Oh, Jeez! My condolences! I won't let SWMBO even *sit* at any of my
workstations! Need something? OK, I'll build you a laptop with that
<something> for you to use (she currently has two such laptops in
addition to her workstation).
[Her replacement workstation is sitting in the living room waiting
to be built -- as is her replacement laptop. Her old workstation will
get discarded (pull and sanitize disk) and one of "my" laptops will
be restored to its original image -- the other discarded. Just
need ten or twenty more hours in the day... EACH day! :< ]
The laptops I build for students restore in less than 5 minutes.
But, there's just Windows, some tools and MSOffice, there. The
point being it is really NOT very painful to do a restore -- so,
it becomes a viable way of working through any problems!
I had one lose the boot sector to a hardware failure. Simply would
not restore. And, apparently the sector remapping software wouldn't
<shrug> No problem. Slap another disk in and restore the image to that! > Separating data from System is huge... and my experience has been that
Yeah - that's what I have come around to: once have the procedure down
pat, a re-image is just too simple and takes too few clock hours
(actually minutes) for me to even consider anything else.
The whole business with Windows' backtracking the registry to "Restore
Points" becomes, IMHO, sort of silly - especially because then I have to
trust that process and assume that nothing else is amiss.
Exactly. Entropy is very apparent in any MS system!
For students, having to "live without" the machine while it is
being "repaired" is a big disincentive to NEEDING it repaired.
IME, people would much rather the convenience of being able to have
a "working" machine than they would fret over the potential of
"losing something" (and needing a manual "recovery and rebuild").
Esp if you can give them a way to keep their "precious stuff"
someplace that isn't corrupted/lost in the process.
[Of course, this also works great for *me* -- as I have no desire to
be recovering lost files for all sorts of careless users!]
On 03/14/2016 03:30 PM, email@example.com wrote:
I keep my data backed up to at least two or three separate hard drives.
No matter how much of a PITA reinstalling the OS may or may not be...
it can be done.
That's a whole different scenario.
My "live repository" sits, in duplicate, on multi-TB spindles.
(I have a *lot* of stuff archived!)
I have offline copies on optical media (which have to be treated
gingerly lest they give up the ghost).
And, really precious things are on MO and tape. It may take me
a while (a LONG while) to recover a lost spindle. But, I *can*
I have several COTS NAS's that I spin up, as needed, so I can
"push" a copy of a work-in-progress off to another spindle
if I fear I may screw something up with the local "working copy".
Biggest hassle is retrieving big objects from the archive. E.g.,
when I build multimedia presentations, I often have to pull
hundreds of GB of audio/video "templates" off the archive to explore,
"live". Even at gigabit speeds, it takes a fair amount of time!
Biggest *headache* is keeping track of "little projects" that
may have been pulled out for a bit of touchup -- and then
forgetting which copy has the most current set of changes.
E.g., I spent a few hours revising a paper pulled onto a laptop
while sitting in car waiting for SWMBO. If I forget to merge
those changes back into the original, I may find myself wondering
"Didn't I change all this, already?" at some future time...
And, for the insufficiently-paranoid who may only have one backup
device: consider the scenario where a flaky USB card or some other
weird failure fries drives as they are connected.
Once I cooked 2 or 3 backup drives before it dawned on me what was
happening. Since then I make it a point to always keep at least one
drive where I cannot get to it too easily - in hopes that I will come to
my senses soon enough in a similar situation.
I had that happen on one of my servers. Kept wondering why I was having
problems with USB devices (e.g., external disks). Swapped out USB hubs,
Of course, I'd been deligently ignoring the "warning light" as it was
a hassle to hook up an IPMI client to query the machine ("What's wrong?").
Discovered a bad USB/FW card was the cause of all the problems.
Pulled that and everything played nice together.
I keep backups on different spindles on different machines.
My newest approach connects external USB drives to little
headless machines (Optiplex FX160's) and mounts them remotely.
Pull whatever files I want over the network -- knowing that there
is nothing else "running" on the FX160's that could hiccup.
Other copies of the files on any particular volume reside on
other disks. I have a database that tracks where each is located
(disk, directory, filename -- a file can have a different name
and still be the same file!) along with information that helps
me verify its integrity (checksum, date, etc.).
Another program just walks through each disk's contents (on the
FX160's) verifying the checksums of each file against the
STORED checksums in the (remote) database.
So, if something is remiss, I get notified that the file is
experiencing bitrot and I have to arrange for a "backup copy"
to be mounted so the rotting copy can be restored.
[I don't want this to be an automatic process as a hiccup could
wipe out ALL copies of a file!]
