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Re: OT: Bootable disk images

Norman Bauman posted the following:

> http://ask.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=03/11/12/1748242
> "Microsoft Windows 2000 and Windows XP have crippled
> file systems.

Hi Norman,

That ain't all that's crippled about these products.

> The file system cannot copy some of the files that are
> necessary to the operating system.

More than likely, it is one of two things: files that are "locked" (loaded or
otherwise in use by the OS, and therefore untouchable), OR something MS has
done deliberately to keep people from being able to make complete backups that
will actually work after they are Restored.

> If you don't have experience with
> Microsoft operating systems, you may find this amazing, but it is true;
> Microsoft supplies no method of backing up and restoring fully operational
> copies of Windows 2000 and Windows XP.

I've talked to experienced Win consultants, who insisted there was no way to do
this . . . but then, they also were not familiar with some products known to
me. (See Below.)

> Microsoft's advice is to reinstall
> the operating system and all programs every time you want to move to a new
> or backup computer.

Or anytime Win get seriously hosed, by whatever. That's been their advice
since Win-95, or maybe even earlier. It's either hilarious, or infuriating, or
BOTH. One thing it has definitely accomplished is to provide a decent
livelihood for all the Win consultants out there.

> All of the disk image
> duplication programs I've used have problems, in my experience. What
> program do you use? What has been your experience with it?

> "This policy of providing no way to backup and restore a fully installed
> system is impossible for corporations, of course. So Microsoft technical
> support representatives recommend sector-by-sector disk image duplication,
> Sometimes Microsoft technical support recommends using 'third-party' disk
> image programs. For example, sometimes support representatives recommend
> using Symantec Ghost.

I've purchased GHOST 2000 through the 2003 versions (as cheaply as possible, at
computer shows -- bare cd only), just to have it, just in case. I fooled
around with it a bit, but never really used it for myself. The main reason was
that it has some critical blind spots re HPFS (the file system used by OS/2,
and a cousin of NTFS, with which it shares a development history). I've also
read in DejaNews that it can fail under various circumstances, especially if
you don't take certain precautions. Sorry, but I don't recall the specifics.
As a general point, keep in mind that you should do a thorough CHKDSK /F of
the partition in question, scan for viruses with an up-to-date AV program, and
probably do a Defrag run, *before* you make your partition image, _regardless_
of which imaging program you use.

> PowerQuest DriveImage and DeployCenter have an uncertain future. PowerQuest
> was bought by Symantec.

I didn't know, and I'm sorry to hear that. Competition goes away, incentives
go away, and another portion of the software field is headed for stagnation.
You have to laugh whenever Bill Gates testifies somewhere and makes defensive,
self-righteous statements about the need to preserve the freedom for innovation
to occur. What innovation has there been since MS was able to monopolize the
OS and major application software markets ? What need is there for them to do
_anything_ ?

I've used Powerquest's Drive Image and Partition Magic with considerable
success, but stopped at versions 4 & 6 respectively, because they dropped all
support for OS/2 after that. (Even ver. 6 of PM does some nasty Win-centric
things, by default.) With DI-4, I migrated NT-4 to two later generations of
hardware, and later on, W2K to my current desktop system. Also, various OS/2
and other partitions, a number of times. I even had to scrub trashed
partitions a couple times, and put back the most recent images I could find in
their stead.

And there are some caveats. When you are migrating an installed OS partition
to a new motherboard, hard drive, etc., I found that the chances for success
may be directly related to how similar the new hardware is to the old
hardware. For this reason, I planned ahead carefully, and kept on moving to a
later generation of ASUS motherboards, of the same general family. The hard
drives can be critical: they should have a mapping geometry as similar to the
old ones as possible. I went from 4.5G drives to 9G drives, to an 18G one that
is my present boot drive. They remained SCSI, and from the same manufacturer.
If I had jumped from a 9G to a 60G, I think I would have had serious problems.
The partition sizes increased substantially along the way, but not hugely. I
tried to continue with a majority of the same expansion cards during each
migration. If you have to change a whole bunch of drivers in one swell foop, I
know it will be a pain in the butt for OS/2, and Win-32 is apt to tell you "I
don't know where I am anymore, things aren't the same here, I give up." Maybe
with a BSOD.

This procedure worked for me up until recently. I think the failure to
successfully restore images of my main W2K partition (the Logon lockouts I've
mentioned recently) quite possibly have something to do with the fact that I
spanned the partition images so that the nearly 1G image (compressed @ 50%)
could be fit on 2 CDs. That is something I had never tried before, but there
was no longer a whole lot of choice in the matter. Windoze partitions just
keep on getting bigger, no matter what you do. If that wasn't the cause, the
only thing I can think of is that the Password must be crypographically echoed
somewhere in the NT Boot Loader files.

Other differences: GHOST was able to do packet writing direct to CD; this
feature never worked for me with Drive Image, at least not on the CD burner I
have. GHOST 2003 and later is (supposedly) the only program to have finessed
at least some of the USB boot device issues.

> I've tried Acronis True Image. I've had better luck with it than with
> Symantec or PowerQuest products. However, like the others, it sometime
> gives non-specific error messages that say something like, 'I've failed,
> and I'm not going to tell you how to troubleshoot the problem.'

Haven't seen this product yet.

> Fred Langa, publisher of LangaList, recommends BootIt. I have no experience
> with it.

No, BootIt is a multiboot mediator, like System Commander.

> It's disgusting; people just want to make functional backups, but to do it
> they are dragged over the coals."

There are other products and other approaches. I have a tape backup program
called Back Again II, which is also supposed to write to other media like Zip,
Jazz, CD, and DVD. It claims to back up a Windows OS partition, but I've had
rather mixed success with their products. Danz RETROSPECT is apparently in the
same genre, with a mostly corporate customer base.

And there is a well-reviewed program called Aloha Bob's PC RELOCATOR (two or
three levels of it, I think), that is intended specifically for system
migration of Win-32. A company in Germany has a shareware suite called 12
Ghosts, that is supposed to replicate your desktop with shortcuts, and various
installed Preferences. There may well be others.

Hope this has been of some use.