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  1. #1
    2 Star Lounger Diogones's Avatar
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    A question about backup and reinstallation

    I have a friend who recently has decided to reinstall XP on his computer, in order to improve his computer's performance. While I know how to backup his data and re-install from his XP disc, I did have some uncertainty before we commenced. For one thing, is it more effective to backup his files and programs manually? He has an external hard drive, and while he doesn't have a lot of data to backup (about 20 GB) I just wasn't sure if this was the easier route. If we do a backup with a backup program, it might bring along all the registry keys, old files, and other junk he is trying to shed with this new installation.

    On the other hand, if we manually drag and drop everything, I'm worried we might miss something. Additionally, a manual backup might only get the files, and not the programs themselves. Thus, he would have to re-install every single program, which would be inconvenient. Is there a backup program that would make the entire backup AND restore process easier, without losing anything, or bringing anything he wouldn't want? The goal here is to aim for a clean an installation as possible, while still effectively preserving everything that must be saved.

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  3. #2
    Plutonium Lounger Medico's Avatar
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    First, the only way to back up programs is to clone or image and restore these would defeat the purpose of the reinstall since the image would overwrite the new installation thus replacing the new installation with the old installation.

    You would have to reinstall the OS from scratch, then download and install all the updates. This might be difficult as I believe SP1 and SP2 are no longer supported and it might be hard to find them. You can not drag programs into the new OS, they MUST be reinstalled. Once you have reinstalled all programs, you can then drag the data back into place.

    For clarification ALL APPS, both the OS and ALL additional software must be installed!!!! You can not drag apps (software) into the OS.
    BACKUP...BACKUP...BACKUP
    Have a Great Day! Ted


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  4. #3
    Super Moderator Deadeye81's Avatar
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    If you install XP now, you must have either SP1A or SP2 installed in order to install SP3. Check out this Microsoft link for information. You can download the SP2 standalone here or by using a link on the page from the first link I provided. When you see the page, it will advise you that this is a download intended for IT professionals to install on multiple computers on a network, but it will work fine. It is easier to download this way than to go to Windows Update, and I am uncertain as to whether SP2 can be obtained that way anymore.

    Once you have XP, SP2, SP3 and all updates installed, you can install your applications and restore your data. When you have everything in place like you want, you can image your XP partition using some of Ted's excellent tutorials as reference. Keep this initial image on hand regardless of future imaging, and you can use this initial image as basically a fresh install rather than having to go through all the installation and service packs again.

  5. #4
    Plutonium Lounger Medico's Avatar
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    It looks like you might be able to get SP1 from CNet. In order to get support, as Gerald mentions, you must update to SP3. I guess the bottom line is what level of update is the CD/DVD that your friend has for XP. If original you must upgrade first to SP1a then SP2, then SP3 and any other stand alone updates. After this you must reinstall any software he wants on the PC.

    As can be seen this will involve a lot of work. Good Luck.
    BACKUP...BACKUP...BACKUP
    Have a Great Day! Ted


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  6. #5
    Super Moderator Deadeye81's Avatar
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    Actually, if the XP install CD is of the original release (not including any service pack), SP1a or SP2 has to first be applied in order to install SP3. Either SP1a or SP2 will do as both are not required.

  7. #6
    2 Star Lounger Diogones's Avatar
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    Thanks everyone for such prompt and helpful replies! Alright Ted, so you mean that, if he were to do a fresh install, cloning a backup would defeat the purpose, and so therefore we should just do a file backup. In this way, while he will have to reinstall everything, at least the saved files and data will be there, and he can just place those in the root directory of each program. I'll keep that in mind.

    My friend has a homemade XP Pro SP1 disc. Since it was made a long time ago so he doesn't remember which version he has, I can't say whether it is SP1a or just SP1. We did download the SP3 package from Microsoft's website - thank you for that link Deadeye. I was under the impression that each subsequent service pack was cumulative, and so therefore a step-by-step SP install wouldn't be necessary, but I realize now that is not the case.

    If we were to install SP2, and then SP3 even if SP2 wasn't required, that wouldn't affect the installation would it? Additionally, I've considered making a complete XP service pack slipstream disc, based on my friend's disc and the service pack downloads. I'm afraid that this would require more space than what a standard CD could handle. Is there a way to compress the data, or strip what isn't needed from the service pack files, so that the ISO or boot file collection could fit onto a 700MB disc?

  8. #7
    Super Moderator Deadeye81's Avatar
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    Diogones, can you find a readme file on your friend's XP CD that may tell you if SP1 or SP1a are included? If not, since your friend has an XP CD with at least SP1, go ahead with slipstreaming SP3 to burn a new install CD. SP1 came out a little ahead of SP1a, and the only difference between the two is that in SP1a, Microsoft dropped the Microsoft VM. When SP1a came out, Microsoft also advised that it was unnecessary for users to apply the SP1a over their SP1.

