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XXCOPY TECHNICAL BULLETIN #40


From:    Bob Weir  ---  An experienced XXCOPY user
To:      XXCOPY user
Subject: A very quick recovery scheme for Win9X/ME
Date:    2004-10-06
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Introduction:

    This article is written for personal users of W9x/ME to help
    them appreciate and select the appropriate level of security
    for their standalone single PC and then pick a suitable scheme
    to effect recovery from a variety of PC failures.  It describes
    several options, all using XXCOPY, that can deliver quick
    recovery from a corrupted PC and which need a minimum of
    routine housekeeping.  For those with no previous knowledge
    of XXCOPY (or DOS), details are included on how to create
    a bootable recovery hard disk and the associated cloning
    icons and files for use on a single W9x/ME PC.

    It was first published together with data on achieved
    performance and illustrations (making it an easier read)
    in Micromart (UK) Issue 799, 2004-05-13.  This article is
    not easy to use from a screen (too long winded) but if the
    topic triggers serious interest after a quick scan, I
    recommend printing it out for recursive reading (perhaps as
    an installation guide!).


The XXCOPY Bootable Clone Solution To the "OOPS" and Downs of a PC User:

    In a stand-alone Windows computer; a hard drive catastrophe,
    a propagating software fault, virus infection, incompatible
    new software or human error are terminal disasters that,
    eventually, afflict most users.  When this happens, the
    ability to revert quickly to an earlier condition is
    invaluable. There are several good proprietary solutions
    available but this low cost XXCOPY scheme is a custom
    self-build that can be tailored to suit individual needs.

    Restoring from a backup kept on CD-R, DVD-R, tape, etc.
    (or via a network connection) will need first a clean
    operating system running on the PC that has just failed!
    That takes time and knowledge.  Re-installing everything is
    a daunting task that can usually be avoided by taking an
    evening to implement a recovery scheme. Much quicker than
    starting with re-installation, is re-starting from a second
    hard disk carrying a recent BOOTABLE CLONE (not a compressed,
    proprietary or partial image).

    A BOOTABLE CLONE makes possible recovery to a working PC,
    running the last backup of the entire drive in about three
    minutes.  With IDE hard disk costs approaching $1/GB, putting
    a bootable clone on a second hard disk is now a cost-effective
    solution for fast re-writeable backup of whole drives.  The
    level of security needed for your system and data determines
    where to keep the clone and how long recovery will take.
    A second drive on the same disk is of limited use since it
    cannot protect against hard disk failure and recovering from
    other failures is a slow process.

    By using two internal fixed IDE disks, recovery from an HDD
    failure or drive corruption is achieved by changing the
    start-up sequence in the BIOS to re-boot from the clone disk.
    With two hard disks and one (or both) in removable caddies,
    recovery is even simpler, just a physical swap of disk
    location(s).  Storing a removable disk separately will make
    possible data recovery after PC theft or destruction
    (using your replacement new PC!).

    My preferred solution with W98SE/ME uses a second disk in
    a 5-1/4" removable rack (with fan for fast disks) fitted
    into an external firewire connected enclosure plus an
    identical empty 5-1/4" removable rack connected to IDE1
    Master.  Normal running boots from the internal disk on
    IDE1 Slave with the second disk in the external 5-1/4"
    enclosure.  Recovery is by changing over the location of
    the removable second disk.  To minimise the risk of
    corruption, only power the external cloned disk when needed.
    If you are paranoid about loss of data or corruption you can
    fit a third hard disk in the "spare" caddy and alternate the
    second and third disks in the external rack.

    The only software needed with W9X/ME is the XXCOPY multipurpose
    copying utility for Windows from www.xxcopy.com (free for
    personal use with one PC).  This generous licence applies
    both to fitting a new hard disk and, at present, to routine
    re-cloning.

    The diligent (e.g. daily) running of a short (incremental)
    re-cloning job is the only ongoing precautionary task.
    The scheme is widely applicable but may not be compatible
    with some proprietary system modifications or with software
    registered to specific disks.  Although XXCOPY will copy WinXP
    files, it will not create a BOOTABLE CLONE of an XP system,
    that task requires an XP cloning utility (under development
    as XXCLONE).


