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Re: Backing up hard drive

 
 
Paul
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      01-16-2009
John wrote:
> Is there a way I can back up a hard drive from another computer to a
> folder on my drive without getting all the error messages like 'access
> denied make sure its not write protected', 'file name too long' etc?
>
> I currently have the whole drive F in my system that I have cleaned
> from virus and spyware with a range of programs. I now just need to do
> a backup of the entire drive to a folder on my computer in case I
> can't use the recovery disc and it does a clean install.
>
> These errors or problems it has when trying to copy some files though
> stops the whole copying of the drive and its difficult to know which
> file it was amongst all the folders and data on the drive.
>
> There has to be some way of just copying everything without errors? Or
> if not getting it to continue copying the rest and skip errors?
>
> Thanks very much for your help,
>
> John


As a general rule of thumb, to back up the active boot disk means
taking the disk offline.

You cannot do that, if there are things like the pagefile on there
and so on. There are a million little things that can make the
disk "busy" and not a candidate for being unmounted or the like.

For a program like Ghost (backup software), the program boots into
something like DOS, and handles the disk from there. Since the disk
is not being used by the Windows OS at that point in time, none of
the files are "busy". My copy of Partition Magic, handles some of
the disk changes it makes in a similar way - it shuts down Windows,
reboots into its own environment (whatever that is), does what it
needs to do to the disks, then reboots into Windows. If Partition
Magic is changing the non-boot drive, it can complete the
operation without shutting down Windows.

The fact that things like spyware and viruses are able to
prevent the user from deleting files or making changes, tells
you the environment has the hooks to prevent arbitrary changes
at any point in time. Thus, the usage environment has to have
restrictions placed on it, in order for you to have full control of
the disk and its contents.

In fact, I do know of a way to copy the OS disk, while the OS
is running. I could use the Windows port of "dd" to do it. But
if I were to try that, then the contents of some of the copied
files could be corrupted. When the OS locks some files, the
idea is, it is to prevent consistency problems. So if you
attempt to "go behind" the OS, using a program like "dd", then
you'll still need some mechanism later, to decide whether what
you got is correct or not.

Be very careful with this tool! It has the potential to erase
disks, if you type in a command with the wrong syntax or disk
names. You should be able to copy drives, behind Windows back,
but the consistency of the files is not guaranteed. If a
Windows program is currently writing to a file, what you get
may depend on what file system (NTFS or FAT32) is being used.

http://www.chrysocome.net/dd

If you use some commercial backup software (Ghost or Acronis
Trueimage), the tools should take care of these issues for you.

What some backup software does, is prepare a "disaster disc", which
is what you boot when you want to do a "bare metal" recovery.
Then, your actual backup file set or backup image file, can be
stored on whatever happens to be convenient. That could be
a set of DVDs, or it could be some space on some other (data)
hard drive.

Some of the backup software is complicated to use. When I
provided a copy of Retrospect to a family member as part of a
gift computer, and they wanted a written procedure for backup,
it took 12 pages of hand written notes, as to what to do and
in what order. Even I was shocked at the length of the notes.
I doubt anyone other than me, will ever read them.

If you are familiar with Linux, you could also attempt to do
file by file copying there. But I don't know if that
will upset some essential ingredient for Windows or not.
All I can vouch for, is I used Linux "dd" to copy one 80GB
drive to another 80GB drive, and Windows didn't even
notice when booted from the new disk later. (Perhaps
if I'd done it to WinXP, it might have counted as
an activation item. WinXP takes the volume ID as one
of the checklist items for re-activation.)

