jwillyf

Clone/backup for PC failure

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I am running FSX on a Windows 10 (updated from Windows7) desktop PC. I have windows on Drive C, FSX on drive E and scenery on drive F, all drives being standard hard drives.

A recent problem with the PC (it wouldn't boot up) was rectified after advice from the PC supplier. They suggested several things and it seemed that removal and replacement of the memory cards is what did the trick.

It got me thinking about computer failure - the PC is nearing 4 years old. The thought of re-installing Windows, FSX, planes, scenery utilities etc etc on a new PC fills me with dread, not the least because of the sheer time involvement. SO:

Is it feasible to buy say a 1Terabyte SSD and clone/backup all three drives inc the operating system and all other files such that in the event of having to invest in a new PC, I could connect the SSD to the new PC and copy across all files and achieve the same working state I currently enjoy?

My current three drives are 1 Terabyte each in capacity, and out of the total capacity of 3 Terabytes, 727 Gigabytes have been used.

Ithere is another way to achieve my objective, what would that be?

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I've heard people here speak well of a program called Macrium Reflect, which will allow you to clone/image the entire setup to a location.  I have never used it.

As for what media to use, you mention a 1 TB SSD.  That would work, but in my opinion, if it's only a backup media,  It doesn't have to really be that fast., because you're not going to use it to run disk-intensive apps.  In fact, you may simply make backups to it, or copy the occasional file to it, and rarely use it otherwise.  And why spend the extra money on an SSD for archive, when you can get a 1 or 2 TB hard drive pretty cheap?  Anyway, those are my thoughts on SSD vs. HD on a backup medium.  Certainly the SSD would be much faster, yes.

I assume a prog like Macrium Reflect would do what you want.  I plan to research the same as you, once I get my new rig built and everything installed on it.

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Good point,Mace, and thanks for the reply. SSD is probably overkill for this purpose and they are not cheap. I guess once the process is started on a standard hard drive, it can be left to complete.

Do folks think that the proposition would work without problems i.e. straightforward to operate the backup, and that loading it all onto a new PC would work from the simple press of a button, without having to dig into the guts of an operating system? Too good to be true?

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14 hours ago, jwillyf said:

My current three drives are 1 Terabyte each in capacity, and out of the total capacity of 3 Terabytes, 727 Gigabytes have been used.

As Mace has already said, using an external SSD as a backup drive is a real waste of money. Also, buying a drive which is only just big enough to backup your current content is false economy. For significantly less than the price of a 1TB SSD you could get a 3 or 4TB HDD which would give you much more breathing space for your future backups.

There are a number of backup software packages available, some of them free. However, having tried most of the popular ones, I would recommend Macrium Reflect Home - there's a free version available but it lacks some useful features like the ability to produce incremental backups. It has an excellent clone feature which I used recently when I replaced a HDD on my second system. It's very easy to use and, once setup, it runs automatically in the background on your selected schedule. The essence of a good backup app is its reliability and that's where Macrium Reflect scores highly for me. I previously used Acronis to back up my system but on the one occasion when I actually needed to restore the backup (hard drive failure), Acronis wouldn't recognise its own backup files which had only just been updated a short time before the failure! Although the latest version may be better, I'm not prepared to give backup software a second chance. I've successfully tested the integrity of my Macrium backup a few times so I'm confident it's working well. You could buy Macrium Reflect Home and a 3TB HDD together and still save a lot of money over the cost of just the external SSD. Some external HDDs come complete with backup software but it tends to be quite basic and even the free alternatives are more efficient and have better functionality.

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That's really helpful, Vortex681.

I will go with your suggestions along with the advice of the full version of Macrium Reflect since incremental backup would be a high priority.

Thanks

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Regarding your original failure. The cause of that problem is usually dust. It settles into the board and memory slots and the vibration from the fan(s) helps it migrate into the slots. I've fixed hundreds of systems by using the back end of a shop vac to blow the dust out and then reseating all of the boards and memory. These types of failures happen all the time in the business world where the environment is usually not as clean as where most home PCs live. 

