Setting up an external hard drive - partioning and sharing issues


E

Enquiring Mind

Hi,

I recently purchased an external hard drive with a view to storing back up
copies of the files on the 3 hard drives on my 2 computers, one computer
having 2 internal hard drives (1 FAT32, 1 NTFS), and the other 1 NTFS
internal hard drive. I would appreciate any guidance on how best to set up
the external hard drive for this purpose, whilst maintaining the security
attributes of the source files. My first thought was to create 5 separate 80
GB logical partitions on the external hard drive, and utilise 3 of these as
destinations for the back-up copies of the 3 source hard drives on my
computers. There are a few questions that I am uncertain about, though:

1) Given that the external hard drive has a capacity of 500 GB, is there
anything to be gained by subdividing it into multiple partitions?

2) The external hard drive came preformatted as a single NTFS drive. When I
right click on it the Windows XP Disk Management window with a view to
creating new logical drives the context menu that pops up contains "Delete
partition ...", not "New logical drive". Does this mean that in order to
create the logical partitions that I require I must first delete the
existing partition, then create the logical partitions starting from
scratch?

2) I would like to make the back up copy of the folder "Documents and
Settings/User A" private to user A of computer C1, so that even though it's
on the external hard drive it can only be opened when the hard drive is
connected to computer C1 and the user logged in to computer C1 is user A.
However when calling up the Sharing property sheet for any folder on the
external hard drive the "Make this folder private" check box is greyed out.
Does this mean that it's not possible to make a folder on an external hard
drive private to a specific user of a specific computer?

3) The files that I wish to back up include files encrypted using NTFS file
encryption. I have previously discovered that it's not possible to transfer
encrypted files between a private folder and a shared folder and then back
again without the files being decrypted along the way, and the "Last
Modified" timestamp being updated. Can this problem be avoided when backing
up files on a file by file basis?

Thanks for any guidance on these issues.

EM
 
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D

db

partitioning is a good
idea.

primarily, you want
to keep the system
partition free of user
data.

that way if the system
partition needs to be
formatted or the o.s.
needs to be reinstalled,

you won't have to worry
about loosing user data.

here is more info:

http://tinyurl.com/dokbw


as a tip:

you can relocate "my
documents" off the
system partition.

the option to assign
a new location is
provided via its property
page.

--

db·´¯`·...¸><)))º>
DatabaseBen, Retired Professional
- Systems Analyst
- Database Developer
- Accountancy
- Veteran of the Armed Forces
- @hotmail.com
"share the nirvana" - dbZen

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 
E

Enquiring Mind

db, thanks for the advice!

I later did a search on the Internet on the subject of external hard drive
partitioning and found disparate advice. Some expressed the opinion that
it's not worth partitioning an external hard drive, others took the opposite
view. I would have thought that, if the files in some partitions are likely
not too change too often, partitioning an external hard drive could make
defragmentation faster, owing to the smaller number of files in each
partition.

On reflection I don't think that using NTFS encryption on the external hard
drive makes too much sense, because one might want to access the files from
any computer, in the event of failure of the source drive. Therefore
encryption using encryption software that can be installed on any computer,
and a key which is known to the owner of the driver, rather than the key
used by Windows XP, seems to be a better approach.

Regards,

EM
 
D

db

yes, partitions not only
minimize fragmentation
but makes defragging
faster and making backups
quicker,

than if you were to do
the above for one
large partition.

in regards to encryption,
it all depends on your
needs.

for specific folder and
file encryptions, like
my bank statements
and other such info,

I simply use "free folder
hide" and microsoft's
"my private folder".

I never found a need to
encrypt an entire disk
or partition.
--

db·´¯`·...¸><)))º>
DatabaseBen, Retired Professional
- Systems Analyst
- Database Developer
- Accountancy
- Veteran of the Armed Forces
- @hotmail.com
"share the nirvana" - dbZen

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 
T

Twayne

And don't forget to export the encryption keys or you'll soon lose
everything you encrypted. Once it's gone, it's gone and can't be gotten
back without the keys. It's one thing windows does right, but MS forgot
to tell anyone about how to handle the keys unless you specifically look
for it.
 
E

Enquiring Mind

Twayne,

Thanks for the warning. I have finally got round to backing up my private
encryption key, but I had to search for instructions about how to do it on
the Internet, so bad are the Windows help files in this regard.

On close analysis it seems to me that the NTFS encryption facility is
somewhat flawed, because of the problems it throws up when backing up files.
Simple password protection of files and folders seems to me to be a more
flexible approach, because the password is computer-independent. An even
better approach would be if applications like MS office programs allowed the
user to set up file encryption as a document property, and did the
encryption/decryption whenever a file is saved or opened. Then files could
be backed up and copied without any concern for whether or not the file is
encrypted - this aspect only comes into play when someone tries to read the
file.