Paul
 
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Paul
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Posts: n/a
 
      01-16-2009
John wrote:
> On Fri, 16 Jan 2009 16:36:07 -0500, Paul <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
>
>> John wrote:
>>> Is there a way I can back up a hard drive from another computer to a
>>> folder on my drive without getting all the error messages like 'access
>>> denied make sure its not write protected', 'file name too long' etc?
>>>
>>> I currently have the whole drive F in my system that I have cleaned
>>> from virus and spyware with a range of programs. I now just need to do
>>> a backup of the entire drive to a folder on my computer in case I
>>> can't use the recovery disc and it does a clean install.
>>>
>>> These errors or problems it has when trying to copy some files though
>>> stops the whole copying of the drive and its difficult to know which
>>> file it was amongst all the folders and data on the drive.
>>>
>>> There has to be some way of just copying everything without errors? Or
>>> if not getting it to continue copying the rest and skip errors?
>>>
>>> Thanks very much for your help,
>>>
>>> John

>> As a general rule of thumb, to back up the active boot disk means
>> taking the disk offline.
>>
>> You cannot do that, if there are things like the pagefile on there
>> and so on. There are a million little things that can make the
>> disk "busy" and not a candidate for being unmounted or the like.
>>
>> For a program like Ghost (backup software), the program boots into
>> something like DOS, and handles the disk from there. Since the disk
>> is not being used by the Windows OS at that point in time, none of
>> the files are "busy". My copy of Partition Magic, handles some of
>> the disk changes it makes in a similar way - it shuts down Windows,
>> reboots into its own environment (whatever that is), does what it
>> needs to do to the disks, then reboots into Windows. If Partition
>> Magic is changing the non-boot drive, it can complete the
>> operation without shutting down Windows.
>>
>> The fact that things like spyware and viruses are able to
>> prevent the user from deleting files or making changes, tells
>> you the environment has the hooks to prevent arbitrary changes
>> at any point in time. Thus, the usage environment has to have
>> restrictions placed on it, in order for you to have full control of
>> the disk and its contents.
>>
>> In fact, I do know of a way to copy the OS disk, while the OS
>> is running. I could use the Windows port of "dd" to do it. But
>> if I were to try that, then the contents of some of the copied
>> files could be corrupted. When the OS locks some files, the
>> idea is, it is to prevent consistency problems. So if you
>> attempt to "go behind" the OS, using a program like "dd", then
>> you'll still need some mechanism later, to decide whether what
>> you got is correct or not.
>>
>> Be very careful with this tool! It has the potential to erase
>> disks, if you type in a command with the wrong syntax or disk
>> names. You should be able to copy drives, behind Windows back,
>> but the consistency of the files is not guaranteed. If a
>> Windows program is currently writing to a file, what you get
>> may depend on what file system (NTFS or FAT32) is being used.
>>
>> http://www.chrysocome.net/dd
>>
>> If you use some commercial backup software (Ghost or Acronis
>> Trueimage), the tools should take care of these issues for you.
>>
>> What some backup software does, is prepare a "disaster disc", which
>> is what you boot when you want to do a "bare metal" recovery.
>> Then, your actual backup file set or backup image file, can be
>> stored on whatever happens to be convenient. That could be
>> a set of DVDs, or it could be some space on some other (data)
>> hard drive.
>>
>> Some of the backup software is complicated to use. When I
>> provided a copy of Retrospect to a family member as part of a
>> gift computer, and they wanted a written procedure for backup,
>> it took 12 pages of hand written notes, as to what to do and
>> in what order. Even I was shocked at the length of the notes.
>> I doubt anyone other than me, will ever read them.
>>
>> If you are familiar with Linux, you could also attempt to do
>> file by file copying there. But I don't know if that
>> will upset some essential ingredient for Windows or not.
>> All I can vouch for, is I used Linux "dd" to copy one 80GB
>> drive to another 80GB drive, and Windows didn't even
>> notice when booted from the new disk later. (Perhaps
>> if I'd done it to WinXP, it might have counted as
>> an activation item. WinXP takes the volume ID as one
>> of the checklist items for re-activation.)
>>
>> Paul