    Slipstreaming XP3 does not take long to do, and you will probably be able to reinstall XP on the machine just fine with it. If it does not work as expected, then slipstream SP2 to your friend's XP CD, and after burning that disk, slipstream SP3 with the new XP SP2 CD. Everything should fit on a CD. SP2 files will replace the original files on the XP CD, and SP3 will in turn replace files on the new XP SP2 CD.

    If you are not going to slipstream, installing SP2, even if it is not required, will not affect the installation of SP3, but it will be an extra step and take more time.

    NOTE: Check this MS link for the difference between SP1 and SP1a. The bulletin also describes a means to test whether Microsoft VM is present on your friend's computer. If it is missing, then his CD is SP1a. There is also a registry string check that can be done to verify the presence of SP1a. But again, I believe that either SP1 or SP1a will work in the slipstreaming, or installation of SP3 while bypassing SP2.
    Last edited by Deadeye81; 2011-02-12 at 05:34.

  9. #8
    Super Moderator jwitalka's Avatar
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    When backing up data, you will want to remember things like Internet favorites and email messages and contacts. Backing up email will vary by Email program. Ideally, you would do an image backup using a program that allows you to restore individual files like True Image so you have everything backed up and don't have to remember everything. Also make sure you have all the email account settings written down.

    Jerry

  10. #9
    2 Star Lounger Diogones's Avatar
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    Well Deadeye, I found a readme file on the CD, but it didn't have any information on what version of SP1 it was. However, I agree completely with you - I always thought that he could go straight to SP3. We decided to slipstream the disc with SP3. We found a very helpful program on the Web called nLite, which is very neat because not only will it help to automate the slipstream process (which can be tedious if one prefers to punch in command prompts) it allows users to create a customized, auto-start disc. It guided us through a wizard which allowed us to pick and choose which functions and programs XP would begin with by default.

    This was important, because my friend found he couldn't fit the SP3 download - even after it was extracted - onto a disc with the SP1 installation files. Despite what you mentioned Deadeye -and believe me, I know you're correct since I've searched this within other slipstream sites as well - we couldn't get the entire slipstream onto a single disc. The total size of the CD he planned to use was 700 MB, but the slipstream files were over 800 MB. However, thanks to nLite's helpful and in-depth interface, we were able to strip most of the unessential features that launch with a fresh XP installation. While we could remove certain drivers or registry values, we decided to leave most of it alone, as we didn't want to break the installation before we even got started. Since we could also customize the answer sections of the setup, we created an XP installation which would be much easier, faster, and more self-sustaining, so we won't have to sit through the entire setup like on a normal installation.

    nLite also consolidated the files into a handy ready-to-burn ISO, so using an image burning program was much easier. And to top it all off, nLite offers an option to include all desired drivers into the final setup, so when XP installs, my friend won't have to go through the trouble of downloading and installing all of them. Yep, it sure was a helpful program. Unfortunately, it only works with XP, Windows Server 2003, and I think Windows 2000, so no Vista or 7 slipstreams (not that those are exactly commonplace anyway).

    Thank you for the suggestion to back up my friend's email favorites and settings. Fortunately, he only uses Gmail, so most of his email is saved on his online account, as opposed to a local hard disc. I've never heard of Ture Image; does it really allow custom image backups? That would definitely save us a fair amount of trouble.

  11. #10
    Plutonium Lounger Medico's Avatar
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    There are numerous postings on Imaging in the Security and Backups forum. Check them out. The two most mentioned apps are Acronis True Image Home and Macrium Reflect. Acronis is a paid for app whereas Macrium is free. I swear by Acronis, others swear by Macrium. If you go back a ways you will find tutorials for both, I wrote the Acronis True Image Home 2011 tutorial and the Acronis True Image Home 2010 tutorial and mercyh wrote the Macrium Reflect tutorial. Check them both out. Note: they were written in the old Lounge and the attachments are placed within the body of the tutorials, but at the end.
    BACKUP...BACKUP...BACKUP
    Have a Great Day! Ted


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  12. #11
    Super Moderator Deadeye81's Avatar
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    Good morning Diogones,

    Glad to hear you successfully finished slipstreaming your new install CD. I agree, nLite is a great tool; I have enjoyed using it myself as well.

    Post back to let us know how things go when your friend installs XP with the new CD.

    And whichever image software you choose, you will be glad you did. I have used both Acronis and Macrium, and I like them both.
    Deadeye81

    "We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give." Sir Winston Churchill

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    DrWho (2011-02-17)

  14. #12
    2 Star Lounger Diogones's Avatar
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    Thanks for the link to the backup guides Ted - they helped out a lot! Now we have a secure backup and the Windows re-installation was a success! The slipstream disc worked, and so far everything seems to be working fine. =)

  15. #13
    Bronze Lounger DrWho's Avatar
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    Cool

    No-one should ever have to pay for backup software. If you have a Seagate HD, you can download their "Sea Tools" software package which includes Acronis True Image. Use the software to make the Recovery CD and you're good to go. Likewise, if you have a Maxtor HD, you can download MaxBlast also with ATI.

