided, you
first have to install the OS and then install the backup program and
then do the restore. In the case of Carbonite, you'll end up doing the
latter so it really isn't an easy restore. A file restore is easy.
Restoring the entire OS partition is not. With Carbonite, you need to
run their client (to access you files on their file server). To run
their client means you need an OS to load the Carbonite client. To have
an OS means you have to install it.

Carbonite is good for file backups. It is not a quick and easy means of
reimaging an OS partition that is no longer bootable, to recover from a
failed hard disk, or other problems with prevent the OS from loading
and/or the backup client from running.

http://www.carbonite.com/en/home/online-backup-software/easy-to-use

Look at step 2. To restore your OS partition means you have to log into
their service. Just how are you going to do that when there is no OS
installed on a freshly replaced hard disk or when the OS won't boot?
Carbonite is a *FILE* backup/restore service, not an imaging service.
What the OP wanted is recovery from corruption of his host. Simple file
backups may not allow that and a full partition restore using file
backups isn't always easy or quick.

Also, Carbonite states that *file* backups live only 30 days on their
file server. That means it is NOT a usable backup scheme for *business*
use. No business should operate with only 1 month's worth of backed up
files. This is more of an "Oops, didn't mean to do that " recovery
service. Even for home use, are you sure that just one month's worth of
file backups is sufficient?

Carbonite has its use but potential customers should investigate their
service before committing (and paying for) it to know all the
limitations. It really does not obviate the need for performing your
own local image backups.
Thanks very much to everyone who replied, and for all of the interesting
discussions. These are exactly the issues that went through my mind when
he asked me about it, and since I'm out of touch with current software
packages or online backup schemes I thought I'd ask for suggestions
here. I'll check out all of the suggestions and then summarize them for
him and let him decide.
This is a great newsgroup and I appreciate the time everyone put into
their replies.
Best Regards,
Mike
 
K

Ken Blake, MVP

As to Ken's comment about easy restore, well, that depends on how the
restore is performed.

Ken's comment was more about easy backup (no effort at all) than easy
restore.

Carbonite is good for file backups. It is not a quick and easy means of
reimaging an OS partition that is no longer bootable, to recover from a
failed hard disk, or other problems with prevent the OS from loading
and/or the backup client from running.

Yes, I should have said that. But for most people, file backup is
what's most important. If that isn't easy, it doesn't get done, and
sooner or later they lose everything. That's why I recommended
Carbonite or something like it for the person who sounded like he
wouldn't do it unless it was very easy (the post said he "doesn't want
to learn a lot").

Losing the operating system can be a pain. But even if you have to do
it manually, or even pay someone else to do it for you, you can get it
done. If you lose your data files, they are probably gone forever, and
for many people that's a catastrophe.

Ken Blake, Microsoft MVP
 
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V

VanguardLH

Anthony said:
A dentist who doesn't want to learn a lot?
These people went through a healthcare doctoral education, which
involves learning a monster feces-load, fast. A dentist who thinks
it a kind of routine chore to restore a computer messed up by his
offspring? There's some kind of parental skills problem here. As
in, don't let this particular son at the parental computer at all.
A dentist should, failing horrible family financial problems I don't
know about, have way enough funds to buy the son a computer of the
son's own, accompanied by the message that if it gets messed up the son
can learn how to get it fixed himself or do without.

I sincerely hope he's better with teeth and gums. Maybe he's found
that doing great dentistry requires for him total concentration of
his mental resources, and if so I could only praise him for acting
on that finding.
95% of the enrollees have completed 4 years of college BEFORE getting
into dental school. Very few manage to get by with sufficient credits
and cramming to get in after 2 years of college. Dental school is
another 4 years (5.5 in some countries) to qualify as a DDS (Doctor of
Dental Surgery) or DMD (Doctor of Dental Medicine). That's a total of 8
years, or more, and longer than it takes to obtain a Master degree in
most other venues. Add another 2-3 years if you want to specialize.
It's possible "dentist" was misused and the guy/gal is really just a
dental assistant (9-12 months training) or dental hygienist (2-year
associates degree). Sometimes patients confuse who is what at their
dentist's office.

Most of the DDS-level dentists that I know don't even bother with
learning much more than how to use the applications on their computer.
They're too tired to waste time learning another technology and they
hire someone to maintain their computers. Also, his son wouldn't be
playing with the company's computers so this is an issue of a child
screwing up a home computer and "dentist" doesn't even factor into the
equation of administering your own home computer. That "dentist" was
mentioned really doesn't factor into whether the home user wants to
figure out how to recover his computer after his son screws it up.

Like you said, get the kid his own computer. It's the easiest way to
preserve your own. When the kid starts to shave, get him his own razor
or shaver, too. Regardless that the kids grows to the same size as the
parent, don't share underwear.
 
G

glee

VanguardLH said:
snip
Like you said, get the kid his own computer. It's the easiest way to
preserve your own. When the kid starts to shave, get him his own
razor
or shaver, too. Regardless that the kids grows to the same size as
the
parent, don't share underwear.
lol. Now you tell me! I could've had my own underwear all those
years?! <slaps head>
 
K

Ken Blake, MVP

After I responded to Ken Blake's posting, I went back to read this
original posting again. A dentist who doesn't want to learn a lot?
These people went through a healthcare doctoral education, which
involves learning a monster feces-load, fast. A dentist who thinks
it a kind of routine chore to restore a computer messed up by his
offspring? There's some kind of parental skills problem here. As
in, don't let this particular son at the parental computer at all.
A dentist should, failing horrible family financial problems I don't
know about, have way enough funds to buy the son a computer of the
son's own, accompanied by the message that if it gets messed up the son
can learn how to get it fixed himself or do without.

I sincerely hope he's better with teeth and gums. Maybe he's found
that doing great dentistry requires for him total concentration of
his mental resources, and if so I could only praise him for acting
on that finding.


I don't see it the way you do at all. We are all the way he is in one
respect or another. We all have different interests and different
likes and dislikes. We want to learn all we can about X, but nothing
or as little as possible about Y. The difference between us is what we
consider to be X and what we consider to be Y.

As a single example of what I mean, I have a friend who knows almost
everything there is to know about the local plants here, but next to
nothing about her computer. When I want to know something about a
plant, I ask her; when she has a computer problem or question, she
asks me.

I would not fear a dentist who has no interest in computers.

Ken Blake, Microsoft MVP
 
G

glee

Ken Blake said:
snip
I would not fear a dentist who has no interest in computers.
I WOULD fear a dentist who keeps texting in the middle of my treatment!
 
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