Another Cloning ? - albeit a good one

November 27, 2010 at 08:48:49
Specs: Windows XP sp3, raina x3
Hello all - I just bought a new gigabyte mb and new hd, ram a whole new ship so to say - and have a sata drive - and of course what I thought would only take maybe 6 hours took about 48 hours to get everything just right (disabling services and customizing etc etc, dont want to do that again for this) - this PC is for work and God forbid if anything happens to the hd (either a virus I cant get rid of quickly or hdd failure or just out of expediency) I want to be able to take that drive out and put in another that is an exact copy or clone (from this point) - boot it up and have it ready to go

so here is my plan/'s [and I know there is more than one option]

1 - get a new second exact hdd (same manufacturer, model, size etc) put it in an external hdd enclosure (I'll call enclosure A-1) and take out the OS hdd and put that in another external hdd enclosure (I'll call enclosure A-2) - hook both of them up to another PC I have and copy the drive from enclosure A-2 to enclosure A-1 - will this work? or will I have to use something like "EASEUS Disk Copy" and do a "sector by sector" copy for it to really work and if so can I use EASEUS without having to boot it from disk if I am doing it this way - [ie having them both in external enclosures on a second pc; to me that would be a lot more convenient] - and then when I am done I will, I suppose it wont matter which hdd I use, put one of them back in the new case and keep the other if I ever need it - will this be ok ?

thank you - thomas

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November 27, 2010 at 09:06:37
First of all, if the computer is used for mission critical work then you should have already been performing regular backup/ imaging. There is no substitute for that.

Your idea will work for about one day and then the external will no longer be in sync with the primary drive.

Get an external drive that has included backup software. In addition to that I suggest you perform periodic backups.

Buy and use Windows 7 professional or Ultimate and use the built in backup features of Windows 7.

Your plan will take way too much time to keep up so you won't.

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November 27, 2010 at 09:22:30
What about a RAID 1 array?

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November 27, 2010 at 10:29:38
thankyou for both replies

- however with my work we can only use XP - they will not allow Vista or 7

- also raid personally its a great choice for some for me I'd rather not have my processor do the extra work constantly (for this specific pc, although others might be a good idea) I'd rather keep the processor at the 28 - 30 deg C I have now instead of raising it another 2 or 5 degress or whatever it would

- I need not to keep it in sync, I dont save hardley anything to the hd, I do use an external drive if I happen to need to do that - I only need the programme the way I have it now; it will be good even a year from now - all I would need to do is update any windows sec fixes and or vs definitions

- my main concern is the logistics of making it work via using two external hardrives with another PC and the EasyUs or sim programme - and if there would be any incompatibilities with motherboard, COA, etc - and if infact for that day (or untill any changes where made ) as you say, they would be identical and I could just take one drive out and put the other in & no one but me and you would know the difference (at least for that day lol)

seriously I appreciate the thoughts, to me this seems like it would be a nice back up being that the hdd wont change much at all and just being able to throw one in (thats fresh off the shelf almost with the headstart stuff already on it if needed) would work -

personal info - I just built this machine not that the old one is bad, but I wanted to use this for work also since it is a little speedier so I have two SATAs in there already (the one I dedicated for work hardly has anything on it but their programme & a vs and firewall etc) and I use a on-off-on switch to boot btwn either; my work programme if they did update it only takes a few minutes to install; the main labor is getting windows installed and all the tweaks I need to do to that initially (turning off services, disabling indexing of drive, setting up outlook, installing hardware drivers and etc I am very slow at - took me about 48 hours compared to the 5 minutes to add their programme) so thats all I want/need to do

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November 27, 2010 at 13:26:44
Then use a backup software and burn to DVDR disks. Cheaper and better than an extra drive. You first get the hard drive just the way you want it. Then make a backup set on DVDR. The programs will span multiple disks as needed. When time to restore you just boot to the first disk of the set. Couldn't be easier.

A program like the link below.

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November 29, 2010 at 13:52:37
I wanted to add s'more thoughts;

* was thinking a raid 1 array would work and then I could just delete the array later I suppose -

* something like Acronis or fill in the blank would work good - yes the dvds would be cheaper since I have a whole stack of em' and probably the disk wont go bad anyways; however another hdd is not too bad in price but either way if I do it to another hdd and do a clone sector by sector I have read also to make sure the new copied partition is set to active

thanks again

* I have a what if, IF anyone feels like it - and this is just theory - if I did the two external enclosers via usb2 one having the bootable active hdd with os and all and the other blank hdd (though the same make model geom etc) and copied all the folders hidden & etc from the active to the blank just from windows platform - would that boot up as well without any addtl sw used or steps taken or would it not copy the mbr in the correct sectors and other vital things -
AND if it did not - could I just not have an mbr for the second disk and use an mbr multibooter via a floppy and that would recognize any partition with an os - and would that boot ?

