Must System (C:) cloning/imaging be such an odyessy?

vbimport

#1

I’m not much of an IT guy. But I got it in my head a while back to seek out a way to install a fresh operating system (winxppro), tweak all my settings, fonts, networks, drivers etc… load all my favorite programs fresh and tweak all of their concomitant settings,… you get the picture… and before I do anything more I wanted to burn an image, that I could boot into, to recover the computer EXACTLY as it is at that point.

Surely there must be a way for a non techie to accomplish that VERY BASIC TASK. Sorry for the shouting there. But I’m going a bit crazy here. After asking about I discover, astonishingly enough, that there actually is no simple way to do this. It’s simple enough, after you master one of half a dozen programs available, but for the beginner it’s just not a simple thing at all. How can that be? I just want the EXACT image for later recovery?

I finally settled on Acronis after it garnered the majority of recommendations and gave it a whirl. That was a week ago. Yeah, I’m a slow learner with IT. I admitted that. I just screwed up one more attempt, and wasted another six hours of work on setting up my computer, only to to be asked at the acronis forum "what did you select under advanced options for “Backup Splitting”. WHAT??? There are dozens of advanced options for creating a backup. I DON"T WANT TO KNOW ABOUT ANY OF THESE QUITE FRANKLY. I may or may not learn all the complex stuff later. Cant I just mirror my drive?

Please forgive the shouting. I’m at my wits’ end. I’m looking at many more potential screw ups along the learning curve in this complex program JUST TO DO THE SIMPLEST OF TASKS!

Why, Oh Why, can’t I just burn an image of my “C:” drive, without having to navigate options in a program suited for advanced users who wish to play with all the bells and whistles and myriad flavors of disc recovery methods? I just want one “method”. The simplest one (for XP… I don’t have Vista or 7) Just a snapshot of my EXACT drive with no tweaks or changes. Is this possible?

Please help me. I’m going a bit nutty over this since it ought intuitively to be so damn simple but is just somehow beyond my grasp.

Or be so kind as to recommend a more suitable forum for asking this.


#2

Welcome to the forum :slight_smile:

A simple copy of all files contained in C: partition is not sufficient because some files are not accessible by the user (even with administrator privileges): to make a perfectly 1:1 copy is needed to use a dedicated software that can do the job without loading the operative system first.

Acronis is the easiest solution to do what you want, and its interface is the simplest you can find in such kind of software. What is exactly the problem?

Acronis doesn’t require 6 hours to do a full backup, unless you are trying to clone a full 4 TB drive maybe?? :eek:

Moreover, in Acronis is not mandatory to set all advanced settings, because all default settings are good. You only need to set the source partition (the one you want to clone, i.e. C: in your case) and the destination drive (i.e. where you want to store the backup). The fastest solution is to not compress data, so Acronis simply copy all data from source partition to the destination disk. If you choose max compression, then of course a lot more time is needed to complete backup.

It is not possible to store the backup in the same drive you want to copy, so you need at least another drive to store the backup (an USB external HDD is fine).

If you find Acronis too confusing, there are alternatives, like O&O DiskImage. Take a look at as it appear in screenshot page :slight_smile:


#3

[QUOTE=geno888;2652685]Welcome to the forum :slight_smile:

A simple copy of all files contained in C: partition is not sufficient because some files are not accessible by the user (even with administrator privileges): to make a perfectly 1:1 copy is needed to use a dedicated software that can do the job without loading the operative system first.

Acronis is the easiest solution to do what you want, and its interface is the simplest you can find in such kind of software. What is exactly the problem?

Acronis doesn’t require 6 hours to do a full backup, unless you are trying to clone a full 4 TB drive maybe?? :eek:

Moreover, in Acronis is not mandatory to set all advanced settings, because all default settings are good. You only need to set the source partition (the one you want to clone, i.e. C: in your case) and the destination drive (i.e. where you want to store the backup). The fastest solution is to not compress data, so Acronis simply copy all data from source partition to the destination disk. If you choose max compression, then of course a lot more time is needed to complete backup.

It is not possible to store the backup in the same drive you want to copy, so you need at least another drive to store the backup (an USB external HDD is fine).

If you find Acronis too confusing, there are alternatives, like O&O DiskImage. Take a look at as it appear in screenshot page :)[/QUOTE]

Thank you for your comments. And I do understand that simply dragging/dropping in windows to a USB drive would not work for the reasons you state in your first sentence.

