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  #1  
Old 01-03-2012, 10:27 AM
pjpjpjpj pjpjpjpj is offline
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Duplicate OS hard drive question

Questions from a noob who doesn't know anything about mirroring, automatic backup scripts, using multiple drives, or anything like that:

I don't run any fancy backup programs, mirroring, or anything like that (I know I should, but I don't know how). Last weekend, the hdd on which I have my OS (Win XP) and Sage installation crashed. Luckily, as it was breathing it's last dying breath, I was able to copy the wiz.bin and some other files to another drive. But then I had to put in a new drive, install Win XP, install Sage and whatever other programs I had on that drive, put back wiz.bin and get all my other settings back "how I like it", etc. So it got me thinking, maybe it's time for me to do some asking and learning...

The hdd that holds WinXP and Sage is just a "small" (20GB?) drive, and I don't keep any "media" on it (pictures, DVD rips, TV recordings, MP3s, etc.). My server case has space for another internal drive.

Thought #1: Could I set up another drive exactly like the one that is currently running, including having WinXP installed (same registration key), Sage installed (with license keys entered and everything), etc., etc., and just have that drive sitting "unused" in the case - except that I could have some method of automatically copying the currently active wiz.bin to that drive at regular intervals - but otherwise having it be completely inactive? As long as I have the boot disk set as the current HDD, it wouldn't matter that I had another installation of WinXP in the machine on another drive, would it?

Thought #2: If I shut down my server, removed the HDD, put in a new one and installed WinXP and Sage from scratch (like I did this past weekend), got it running, licensed, etc., and then shut down again and switched back to the original drive, that wouldn't cause any issues, would it? That way I would have a backup drive ready to run in case of another crash, and could keep that drive somewhere on a shelf (not running it, therefore not "aging" it). I could set up whatever method I use to back up wiz.bin so that it just copied it to an external drive (one that I use for recordings or DVD rips or whatever), and in case of the crash/switchover, I could just manually replace the wiz.bin on the new drive from that external drive copy.

Thought #3: Is there a native WinXP function that allows me to constantly keep a 100% backup of my entire drive, on another drive? I know that WinXP has the "restore point" deal where you can jump back to a recent setup if something you do causes a problem, but does that include a full backup? If so, is this the simplest way to do it? Seems like that method typically just creates a partition on the same HDD and if that drive crashes, it wouldn't help...

Thoughts/comments on these ideas, or suggestions of other ways? Again, I'm a total noob about this stuff, so if you are going to say "just write a script to back it up regularly", I don't know how to do that, so instructions would be appreciated.
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  #2  
Old 01-03-2012, 11:05 AM
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stanger89 stanger89 is offline
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For 1, if your motherboard supports RAID-1, you can set that up, and then two (or more) disks appear as one drive to Windows and anything written is automatically written to both so they are always identical and upd to date.

As far as 2, your best option is probably something along the lines of Acronis True Image, to make an image of your hard drive after you install everything and get it all set up. Then if something goes wrong you can just restore the image. If you go this route you can also make incremental backups/images before you make big changes (new drivers etc) so if something goes wrong there, you can roll back to just before the backup. This IMO is way, way, way better than Windows' system restore since it's a bit-for-bit image of the entire system before things went bad.

For 3, for "continual" backups, really all you need saved continuously (on a dedicated SageTV server) is the SageTV directory, and I let CrashPlan handle that for me.
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  #3  
Old 01-03-2012, 02:44 PM
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GKusnick GKusnick is offline
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A second hard drive in the same box is not an adequate backup. Say your power supply blows up and fries your system. You don't want your backup drive zapped along with everything else.

So at the very least you want to back up to an external or removeable drive that you swap out frequently and store separately from your system. Even then, a house fire or flood could still wipe out everything.

So for the really important stuff, you want some sort of online or off-site backup, where you can copy files over the Internet to some other location that won't be affected by whatever disaster you're trying to protect against.
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  #4  
Old 01-03-2012, 03:42 PM
KeithAbbott KeithAbbott is online now
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Where's davephan when you really need him?
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  #5  
Old 01-03-2012, 04:35 PM
razrsharpe razrsharpe is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KeithAbbott View Post
Where's davephan when you really need him?