Backup:

    Identifying and backing up all "critical" OS and personalised
    files etc. is desirable but is too complicated for non-expert
    users.  The simple alternative is entire or holistic backup
    of the drive(s) but most "copy all" backup schemes for an
    entire drive are too slow for routine use.  Cloning with the
    incrementing + DECREMENTING scheme described here will be quick
    enough for most users if run over an IDE, Firewire or USB2
    connection.  USB1 is only tolerable for occasional use.

    Routine re-cloning is safer with a desktop icon and a C2D
    batch file (avoids typing errors that can wipe clean a whole
    drive).  Remember that if any backup scheme is scheduled,
    is run in background, or otherwise automated (like RAID1)
    it may produce a corrupt copy of a corrupt drive.  Where a
    problem is known to be present and cannot be fixed - shut
    down and recover to the last clone.  Re-clone as needed to
    sustain two sound, bootable, disks.

    Microsoft's XCOPY cannot duplicate a drive but XXCOPY copes
    with attributes, long and short filenames, filetime
    differences and the decrementing action needed when
    routinely updating the content of a clone disk.  Now for
    the up front DIY tasks on hardware and software.  If you
    are happy about fitting a new ATA/IDE drive in your PC,
    installing new software and typing a few command lines,
    the result will be more dependable W9X computing.


Preparation:

    The main task is to prepare separately a second hard disk
    and create an active formatted partition on it.  The XXCOPY
    technical bulletin www.xxcopy.com/xxcopy10.htm describes
    this task.

    Given the choice, use a twin of the first hard disk.  Check
    the partition data in the original disk and prepare the
    second disk with the same partitions, file system and format.
    Avoid using more than two logical drives per disk (i.e. just
    one drive in the extended partition).  Remembering that
    C and E are on the running fixed disk with D and F on the
    second fixed disk is simple enough for W9X (and the user!)
    to keep track of changing drive letter allocations when they
    are swapped.  If you use one fixed and one external disk
    this will probably be C and D on the fixed, E and F on the
    external.

    To prepare the second hard disk, disconnect the power lead
    from the original master (or CS) disk, jumper the new disk
    as a slave (or CS on grey if you use an 80 wire ATA66/100
    cable) and connect it.  Prepare a W9X start-up diskette and
    boot from it (you need to add FORMAT.COM to an ME start-up
    diskette by copying it from C:\WINDOWS\COMMAND).  From the
    A:\> prompt, run FDISK and create twins of the partition(s)
    on the original disk.  Set the new primary partition to active.

    FDISK will not create a second active primary partition,
    so this second disk has to be prepared separately in the PC.
    Now format the second disk for file access.
    At the A:\> prompt, run

        FORMAT C:

    Label this volume to identify that it is on disk2, e.g.,
    DISK2-PRY.  Format any drive in the extended partition and
    label it, e.g. DISK2-EXT.  Re-connect the power lead to the
    original master disk, fit the new disk after setting the
    jumper to suit the location (sharing with an ATA33 device
    may slow routine cloning).  Check that the D (F) drive(s)
    on disk2 are recognised.  To use two fixed hard disks,
    the BIOS must include a start-up sequence that can start
    from "D" (the second disk) and, preferably, supports
    auto-detection.

    To use a pair of removable disks on one 80 wire ATA66/100
    cable, set the disks to CS and fit the original disk to the
    end (black) master connector and the new disk to the middle
    (grey) slave connector.  To use one fixed with one removable
    disk in an external enclosure put the fixed disk as the
    slave and a second (empty) 51/4" rack as the master on the
    primary IDE connector.  In most PC's, you cannot create the
    active partition on a disk when it is in an external USB or
    Firewire connected enclosure, it has to be done on an internal
    IDE connection.


The Initial Cloning:

    After creating an active primary partition on the second
    disk, re-boot from the original drive.  Check the volume
    names and drive letters for both disks (the primary partition
    drive letter on an external USB or FW disk may not be D).