>
> Thanks for the info. Sometimes wish I did have Linux for stuff like
> this. Which version of it do you have and how much does it cost? I
> think it would be good to expand my knowledge of other operating
> systems besides Windows.
>
> I am just trying using XCOPY at the moment in a MS-Dos window. I am
> using the following parameters:
>
> XCOPY "F:\" "C:\backupfolder\" /S /E /I /H /R /K /W
>
> It seems to be copying the files extremely quickly, a lot faster than
> trying within Windows, however it still stops at one of the files
> giving an access is denied error.
>
> I may try doing it in Dos proper on boot up before getting to windows
> and seeing if not having the XP OS running makes a difference. The
> file in the particular folder seems to be some sort of Windows Update
> folder from the look of it from 2006.
>
> If I can't get it to work from Dos proper them I may just skip the
> hidden and systems files and just try copying the main files on the HD
> to the backup folder.
>
> When I tried in Windows I did have a few other errors in other
> non-system etc folders though with corrupt files which stopped the
> whole thing copying.
>
> I am really liking the speed at which XCOPY appears to copy stuff
> though so if I can get this to work it would be a blessing.
>
> Cheers again,
>
> John


Linux is free. There are a few distros which are commercial, and
perhaps offer some level of support or developer effort. The rest
are free for download.

I use Knoppix. That is a 700MB download (for the latest CD version),
and the burning of a CD. For the useful bits (i.e. tools you might
use for working on Windows issues), it could be a good deal smaller.
I did try a smaller distro (maybe 50MB) but it didn't manage to boot on
my computer. And after testing a number of distros, I now have
a short temper for issues. When new distros are available, I
burn them to CDRW, if they don't boot, they get erased.

Knoppix is from knopper.net . It is a "LiveCD" distro, meaning
it boots from the CD, and you don't need any hard drive there
to use it. It can deal with foreign file systems - with FAT32
is it fully fluent. With NTFS, one version of NTFS support is
in user space, which may not be as convenient as a kernel space
one would be. (If everything is in the kernel space, there is
a chance a single set of tools would work with everything. For
example, using the "mount" command would work the same for
FAT32 as for NTFS.)

The download is an ISO9660 file. A tool like Nero, can use the
stuff inside that file, to prepare a bootable CD. You don't burn
the file itself to the CD - you use a burner tool that understands
ISO9660, and does the right things to the CD in response.

There is also a DVD version, but at 4.4GB download, that is just
too big to be practical. I did do that once, and I did discover
a way to burn a CD with the boot files, then put the rest of
the files on a hard drive. But with that method, I have to cart
that hard drive around with the files. I find that method
good when I want to use the larger distro, but only have
a CD drive on the computer.

Knoppix is not recommended if you just want to install Linux
on a hard drive. If you want a real Linux environment, I
recommend Debian, as at least the package manager is going
to be working with a consistent set of release files. But
if you're looking for a temporary "boot from CD" version,
it is currently my favorite.

Proper backup software is more convenient.

One thing about Linux is, everything you try to do takes time
to research. Sometimes, when you're looking for information,
some of the web sites are dead or no longer exist. Lots of
false leads when using a search engine. There isn't a uniform
way of getting the info you need. (I have some Unix experience
from work, and sometimes I wonder if that isn't more of a
hindrance than a help.)

I don't really know what the limitations of XCOPY are.
I've never used it. I know there are some people who
try to do everything with it. Perhaps someone over in
one of the Windows groups could help with that. But the
problem remains, that when the boot disk is kept "busy" by
Windows keeping some files open, no matter what you do,
there are going to be some kinds of issues. This is why
the backup software tends to drop out of Windows and
do the work elsewhere.

Another tool for copying files, is Robocopy. See if this
comes closer to doing the job.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robocopy

"Notably, Robocopy cannot copy open files that are in use
by other users or applications. The so-called Backup mode
is an administrative privilege that allows Robocopy to
override permissions settings (specifically, NTFS ACLs)
for the purpose of making backups. The Windows Volume Shadow
Copy service is the only Windows subsystem that can copy
open files while they are in use. Robocopy does not implement
accessing the Volume Shadow Copy service in any way,
inhibiting its usefulness as a backup utility for volumes
that may be in use. However, one can use separate utilities
such as VSHADOW or DISKSHADOW (included with Windows Server
200 to create a shadow copy of a given volume with which
to backup using Robocopy."

Sounds a bit complicated, but all of it is like that...

HTH,
Paul
 
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