Regards,

EM
 
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A

Anna

Enquiring Mind said:
Hi,

I recently purchased an external hard drive with a view to storing back up
copies of the files on the 3 hard drives on my 2 computers, one computer
having 2 internal hard drives (1 FAT32, 1 NTFS), and the other 1 NTFS
internal hard drive. I would appreciate any guidance on how best to set up
the external hard drive for this purpose, whilst maintaining the security
attributes of the source files. My first thought was to create 5 separate
80 GB logical partitions on the external hard drive, and utilise 3 of
these as destinations for the back-up copies of the 3 source hard drives
on my computers. There are a few questions that I am uncertain about,
though:

1) Given that the external hard drive has a capacity of 500 GB, is there
anything to be gained by subdividing it into multiple partitions?

2) The external hard drive came preformatted as a single NTFS drive. When
I right click on it the Windows XP Disk Management window with a view to
creating new logical drives the context menu that pops up contains
"Delete partition ...", not "New logical drive". Does this mean that in
order to create the logical partitions that I require I must first delete
the existing partition, then create the logical partitions starting from
scratch?

2) I would like to make the back up copy of the folder "Documents and
Settings/User A" private to user A of computer C1, so that even though
it's on the external hard drive it can only be opened when the hard drive
is connected to computer C1 and the user logged in to computer C1 is user
A. However when calling up the Sharing property sheet for any folder on
the external hard drive the "Make this folder private" check box is greyed
out. Does this mean that it's not possible to make a folder on an external
hard drive private to a specific user of a specific computer?

3) The files that I wish to back up include files encrypted using NTFS
file encryption. I have previously discovered that it's not possible to
transfer encrypted files between a private folder and a shared folder and
then back again without the files being decrypted along the way, and the
"Last Modified" timestamp being updated. Can this problem be avoided when
backing up files on a file by file basis?

Thanks for any guidance on these issues.

EM


Enquiring Mind said:
Twayne,

Thanks for the warning. I have finally got round to backing up my private
encryption key, but I had to search for instructions about how to do it on
the Internet, so bad are the Windows help files in this regard.

On close analysis it seems to me that the NTFS encryption facility is
somewhat flawed, because of the problems it throws up when backing up
files. Simple password protection of files and folders seems to me to be a
more flexible approach, because the password is computer-independent. An
even better approach would be if applications like MS office programs
allowed the user to set up file encryption as a document property, and did
the encryption/decryption whenever a file is saved or opened. Then files
could be backed up and copied without any concern for whether or not the
file is encrypted - this aspect only comes into play when someone tries to
read the file.

Regards,

EM


EM...
Since you've apparently come to some conclusion re the encryption process as
it relates to data contained on a (USB-connected) external HDD, I'll just
direct my comments to the first portion of your query relating to the
backing-up of the data on your internal HDDs and how this might affect the
partitioning of your USBEHD device. Again, just to be clear, I'm not
concerned here with any process involving "maintaining the security
attributes of the source files" so I'm not addressing that issue.

Might I suggest that you consider a disk-cloning or disk-imaging program to
maintain a comprehensive backup of *all* the data on each of your HDDs? By
"all" I mean the total contents of these drives, including the OS, all
programs & applications, all personal data - in short, *everything* that's
contained on your internal HDDs. In effect, for all practical purposes, a
precise copy of your drives. (I'll indicate my recommendation of such a
program by & by).

So, should you go that route...

1. You've indicated that you have two PCs, each containing a single physical
internal HDD. One of them is multi-partitioned with two partitions and the
second PC's HDD apparently contains a single partition. Obviously each of
those PCs contains an OS, or so I assume.

2. While you didn't indicate the size of these HDDs nor the amount of data
contained on these drives I assume from your contemplation of possibly
setting up your 500 GB USBEHD with (roughly) five 80 GB partitions and
proposing to use three of those partitions to contain the backups of the two
physical HDDs (the three partitions), that the *total* contents of each of
your internal HDDs is relatively modest.

I'm not clear why you would be thinking of creating *five* partitions on the
USBEHD. You have other plans for the remaining two partitions? Perhaps to
hold data "on the fly"?

3. Anyway, assuming I'm not too far off the mark on this, why not consider
the following as a possible backup strategy using the Casper 5 disk cloning
program - (my comments re the Casper program follow below)?...

4. Using the XP Disk Management snap-in you could create three partitions on
your 500 GB USBEHD. The remainder (if any) of the disk space on that
external drive would be unpartitioned/unformatted at that point. You would
size each of those three partitions to whatever size you desired; they need
not mirror the size of the partitions on your source HDDs. The only proviso,
of course, is that each partition be at least sufficient in size to contain
the contents of the data you will be cloning from each of the source drives'
partitions.

5. Re your source drive "PC #1" - the one containing two partitions - you
would clone the contents of each partition to the first two partitions on
the USBEHD.

Note that the disk-cloning process will clone the file systems of the
partition(s) along with their contents, be those file systems FAT32- or
NTFS-formatted. So it is immaterial what file system was established during
the original creation of the partitions on the USBEHD. A clone is a clone is
a clone!

6. Re "PC #2" - the one containing a single partition - you would similarly
clone the contents of that HDD to the third partition you had created on the
USBEHD.

7. When you again decide to back up your two systems so as to continue to
maintain reasonably up-to-date backups of both systems, you would simply
repeat the process. And so on & so on...

