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Guest Thaellar

Suggestions to avoid massive re-installs

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I have had to re-install FSX twice because of addons causing issues with my system. Each time it took about over 5 hours to get everything installed and tweaked. How do you preserve your installation time investment and protect yourself from add-on crash and burn? Here are things I have thinking of but I'm not sure what is the best way.1. System restore. This seems like a quick way to get back a previous state, but doing this before every addon install could take up LOTS of HD space.2. Copying directory structure. This won't work for incremental restore, but seems like an easy way to get back things like default exterior lighting textures if they go bad.3. Drive imaging. This may be the best way, but sounds complicated and time-consuming. What do you you do to preserve your setup?regards,Thaellar

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99% of the time FSX crashes, it's a problem with the fsx.cfg file. What I do whenever I add anything is to test FSX and if everything is ok, I save a copy of the fsx.cfg in another folder. If something does happen, I have a good copy and I just remove the bad cfg and add the good one. This also saves all that time re-adding those 'trusted guage' files. In almost 3 years this has always worked for me, your milage may vary.

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I used to have an FS9 installation with hundreds of aircraft and airport sceneries, as well as multiple addon programmes. It was a nightmare reinstalling because it would take me days, if not weeks to get everything reinstalled.You can make a backup of your FS folder on an external hard drive, but you will still be lacking all the registry entries made by various addons.If someone could make a programme that would allow easy backups of entire FS + addon installations I would be the first in the queue to buy it!

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I have had to re-install FSX twice because of addons causing issues with my system. Each time it took about over 5 hours to get everything installed and tweaked. How do you preserve your installation time investment and protect yourself from add-on crash and burn? Here are things I have thinking of but I'm not sure what is the best way.1. System restore. This seems like a quick way to get back a previous state, but doing this before every addon install could take up LOTS of HD space.2. Copying directory structure. This won't work for incremental restore, but seems like an easy way to get back things like default exterior lighting textures if they go bad.3. Drive imaging. This may be the best way, but sounds complicated and time-consuming. What do you you do to preserve your setup?regards,Thaellar
Jay is correct in regards to the FSX.cfg but I don't think there's a need to make a backup immediately. Whenever FSX fails to start properly or crashes, you should then rename the FSX.cfg to FSX.orig then restart FSX. FSX will rebuild a new config. If everything works properly, then you can go into the config settings and make modifications as desired; if it doesn't work properly, then you probably should go back and rename fsx.orig to fsx.cfg and look for another solution to your problem. There are a multitude of reasons why an addon causes issues. You should first tell us what the problem is and maybe someone will have a solution and you won't have to reinstall FSX completely. Addon's do not change system settings. They might change your fsx.cfg, scenery.cfg, or terrain.cfg for instance but not system settings. (Yes an entry might be placed in your system registry but that shouldn't cause a system or fsx crash). If it does, you simply uninstall the addon and the registry entry is removed. System restore will only restore your system settings and not remove any addon or make any changes to your FSX directories. It will restore previous registry entries made by FSX though. You need to Google "what does system restore do" to get more information on this process. Rest assured it's not a backup program for your software programs. Personal pictures and photos? Better back them up!I would suggest making a backup of the FSX directory at least once or twice a year but only to recover addon scenery or aircraft in the event of a complete loss of your harddrive or system and you have to reinstall the operating system. Then you can at least get back some of the aircraft you added and maybe some addon scenery. If you lose your system or harddrive, it's best to reinstall FSX completely including all addons. Restoring FSX with a backup will probably not work or may cause even more problems.I think it should be emphasized that you should first try renaming the fsx.cfg and restarting fsx so it can rebuild to see if that fixes any problems you are having after installing an addon. The scenery.cfg is the next configuration file you should look at and make sure it's not corrupted. If those do not fix the problem(s), then you should come on AVSIM and seek help. If I get an error message anywhere in the process, I usually go to Google and enter the complete contents of the error message in the search bar. That way I may get possible solutions not only from AVSIM but from several of the other flight sim forums. Hope this helps!Best regards,Jim

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I have an FSX clean installation on laptop, every addon is tested there. There is no hardware controllers (only keyboard), but if anything goes wrong, I am not scared of reinstalling again FSX. I know it is not a perfect platform for FSX (all sliders at min except airplane or scenery when testing scenery), but it is the safest way.After finishing the first part of add-on validation, it goes to a FSX-only rig. If I will found a conflict with existing add-ons (lots of them...) I have to choose between a new one or an old one.Also I make an full backup every friday and keep 3-4 of them to easy revert to last working stage. Why not incremental? Becouse it takes too much time, and I want to fly, not to dig in the rig.

