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Re: OT: Bootable disk images [RAID]

** Reply to message from Paul Breeze  on Tue, 18
Nov 2003 00:06:36 GMT

> I have a PCI card that supports four IDE drives.

Not SCSI, aye? Still, I've never heard of a RAID controller for notebooks.
I need a new Desktop; I might try this. I assume you could make occasional
mirrored backups, and stripe all the time for the speed of it. Interesting...

> How does System Backup work? Do you reinstall W2k and
> then use backup to reinstate the previous system, or is
> it more complex?

Well you can do it simple or you can do it complex. I was somewhere in the

By "System" Backup, I don't mean a backup of the "system", but rather the tool
in Accessories ==> System, which is (I think) called "System (or Windows)
Backup". In reality, it's just a tool that you can use to backup (and/or
restore) one file or all files on any drive. It is *incredibly* fast.
Breathtakingly so -- 5 or 6 minutes to backup 4 gigs. (M$ must have gotten
some third party developer to write that code! It's amazing. No way has M$
got the skills or brains to do that. M$ stuff is all Thudwick the Big-Hearted
Moose.) I made a complete backup of every file on the old drive as soon as I
realized that it was southbound. Then swapped in the new, raw, unformatted
48Gb IBM replacement disk.

I set up the new disk exactly as the old disk had been, using Partition Magic:
same size logical drives, same array of FAT/FAT32/NTFS filesystems, same drive
Labels, same same. Waiting around for low level formatting to finish took at
least 5x longer than restoration.

I installed a barebones W2K system on C:, enough to get connectivity with my
external FireWire drive. I seem to remember (maybe) that I then installed the
same Service Pack as on my old system, probably SP2 or 3, because I was worried
that Backup wouldn't replace active files that were fundamentally different
(maybe necessary, maybe not). I restored all the other drives before I did
BootDrive C:, so that when C: finally was rebooted, it wouldn't stumble on
missing files or missing anything. Then I restored the entire contents of the
BKF (backup) file from FireWire onto C: (allowing everything to be overwritten
-- basically an unattended operation), then separately restored the old
Registry files, then *immediately* CRASHED the computer before W2K could make
further changes to the Registry... then rebooted -- and voila! Exactly my old
system -- not one iota different. It goes without saying, your heart is in
your mouth when you do these things. You start smoking again. But it worked.

I use FAT32 on the BootDrive so that, if necessary, I can restore the registry
with Win98 diskettes if I truly hose it (which has never happened -- although
I've restored it often, from last night's auto-backup, usually to obliterate
all memory of a program I installed that I didn't like, or some other non-fatal
error. Add/Remove Programs is nice and all -- I use it to delete the files;
but there's nothing quite as clean as yesterday's Registry.)

I would NEVER dream of doing ANY of this without another, completely functional
computer at my side. It is _stupid_ to try to do it without reference to the
prior experience of other users. DejaNews and secondarily Google are
invaluable companions in this situation.

Robert Holmgren