8. The upshot of all this is that through the use of *routinely* using a
disk-cloning program in the manner described above, you would be maintaining
precise copies of your internal HDDs. So that if & when the day comes when
you find your internal HDD has become defective or if the drive has become
dysfunctional for any reason, you have the wherewithal to restore your
system to a bootable, functional state easily & relatively quickly by
cloning the contents of the data residing on your USBEHD back to your
internal HDD(s).

5. The program I personally recommend for most PC users to accomplish all
this is the Casper 5 disk-cloning program. (It does *not* have disk-imaging
capability).

We've been using the Casper program for a number of years and have found it
an extraordinarily effective program in establishing & maintaining a
comprehensive backup system through its disk-cloning capability. It has a
straightforward design and is extremely simple to use; there's virtually no
"learning-curve" involved.

But its major advantage and what sets it apart from other
disk-cloning/disk-imaging programs (in our experience) is its speed of
creating these comprehensive backups (clones) when the program is used on a
*frequent* basis - say, at least once a week in most cases, even daily or
every two or three days. Obviously the amount of time the program will take
to complete the disk or partition-cloning operation will depend on a number
of factors including the amount of data being cloned and even
more-importantly in most cases, the frequency of the cloning operations.
It's hard, if not impossible, to provide precise figures in this regard, but
assuming about 50 GB of data per HDD (partition) was being cloned and using
the program perhaps twice a week for comprehensive backups (following the
initial disk-cloning operation), I'd venture to say the disk (partition)
cloning operation would take under five (5) minutes per HDD.

Casper accomplishes this through what it labels its "SmartClone" capability.
It has the unique ability (at least *unique* in our experience) to determine
what changes have been made to the system since the previous disk-cloning
operation so that it "incrementally" can take only those changes into
account during the current disk-cloning operation. This dramatically speeds
up the backup cloning operation so that the user has a strong incentive to
use the program on a frequent basis, knowing that the disk (partition)
cloning operation will take a short period of time in most cases.

If, on the other hand, a user is not especially interested in maintaining
current backups of his/her system and plans to use a disk-cloning (or
disk-imaging) program on a relatively infrequent basis - say, not much more
than once a month for example - then the Casper program will probably hold
no special interest for that type of user. Under those circumstances pretty
much any disk-cloning or disk-imaging program will suffice or perhaps a
different type of backup program would be more appropriate.

Anyway, give this disk-cloning or disk-imaging process some thought in your
situation. There's an enormous amount of information on the net re these
programs and you may wish to do a Google search on such. Many of these
programs have demo or trial versions available. Casper, for example, has a
trial version available at...
http://www.fssdev.com. It's somewhat crippled but should give you an idea as
to whether it holds any interest for you.
Anna
 
M

Mike Torello

Anna said:
If, on the other hand, a user is not especially interested in maintaining
current backups of his/her system and plans to use a disk-cloning (or
disk-imaging) program on a relatively infrequent basis - say, not much more
than once a month for example - then the Casper program will probably hold
no special interest for that type of user. Under those circumstances pretty
much any disk-cloning or disk-imaging program will suffice or perhaps a
different type of backup program would be more appropriate.

Notice that Anna has no reservations about naming the program SHE
prefers, but doesn't name any of the "different type of backup"
programs... like the one that 99% of those who recommend such a
program in these groups recommend: Acronis True Image.

Anna is the ONLY person out of everyone in these (and the Vista)
groups who touts Casper, and ONLY Casper. Ask for a backup program
recommendation, and if she doesn't reply, easily 99% of the
recommendations you will receive will be for the Acronis product.

Acronis will cost you $10 less than Casper if you buy it from it's own
vendor - because you won't have to pay extra for the bootable CD as
you will with Casper. AND it will cost you much less if bought
elsewhere online, like from newegg.com.

She also doesn't emphasize that to use Casper, you will have to
dedicate an entire second drive to its purposes (one of the drawbacks
of cloning as a backup strategy). IMAGING does not have this
drawback.
 
E

Enquiring Mind

Many thanks for taking the time to post such a comprehensive answer! Please
see below a few comments inserted at relevant points in your message.
Might I suggest that you consider a disk-cloning or disk-imaging program
to maintain a comprehensive backup of *all* the data on each of your HDDs?
By "all" I mean the total contents of these drives, including the OS, all
programs & applications, all personal data - in short, *everything* that's
contained on your internal HDDs. In effect, for all practical purposes, a
precise copy of your drives. (I'll indicate my recommendation of such a
program by & by).
I hadn't considered this option as a routine (i.e. daily) back-up option,
because it seemed to be potentially excessive in terms of time, and wear and
tear of the hardware! Suppose that in a day I modify files totalling say 500
MB in size, and the total size of files on the hard disc I need to back up
is 35GB. With a file-based back-up system I only need to copy 500MB to the
EHD, whilst with the cloning approach I am copying 35000MB of data, most of
which hasn't changed. However, I appreciate that some products, Casper
included, may be smart enough to copy and apply a "patch" to the back-up
device. Or does disk cloning differ from disk imaging in that it is file
based rather than raw binary data based?
1. You've indicated that you have two PCs, each containing a single
physical internal HDD. One of them is multi-partitioned with two
partitions and the second PC's HDD apparently contains a single partition.
Obviously each of those PCs contains an OS, or so I assume.