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Hi Thaellar,I'm using a simple method by copying all FSX-folders. I actually have two copies of FSX. One copy with the original FSX SP2 installation before I installed. This copy is very convenient when you want to restore original FSX SP2 files. I also have a second copy, that I refresh every now and then using a simple Windows command:xcopy "H:\Microsoft Flight Simulator X\*.*" "G:\FSX_BUP\*.*" /y /e /s /h /k /r /dThe command will only copy new or updated files based on the timestamp.Simple and not much fuzz if you want to restore an original file.

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Thanks for the replies. After reading your responses, it sounds like I was re-installing when I didn't need to. I'll try the fsx.cfg route if it happens in the future as well as keeping separate copies to refresh default files. And I need to make sure I test thoroughly after each addon install, not stack them up. I would have a problem and then decide that FSX was "polluted" and do clean re-install...probably creating my own unnecessary work.regards,Thaellar

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If you do end up re-installing...The thing that I do that saves the most time is to make sure I have all of the serial numbers and keys for the products I want to re-install writtend down somewhere I can easily find them! Doing that in advance means all that you have to do is the monkey work while the computer crunches numbers. Admittedly, it's still a lot of monkey work, but it's easier than taxes.Jeff ShylukSenior Staff ReviewerAVSIM

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Personally, I use Norton Ghost. I use a removable hard drive, basically a seperate SATA in a caddy.From day one with this system, clean install of Windows and then all of my programs and personal settings, including FSX, add ons, liveries ect.Then since the day of the 'restore' or 'replace messed up system with good ghost image', I make a note of new programs ect to include in a new ghost image after the next restore. This makes sure that I don't spend days installing software and setting things up, plus I don't actually use the computer intil I've finished, thus ensuring that the system doesn't get messed up with whatever may come through the internet.I don't include antivirus or messengers or such in the ghost as these change all the time, so I download the latest one when I'm all done.Hope this helps, it's a sterling set up which does indeed work and has gotten me out of trouble on countless occasions.

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LEARN to use partition image software.. keep regular backups of WORKING and SMOOTH installs (OS AND FSX)If a disaster happens.. restoreSYSTEM RE-GORE IS ONE OF THE WORSE WAYS TO KEEP A SYSTEM IN ORDERand it kills perf tooIts great for office systems. but thats about it

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LEARN to use partition image software.. keep regular backups of WORKING and SMOOTH installs (OS AND FSX)If a disaster happens.. restoreSYSTEM RE-GORE IS ONE OF THE WORSE WAYS TO KEEP A SYSTEM IN ORDERand it kills perf tooIts great for office systems. but thats about it
Nick - Is Acronis a program that does that?Bruce

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Yes, Acronis is similar to Ghost. Nick, thanks for adding your thoughts. I respect your input as coming from a real FSX system and tweaking expert.Maybe I will reinstall OS and FSX and use imaging software from the get go. Or maybe I'll go slam my head in the door so I'll quit thinking about doing that. :( regards,Thaellar

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I create an FS install folder on my HDD, and copy the files from the DVD's, the installs are much faster than from the DVD's.And I have copies of all my addons....Of course the addons take the most time to reinstall, but at least you can quickly install FSX off your HDD

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Drive imaging. This may be the best way, but sounds complicated and time-consuming.
Imaging is by far the best way to backup. You get not only the files, but also the registry settings, provided you backup not only the OS and FSX drives or partitions, but anyplace else you may have installed add-ons.And there is nothing complicated about it. Time-wise, it's about the same as copying all those files. Should the need arise, restoration is a breeze.Nor do you have to shell out big bucks. Check out these three freeware offerings. I can personally vouch for the reliability and user-friendliness of Paragon.http://www.paragon-software.com/home/db-express/http://www.runtime.org/driveimage-xml.htmhttp://www.macrium.com/ReflectFree.aspJohn

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Incase of any confusion, the Norton Ghost I mentioned above is drive imaging.

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I use ACRONIS and like it alot. Very easy to set up and I can sleep better knowing if anything bad should happen to my OS or FSX drive I can restore it with ease. I have a image of both my FSX and OS drives and keep that as my master backup. Then its up to you as to how you want to backup.