I was not clear on the time I expressed. I meant that starting from a blank hardrive, it took me approx six hours to install the original operating system with Hewlett Packard’s recovery discs, to set my preferences for font size and desktop color and arrangement, to set up wireless networking and file sharing, to download-install-set preferences for my favorite programs and applications for screen grap, pdf, video player, opensource word processer, rar and unzip utilitiy, etc, etc.

After six hours of this, and RIGHT there at the point where I wish to preserve this set up for future installation if something corrupts or if I simply want to clean up 100 percent and start fresh, I want to burn a single ISO image (clone) of this harddrive to separate media (preferably USB). I understand and have accomplished the phase of burning a bootable CD disc with Acronis loader on it, and have attempted to burn an ISO onto the 16gb NFTS formatted usb. Where I have trouble is that Acronis is rather like the cockpit of a Boeing 747 and I only need the utility of a Cessna 142 single engine.

Mine is the simplest of disc cloning and recovery needs. Two laptops computers in the house. I don’t want scheduled recoveries, email notifications, complex IT enterprise solutions/options, separate sector and/or file accessiblity in order to access parts of the image, myriad compression options, file splitting options (16gb is plenty of room for these single images and then some), etc, etc, and etc.

Try as I might I slog through the tutorials on youtube, acronis’s site, and the acronis user’s forums and it all does me more harm than good. The harder I work to understand the cockpit of that 747 the less clear it is to me how to SIMPLY start the engine and fly. I don’t need the learning curve for this. I just need a program that asks

“do you wish to clone the present image of your harddrive to separate media…period?”

“OK”

Select "make media bootable"
or select “make a separate boot media”

“insert both media in respective drives”

“Browse to destination media.”
“Browse to drive to be cloned”

“click proceed”

How on earth can something so basic be that hard to do in Acronis? For each step above there are multiple options available for which a beginner has no clue whatsoever. I’ve asked half a dozen times at the
acronis forum for a simple guide to help me do this most simple of tasks and I’ve been referred over and over again to tutorials designed for IT technicians working across multiple platforms in commercial and industrial settings.


#4

This is a very frustrating problem that I have had to deal with in the past.

If you have a spare hard disk that is the same capacity as the one you are trying to create an image of, you can use Clonezilla to make a perfect 1:1 copy of the hard disk. Then, all you would need to do to restore your system is swap hard drives.

Clonezilla is based off of a live linux disk and can be downloaded for free here: http://clonezilla.org/


#5

I have Acronis True Image Home version 11 . I find it fairly easy. I know it’s not the newest version but it does fine for Vista so I think it would work fo XPpro.
Is there anything I could help you with ?
One the Acronis backup images are .tib extension files. I know they are images but for what ever reason they are not .iso.
The other thing I found about Acronis is use “verify” . I had some failures because I didn’t. None since I started doing this.


#6

I did check into Clonezilla. It requires a bit of familiarity with Linux environment to get comfortable. I have some experience with Linux Mint but quit it eventually since I’m admittedly disinterested in looking “under the hood” of just about everything I want to use every time. Just to find, install, and then make use of opensource analogs to such familiar programs as Microsoft Streets and Trips and Google Sketchup I had to navigate rabbit hole after rabbit hole of “fun” Linux commands and tweaking to get them half way right. Lovers of Linux sincerely call this “fun”. I do not. So I switched back to Windows. At least Windows lets me feel more adventurous than Apple… or so I’m told.

[I][B]“If you have a spare hard disk that is the same capacity as the one you are trying to create an image of, you can use Clonezilla to make a perfect 1:1 copy of the hard disk. Then, all you would need to do to restore your system is swap hard drives”[/B][/I]

Thank you, but I’d strongly prefer to do this using removeable media on USB along with a boot disk. I will soon (tonight perhaps) be ordering one of the 1TB external USB connected harddrives such as…

…and this backup situation may take on another (hopefully easier) dimension.

Anyway, I downloaded the trial version of O&O diskimage and looked around inside. Love the GUI compared to Acronis. It was looking to be a real winner, with straightforward clicks and menus dedicated to creating full disc images on removeable drives… but I read further on how to create bootable media in order to recover to a blank, new, or malfunctioning (won’t boot) harddrive.

Acronis builds a perfectly acceptible boot disk to a blank CD or DVD in about 90 seconds directly from the Acronis installation.

For some damn reason O&O requires, for the same operation, the downloading and installation of 2gb worth of extra windows files in the form of “Windows Automated Installation Kit”, and they warn you that it’s a very long download, and then there are pages and pages of mindboggling instructions on how to set it up to associate with O&O DiskImage in order to produce a single bootable CD. !!!