The first PC has 2 internal hard drives each having a single partition .
They run different OS's - Windows ME, and Windows XP Pro.
2. While you didn't indicate the size of these HDDs nor the amount of data
contained on these drives I assume from your contemplation of possibly
setting up your 500 GB USBEHD with (roughly) five 80 GB partitions and
proposing to use three of those partitions to contain the backups of the
two physical HDDs (the three partitions), that the *total* contents of
each of your internal HDDs is relatively modest.
Yes the capacity of the drives is modest - none larger than 80 GB.
I'm not clear why you would be thinking of creating *five* partitions on
the USBEHD. You have other plans for the remaining two partitions? Perhaps
to hold data "on the fly"?
I was thinking of creating multiple partitions of 80 GB each.
3. Anyway, assuming I'm not too far off the mark on this, why not consider
the following as a possible backup strategy using the Casper 5 disk
cloning program - (my comments re the Casper program follow below)?...
Sounds interesting ...
4. Using the XP Disk Management snap-in you could create three partitions
on your 500 GB USBEHD. The remainder (if any) of the disk space on that
external drive would be unpartitioned/unformatted at that point. You would
size each of those three partitions to whatever size you desired; they
need not mirror the size of the partitions on your source HDDs. The only
proviso, of course, is that each partition be at least sufficient in size
to contain the contents of the data you will be cloning from each of the
source drives' partitions.
OK

5. Re your source drive "PC #1" - the one containing two partitions - you
would clone the contents of each partition to the first two partitions on
the USBEHD.

Note that the disk-cloning process will clone the file systems of the
partition(s) along with their contents, be those file systems FAT32- or
NTFS-formatted. So it is immaterial what file system was established
during the original creation of the partitions on the USBEHD. A clone is a
clone is a clone!
Do you mean that a copy of the raw binary data is being made (directory plus
files)?
6. Re "PC #2" - the one containing a single partition - you would
similarly clone the contents of that HDD to the third partition you had
created on the USBEHD.

7. When you again decide to back up your two systems so as to continue to
maintain reasonably up-to-date backups of both systems, you would simply
repeat the process. And so on & so on...

8. The upshot of all this is that through the use of *routinely* using a
disk-cloning program in the manner described above, you would be
maintaining precise copies of your internal HDDs. So that if & when the
day comes when you find your internal HDD has become defective or if the
drive has become dysfunctional for any reason, you have the wherewithal to
restore your system to a bootable, functional state easily & relatively
quickly by cloning the contents of the data residing on your USBEHD back
to your internal HDD(s).
Sounds very reassuring, but the cost seems potentially high!
5. The program I personally recommend for most PC users to accomplish all
this is the Casper 5 disk-cloning program. (It does *not* have
disk-imaging capability).

We've been using the Casper program for a number of years and have found
it an extraordinarily effective program in establishing & maintaining a
comprehensive backup system through its disk-cloning capability. It has a
straightforward design and is extremely simple to use; there's virtually
no "learning-curve" involved.

But its major advantage and what sets it apart from other
disk-cloning/disk-imaging programs (in our experience) is its speed of
creating these comprehensive backups (clones) when the program is used on
a *frequent* basis - say, at least once a week in most cases, even daily
or every two or three days. Obviously the amount of time the program will
take to complete the disk or partition-cloning operation will depend on a
number of factors including the amount of data being cloned and even
more-importantly in most cases, the frequency of the cloning operations.
It's hard, if not impossible, to provide precise figures in this regard,
but assuming about 50 GB of data per HDD (partition) was being cloned and
using the program perhaps twice a week for comprehensive backups
(following the initial disk-cloning operation), I'd venture to say the
disk (partition) cloning operation would take under five (5) minutes per
HDD.
The time taken doesn't sound at all bad, compared to the time it takes a
virus scanner to scanner a hard drive! My virus scanner can take 3 to 5
hours!
Casper accomplishes this through what it labels its "SmartClone"
capability. It has the unique ability (at least *unique* in our
experience) to determine what changes have been made to the system since
the previous disk-cloning operation so that it "incrementally" can take
only those changes into account during the current disk-cloning operation.
This dramatically speeds up the backup cloning operation so that the user
has a strong incentive to use the program on a frequent basis, knowing
that the disk (partition) cloning operation will take a short period of
time in most cases.
This capability sounds like exactly what the doctor ordered! I will
investigate it.

Regards,

EM
 
M

Mike Torello

Mike Torello said:
Notice that Anna has no reservations about naming the program SHE
prefers, but doesn't name any of the "different type of backup"
programs... like the one that 99% of those who recommend such a
program in these groups recommend: Acronis True Image.

Anna is the ONLY person out of everyone in these (and the Vista)
groups who touts Casper, and ONLY Casper. Ask for a backup program
recommendation, and if she doesn't reply, easily 99% of the
recommendations you will receive will be for the Acronis product.