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Imaging is by far the best way to backup. You get not only the files, but also the registry settings, provided you backup not only the OS and FSX drives or partitions, but anyplace else you may have installed add-ons.And there is nothing complicated about it. Time-wise, it's about the same as copying all those files. Should the need arise, restoration is a breeze.Nor do you have to shell out big bucks. Check out these three freeware offerings. I can personally vouch for the reliability and user-friendliness of Paragon.http://www.paragon-software.com/home/db-express/http://www.runtime.org/driveimage-xml.htmhttp://www.macrium.com/ReflectFree.aspJohn
John --- Thanks a bunch! Nice to hear from Taildragger!

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Another vote for disc imaging. My FSX system is so tweaked and adjusted, with CH Manager, activated addons...I break into a cold sweat thinking about trying to replicate it!I use XXClone - a free application that is painless to use. I usually defrag with O&O Defrag Pro, and then cable up the clone drive, image the disc, and then remove the clone for storage in another location. That's in case a meteor were to crash through the ceiling and take out my CPU. One cannot be too careful.Disc crash? Insert new drive and reboot...and don't forget to make another clone!Noel WBrisbane

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Complete OS and FSX drive image on external USB drive. First image after the OS install, second (update) after clean FSX install and third (update) with all favorite addons. Doesn't matter what happens, i am back alive after 30 minutes while watching TV.And for the small booboo i keep a clean folder backup on an internal HDD. This includes all FSX related folders (also those under Documents, AppData and ProgramData).

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Imaging is by far the best way to backup. You get not only the files, but also the registry settings, provided you backup not only the OS and FSX drives or partitions, but anyplace else you may have installed add-ons.And there is nothing complicated about it. Time-wise, it's about the same as copying all those files. Should the need arise, restoration is a breeze.Nor do you have to shell out big bucks. Check out these three freeware offerings. I can personally vouch for the reliability and user-friendliness of Paragon.http://www.paragon-software.com/home/db-express/http://www.runtime.org/driveimage-xml.htmhttp://www.macrium.com/ReflectFree.aspJohn
Update: I started testing DriveImage XML and discovered a nice feature. It allows the viewing and recovery of individual files or folders from the image without having to restore the entire drive or partition. Combines the advantages of imaging and copying in a single backup.Very useful for those cases where just one or a few files have mysteriously vanished or become corrupted.For more info, see the video tutorial here:
John

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Well, only 14 hours for re-format, FSX and addons install with liberal testing after each install. I'm using Acronis for the imaging and I'm just about ready for the final image of the drive with FSX all setup and purring along. Of course, I will defrag before that. With all the texture files added from GEX and FEX, I'll have to let it run overnight.That is, IF I can stop flying the C-130 and the 727, my 2 new favs. They both have so much "character". Thanks for everyone's great help and comments. I will be able to sleep well knowing that a pre-installed and tuned recovery is only, as Mango put it, "about 30 minutes while watching TV".regards,Thaellar

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Well, only 14 hours for re-format, FSX and addons install with liberal testing after each install. I'm using Acronis for the imaging and I'm just about ready for the final image of the drive with FSX all setup and purring along. Of course, I will defrag before that. With all the texture files added from GEX and FEX, I'll have to let it run overnight.That is, IF I can stop flying the C-130 and the 727, my 2 new favs. They both have so much "character". Thanks for everyone's great help and comments. I will be able to sleep well knowing that a pre-installed and tuned recovery is only, as Mango put it, "about 30 minutes while watching TV".regards,Thaellar
Does not matter about the defrag.. you will need to rerun that anyway after any image restore.. but its still good to clean it up before making the image as it does help in the image file speed creation

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Be aware however, the newer versions of imaging software such as Acronis can perform incremental images as well. This helps capture only changes since the last full image backup (sector by sector changes only). In my case, a full compressed image of my FSX server, running high compression, runs about 120GB for a full image of the box, including addon archives. Where as an increamental image only typically runs 15 or 20GB since the last backup. This is great as long as you aren't modyfing all the sectors such as done with the Complete/Filename defrag with O&O Defrag.If you run a Complete/Filename defrag, whereby it re-touches each sector to some extent, you might as well run a full image backup. If you have only space-defragged since the last full image backup, then a incremental image backup would be advantageous as only a few of the sectors should have changed.You can even combine full and increamental images in to one new full image using a utility in the Acronis Home 2009 product, which is pretty cool to archive away the last set of images as one full image, comprised of the orignal full image + all increments. I usually keep one complete archive image and then my current working incremantal backup set.

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Thanks for that info Al. I'll definitely check it out.Thaellar

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