Just some thoughts in regards to backup storage. I would highly recommend using mechanical drives for your primary disaster backup media instead of SSD. If an SSD drive dies, the chances of you being able to recover the data without a$$istance are slim (you'll probably need to send it somewhere to have any chance of getting your data off of it). I personally don't think of SSDs or memory sticks as "permanent" storage. If a mechanical drive fails, you can often swap the electronics from a working drive to a dead drive and still be able to recover the data. If not, you can as a last resort send the drives to a data recovery specialist who will physically remove the platters and recover the data using their own equipment. I like to think of mechanical drives as "hard copies". If you are serious about  your backup strategy, buy 2 identical drives and mirror them. Use the mirrored drive for your backups and you'll have piece of mind knowing that you have redundant copies of your data.  

I recently purchased EaseUS Todo Backup and I had the "opportunity" to use the system image and restore feature. It worked as advertised. It was very slow, though. I'm going to buy a 2nd backup program and make another system image using it. I'll look into the Macrium product. I can't (won't) put all of my eggs in one basket. 

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Doing a bit of research, I came across the info that Windows cannot handle more than 2.2 terabyte HDDs. Is that so?

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On 23/12/2017 at 7:48 AM, jwillyf said:

Ithere is another way to achieve my objective, what would that be

No need to buy an third party program, just use Win 10's System Image backup option.

gb.

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12 hours ago, gboz said:

No need to buy an third party program, just use Win 10's System Image backup option.

gb.

Whilst it certainly works, it's slow and doesn't give you all of the options of a specialised app such as differential/incremental backups - you have to make a full backup of everything each time you run it which takes up a lot of time and disc space. You also can't just restore individual files or folders as you can with an app like Macrium Reflect.

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40 minutes ago, vortex681 said:

Whilst it certainly works, it's slow and doesn't give you all of the options of a specialised app such as differential/incremental backups - you have to make a full backup of everything each time you run it which takes up a lot of time and disc space. You also can't just restore individual files or folders as you can with an app like Macrium Reflect.

That's true but I would rather do it with the intermittent approach of System Image (SI) rather than having a backup program churning away in the background. Especially on a sim only PC like the OP seems to have, after installing everything and then taking a SI not too much is going to change on a day to day basis.

gb.

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30 minutes ago, gboz said:

That's true but I would rather do it with the intermittent approach of System Image (SI) rather than having a backup program churning away in the background. Especially on a sim only PC like the OP seems to have, after installing everything and then taking a SI not too much is going to change on a day to day basis.

But that's even more of a reason to use an app which does differential/incremental backups. Rather than using System Image to back up the whole drive occasionally (which could potentially take hours each time), I set Macrium so that after the initial full backup, it makes an incremental backup (just what has changed since the last backup) once a week and it only takes minutes - no churning away in the background. You can decide how many differential or incremental backups to carry out before making a new full backup (I've selected 12 - every 3 months). Another advantage of regular incremental backups is that you won't lose any recent changes, which is always the danger with infrequent, full backups.

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2 hours ago, gboz said:

That's true but I would rather do it with the intermittent approach of System Image (SI) rather than having a backup program churning away in the background. Especially on a sim only PC like the OP seems to have, after installing everything and then taking a SI not too much is going to change on a day to day basis.

gb.

There is a flaw in your logic. There is no "churning away in the background". Once the initial backup is complete, the incremental backup happens in pretty darn close to real time. For example, I keep a full system image, and I have a "smart backup" job set up to backup my documents folder, c:\program data\, \appdata\, and my downloads folder. The smart backup job makes a full copy of those folders every 7 days. It does it when the system is idle. If I start using the computer, the backup pauses. It resumes again when the system becomes idle. For the next 6 days, it makes small backups as files are created in each of those folders. If I download a new file, within a short time I will see a little bubble pop up telling me that smart backup is running. It is making a backup copy of that file. I rarely create large number of files at one time, and even when I do the time it takes the computer to make a second copy of the file(s) is negligible. If my computer dies within the next 5 minutes and I have to restore from my backup, the files that Chrome has cached from my viewing of this thread (in AppData) will be restored to my new hard drive. I call that piece of mind. 

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11 hours ago, MDFlier said:

There is a flaw in your logic. There is no "churning away in the background".

Yes sorry should not of described it that way. There is no doubt that programs like Macrium do a more comprehensive job. Still I prefer the minimalist approach though. SI works and is sitting there free to use so really needs to be mentioned as a first option to someone who has no backup plan at all.

gb.

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