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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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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>
COPY CON XXC2D.BAT
XXCOPY C:\ D:\ /CLONE /X:WIN386.SWP /FF
/^Z (that's CTRL+Z)
At C:\WINDOWS> type
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:
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".
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.)
Note: This article was contributed by Mr. Bob Weir who uses
XXCOPY on his home computers.
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