Back where I started. It’s looking like I’ll be forced to slog it out with Acronis and their forums until some good samaritan there offers up a little primer for complete beginners.


#7

You might take a look at this:
http://www.themudcrab.com/downloads/acronis_bootable_usb_hd.pdf
Also what version of ATI are you using.


#8

Thank you for that link. Yes, in fact I did read that top to bottom some time ago. It was one of the tutorials recommended to me via the Acronis forum. Mudcrab is a regular contributor to the Acronis forum and actually pointed me toward that tutorial. I’m using ATI Home 2011.

“Themudcrab” PDF tutorial is an example of what I was saying about too much information for accomplishing this MOST SIMPLE OF TASKS. That tutorial is a 53 page… FIFTY THREE PAGE!!!.. set of instructions on how to clone your harddrive.

What I wish to do is SO SIMPLE that noone I’ve asked so far seems able to grasp its simplicity. C’mon… really?

For such a thing as making a copy of your harddrive, to bootable removable media, for future use, a truly well designed program should not require the user to read ANY instructions. If that simple a process cannot be fully grasped, easily and without error, from a GUI understandable to any 12 year old, then the package is a failure as far as I’m concerned. For God’s sake, think about this.

O&O’s GUI actually does appear to be this “friendly”. And after doing a bit more checking on the boot media construction I’m inclined to give O&O another look. I downloaded the free version of Macrium Reflect and the option therein for creating boot media offers a choice of downloading and utilizing the time consuming and labor intensive “Windows Automated Installation Kit” or simply opting to create a Linux version of boot media quickly and easily. If Macrium can do it then O&O should be able to as well. For that matter I have yet to look into Macrium’s freeware imaging program so I may just be happy with it and quit Acronis for good.

As for Acronis, it truly pisses me off that a program can leave so many potential traps open to the beginner to screw up what ought to be a simple process unless the user opts to learn the entire program to the level expected of an advance user. That’s poor product development. And that’s not just an idiot talking (although I’ve fully owned up to my IT idiocy)… the Acronis forums are chock full of beginning user’s topics the result of having screwed up the “options” required to do precisely, and SIMPLY, what I have attempted to do.

What I’m attempting to do should NOT require directions or tutorials.
There is no reason why it cannot be a two to three screen GUI of ultra simple commands. The more complicated forms of data backup and recovery should be available to those needing it via advanced commands, drop down menus, and tutorials.


#9

53 pages is an easy rant to get on…


#10

The PDF guide covers more than one option in the 53 pages so it depends on what you need to do if you need to read all 53 pages . A lot of the pages are almost all image so it is not 53 pages of all text to read.
I set up an external harddrive this way & I’m very satisfied with it. My main reason was so I could keep the ATI original disc in almost unused condition. I also did create the "Bootable Rescue Media " which is all you need to start a recovery . It’s initially more work to set up the hard drive but more convenient. I will post some about this is the other thread.
@ svejkovat , If your looking for a one step backup program there isn’t one.
We haven’t yet got to hook up a couple of electrodes so the computer can read your mind . Then set up the backup exactly like you want it. I’m usually not sarcastic but that is close to what you are wanting . I, like most members here will be willing to help but it is a waste of time if in the end you say “It takes too many steps.”


#11

I DISLIKE (intensly) any cloning software that must be installed on the volume to be cloned.

Particularly software packages that cannot be REMOVED with their own built-in “uninstaller” without also requireing a regedit to leave you with a working
system as some versions of Acronis do…

Clonezilla requires NO “familiarity with a linux environment” to clone a disc, but it DOES require a familiarity with CLONEZILLA (yes, I am SHOUTING certain words).

If you get used to clonezilla it will clone Vista & all versions of Windows 7,
even 64bit equally successfully.

Howeve even though use clonezilla just about daily for cloning an XP installation
I prefer an older copy of “Norton Ghost”

The easiest place to get a copy of Ghost is to search for and download
something called a “Hirens Rescue disc”, the older versions contained
in this package of software (that is a boot from CD-ROM) will clone XP
(and earlier OS installations) perfectly, without the twitchy requirement
that the HD be the same size or larger.
Norton Ghost will copy to another drive othe same size as the ALLOCATED
SPACE on the source Hard drive. OR you can copy “partition-to-partition”

Though often a second step of connecting the new clone to another Win2000/XP/Vista/Win7 system opening disc management and “marking the partition as active” is often required to make it bootable.

