Thursday, May 26, 2011

Backup procedures

I often meet customers who say - I was about to back it up but....

Last week I suffered a serious problem with a Window 7 64 PC.  It had become corrupted - probably due to device drivers - in a way that it would not respond to either mouse or keyboard. It booted up, I could see it over the network, but not control anything.

It is a Dell computer, and did not come with a Windows disk, but I had made a repair disk.  I managed to boot into repair mode and first tried to go back a few restore points, however nothing worked.

I have a few backup prodcures in place, so was not too worried.  The methods I have are
  • On line carbonite
  • Weekly Microsoft backup to a local RAID - in a separate box
  • Periodic disk images using Macrium Reflect
  • Very critical code (my source code) is backed up every 8 hours onto another PC, local but in a different room.
I was 100% confident, and still remai this way, that all important documents and files are safe.  Th problem came with recovering the operaing system.

The first stage was to use the Microsoft image which is created evry week.  The recovery mode allows for this to be restored, but it did not want to recognise the RAID box.  However, the files were copied onto a USB drive, and was then visible.  In the mean time, I took a complete image copy of the problem drive so that all updated files could be recovered as required.

The disk was then updaed with the microsft image, but this would not produce a bootable drive.  It always came up in recovery mode, and often indicated that there were bad directories etc.

The final stage was to restore the partition, and boot sector from the Macrium backup.  This was a few months old, but gave the pomise of a working system.  I was very pleased that this worked, and it immediately booted and started running.  The system then spent some time updating a few months of Norton and Microsoft patches.  The recent file were copied back, some from disk, and some from carbonite, and all is now working correctly.  No files or data lost.

My concern remains on how good the Microsoft backup system is.  In the next few months I will try and receate a complete backup and see if it works.

Friday, May 6, 2011

DVD+RW apparently blank

I recently had a DVD+RW for recovery.  It was from a camcorder and had probably been reformatted.

On initial examination the start of the disk was OK, but the majority was blank, ie all the sectors were filled with zeros.  I could read the sectors and no error messages were displayed.  Every indication was that the disk had been blanked, as if thee had been a full format.

When the disk was examined on hardware designed to read blank disks it was very interesting that the disk was not blank.  There was a significant amount of video still on the disk and CnW software did a recovery, and then generated a new video disk.

The concern is that standard hardware gave every indication that the disk was blank - so do not rely on standardard hardware if there is a possibility that the data may actually still exist.  CnW Recovery services will always assist anyone with such possible disks.