Seriously though: Count me as a second vote for Acronis. I have mine setup for a weeks worth of full backups that automatically overwrite the oldest (always have 7 full backups). And on top of that i also have manual backups that i keep every time i change something major. I also backup just the wiz.bin/wiz.bak every other night that i keep indefinitely.
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Last edited by razrsharpe; 01-03-2012 at 04:38 PM.
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  #6  
Old 01-04-2012, 08:02 AM
pjpjpjpj pjpjpjpj is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GKusnick View Post
A second hard drive in the same box is not an adequate backup. Say your power supply blows up and fries your system. You don't want your backup drive zapped along with everything else.

So at the very least you want to back up to an external or removeable drive that you swap out frequently and store separately from your system. Even then, a house fire or flood could still wipe out everything.

So for the really important stuff, you want some sort of online or off-site backup, where you can copy files over the Internet to some other location that won't be affected by whatever disaster you're trying to protect against.
While I see the point about not having the drive in the same case, I am not worried about having it in the house. If we have a fire or flood, the last thing I am worried about is my Sage system, and (assuming I'd lose an extender or two), I probably wouldn't be returning to Sage anyway.

I should clarify that I'm not looking for "backup" in the traditional sense that people typically think about - making sure I don't lose personal records, etc. The only stuff I have on any computer in the house that I really care about keeping is photos and home videos of my children, and I regularly (and manually) back those up to a drive and discs that I keep offsite (yes, I could use something like Acronis for that, but my method is effectively free). I have nothing on my server other than WinXP, Sage, and various supporting software (PlayOn, etc.). If I lost it, it wouldn't be the end of the world. All I am looking for is the ability, should I have my Sage server hard drive crash again, to be back up and running almost immediately, rather than having to do a "from scratch" installation of Win XP, system drivers, Service Pack 3, Sage, PlayOn, all my Sage plugins, ADM menu setup, etc., etc.

This past weekend when it happened was admittedly a very lucky time for it to happen. With the holidays, we had virtually no shows set to record for almost a day. However, we have a newborn in the house and having our media available is huge for those middle-of-the-night feedings. My crash occurred Friday night around 6 pm, I was up until 4:30 am restoring things back the way they were (and I'm already lacking sleep due to the newborn!). I would very much like to avoid having to do that again - if the drive were to crash again, I would like to have another drive ready where all I would have to do is physically install it, copy my wiz.bin to it, and start up Sage. I am just looking for the best way to do that.

Sounds like the best way to do it would just be to spend the 8 hours (again) installing everything on another separate hard drive, and then just take it out and put back the one I am using now. That would only leave me with the task of setting up some way to back up my wiz.bin file to some other drive (one of my external drives that holds DVDs or something, and has space available).
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  #7  
Old 01-04-2012, 08:22 AM
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stanger89 stanger89 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pjpjpjpj View Post
Sounds like the best way to do it would just be to spend the 8 hours (again) installing everything on another separate hard drive, and then just take it out and put back the one I am using now. That would only leave me with the task of setting up some way to back up my wiz.bin file to some other drive (one of my external drives that holds DVDs or something, and has space available).
Just make an image of your current install, or clone it to another hard drive. There's free options to clone drives. You should be able to do that in well under an hour.
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  #8  
Old 01-04-2012, 02:13 PM
thomaszoo thomaszoo is offline
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Originally Posted by stanger89 View Post
Just make an image of your current install, or clone it to another hard drive. There's free options to clone drives. You should be able to do that in well under an hour.
Agreed. I use Macrium Reflect (free edition). It doesn't do incremental backups, but does just fine for disk imaging and cloning. I just do occasional backups.

