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Thread: Backup Strategy

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    Backup Strategy

    I have, probably for the first time ever, managed to achieve a (fairly) clean install of Windows and Office, with just Norton Internet Security 2004 and an archiving utility. I have heard of a strategy of creating a separate partition to store a copy of such an initial installation, so that it can be used as the basis for any future reinstallation. All up, there's about 1.6GB on a new ~60GB drive. All of my "old stuff" is sitting on the old 9GB drive, so it's not really viable (even desirable) to use this drive as a backup location at the moment.

    I guess I'd also need partitioning software for this. I notice the local computer graveyard is selling an older version of Partition Magic cheap. Is this a good choice? Any other ideas along these lines appreciated.

    thanks

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    Uranium Lounger
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    Re: Backup Strategy

    Alan,
    Partition Magic is an excellent utility. I can't speak to the ease of use of the older versions, but PM 8 is a gem. If that 9GB drive is installed in your machine as a slave it is quite useful for backups once you do your partitioning.

    I would do something along these lines. Create a Primary C partition on your new drive of about 10GB for your nice, clean new installation; a second partition of 10GB (this will be for all your old "stuff" after you're finished with the partitioning); a third partition of 20GB for your programs and their data (larger if you feel you need it, but I can't imagine why); and the remaining 20GB or so can be left for projects, downloads etc.. After Partition Magic is finished, you can then move all the data from the old drive to it's new partition on the new drive and format the 9GB drive to clean it up before moving your backup of your C drive to it.

    These are just guideline, of course. You should decide what suits your needs best. and divide the drive accordingly. HTH.
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    Re: Backup Strategy

    Thanks Doc. That sounds like a good approach. I'm not sure of the version of Partition Magic on offer - it might be 6. I found a strategy along similar lines at the Ultimate Boot Disk site. Any comments on this approach?

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    Re: Backup Strategy

    The size of the C partition could be reduced to about 4GB, but I wouldn't go any smaller. If you do you run the risk of the speed being affected by not enough free space on the drive. I would also stick with an NTFS format on all the partitions. While FAT32 might be a bit more efficient, I think it's just simpler and the secondary partitions are mostly for storage anyway. You could convert your old 9GB drive to the primary C drive and use the new drive for programs, storage and backups, but that would be alot of work for little gain. IMHO <img src=/S/bow.gif border=0 alt=bow width=15 height=15> <img src=/S/smile.gif border=0 alt=smile width=15 height=15>
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    Re: Backup Strategy

    Hi Doc

    I now have Partition Magic installed, but have not been game to push any buttons yet. The more I read on partitioning "philosophies", the worse the information overload. The Ultimate Boot Disk site I mentioned seems to be emphasising backup, while sites like this seem geared to functionality, advocating all sorts of partitions:

    Swap File Partition
    Temporary Files
    Favorite CD Contents
    Applications Partition
    Data Partition
    Multiple OS

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    Re: Backup Strategy

    Just a follow-on to Doc's post. The information he referred to is located in post 253603 if you want to read it along with the rest of the thread in its original context.

    I have to say that I am quite humbled by Doc's comments about my strategy. I find the method to be very effective for a number of reasons, with one of the biggest benefits being that fragmentation of the OS and swap file partitions is markedly reduced. Less fragmentation results in better performance, although it may well just be from peace of mind.
    -Mark

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    Re: Backup Strategy

    Evening Alan,

    I wish I'd had the information that you now have, last year when I setup my system. I'd probably be better off for it. Not that my setup is bad, just not what I would now consider to be ideal. Mark (WyllyWylly) posted a pretty good partitioning scheme about nine months ago, but I can't seem to find it now. I'll look a bit more when I have more time (I know I saved it to at least 2 places and printed out a copy too). Of course after a statement like that I'd be reluctant to follow my own advice. <img src=/S/rofl.gif border=0 alt=rofl width=15 height=15>

    10 Minutes of scrounging around later...........
    Found it !! Here's Mark's way and I think it's a pretty well thought out layout. The drive is 120GB so adjust accordingly to suit your drive and Data storage needs.
    <hr>C: (5GB) Windows XP
    D: (1GB) Swap/paging file
    E: (3GB) Temporary - For both Internet Explorer and the operating system. I call this "scratch" because it can be completely formatted without me risking my data.
    F: (93GB) Data. My Documents is located here, along with the installation files for XP, Office, and all my other applications (I don't have to hunt for the CD this way.)
    G: (13GB) Program Files. All software is installed to this location.