Acronis will cost you $10 less than Casper if you buy it from it's own
vendor - because you won't have to pay extra for the bootable CD as
you will with Casper. AND it will cost you much less if bought
elsewhere online, like from newegg.com.

She also doesn't emphasize that to use Casper, you will have to
dedicate an entire second drive to its purposes (one of the drawbacks
of cloning as a backup strategy). IMAGING does not have this
drawback.

Forgot to reply to what she said:
If, on the other hand, a user is not especially interested in maintaining
current backups of his/her system and plans to use a disk-cloning (or
disk-imaging) program on a relatively infrequent basis - say, not much more
than once a month for example - then the Casper program will probably hold
no special interest for that type of user.

Acronis can be used DAILY without cramping your computing style if you
aren't using cloning as your backup strategy. You can schedule
Acronis to image your system daily, twice a day, whatever. It will do
so while you do other things with your computer.

NOTE: I know what I'm talking about here - probably more than Anna
does, because unlike Anna, who only uses Casper, I USE BOTH PROGRAMS
DAILY.
 
B

Bill in Co.

I thought it had been stated that one could JUST do a partition copy
operation with Casper ("copy drive option"?) and leave the other existing
partitions on the backup drive intact?

More below..
Forgot to reply to what she said:


Acronis can be used DAILY without cramping your computing style if you
aren't using cloning as your backup strategy. You can schedule
Acronis to image your system daily, twice a day, whatever. It will do
so while you do other things with your computer.

NOTE: I know what I'm talking about here - probably more than Anna
does, because unlike Anna, who only uses Casper, I USE BOTH
PROGRAMS DAILY.

I take it you are using Casper here solely for the case of if your primary
hard drive dies and you want to simply swap it with the backup drive.
Otherwise, you could just use the imaging of ATI to a brand new drive, which
admitedly would take a bit more work.
 
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A

Anna

Enquiring Mind said:
Many thanks for taking the time to post such a comprehensive answer!
Please see below a few comments inserted at relevant points in your
message.


Enquiring Mind said:
I hadn't considered this option as a routine (i.e. daily) back-up option,
because it seemed to be potentially excessive in terms of time, and wear
and tear of the hardware! Suppose that in a day I modify files totalling
say 500 MB in size, and the total size of files on the hard disc I need to
back up is 35GB. With a file-based back-up system I only need to copy
500MB to the EHD, whilst with the cloning approach I am copying 35000MB of
data, most of which hasn't changed. However, I appreciate that some
products, Casper included, may be smart enough to copy and apply a "patch"
to the back-up device. Or does disk cloning differ from disk imaging in
that it is file based rather than raw binary data based?


Enquiring Mind said:
The first PC has 2 internal hard drives each having a single partition .
They run different OS's - Windows ME, and Windows XP Pro.


Enquiring Mind said:
Yes the capacity of the drives is modest - none larger than 80 GB.


Enquiring Mind said:
I was thinking of creating multiple partitions of 80 GB each.


Enquiring Mind said:
Sounds interesting ...


Enquiring Mind said:


Enquiring Mind said:
Do you mean that a copy of the raw binary data is being made (directory
plus files)?


Enquiring Mind said:
Sounds very reassuring, but the cost seems potentially high!


Enquiring Mind said:
The time taken doesn't sound at all bad, compared to the time it takes a
virus scanner to scanner a hard drive! My virus scanner can take 3 to 5
hours!


Enquiring Mind said:
This capability sounds like exactly what the doctor ordered! I will
investigate it.

Regards,

EM


EM:
Let me respond to your above comments/queries here, more-or-less in the
order you raised them...

1. In terms of the disk-cloning program such as the one we recommend, i.e.,
Casper 5, imposing some sort of a penalty re "wear & tear" on your systems'
HDDs, even when the program is used on a daily basis (should the user desire
that approach), we have never discerned any such problem in that area.
Actually, using the program on a daily basis or a few times per week would
amount to what realistically can be considered as a trifling effect re the
use of the HDDs involved and I really can't imagine it having any practical
effect on the longevity of the drives involved.

2. The fact that one of your two PCs contains two different OSs, each on a
separate partition, is no bar to the disk (partition) cloning process I've
described. As I mentioned, when you would clone the contents of the
partition containing the ME OS, its FAT32 file system would be an integral
part of the clone.

3. Aside from the three partitions you would be creating on the USBEHD to
contain the cloned contents of your two HDDs, you could create however many
add'l partitions on the external HDD limited only by the disk size of the
latter.

4. Re your query about the copy possibly being "raw binary data is being
made (directory plus files)", simply think of the clone on the "destination"
drive, i.e., the USBEHD, as a *precise* copy of the contents of the
partition you are cloning from the "source" drive. It's identical in every
practical respect.

