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  1. #1
    New Lounger
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    Backing up the entire XP Pro system state

    I back up my system on a regular basis. I just tried restoring it to a new hard disk (simulating a hard disk crash) and discovered that my backup program, Retrospect, saves the system state but omits MetaBase.bin, the IIS database that's part of the system state.

    I want to ensure that my backups (which, by preference, do not use imaging) include the entire XP Pro system state. I've encountered differing definitions and deficient implementations of system state backup. NTBACKUP.EXE, for instance, can back up system state, and it includes MetaBase.bin, but it neglects the user hives, NTUSER.DAT and UsrClass.dat. ERUNT.EXE backs up the hives in system32\config and the user hives, but it neglects MetaBase.bin. As I already mentioned, Retrospect backs up the same hives as ERUNT, but it, too, neglects MetaBase.bin.

    The system state also includes the "COM+ Class Registration database", but for Windows XP, its location and the backup method are confusing. IIUC, MS states here that this database is backed up with the registry. OTOH, MS has a knowledge base article here that explains how to rebuild this database from scratch and files in %windir%\Registration are included.

    What's a sure-fire method to back up the entire XP Pro system state? Will backing up the registry, including the user hives, and MetaBase.bin be sufficient?

    TIA for any help.

    regards, Andy

    P.S.: I posted this message to the Microsoft Community | Windows XP | Repair and Recovery forum here, but received no useful responses.

    P.P.S.: I also posted a similar message in the Retrospect Professional forum here. Unsurprisingly, no one from Retrospect would even admit that the program has a deficiency.

  2. #2
    Super Moderator CLiNT's Avatar
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    Maybe you should be taking this up with the company with whom you've chosen to create backups with. [Retrospect]
    DRIVE IMAGING
    Invest a little time and energy in a well thought out BACKUP regimen and you will have minimal down time, and headache.

    Windows 8.1, 64 bit
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  3. #3
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    i am just a wimpy wuss beginner so what do i know
    as i prefer to avoid problems than try to fix them later

    i would do it the easy way and image the drive
    external hds are so cheap there is no reason not to do that now

    why would you prefer to not do it the easy sure way by imaging ?
    what benefit is tehre to the other method??

  4. #4
    Super Moderator CLiNT's Avatar
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    Yes, I agree, imaging would be ideal, especially for an OS like Windows XP where one could potentially place it on a DVD disk.

    But if one is having an issue with a specific 3rd party application, like Retrospect, one should first take any tech issues up with them.

    It will always be a "crap shoot" when attempting to seek support on forums such as these, unless there are multiple users of the same software
    who know how to troubleshoot and debug such issues. That will likely be very rare.
    DRIVE IMAGING
    Invest a little time and energy in a well thought out BACKUP regimen and you will have minimal down time, and headache.

    Windows 8.1, 64 bit
    Motherboard: DX58SO2*Chipset: X58 Express/Intel ICH10*BIOS: SOX5820J.86A.0888.2012.0129.2203*Processor: Intel Core i7 CPU X 990
    GPU: Nvidia GTX 580*Memory: Corsair 12 GB, 4x3@1600*PSU: Corsair HX1000*Hard drives: REVO X2 160GB*OCZ VERT X3 120GB*5 mechanical storage drives (12 TB) total.

  5. #5
    New Lounger
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    My question can be separated from the backup method/program.

    Here it is again:

    What's a sure-fire method to back up the entire XP Pro system state?
    I suspect that backing up the registry, including the user hives, and MetaBase.bin will be sufficient. Can someone confirm and link to a source?

    regards, Andy

  6. #6
    Bronze Lounger DrWho's Avatar
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    Y'all can use any old Mickey Mouse backup program you like, but......

    When your main hard drive shoots craps (crashes, dies, smokes, etc. ) you will need two things to do a full recovery.

    1. You must have your Backup/Restore program on some bootable media, so you can boot up your computer, with a brand new (blank) hard drive in it.

    2. Your backup image must contain everything that was on your old hard drive's C partition, including the boot sector, MBR, and all of Windows, data, etc. In short....'Everything'.

    Doing anything less is foolhardy and a total waste of your time.

    The number of really good backup programs that can do everything I've mentioned above is getting longer every year.

    Personally I still use a program that was the only one of its kind in 1997 when it was first written. It's DOS based so will run nicely from any DOS boot disk or Flash Drive. It's was updated last in 2005 and will back up and restore any OS to date, including Windows 8. It's "Ghost 11.5".

    Since it can create compressed backup image files, several can be stored on a single external drive or any one backup can be burned to DVD's.

    OP, it sounds like you need to change your backup program and maybe change your whole outlook on doing backups in general.

    I've been setting up Backup routines for Banks, Corps and home users for about 30 years, so I do know from which I speak.

    If I loose a file, I can always extract it from a Ghost Backup Image file using the Ghost Explorer program. I've not lost even one file in the past 25 years.

    Good Luck!
    The Doctor
    Experience is truly the best teacher.

    Backup! Backup! Backup! GHOST Rocks!

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  8. #7
    New Lounger
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    I sure would have appreciated an answer to my question.

    you said:
    Doing anything less is foolhardy and a total waste of your time.
    I do not agree (but you're certainly free to use your time as you see fit).