It is also possible to save your entire installation as an ISO file to a larger hard drive.

The rub with this is that you have to have a working computer to more and mount that ISO to another drive.

The advantage to cloning to an identical spare hard drive is that should you have an OS-crash or a simple (disasterous) drive failure and you have a working clone (that you can TEST by booting from it ONCE) that you leave physically mounted in your computer case but disconnected from Power and data cables all you need to do get your system back up and running is move the cable.

This is how I keep my clone for my OS installation, it’s on a spare HDD that is permanantly mounted in my case.


#12

Guilty. I do apologize for any shouting and ranting.

If your looking for a one step backup program there isn’t one.

That’s an exaggeration of my repeatedly stated needs. Half a dozen clear “clicks” that do not require help files would be fine. I’m waiting for anyone able to suggest a program that will accomplish that.

We haven’t yet got to hook up a couple of electrodes so the computer can read your mind . Then set up the backup exactly like you want it.

…yes that is needlessly sarcastic considering the simplicity of my request here all along.

“Backup your entire PC to a single compressed image file.” Is the first “feature” listed on the following page…

http://www.macrium.com/personal.aspx

…exactly how would you describe that as being able to “read your mind”?

What if I’d asked for instructions on taking a snapshot of my present desktop. That’s also a simple request. Instead of just informing me of the “prt sc” print screen key I doubt you’d tell me “I can’t read your mind”. If I needed any more complex snapshot of my desktop we could go from there. But why not just suggest the “prt sc” key first? A single snapshot of my present hardrive for recovery is really not much more complex a question or open to much interpretation.

Must I pay 50 dollars for Macrium Personal that can accomplish this? Is “elegant simplicity” really that precious? I will definitely buy it if this is the case. But is it that wrong for me to suspect (strongly) that there is an open source or otherwise freely available method of doing this?

Macrium’s website remains vague as to whether that simple task is possible with their free version…

http://www.macrium.com/reflectfree.aspx

I’m trying to read through the description of the following…

to see if accomplishing a full “image” is possible. I’m concerned that this is only for windows OS files and drivers and none else. In a tutorial on “windows imaging” it warns "do not install any non windows

Before anyone else can’t resist the urge to snipe at me for my frustrations, and I’ll admit once more that I’m pretty unskilled in IT, would someone kindly disabuse me of the idea that what I’m asking for is simple? it seems so to me, but maybe I’m just not seeing something clearly. Why can’t a program “read my mind” when I ask it, with no more than one or two clicks, to
"Backup [my] entire PC to a single compressed image file."

Please. No humor or sarcasm. Just why is this not a simple request?


#13

You pay for the tool you need.

Some people need Acronis, O&O, etc. And when people need freeware versions, they usually make them feature packed…which means they cannot be completely automatic. If they are automatic, they typically lose features.

Other people need a simple utility to backup a drive to an image in as few clicks as possible. If that is the tool you need, try it. The free version of Macrium does say it supports disk imaging, but only you will know if it is simplistic. You have absolutely nothing to lose by trying it.

Also: you don’t have to have much general IT knowledge to deal with certain specific programs. You only have to have patience, a desire to try, willpower, and still more patience. Only then will you complete tasks.


#14

Guess I’ll buy the 50 dollar Macrium Personal. If any lesson has been reinforced in this thread it is only, unfortunately, that…

“You pay for the tool you need”

…as well as the advice you seek.

Also: you don’t have to have much general IT knowledge to deal with certain specific programs. You only have to have patience, a desire to try, willpower, and still more patience. Only then will you complete tasks.

Sarcasm… now condescension. I’ve evidently, to some, shown little patience, desire to try, willpower… and then still no patience. All I needed was that final bit of insinuating pablum.


#15

[QUOTE=svejkovat;2652873]
What I’m attempting to do should NOT require directions or tutorials. [/QUOTE]
That is what you are asking for here unless this is just a rant .
I could do a guide with images & it would take me some time.
That doesn’t seem to be what you want .
That is the reason for my sarcasim & Albert’s alleged condesension.

[QUOTE=svejkovat;2652873]
There is no reason why it cannot be a two to three screen GUI of ultra simple commands. [/QUOTE]
Except that none of the backup software does this .
You need to tell it what you want it to do. This is because there are so many different computers & OS’s they need to work with.


#16

its not condescending, its just fact.

ranting is not wanting help.