5. When you write "Sounds very reassuring, but the cost seems potentially
high!". Are you referring to the cost of the Casper 5 program here? It *is*
true that the program is not particularly inexpensive as disk cloning
programs go. Cost for a single-license is $49.95. AFAIK, the program is
available for download only from the developer at http://www.fssdev.com and
this does not include the downloaded file to create an .iso image that will
create the "Casper Startup Disk" (CD) and which sells for an additional
$9.95. That "Startup Disk" is a really essential piece of the program since
in many cases it would be the only way to effect a recovery of the system
when the installed Casper program could not be accessed from the Windows
environment because the program resides on a HDD that has failed or has
become unbootable. The usual scenario for using the Startup Disk is when the
recipient of the clone has been an external HDD - most likely a USB external
HDD - and the original source disk has become defective or dysfunctional
(unbootable) so that there is no opportunity to access the installed Casper
program. Since the USB external HDD containing the cloned contents of the
source drive is not bootable, one must use the Startup Disk in that
situation in order to clone the contents of the external HDD back to a
non-defective internal HDD in order to recover the system.

However, when one considers that a user will be employing the program
(hopefully!) hundreds (if not thousands) of times over a period of months &
years, we believe the additional cost of the program (in comparison with
other disk-cloning/disk-imaging programs) is bearable. Obviously that's
something each user must decide for himself/herself.

6. As I have tried to emphasize it is that "SmartClone" capability of the
Casper 5 program which, in our view, makes the program so desirable &
superior to other disk-cloning/disk-imaging programs we've used over the
years. Its importance, however, can only be appreciated when the program is
used on a frequent basis as I have previously described. I cannot
overemphasize that "incremental clone" feature.

In any event, give all this some thought to determine if this type of
program meets your objectives. As I mentioned in my previous post, Google
around for additional information on these disk-cloning/disk-imaging
programs. As I indicated, many of these programs have demo or trial versions
available.
Anna
 
M

Mike Torello

Bill in Co. said:
I thought it had been stated that one could JUST do a partition copy
operation with Casper ("copy drive option"?) and leave the other existing
partitions on the backup drive intact?

More below..

I stopped here. If you've not figured it out yet, you're hopeless.

Bye guy.
 
A

Anna

Bill:
Essentially you're correct. There is generally *no* need to "dedicate an
entire second drive" when using the Casper 5 disk-cloning
(partition-cloning) capability.

The OP's situation is a perfect example of this. He/she has two PCs - one PC
containing two partitions, each having a different OS, and the other PC
containing a single-partitioned HDD.

So, as I explained in my response to the OP, he/she could set up three
partitions on his/her USB external HDD (the "destination" drive), clone each
of the two partitions on his/her first "source" HDD to two of the three
partitions on the USBEHD, and then clone the contents of his/her second PC -
the one containing a single-partitioned HDD - to the third partition on the
USBEHD.

As I recall, the OP was using, or intending to use, a 500 GB USBEHD, and
indicated the total data contents on each of the three partitions on the two
source drives was somewhere around 80 GB.

So this would leave a considerable amount of "unallocated" disk space
remaining on the USBEHD - disk space that the user could utilize for
whatever purposes he/she desired.

Thus, when the time came for the user to again clone the contents of his/her
two PCs for comprehensive backup purposes, he/she would (in most cases) use
the originally created three partitions on the USBEHD to again serve as
recipients of the clones.
Anna
 
B

Bill in Co.

Mike said:
Forgot to reply to what she said:


Acronis can be used DAILY without cramping your computing style if you
aren't using cloning as your backup strategy. You can schedule
Acronis to image your system daily, twice a day, whatever. It will do
so while you do other things with your computer.

NOTE: I know what I'm talking about here -

Apparently not.
But, no big surprise (judging from "all" your "technical contributions" to
the newsgroups, instead of just a plethora of ad hominems. (And no, I'm not
going to tell you what plethora means - you can look it up).
 
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M

Mike Torello

Bill in Co. said:
Apparently not.
But, no big surprise (judging from "all" your "technical contributions" to
the newsgroups, instead of just a plethora of ad hominems. (And no, I'm not
going to tell you what plethora means - you can look it up).

Still trying to figure out whether or not a clone is an "exact" copy
or not, old boy? Still posting about Casper using your experience
with Boot-itNG?

I've no idea what a "newager" is... but I can assure you I'm a
certified, card-carrying (Medicare) Senior Citizen.
 
E

Enquiring Mind

Many thanks for your further clarifications. This is uncharted territory for
me, so here are some initial thoughts about the issues, which have probably
very simple answers.

You seem to be advocating a disk-orientated back-up strategy as opposed to a
file-orientated back-up strategy. The disk-orientated back-up strategy seems
to mean that the data in every sector of a source disk has to be compared
with the corresponding sector of a back-up disk - perhaps all 80 GB of
them - and the sectors that are different copied. (It may, of course, be
quicker to forget about comparing the sectors and just copy all the source
sectors to the backup sectors.)

In the alternative file-orientated strategy, only file records read from the
OS's file table need to be compared, and only the files modified since the
previous back-up need to be copied, perhaps just a few hundred MB. Which
files need to be copied can be determined by comparing just the file's size
and time stamp when last modified (or, more comprehensively, comparing the
full file table record) - there's no need to read and compare every byte of
the file in order to determine whether or not the source file has changed
with respect to the corresponding file in the back-up store.