This ensures that copies exist on independent media, controlled
by independent CPU's, is *verified* regularly (just HAVING a copy
doesn't mean that copy is still accessible!) and can be LOCATED
easily (with literally MILLIONS of files in my repository, there's
no easy way to KNOW where a copy of a particular file might reside:
which USB disk? which CD? DVD? etc.)
Yes. I had a bad USB port too.
Also, of the times I've needed to restore from a backup only a few of
those have been because of hardware failure, It's usually software
failure, which may not be apparent until after making a backup. I've
needed that older backup a few times.
BTW, I have has a failed HD. I was glad to have a COMPLETE backup, not
just the (currently useless) personal data that some people recommend.
It has been for a long time! But, not all apps play by the rules.
And, most folks don't realize that you can "move" the "My Documents"
E.g., on the SteadyState machines, I move MyDocuments to D: (which
isn't "preserved" by the SteadyState) so data files are persistent
without inconveniencing the user.
Keep an image of the machine "as built". Update it when you add
a new application *or* undertake some major reconfiguration.
With 1, 2, 3 and 4T external drives, you can create a buttload
of images and never run out of space (you're only imaging executables,
not "user files")
I've not included that requirement. It's all or nothing (on a
partition by partition basis). The imaging and restore operations
are done without the help of the local OS. So, you want it to
be a turnkey operation -- not one where the user (who RARELY
interacts with that software) has to remember how it works
and what to "click", "drag", etc.
For the laptops that I build for a local non-profit, I build
a custom "restore partition" that lets the user wipe the
system and restore it to its original condition (no special
media required, etc.).
In the past, I would install SteadyState so the user's "system"
would be immutable -- leaving any "data" on a separate partition
(or thumb drive, external drive, etc). Coupled with the above,
I would never (?) need to see a machine again after having delivered
it to its end user.
I do that during the initial build: Installation.txt sitting on
the desktop. But, people aren't good at maintaining that sort of
When building a machine, I'll typically install the OS, then take an
image (0_OS). Then, add the drivers and take another image (1_Drivers).
Then, updates/patches and another image (2_Updates). Then, basic
utilities (WinZIP, PowerToys, etc.). Then, core applications (web browser,
etc.). Then, more advanced/specific applications.
The last image is the one that gets saved for the machine (the other images
are there in case something goes awry while I am building and I need to
roll back to an earlier stage).
I keep track of *everything* that I do in the installation log.
E.g., every "preference" setting, license codes, etc. I will
also include snippets of REGEDIT files (e.g., to disable Autorun
the way I prefer to have it disabled; put Administrator on the
login screen; etc.).
So, the first thing you do when recovering a system is copy the "final"
installation log onto the desktop so you can follow it to move from
<whatever> restored image to the next step, forward. > Then you can image the System only a few times - once when you know it
I find folks moving to external "data" drives instead of having to
remember to "backup" (to an external drive).
I use a similar approach with my machines: executables on C: (for
windows machine) and other volumes for "working files". So, only
one "project" resides on the machine at any given time (but, for
me, a project may involve a few hundred GB of "stuff"). In that
way, I don't have to keep track of which parts of which projects
have been backed up recently...
That's pretty much what I was trying to describe... Except, for the
truly-paranoid like myself, I tend to restore from the last image and
apply the changes since, and then create the next image. Cuts down on
the chances of picking up something nasty-but-hard-to-find between
IME, most people don't install much after a machine is built.
So, the "as built" image is usually "good enough" for a restore.
They may have to go through and re-tweak settings and configuration
options that have "evolved" to suit their tastes. But, that's
usually not a big deal.
[Most people don't have lots of "applications" on a machine.
By contrast, I will typically have more than 100G of apps
on each machine -- and, aside from some "core utilitites",
most of those are *different* from machine to machine! So,
it's important that I get the configuration stuff folded
into the initial image...]
That's been my practice for many years. Same with your other good
advice. It's not paranoia, just sound practice for the PC.
About the only thing you didn't cover is system partition size.
Keeping it as small as possible increases the speed of restoring and
imaging, making doing it almost casual in terms of effort.
IOW, it gets done.
Funny side note:
I was over at a friend's house and there was a certain woman there he
was making fun of.
Right in front of her he said she was so dumb he had to go over there
late at night and fix the speaker wires on her stereo then drive back home.
I knew as a fact the woman was pretty bright and hooking up speakers
would have been laughably simple.
She leaned over to me and said. "I was trying to seduce him, guess who
the dummy was."
Great story! Reminds me of the comedienne who put on her sexiest negligee
and stood leaning seductively in the living room doorway. When her husband
noticed he said: "What's wrong honey, did you hit your head?"
Men often don't get subtle cues . . .
It took my wife a while to get my attention at first.
One evening she showed up wearing fishnet stockings and a leather
miniskirt possibly 4" long and an exceedingly low cut blouse.
I figured out that she was dropping a little hint.
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