    Install XXCOPY in C:\WINDOWS\COMMAND\ on the original hard
    disc.  Re-start in safe mode (hold CTRL during start-up).
    Run SCANDISK and DEFRAG on C.  In safe mode open the MSDOS
    prompt, check that the destination drive is D, and, if so,
    at C:\WINDOWS> type:

       XXCOPY C:\ D:\ /CLONE /X:WIN386.SWP

    This excludes Win386.SWP from the clone but do not worry,
    it is created afresh on every start-up.  Repeat this /CLONE
    command line and do a refresh run (much quicker).  Repeat
    if necessary to get a no error cloning, then re-start normally.
    XXCOPY does not copy the master boot record (MBR), volume
    name or volume serial number.

    Now test the clone.  Swap the original with the second disk
    and re-start.  With two fixed disks, change the start-up
    sequence from "C" or HDDO in BIOS features set-up to one
    that will start from "D" or HDD1, save and re-start.

    The PC will now boot from the new disk with the drive in
    its primary partition becoming Drive C and the drive in
    the primary partition of the original disk becoming Drive D
    (or E with two drives on both the fixed and the external disks).
    Some third party multi boot and multi partition software can
    cause atypical changes and problems here.  If the clone is
    okay, swap back the disk(s) (or return the BIOS start-up to
    its original setting).


The Backup Routine:

    To refresh the clone routinely, it is safer to use a batch
    file that clones C to D and a desktop icon.  For an adequate
    version of these, open the MSDOS prompt box and at C:\WINDOWS>
    type:

      COPY CON XXC2D.BAT
      XXCOPY C:\ D:\ /CLONE /X:WIN386.SWP /FF
      PAUSE
      EXIT
      /^Z (that's CTRL+Z)

    At C:\WINDOWS> type

      EXIT

    and create a new desktop shortcut to C:\WINDOWS\XXC2D.BAT.
    Right click this shortcut icon; select properties, then
    program and tick close on exit.  To make selection easier,
    exchange the MSDOS icon for an Xx icon from XXCOPY or XXPBAR.
    Re-name this shortcut C2D.  For a second drive, create
    a similar E2F batch file and icon.  With two drives on an
    internal hard disk and two drives on an external hard disk the
    batch files should be C2E and D2F.

    The (now redundant) Restore function in ME has "always in use"
    files that slow the cloning process, adding /X:_RESTORE\ to
    the second command line above will exclude these files.  For
    faster re-cloning exclude multiple items from the clone by
    listing them in an OMIT.TXT file and replacing /X:WIN386.SWP
    with /EXOMIT.TXT in the second line of the XXC2D batch file.
    Use Notepad to create your own custom OMIT.TXT file with one
    item per line and save in C:\Windows for example:

      WIN386.SWP
      *\*.IE5\
      *.TMP\
      *.TEMP\
      *.BAK\
      *\_RESTORE\


Recovery:

    The crucial task of recovery comes last in any backup process
    but needs "proof testing" at the outset.  Starting-up from
    the bootable clone by changing over the removable disk(s) or
    the fixed disk start-up sequence will recover to (not partially
    restore from) a previous backup.  No other supplementary
    procedure or hardware is required.

    After an enforced recovery, if the original hard disk is not
    ruined, run a virus scan and check the work done since the
    last re-cloning (it will be on drive "D" (or "E") after the
    disk changeover).  If everything is healthy, copy the work
    back to "C".

    That's it!

    Since it faithfully copies a cluttered source, cloning won't
    completely eliminate re-installs but you only re-install
    when you want to, not when you have to. Take great care,
    /clone clears all unmatched existing data from the destination
    drive so check the source and destination meticulously before
    cloning (or use the /BU switch instead of /CLONE).

Bob Weir  (Click here  to contact via Yahoo Group.)


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    Note:  This article was contributed by Mr. Bob Weir who uses
           XXCOPY on his home computers.
   ---------------------------------------------------------------


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