This suggests that for daily backup purposes, the file-orientated approach
is much more efficient, even though it doesn't necessarily back-up all
system files, because only the file directories from each disk need to be
compared, and only files that have changed need to be actually copied. The
disk-orientated back-up approach seems to be more appropriate just before
installing some new software or replacing the hard drive of the computer, or
making any other major changes to the system, as it records the full state
of the disk.

Let me now return to security issues. With a disk clone, the disk clone
contains exactly the same file data as in the source disk, but there might
be a significant difference. Whilst in the source disk files are private to
the users that possess the necessary permissions, in the clone they might
become public/shared, otherwise how could the files be read when the EHD is
connected to another computer? This means that while the backup drive is
connected to a computer via the USB connection, a piece of malware, or an
ill-intentioned computer user, could read back-up copies of files which
would be inaccessible to it/him in the source disk and steal information. To
prevent this the backup copy would have to be integrally encrypted using a
non OS-dependent password. Encrypting all the sectors on a disc slows down
an already time-consuming operation, and since there may be many empty
sectors in the source disk, cracking the encrypted disk copy would be easier
than cracking individually encrypted files.

In the file-orientated backup strategy, all files that have been modified
since the previous backup could be read from the source disk, encrypted in
memory using a password specific to the back-up (i.e. not the key specific
to the currently logged in user, thereby avoiding any NTFS encryption
issues), and then saved to the backup disk. Since the files in the backup
disk are all encrypted, it matters not that they become shared. They can be
recovered to any disk, provided that the correct backup password is
supplied. Of course, any files that in the original source disk had NTFS
encryption would not be readable after recovery, unless the user took the
care to back up the certificate as well as the file.

So the question is: do the various commercial back-up tools on offer address
these issues? And what about the back-up and synchronization software that
usually comes with the external hard drive?

Regards,

EM
 
M

Mike Torello

Enquiring Mind said:
So the question is: do the various commercial back-up tools on offer address
these issues?

Acronis True Image will clone your entire disk, image your entire
disk, or will backup whatever files - even only one - you choose,
manually or on a schedule... and to whatever location you choose.

Capser makes clones. ONLY clones.
 
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A

Anna

Enquiring Mind said:
Many thanks for your further clarifications. This is uncharted territory
for me, so here are some initial thoughts about the issues, which have
probably very simple answers.

You seem to be advocating a disk-orientated back-up strategy as opposed to
a file-orientated back-up strategy. The disk-orientated back-up strategy
seems to mean that the data in every sector of a source disk has to be
compared with the corresponding sector of a back-up disk - perhaps all 80
GB of them - and the sectors that are different copied. (It may, of
course, be quicker to forget about comparing the sectors and just copy all
the source sectors to the backup sectors.)

In the alternative file-orientated strategy, only file records read from
the OS's file table need to be compared, and only the files modified
since the previous back-up need to be copied, perhaps just a few hundred
MB. Which files need to be copied can be determined by comparing just the
file's size and time stamp when last modified (or, more comprehensively,
comparing the full file table record) - there's no need to read and
compare every byte of the file in order to determine whether or not the
source file has changed with respect to the corresponding file in the
back-up store.

This suggests that for daily backup purposes, the file-orientated approach
is much more efficient, even though it doesn't necessarily back-up all
system files, because only the file directories from each disk need to be
compared, and only files that have changed need to be actually copied. The
disk-orientated back-up approach seems to be more appropriate just before
installing some new software or replacing the hard drive of the computer,
or making any other major changes to the system, as it records the full
state of the disk.

Let me now return to security issues. With a disk clone, the disk clone
contains exactly the same file data as in the source disk, but there might
be a significant difference. Whilst in the source disk files are private
to the users that possess the necessary permissions, in the clone they
might become public/shared, otherwise how could the files be read when the
EHD is connected to another computer? This means that while the backup
drive is connected to a computer via the USB connection, a piece of
malware, or an ill-intentioned computer user, could read back-up copies
of files which would be inaccessible to it/him in the source disk and
steal information. To prevent this the backup copy would have to be
integrally encrypted using a non OS-dependent password. Encrypting all the
sectors on a disc slows down an already time-consuming operation, and
since there may be many empty sectors in the source disk, cracking the
encrypted disk copy would be easier than cracking individually encrypted
files.

In the file-orientated backup strategy, all files that have been modified
since the previous backup could be read from the source disk, encrypted in
memory using a password specific to the back-up (i.e. not the key
specific to the currently logged in user, thereby avoiding any NTFS
encryption issues), and then saved to the backup disk. Since the files in
the backup disk are all encrypted, it matters not that they become shared.
They can be recovered to any disk, provided that the correct backup
password is supplied. Of course, any files that in the original source
disk had NTFS encryption would not be readable after recovery, unless the
user took the care to back up the certificate as well as the file.

So the question is: do the various commercial back-up tools on offer
address these issues? And what about the back-up and synchronization
software that usually comes with the external hard drive?

Regards,

EM


EM:
Setting aside your comments & query re security/encryption issues as they
bear upon the disk (partition)-cloning & disk-imaging processes we have been
discussing, I really don't know if I have anything more substantive to offer
than I provided in my previous posts.