Wayne
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  #9  
Old 01-04-2012, 10:31 PM
wayner wayner is offline
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WHS automatically backs up all of your PCs on a nightly basis but that requires an additional PC. But it can also act as a file server for holding your media. I have a Sage server and a WHS and I have most of my media, except RecordedTV on both boxes. I also have a second Sage license on my WHS PC. That way if my Sage system is down I can just reboot my extender and select the WHS Sage server. It can't record any new shows but at least I can watch anything in my video library - which you may find useful when our newborn is 5!
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  #10  
Old 01-05-2012, 08:52 AM
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stanger89 stanger89 is offline
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I've never understood what's so much better about WHS for backups than something like Acronis True Image (or Crashplan). It's trivially easy to setup TrueImage to do nightly backups.
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  #11  
Old 01-05-2012, 09:48 AM
jorton jorton is offline
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I don't think that WHS is "better" for backing up, but it does have deduplication "WHS client backup has de-duplication so if every computer backed up is running Win7 then only one set of Win7 files will be stored on the server." that is handy if you have all the same OS on your machines and want to save a bit of space when backing up.

I have a full set of Acronis TIH 2011 licences for my PC's so I have used both and prefer the "central" backup of WHS2011 but they both do the same thing in the end. There are other features to WHS2011 that are handy and for ~$50 I think it's a cheaper solution if you have a lot of PC's to backup.
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  #12  
Old 01-05-2012, 10:18 AM
wayner wayner is offline
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I agree with jorton - WHS isn't necessarily better but overall it has a bunch of tools that come in handy, such as a web server with domain name (yourname.homeserver.com), file server capabilities, remote management, etc.

I was using WHS v1 as my Sage server as well but I had some problems with that. I was never sure if th problems were WHS related or not, but I moved my Sage server to other hardware, partially because it was not easy to restore the system drive if a WHS v1 system.
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  #13  
Old 01-05-2012, 03:37 PM
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GKusnick GKusnick is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pjpjpjpj View Post
All I am looking for is the ability, should I have my Sage server hard drive crash again, to be back up and running almost immediately...
You might consider RAID1 then, as Stanger suggested earlier. RAID1 automatically keeps two disks in sync continuously, in real time, and it's just a matter of replacing the faulty drive with a fresh one to get up and running again right where you left off. If you go with hot-swap RAID, then there's no downtime at all; the system keeps running while you replace the bad drive.

But again, this is just about minimizing downtime in the case of a single drive failure. It does not protect you from data loss in other sorts of disasters that affect more than one drive.
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Old 01-06-2012, 11:28 AM
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patja patja is offline
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Originally Posted by jorton View Post
I don't think that WHS is "better" for backing up, but it does have deduplication "WHS client backup has de-duplication so if every computer backed up is running Win7 then only one set of Win7 files will be stored on the server." that is handy if you have all the same OS on your machines and want to save a bit of space when backing up.

I have a full set of Acronis TIH 2011 licences for my PC's so I have used both and prefer the "central" backup of WHS2011 but they both do the same thing in the end. There are other features to WHS2011 that are handy and for ~$50 I think it's a cheaper solution if you have a lot of PC's to backup.
Agreed on WHS being the best bang for the buck when you get more than a couple of PCs to worry about. We've got 7 in our house. Try pricing that many licenses of Acronis vs. the $50 for WHS for as many client PC backups as you want.

I've got WHS 2011 running as a VM with all backup storage on an iSCSI drive shared out of an OpenSolaris ZFS RAID-Z2 folder (Napp-IT). Great redundancy
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Old 01-06-2012, 03:11 PM
MattHelm MattHelm is offline
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Originally Posted by thomaszoo View Post
Agreed. I use Macrium Reflect (free edition). It doesn't do incremental backups, but does just fine for disk imaging and cloning. I just do occasional backups.

Wayne
+1 on Macrium Free. I just backup to one of my recording (slightly smaller than most 1 hour HD shows) drives. I've used the restore too, and both times, it worked perfect. I have 1 paid copy for my main machine, and use 4 frees elsewhere.

