ot: Making Inage of Hard Drive

Richard Jones wrote on 1/4/2015, 5:29 AM
Several of you were kind enough to offer advice on this in the past as a result of which I decided to use Macrium to make an image of my PC on to an SSD disc and keep this in reserve to reload my PC should anything go wrong. Unfortunately I have run into some issues/advice which have served only to confuse my simple brain which had fondly thought this would all be so straightforward!

1. The first retailer (Maplins) told me that an SSD could not make a usable copy of the OS, that it might make a copy of some of the simpler programmes but not of the larger or more complex ones and that an SSD was really suitable only for saving data (e,g. documents, pictures and videos) unless it was pre-installed on the PC as the main drive. I tried to argue about this but they were adamant --- although I’m certain they are wrong.

2. The only other retailer (PC World) in town said that it was possible to make a full and usable image but confused me by referring to the acronyms RAID, SATA and eSATA and then added that making a successful image would involve playing with the BIOS. This would be dangerous territory for me and I’m not prepared to venture there.

3. The research I then did on Google ran counter to all of this but suggested that any transfer to an SSD could only be made via a USB3 port.

So, in short, how do I proceed?

a: As I don’t have USB3 can I transfer to an SSD using USB2? If not, can I make a proper and usable image on an external Hard Drive via USB2 and will this then reload the PC properly when needed?

b: Is it complex and time consuming?

c: And any suggestions about what sort of external drive to use (I.e. specifications and, perhaps, make)?

d: Oh! and will Macrium work as the image maker and re-installer?

For your information, I’m in the UK, the un-partitioned C Drive Properties show a total of164 GB used with 754 GB free, and the PC has 8GB of RAM along with an Intel Core i5 550 series processor.

Thank you.

Richard

Comments

diverG wrote on 1/4/2015, 6:34 AM
Macrium will allow you to make an image of any disk fitted within your computer.

In general you are only interested in having an image of your system drive as this drive holds your system and programmes. Macrium will save this image to either a second on-board drive or an external USB2/3 drive. What is important is the size of your system drive which ideally needs to be less than say 240Gb. Many machines come fitted with a single 1TB drive which holds your system and video data. If this is the case you will need to partition the C:drive and move your video files etc until the C: partition only holds Windows and your installed programmes and is comfortably smaller than 256B. This way making an image or restoring an image back would take about 10 minutes at the most. You do not need to image a 1TB drive.

Macrium allows you to make a rescue CD/USB disc rather like windows image does. In the event of a system failure you boot from this rescue disc. The only requirement to enter Bios is to change the boot order but you can usually get round this by hitting the designated F key whilst booting (read manual). Well worth finding out before you need it for real plus the fact that you need to test that your rescue disc loads. Macrium rescue provides both a graphics interface for selecting the image(source) and its destination. Also provided is a DOS window that will allow you to clean/prepare the destination disk if required. Well worth looking up DISKPART in case you nedd to use this rather useful tool.
A bit of preparation/reading takes the sweat out of a major crash!!

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Chienworks wrote on 1/4/2015, 7:05 AM
"the C: partition only holds Windows and your installed programmes and is comfortably smaller than 256B"

Your mileage may vary on that one. I have a lot of photography friends who have enormous amounts of over-bloated image processing software installed who use over 600GB just for program files.

For that matter, i consider data more important to back up than programs. I can always reinstall the software from scratch.

Richard, i'm curious as to why you chose an SSD for your backup? The primary advantage of SSD is speed, and speed is hardly a consideration for a detached backup drive. Even the slowest mechanical drives are faster than USB2 speed, and some are about on par with USB3 speed. The downfall is price. For far less than the price of the small SSD you could have gotten a mechanical drive large enough to back up the entire system.

Any storage medium can be used to make an image backup of a system drive, as long as it's big enough. You can use SD Cards, USB memory keys, remote network shares, tape, even scads of floppies. Whoever told you that you couldn't use the SSD for that doesn't know what they're talking about. I suspect they tossed in the reference to RAID to try to hide that fact, and the reference to eSata makes it sound like they expected you to keep the external SSD online as a working system drive, rather than removable backup.

Personally, rather than bother going through any sort of restore, i'd just image the entire C: drive to an equal or large sized spare drive. Then if anything goes wrong with the C: drive i just chuck it, replace it with the imaged copy drive, and be back up and running in seconds (of course, remembering to make a new copy). If you have RAID1 on your system then you've already got this happening, and the copy is up to date moment by moment. In fact, all of our servers and quite a few of desktops do just this and have for decades.