Working with thousands of PC users over the years it has been abundantly
clear to us that it is crucial that a substantial number of these users
would be well served by establishing & maintaining a comprehensive backup
program - a program that would not only back up their personal data, but one
that would also back up their OS and all programs & applications - in
effect, a program that would create a precise copy of their day-to-day
working HDD(s). So that if & when that day comes that their system becomes
dysfunctional because of a corrupt OS resulting in an unbootable HDD or the
HDD itself becomes defective, they would have the means to effectively &
reasonably quickly restore their system(s) to a bootable, functional state.

In our view a disk-to-disk (partition-to-partition) cloning program is an
effective tool in meeting that objective. We've continually searched for a
program that was effective (it did what it was supposed to do),
straightforward in design, and easy-to-use even for an inexperienced user.
We've used & experimented with a variety of such programs over the years and
found the Casper 5 program met those objectives. Together with its
"SmartClone" technology (of which I've already commented on in some detail)
we've found this program superior to the others we've used over the years.

When one peruses this newsgroup and similar ones dealing with users'
problems, how many times a day, a week, do we see these types of plaintive
pleas for help?...

"Helllllp! My hard drive apparently died. How do I get my data back?", or,
"I just installed SP3 and now my computer doesn't even boot", or,
"I made that registry change XYZ suggested and now I'm getting weird
messages from Windows", or,
"I installed the latest update from Microsoft and now my anti-spyware
program has been trashed", or,
"I installed that new Super-Duper Anti-Malware program and now all I get is
a black screen", or,
"All of a sudden I'm getting that dreaded BSOD and my system won't. How can
I save my precious photos?", or,
"After I just installed that beta copy of Windows 7 I get this funny message
from Windows that I have to close down my system and now nothing works", or,
"My hard drive was making funny noises and now nothing happens when I push
the power button on my 'puter"...

The list goes on & on, does it not? Does an hour, a day, a week pass where
we don't see the above "cries of distress" and similar pleas for help?

In so many cases the problem would have been a non-problem had the user made
a precise copy of his or her then-functional system *prior* to installing a
major program on their machine or making some major configuration change in
their otherwise perfectly-working system. This can be relatively easily
achieved through the use of a disk-cloning program such as the Casper 5
program which we prefer. So that in the event of a catastrophe - minor or
major - the system can be easily restored to its previous functional state.
When all is said & done, that is the sum & substance of the value of a
disk-cloning program.

Simply stated, a *desirable* disk-cloning program will allow the user to
restore his or her system easily & quickly when their system fails because
of a defective HDD or the system has become unbootable & dysfunctional
because of data corruption from malware, unwise configurations, or other
causes.

But as I previously indicated, the chief reason we prefer the Casper 5
disk-cloning program (aside from its simplicity of operation and general
effectiveness in carrying out the disk (partition)-cloning operation) is
because of its rather extroardinary ability to *speedily* clone the contents
of one drive (or partition) to another drive
(or partition) when the program is used on a frequent basis. As I mentioned,
Casper incorporates what it calls its "SmartClone" feature. The program has
the happy capability of detecting *incremental* changes in the source
drive's data since the *previous* disk-cloning operation. By so doing and
then taking only those incremental data changes into account, the amount of
time the program needs to complete subsequent disk-cloning operations is
significantly shortened (as compared with other disk-cloning programs). Keep
in mind that the resultant clone is a complete clone of the contents of the
source HDD - not merely an incremental "file".

As a result of this feature there is an enormous incentive for users to
backup their systems on a more-or-less current basis knowing that the
expenditure of time in doing so will be relatively slight. Heretofore this
has been a major problem with disk-cloning programs (in terms of *routinely*
using the program as a comprehensive backup system) because each time the
disk-cloning operation was undertaken it was considered by the program to be
a "fresh" operation and therefore took a considerable amount of time to
complete the cloning operation. So many, if not most, users would balk at
using the disk-cloning program on a frequent basis because of that
expenditure of time to undertake the disk-cloning operation.

Obviously there are different approaches one can take with respect to
selecting a backup program (or programs) depending on one's interests. In
many cases the user is unconcerned with backing up their OS and programs &
applications. Their only interest is backing up personal data. Or many users
prefer the disk-imaging process rather than the disk-cloning process, such
as you find in programs such as Acronis True Image or Symantec's Norton
Ghost, etc., as a comprehensive backup tool. We encourage users to
experiment with various backup programs & approaches to determine which ones
will best serve their needs. Especially when trial/demo versions of these
programs are available.

Based on our experience most of the backup programs that are provided with
commercial USB external HDDs are geared toward backing up data created by
the user. They are (by & large) not designed as comprehensive backup
programs such as the kind of disk-cloning/disk-imaging programs under
discussion. While some of them do have this latter capability we have found
them for the most part to be torturously slow in carrying out the operation
and not particularly suited as a comprehensive backup strategy that will be
used routinely & frequently by the user. On the other hand they well might
meet the needs of a certain body of users.

By & large the kind of programs we've been discussing are not geared toward
maintaining security of data. That's a completely different subject to be
explored by a user such as yourself since this is (apparently) an important
consideration in your selection of a backup program. As I'm sure you know
there are a multitude of programs available dealing with this special area.
Anna
 

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