    I, too, have considerable experience with backups and restores. I also know about imaging and use it when appropriate. It is certainly one way to restore a system, but it's not the only way. (I certainly understand it's your way.)

    To restore Windows, one needs two things: the files and the system state. If one backs them up, one can restore Windows without an image. And yes, I've done it. I'd be interested to find out more about system state backup, since the information on the web is sparse and the performance of backup programs is (often) deficient.

    I realize your approach is to image everything and sidestep my question about how to back up system state.

    I suggest we agree to disagree.

    I still hope to find an answer to my question: What's a sure-fire method to back up the entire XP Pro system state? Will backing up the registry, including the user hives, and MetaBase.bin be sufficient?

    regards, Andy

  9. #8
    Super Moderator CLiNT's Avatar
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    I don't think you will find too many folks around who actually use that method of backup, especially on such an old operating system as XP.
    DRIVE IMAGING
    Invest a little time and energy in a well thought out BACKUP regimen and you will have minimal down time, and headache.

    Windows 8.1, 64 bit
    Motherboard: DX58SO2*Chipset: X58 Express/Intel ICH10*BIOS: SOX5820J.86A.0888.2012.0129.2203*Processor: Intel Core i7 CPU X 990
    GPU: Nvidia GTX 580*Memory: Corsair 12 GB, 4x3@1600*PSU: Corsair HX1000*Hard drives: REVO X2 160GB*OCZ VERT X3 120GB*5 mechanical storage drives (12 TB) total.

  10. #9
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    ... especially on such an old operating system as XP
    XP is a valid OS that allows me to launch the apps I own, the hardware I've connected, and the utilities I need to manage the OS. "Old" is, IMHO, irrelevant. (Unsupported will indeed be relevant, but that's on next year's agenda.)

    I'd be tempted to update my question for post-XP OS's, but then it would be moved from this forum.

    I'll repeat the question, ever hoping that someone who knows about system state can answer it:

    What's a sure-fire method to back up the entire XP Pro system state? Will backing up the registry, including the user hives, and MetaBase.bin be sufficient?

    regards, Andy

  11. #10
    Super Moderator BATcher's Avatar
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    You could try ShadowSpawn (the XP version is #3 on the list), but you'll really need to do some work to prove what it backs up.

    I use it (now on Windows 7) to back up my Outlook PST while it is open, using Robocopy on the 'virtual drive' that ShadowSpawn creates. You'll probably find an example in the documentation. Come back if you need more.
    Last edited by BATcher; 2013-04-08 at 14:12.
    BATcher

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  12. #11
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    Thanks very much for the suggestion. It looks very promising.

    I'd never heard of ShadowSpawn. For info, the documentation is here. Also, for info, the drive letter on the command line is any unused (available) letter.

    regards, Andy

    P.S.: I'm still looking for a more explicit answer to my question: What's a sure-fire method to back up the entire XP Pro system state? Will backing up the registry, including the user hives, and MetaBase.bin be sufficient?

  13. #12
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    PCDr,

    Hello... Although I have no idea why anyone would want to do such ...there are many articles on how to XP Pro system state backup... I also have and use XP Pro SP-3 ... great little program ... With a full OS image ( takes about 2 minutes ) With Acronis 2010 v7046 with verification ...i ask you what's the point ? "Just Askin".. Not understanding???? Regards Fred
    PlainFred

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  14. #13
    New Lounger
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    A Google search for "XP Pro system state backup" is not what I had in mind when I asked for an answer to the question found in my previous posts. I'm familiar with many of those web pages. In my previous messages in this thread, I listed some of the inconsistencies they contain. (NTBACKUP.EXE, for instance, doesn't save the user hives when backup of "system protected files" is unselected, which surprised me. When is a registry hive not a registry hive?)

    I was hoping to be enlightened about XP system state and learn how it is best backed up so it can be fully restored.

    with a full OS image... i ask you what's the point ?
    An image is a copy of a system at a point in time. Unfortunately, it doesn't include versioning. I have backups that go back years. I can find versions of my data and my registry during all that period. I have used the versioning to retrieve old data and to test the effects of registry changes on OS behavior. I've identified all sorts of problems that way, some in hotfixes, others in programs, drivers and utilities.

    Imaging is a terrific tool, but it's not the only way to save files. Again, if one has copies of the files and can restore the system state, file-based backup is a very suitable alternative.

    regards, Andy

  15. #14
    Bronze Lounger DrWho's Avatar
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    In 30 years, I've never heard anyone use the term "System State".

    What exactly are you talking about? Be specific!
    Experience is truly the best teacher.

    Backup! Backup! Backup! GHOST Rocks!

  16. #15
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    @PCDr:

    Andy, I can't answer you specific question: "will backing up the registry including user hives and Metabase.bin be a sure fire way to backup the XP Pro system state" because I would have expected just the backing up the registry as in NTBackup to do that. Clearly, from your tests, that's not the case which is quite a surprise and a concern to me.

    However, would low level access to the built in System Restore points do what you need? Could you use something like System Restore Explorer to mount or manipulate a restore point to backup the system state?

    I think System Restore Explorer may have issues with XP, so might not be capable; but like Batcher in post #11 , I'm thinking what you need is access to the VSS Snapshots.
    In God we trust; all others must bring data.

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