    This setup allows me to keep my data in one place, programs in another - and seperate from the operating system partition. I've wiped and installed on C: more times than I care to admit. I can be back up and running with my esential applications in short order with this configuration."
    <hr>

    My own system has Windows XP and all the programs and their data on the C: partition (20GB). This the result of not having the drive partitioned immediately after installing the OS and being too lazy after to reinstall the OS and all the programs again. D, E & F are my Zip, DVD & CD-RW drives. G: is for projects like CD burning and playing with things that might contaminate the rest of my system (20GB). H: is for storage of MP3s, pictures, Utilities & Programs, etc. You name it, it's probably there. <img src=/S/grin.gif border=0 alt=grin width=15 height=15> I: is where I keep a set of Drive Image backups of each partition and a few individual folders are copied here as well for backup purposes (40GB). I had the swap file on a seperate 1GB partition, but found little benefit to keeping it on a seperate partition on the same physical drive and merged this partition into the I: partiton after a few months. I'm running with 512MB of PC1066 RDRAM and a 128M DDR ATI Radeon 9700TX Graphics card, so my swap file is rarely used. And I keep thing clean and tight with PerfectDisK for defragging (scheduled to run every other day and an offline defrag done manually about once a month).

    So to answer your question (bet you thought I forgot that you had a question), I would make a plan and when you are sure you're satisfied with it, THEN partition your drive and implement your plan. That's my <img src=/S/2cents.gif border=0 alt=2cents width=15 height=15>. Hope it was worth the read.
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    Re: Backup Strategy

    Many thanks Doc. Again, lots to digest and mull over here. I won't be rushing this, but I do want to get things in place before the whole drive becomes a miscellaneous mess. I think some of Mark's ideas sound good. The one thing I'd like to supplement is the idea of using the second HD for backup - it seems a waste not to use this capability.

    time to think some more...

    Alan

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    Re: Backup Strategy

    Thanks Mark. You have some interesting ideas. I hadn't thought about a partition for "expendable" temp content. I've never seen the definitive answer to the swap file argument. The last time I considered this I was thinking about using a RAM drive. For starters, I think I'll keep the swapfile on C: drive. Another thing that always bothered me about keeping Windows and installed programs on separate partitions - so many program put files into windows/system, write to the registry etc. This means reinstalling them anyway if I have to reinstall the O/S. I've always kept "standalone" installations in a separate folder called Utilities (as opposed to the Program Files folder) so I just wonder about the value of separate partitions.

    Alan

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    Re: Backup Strategy

    You may have seen this from me in the past 'cause I've mentioned it before. Seven or eight years ago, I began to use hard drive removable enclosures, sometimes called "racks" so that a drive could easily be removed without taking the covers off. My (then) job as a support guy for a staff of 30 or 40 people was to make sure I could re-create a "standard" OS and software installation for a failed drive as quickly as possible. We used Drive Image at the time and I kept "master" images for this purpose. All you have to do is power down and pull out the tray with the drive and pop in a replacement. These racks are in two pieces - the enclosure itself and the removable trays, of which extra trays can be purchased.

    I've also setup some computers with two or more trays with drives for alternating the creation of imaging backups. This takes care of the (remote) chance that a machine could fry all drives in the IDE system by having backups stored away from the machine. Here's a shot of what they look like. They can be found all over the web.
    Attached Images Attached Images

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    Re: Backup Strategy

    >>> Another thing that always bothered me about keeping Windows and installed programs on separate partitions - so many program put files into windows/system, write to the registry etc. This means reinstalling them anyway if I have to reinstall the O/S.

    You may find a lot of programs keep their settings and .ini files in their '..program files...' folder - you may have to re-install for the OS to recognise them, but their is often a fair chance you may not have to go through the program's individual Preferences/Options rigmarole again.

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    Re: Backup Strategy

    I hope I didn't put too much info out there. But I think it's good to have a few options to work with. Everyone's situation and needs are different and usually a matter of individual preferences and styles. No one configuration will work for every situation and person.

    As for using the second HD for backups, I think I mentioned in my first post that after you partition your new drive to move all the data from the old drive to a partition on the new one and then format the old drive to prepare it for the backup copy of your nice clean installation on your new C: drive. Also, you could consider putting your swap file on the second hard drive if it's the same speed as the new drive. If it's slower, (5400 vs 7200 rpm) then it will slow down the primary drive to it's speed and you don't want that.

    Let us know what you decide and how it works out for you.
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    Re: Backup Strategy

    That's exactly the strategy that I wanted to use. In fact, I have the exact type of drive that you picture...with one unfortunate exception. Mine is a firewire drive. When I got it, I didn't know that DOS (where DI runs) wouldn't recognize a firewire drive. So I've never been able to back up onto the external drive with DI. <img src=/S/sad.gif border=0 alt=sad width=15 height=15>

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    Re: Backup Strategy

    I think we're talking about two different animals, Phil. The tray/rack I pictured is NOT external. It goes inside your tower but allows the removal of the hard drive. I've only seen them for IDE or SCSI drives. I even have a 2.5" to 3.5" adapter for laptop drives and have used it to image or backup a laptop drive while sitting (gently) inside one of these trays.

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    Re: Backup Strategy

    Hi Al:
    Well, maybe where it connects is different then. My tray looks identical to yours. I have a 30G Maxtor hard drive goes inside it & is removable. The whole tray fits inside an adapter by ADS that connects to one of my ports. (Can't find the cable that connects my digital camera to the PC or I'd post a picture). I think that the only difference is the ADS adapter that I have that allows me to keep the tray outside the tower.

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