I use Cobian Backup for "data", and try to keep mostly programs only on the system disk.
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  #16  
Old 01-07-2012, 01:05 PM
pjpjpjpj pjpjpjpj is offline
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A few questions:

1) As in indicated in the OP, I'm a noob about backup and things like RAID. If I installed a second drive and set my system to RAID1 (I believe this is a setting I saw in my BIOS setup), but already have my existing drive working, would it just immediately start making a duplicate on the second drive until they were mirror images? Or do you need to start with two completely blank drives from the beginning in order to have one as a perfect backup of the other?

2) Same sort of question with things like Macrium: can you set it to copy everything on one drive to another drive, and if so, would that second drive actually work as a functioning boot disk if the first ("original") drive failed? I guess what I am getting at is, do copied drives work as though things were "installed" (OS, various software programs, etc.), even if they were not actually "installed" on the backup, just copied from another drive? (hope this makes sense)
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  #17  
Old 01-07-2012, 04:19 PM
rrhorer rrhorer is offline
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I have several suggestions:
  1. Don't do raid. With Sage, it's a waste IMO. For recording, Sage decides between hard drives which will be used based on available space; so use at least two hard drives, preferably of the same size, for recording purposes. You could mirror the OS & Sage directory; but a better strategy is periodic images, saved off-system.
  2. I keep a clone drive available (not installed) and periodic images of the C drive (OS and Sage). If you have a Seagate HDD (or Maxtor, which was acquired by Seagate), download the free DiscWizard program. It is actually Acronis; its free, and works very well, but works only if you have at least one Seagate drive connected (a USB connection will suffice). It's use is fairly straight-forward with built-in step-by-step instructions along the way. You'll need to create a restore CD first time through. It will clone, image and everything you'll need to do for a solid backup strategy.
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  #18  
Old 01-07-2012, 04:23 PM
rrhorer rrhorer is offline
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And, to your second question-- yes, a clone drive can be swapped out with your failed OS drive and you're good to go. An image that was made subsequent to cloning, can then be restored; and you're back to where you where with your last image.
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  #19  
Old 01-08-2012, 10:07 PM
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bialio bialio is offline
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IF you are just looking for convenience in getting back up quickly if a hard drive fails I think RAID 1 or some kind of periodic imaging (Acronis etc) would fit the bill. It depends on how much time you want to put into configuring things.

Chances are you won't be able to convert your existing install into a RAID-1 array, so if you don't want to redo all of that work one more time, you should probably find a backup program like Acronis and set it up to take some periodic images.

btl.
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  #20  
Old 01-09-2012, 06:58 AM
razrsharpe razrsharpe is offline
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Originally Posted by bialio View Post
IF you are just looking for convenience in getting back up quickly if a hard drive fails I think RAID 1 or some kind of periodic imaging (Acronis etc) would fit the bill. It depends on how much time you want to put into configuring things.
agreed
Quote:
Chances are you won't be able to convert your existing install into a RAID-1 array, so if you don't want to redo all of that work one more time, you should probably find a backup program like Acronis and set it up to take some periodic images.
Agree that you will not be able to convert your existing disk to a RAID-1 array but disagree that you'd need to redo all the work.

Here's what i would do:
  1. Use Acronis (or something else) to create bootable rescue media and make a complete backup of your existing installation to disk.
  2. Install the raid drivers for your motherboard on your existing installation. Potentially you need to change the disk drivers over to the new drivers. Shut down the system.
  3. Use Acronis (or something else) to make a complete backup of your existing installation to disk with the correct drivers for the raid.
  4. Reconfigure the hardware for raid... install disk, in bios configure raid 1 mirroring.
  5. Use the rescue media created in step 1 to boot into a recovery environment. Load up the image you made in step 3 (the one with the correct hdd drivers). Reboot the machine.
  6. Should be good to go. If something went awry with the drivers you can always change everything back to the way it was and load up the image you made in step 1.
Acronis also sells an addon pack to TIH that will allow you to restore to dissimilar hardware (different mb, hdd controller, cpu, video card, etc). This means you don't need to worry about getting the hdd drivers correct before the backup.
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