    Other HD manufacturers have their own backup software available for FREE download.
    But whatever you use, it should be on a bootable CD or Flash Drive, to be totally usable when you need it most. Having your backup and restore software on the hard drive that just went up in a puff of smoke, will do you NO GOOD at all. It's just sitting there taking up space.

    I've been using "Ghost" backup software for about 14 years now and it's NEVER been installed on any HD. I can run it from a floppy disk, flash drive or CD.

    To be really useful, your backups need to be current. For that reason, I make a new Ghost backup image of my C: drive at least once every week.
    I keep the last three or four backups and knock off the older ones. The safest backup you'll ever make is the one you burn to DVD(s) and put in a SAFE place. My DVD backups are in a fireproof vault about twenty miles away.

    For a quickie backup, of the "My Documents" folder, (and a few other important folders) I run a little batch file that copies all new or changed files to a similar folder on my backup hard drive.
    Since the batch file saves only new or changed files, it takes only a few short seconds to run.

    Staying backed up and SAFE, isn't Rocket Science, but it does require a bit of planning, time and effort.
    Always think of the worse possible scenario......like, how safe is your data, in case of FIRE, Hurricane, Tornado or Earthquake?
    Or, you come home one day to find your entire computer system GONE! That happened to me once. OH, the sinking feeling !!!!

    Be Safe!

    The Doctor
    Experience is truly the best teacher.

    Backup! Backup! Backup! GHOST Rocks!

  16. #14
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    Restoring Application Data Not So Simple

    Restoring application data is not necessarily as simple as backup up the data and then after reinstalling Windows, copying the app data into the "home" directory of the application.

    Application data and configuration/initializing files may be located in multiple places on the system. Other configuration information may be stored in the registry.

    Perhaps instead...what you should be looking at is a "cleaner" (like CCleaner) and/or an application remover or slimmer program. Both of which may significantly reduce unwanted clutter on the system. A freeware slimmer program (like SlimComputer) may be able to remove unwanted applications as well (sometimes called "garbageware" or "crapware"). There are also programs specifically designed (sometimes by the manufacturer) to remove an application (like Norton Removal Tool).

    However, there can be a risk with using a cleaner program too, as it may be too aggressive and remove information from the registry that is needed by some program(s). Read the documentation, visit the cleaner's fora, and proceed accordingly.

    Make a disk backup (using freeware MacriumReflect Free Edition, DriveImageXML, and similar) BEFORE you do any of these things. You'll at least be able to restore things to exactly the way they were before you tried cleaning things up. By having the backup, you have a major safety net. Something goes wrong, then just restore the backup, then try something else to clean things up. If something goes wrong again, just restore again, etc. etc.


    edited:
    Whoops. I missed Diogenes' short post on the 14th saying they had it handled. Oh well, maybe this will help someone else with less cooperative situation.
    Last edited by JackNoir; 2011-02-18 at 19:14.

  17. #15
    2 Star Lounger Diogones's Avatar
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    Wow DrWho, that was quite a post! Plenty of good advice and sound wisdom! While I completely agree with you in that backup files are readily available, I can't say I like the idea of using USB flash drives and discs over external hard drives, simply because the sheer volume of my own personal backup (starting at 500GB and up) just wouldn't fit on any of that media. However, I do use those formats for certain backup tools. For example, I can certainly make a recovery CD/DVD that can help to repair my system if it is unbootable, and from there restore from backup. And I do store virus removal tools (again, if a system were so badly compromised by malware that it couldn't boot) and certain OS files on a flash drive, to make for easier access.

    You are absolutely correct: a full backup once a week, storing the backup media somewhere safe, and incremental file backups are all part of a complete backup strategy. If it isn't too much trouble, may I ask you for the batch file recipe? It sounds very useful, and I would love to try it out! Also, would you recommend encrypting files on the backup media, or would that be overkill and time consuming? If so, which encryption method do you prefer?

    JackNoir, your advice is equally helpful and well-written. While my friend hasn't run into any difficulty from re-installing his apps or copying app data into the appropriate directory, I could certainly imagine a situation such as the one you described appearing, especially if a program had a messy installer/uninstaller to scatter the registry. In a sense, it is a shame that Windows doesn't utilize package installations like Linux, because I feel that this makes program and app management much easier as it is all consolidated. Still, with the right precautions, I'm sure someone could remove their unnecessary files through cleaner programs, to avoid bringing bloat with them in a reinstall. I think I'll try SlimComputer, since I've never heard of it.

    I do have one question: if a Windows XP computer were compromised (virus infection, crash, etc) and a hard drive image backup were made prior to this, would the user have to reinstall XP, download the program used to create the image backup, and then restore from the image using the program? Or would Windows be able to recognize and restore the image? Is there a way to restore a drive image from the BIOS or boot menu?
    Last edited by Diogones; 2011-02-22 at 14:06.

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