#17

[QUOTE=svejkovat;2652961]Guess I’ll buy the 50 dollar Macrium Personal. If any lesson has been reinforced in this thread it is only, unfortunately, that…

Sarcasm… now condescension. I’ve evidently, to some, shown little patience, desire to try, willpower… and then still no patience. All I needed was that final bit of insinuating pablum.[/QUOTE]

I guess in a Perfect World cloning a HDD sounds like a great idea, but for all practical purposes I don’t think it’s needed. I have been building and working on computers longer than I could remember, and saving your Data and reloading Windows and your Programs on a new HDD works the best. You get a fresh start and everything works like new, and it gives you a chance to upgrade everything. When I was working the IT Department did have Image Discs to set up the Workstations to Standard Programs and Settings, but that was Professional Software and I’m sure they paid a pretty penny for it. Like I said, for all practical purposes reloading Windows and your Programs doesn’t take that long. :cool:


#18

@ alchav21 ,I have several programs from giveawayoftheday that I couldn’t install again in a fresh install . I also don’t like to have to reset all the settings on programs that require it . For me a backup image & a clone is the best solution.
Everyone has their own way that works best for them . I think for those that can a fresh install is nice & lowers the chance of keeping a hidden virus.


#19

Ok, I’ve posted about Clonezilla numerous times and if you stick to "Beginner mode"
and “clone directly from Disc to Disc” there are less than a dozen “clicks” to get you where you need to go from the Clonezilla start screen.

You simply do not need all the more advanced features, like it’s capability of cloning across a local network…

Cloning to a spare hard drive IS the way to go for one simple reasons.

As a professional It tech I know the commonest “Failure” of a computer
is a hard drive failure.

And I’m talking more than 19 out of 20. at that point reinstalling windows onto the failied “Mostly dead” hard drive may SEEM possible but it actually working correctly
is hardly certain… I assume a hard drive is the culprit until PROVEN otherwise.
Running a stored ISO image of your setup onto the drive is equally unlikely to work.

Part of the problem is the technical “Hoops” you must jump through to verify that an image is not corrupted when you first make it.

a cloned installation on a spare drive is childishly easy to verify…
connect it to the computer disconnect the source drive and start
the computer if it boots and goes to desktop you KNOW it works.

An ISO must be made, saved elsewhere, mounted to a spare drive then tested.
Most people don’t bother verifying it actually works and discover to their horror,
weeks or months later that it doesn’t when they actually need it.

Hey, whenever I make a fresh “clone” of my personal desktop’s Windows 7 Pro-64
installation, the very next thing I do is disconnect the original drive and start my
computer on the clone… if the clone works it will become the source drive for the
next clone because I’ll run that drive for the next month until it’s time to clone again.

That I actually use THREE enterprise class drives in rotation,
that I rotate the drives every month the Monday before "Patch Tuesday"
or that ANY “new” software installation is only done immediatly
after cloning the drive are all truem but unnecissary complications to the discussion
but explaining that is really an
unnecissary complication to the discussion


#20

We clone for one reason: time is money. Our customers make money with their computers. Cripple them for two days, and they’ve lost money, and that’s what a Full Reload means - two days, including a day of checking and re-locating and checking again.

SSD cloning is fast, easy and has been sadly necessary up to this point in the SSD History Of Reliability.

I too dislike any program that I have to load onto the PC to clone off of, but that’s the fact, Jack. No more boot-floppies (or even CDs-DVDs which, no, I don’t understand!!). But we also do network clones and restores, frankly, so… well. The fact that OS’s change and HAVE RUINED the simplest of cloning packages - and I feel needlessly - is one more reason I scream at the rain. (Or in Texas, lack thereof.)

Clonezilla works for me, personally. There are a lot of Methodist-Baptist issues - er, I mean, learning the vocabulary & processes of one will make another seem foreign, strange or even wrong. But I’ve done it a few dozen times now, and I’ve understood it.

And finally, Full Reloads. I love 'em for my OWN computers, that is. I clone my C: Drives occasionally (and for the SSDs, yes indeed) but I load and unload so much crap, and I tear apart registries and discover all the t*rds that ‘legitimate’ software leaves behind (“Microsoft! How COULD you?!! You violate your own Uninstall Rules?!!”).

So a Reload for my computers is a cleansing experience. I spent the summer doing that to my main 3, and I’ve got another 3 in my sight as I speak. And when Stormy delivers all those 12Tb drives, I’ll wipe out another one and get it reloaded just for those.