On the other hand, RAID1 won't protect you from messing up your installation with viruses, malware, bad drivers, bad upgrades, etc. since the duplicate drive gets updated simultaneously. So, if this is what you're guarding against then an external swappable image drive is probably a better choice. Best of all is to combine this with RAID1 for complete protection.
john_dennis wrote on 1/4/2015, 1:59 PM
3a You can save an image to any media that is visible to the operating system. Interface type, USB 1.1, USB 2, USB 3, eSATA will only affect the time required to transfer the data.

3b The actual save and restore should not be complex or time consuming though you do need to understand some system concepts that a lot (most) people are blissfully happy to ignore.

3c Buy any USB drive marketed as removable storage from a reputable manufacturer.

3d Answered already.

"[I] ...the un-partitioned C Drive Properties show a total of164 GB used with 754 GB free...[/I]"

To keep the terminology accurate, your current C Drive does have at least one partition, and possibly has an additional partition for the SYSTEM. (Mine doesn't have a separate SYSTEM partition, but I'm funny that way). You can tell by right-clicking on the Computer from the Start Menu, selecting Manage from the dropdown menu and then selecting Disk Management.


Notice in the picture that you have a tool to Shrink Volume. You could shrink the boot partition and add a partition to your current physical disk to use for data. Then you wouldn't have to save data while saving the boot partition. Though I do it on most other systems, I don't do it on video editing machines. I just use multiple disks.

If you have already purchased the SSD, I would recommend using it as the boot disk. Many of the manufacturers offer tools to move the boot image from a spinning disk to the SSD. Your image backup program Macrium probably can do the job. The one gotcha that you need to be cognizant of is the Unique Disk ID that Windows put on the drives. If you clone the boot image to SSD, then add the old drive back to the system for data storage, one of the disks will have to have its disk ID changed or one won't mount.

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riredale wrote on 1/4/2015, 7:43 PM
Richard Jones, allow me to throw in my two cents.

You currently have a 1TB hard drive and it holds the C partition. You have bought or are thinking of buying an SSD.

(1) An SSD is much faster than a regular hard drive, so most folks use the SSD as their C drive (the PC boots far faster, all programs including Vegas run faster).

(2) A lot of people here have been using Vegas for a while and it's amazing how much storage your projects will eventually eat up. So people often use a very large hard drive for just their video stuff. Some go further and use an external set of large hard drives so that their projects can be saved separate from the PC and new video storage can be plugged in.

(3) I don't know how much of your C drive is consumed by video files. My C drive (an SSD) has about 45GB of OS and program files. I have no idea how that number would compare with more contemporary systems, since I'm using XPpro but I have many, many programs and the PC also doubles as a web server. In any event, you need to have an SSD at least as big as your OS and program files currently consume, plus maybe 50% extra unused space (so the SSD stays fast over time).

(4) If you are really new to all of this I'd recommend a great freeware program called Partition Manager that lets you see your disk structures and create, re-size, and move partitions around. A lot of fun, actually.

(5) Macrium and other programs can do an image of your current C drive over to any other drive, including an SSD. Then you can simply switch out the drives via your PC's BIOS to tell the the PC where to look for the OS when booting. At some point in your video editing career if you run out of room on the 1TB data disk you can just offload the C image onto yet another drive or even BluRay. And the first thing you do with Macrium is to build an emergency boot disk that you can use to restore the C image onto "bare metal" should that ever be necessary--and it will be, someday.

(6) If you haven't bought an SSD yet, I'd suggest getting one with the same physical connection as your current 1TB drive, so the physical swap is easy and you don't even need to dig into the BIOS (though that's not hard either, just ask here later if you want). I'm assuming just a regular old SATA connection. You can save the RAID and other technical terms for later.

With the right software tools PCs are very understandable. The folks on this forum are very helpful.
Richard Jones wrote on 1/7/2015, 6:14 AM
Thank you all for your help. It really has been invaluable, especially to someone who has little knowledge of the workings of a PC, its OS or its programmes and is used to working with or using the equipment only to achieve an end, such as a DVD, a document etc.

Anyway, it seems that I was fortunate in not buying an SSD before getting your advice. My plan now is to buy an external Hard Drive which I can connect to my PC via USB2 and to use Macrium (Acronis has been getting some bad publicity lately both here in a separate thread and elsewhere as well) .to take an image of my HDD. This has not been partitioned and contains all my programmes and data (I know, I'm a naughty boy but we live and learn!). I'll then have to read the instructions so as to create a boot disk to allow everything on the external drive to be restored should I run into a serious problem with my main drive.

Sounds simple! I hope so.

Richard