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November 29, 2010 at 14:05:47
You are making it more complicated than necessary.

Acronis can create an image of a single partition or an entire drive. Then it can perform incremental backups in between. The current price is $19.99 at

Backup to DVDR once in a while and then use a single external with acronis the rest of the time. Or is you prefer you can find externals that come with backup software pre-installed.

My preference is Optical disk first than hard drive some where. The thing about optical is once you have made the disks it is fast, easy and cheap to make additional copies for even more protection. Keep off site, for instance.

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November 29, 2010 at 14:16:50
"I'd rather keep the processor at the 28 - 30 deg }

Tastes Great you misunderstand cpu temps related to programs running. Does not work that way.

XP doesn't support software raid mirroring. You need a hardware solution to raid1.

Are you clear on your criteria?
First you say "I want to be able to take that drive out and put in another that is an exact copy or clone (from this point) - boot it up and have it ready to go "

If you had done a hardware raid array this would happen for you automatically as well as you would be uptodate not a week or month behind from the last clone you did.

Mirroring doesn't negate backing up. Two very different levels of protection which together is even better.

"would that boot up as well without any addtl sw used or steps taken"

Sorry but it doesn't work that way. You can't copy from the OS due to open files. You can't copy the mbr since its not a file. This is why you clone disks. Its outside of the OS mounted system.

Also note that plans that are too complex never succeed. KISS principle.

Clone your internal drive to the same make/model external drive and be consistant with doing it regularly. If the internal drive goes you will swap with the external.

Answers are only as good as the information you provide.
How to properly post a question:

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December 1, 2010 at 07:46:51
wanderer, I believe the raid can be a good addtl option, been used by servers for a while, and there are raid drivers that can be added to xp from what I've read also

to clarify one of the replies [which thanks for doing]

- [I wrote] '"would that boot up as well without any addtl sw used or steps taken"

[you replied] Sorry but it doesn't work that way. You can't copy from the OS due to open files. You can't copy the mbr since its not a file. This is why you clone disks. Its outside of the OS mounted system."

- So what I've gathered & learned to phrase properly is that there's 2 ways to work outside the OS mounted system;
1) one is to boot up from a floppy, cd or [take your pick]
2) and the other which [I do agree could be an unecessary step] I do want to rephrase just to be clear on what I had meant - if I physically moved the OS hddrive completely out of the computer case and put it in an external drive enclosure & took another blank hdd [same make, model, etc] and also put that into a second external enclosure then connected both of these external enclosures to an entireley different pc [then those files would not be open anymore] and then could I copy and or clone them and then would that boot up as well without any addtl sw used or steps taken or would it not copy the mbr in the correct beginning sectors and other vital things . . . - you did answer the mbr question, it "cant copy the mbr since its not a file",

- so if I did copy all the other files I could copy, then could I bypass the mbr by having a 'mbr multibooter' programme via floppy, would that be recognized as an OS [this part is just theory but am wondering if it would work]

- Or use fdisk or xp cd to create a mbr []

. . . I am just curious I guess thats why my friends call me whiskers

thanks all . . .

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December 1, 2010 at 08:40:00
Microsoft discourages installing Windows on external drives. It is possible to do but more of a pain than worth it.

If your motherboard supports RAID 1 then you could go that way. As wander has stated above, that is not a substitute for regular backups. RAID 1 allows the system to continue to work with a corrupted drive in the system. IMO that is the major advantage of RAID 1, or any other RAID array except RAID 0, which is not redundant.

My recommendation would be to get an external and the Acronis software I linked above. Then Image the system to DVDR media and to the external drive. Acronis can be set to perform incremental backups to keep you current. Then periodically burn a complete image to DVDR. If the information is mission critical then duplicate the DVD set and store in multiple locations.

There is an inverse relationship to the amount of effort and the importance of the data.

I assume you are a home user so my recommendation is the most cost effective and easiest to maintain. If you don't perform the steps than the system is no good. Make it too complicated and you won't maintain it.

I just checked newegg for that particular version of Acronis and the price is now $40. I suggest you read and compare all the versions to see which one best suits your needs. Just search for Acronis at the site.

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