Tuesday, May 17, 2011

My Backup/Restore Nightmare

Ok, we've established that Solid State Drives fail frequently. But the computer now feels slow without solid state drives, so now we have to learn how to deal with it. Fortunately, unless you're Google, you can't afford terabytes of SSD storage anyway, so all you have is your OS and your key applications.

On my desktop, I have a 1.5TB data drive, and attached to that a 1.5TB external USB drive to store image backups. Backups go to the external drive every night using the Image Backup Utility. When my OCZ Vertex failed, I restored from this to my old Western Digital 500GB drive just fine. It worked like a champ with one glitch: rather than restoring to the full 500GB partition, it restored to a 107GB partition, just as though I was on my SSD. At first I didn't like it and then I realized that this was pretty smart: it ensures that I can restore to the 107GB SSD when it comes back from RMA.

OK, so the RMA returns, and I install it onto my PC. I insert the Windows Recovery Disk, I try a restore from image and I get an error code (0x80042412) with 4 suggestions as to what could be wrong, including a reference to the Windows Recovery Environment. After trying everything to no avail, I finally google the error code and discover that it's because I'm restoring to a 120GB disk from a 500GB disk, even though the 500GB disk had only a 100GB partition.

Fortunately, Microsoft did the right thing and let me rollback the image back to the night before the OCZ Vertex crashed, which meant that I could restore my state roughly to where I was 10 days ago. But what about my saved data files? Never mind, I still have the 500GB Western Digital, so I cannibalized my external USB enclosure and stuck it in. Guess what, Windows takes the disk offline because it matches the diskid on my C drive!

I dig into the Windows DiskPart utility and learn to online the disk. Then I bring back that drive online and can copy my data over. The entire process took well over 3-4 hours, and I'm going to recharge my power screwdriver from all the use screwing and unscrewing hard drive screws.

My brother claims that Symantec Norton Ghost 15.0 (1 PC) will do the right thing and let me restore to a smaller drive from a bigger one, so the next time my OCZ Vertex dies, that's what I'll do.

Definitely not something I planned to do this afternoon!
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