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Need some recommendations for windows cloning.

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    Need some recommendations for windows cloning.

    Hi All,

    Just wanted to get some advice on what people are using for backing up/ cloning their windows installs and programs?

    Two issues I'm looking to solve:

    1: I'm looking at setting up a NAS for us in the office so I can clone and backup the two systems we have here. It would be nice if I could setup automatic backups that run weekly say Friday after 5pm so if windows decides to be windows and kill itself, we've got something to fall back on.

    2: Cloning customer machines where needed. We're currently using AOMEI backuper but it is the most inconsistent tool I have ever used! Windows clones only work if you select system clone, you cannot do a clone of the whole drive from a separate machine that never has worked. System clones from the machine you're trying to clone occasionally work occasionally don't, you end up with the windows recovery screen and no matter what windows recovery method I try, even external third-party tools, fail to repair the install. In these cases, I just format the drive and try the system clone another 7 times and eventually it works. Frustratingly when you're doing the clone the logs always say the same thing, clone successful. Same messaging but different results.

    It's case 2 that I'm mostly trying to solve. It would also be nice if I could create the clone from another machine as well (hooking their drive up via USB obviously), back in the VISTA days we used to use Symantec ghost to do this not sure if that works anymore. Added bonus if we can store the backup just as a simple file like a iso than extract it where needed, so we can have multiple backups stored on a single large drive instead of having to do it through partitions.

    Thanks for the assistance.

    #2
    Re: Need some recommendations for windows cloning.

    if you want to backup a drive at sector level then use DD in Linux.
    you cant do a complete backup of windows while it's running because system files are constantly changing.

    to backup files - such as a user folder you can use RSYNC.

    Comment


      #3
      Re: Need some recommendations for windows cloning.

      time machine or timeshift
      Last edited by petehall347; 11-01-2023, 11:27 AM.

      Comment


        #4
        Re: Need some recommendations for windows cloning.

        Thanks for the recommendations. Sorry forgot to mention what OS, most would be windows 10 or 11. We don't get many Macs in and yeah whenever we do I just use time machine.

        Has anyone tried HDClone X.4? Spent this morning googling around for software recommendations and ran across that which seems quite good.

        I'll take a look at DD in Linux, been meaning to get back into my linux familiarity for a while now but keep putting it off.

        We see a lot of old laptops that have suddenly decided to spit up SMART errors and refuse to boot so that's the main problem I'm trying to solve. Surprised how many old HDD laptops are still out there, thought everyone would've upgraded to the light by now!

        Comment


          #5
          Re: Need some recommendations for windows cloning.

          for the laptops i would use DDrescue
          it images a drive, skipping errors and keeping a list
          then it goes back and tries to read the corrupted bits after it has got everything else - incase it kills the drive!

          Comment


            #6
            Re: Need some recommendations for windows cloning.

            If drives start showing issues, typical cloning software won't know how to deal with that. This is not just about cloning, it becomes a data recovery process.

            DDRescue is indeed one solution to that, but keep in mind it cannot do miracles, if a head is dead it won't read, or if a sector is completely dead it won't be able to recover it even after trying multiple times. In that case, depending on where the damage was, the system may become non-bootable, or the filesystem itself may be corrupt.
            But weak sectors can usually be recovered in a few passes.

            Note that DDRescue will clone the entire drive, including the free space because it has no knowledge of the filesystem, you can at least clone only a partition if needed.
            Cloning the entire drive will also take a long time, especially if there are bad sectors, and the drive can fail entirely during the process (reading using bad heads can make it worse regardless of the software/process used).

            An alternative is to use OpenSuperClone in combination with DMDE, so that DMDE can process the filesystem and know where is the data to recover, while OpenSuperClone offers a virtual drive for DMDE to read from and handles the read errors and retries under the hood. Other commercial software that do a similar job exist, but at least OpenSuperClone is free/open-source and DMDE is cheap.

            But again, that's now a data recovery service you are offering, not just a simple clone process.
            OpenBoardView — https://github.com/OpenBoardView/OpenBoardView

            Comment


              #7
              Re: Need some recommendations for windows cloning.

              Thanks for the advice and explanations.

              Most of the time we've been lucky/early enough that the SMART errors were just superficial, and cloning has been successful through AOMEI so it hasn't gotten to the point where data recovery is needed. A HP pavilion we got in recently for example, the boot screen it was stuck on noted SMART errors and it couldn't boot. If you dismissed that screen you ended up in the windows recovery screen.

              Luckily the HP repair partition was still intact, so it was able to repair the drive and then we were able to boot into the customers OS and clone it. Turned out it was the DATA partition not the OS partition that was failing, as when I got to copying over the pictures that's where it failed a few of the customers photos were corrupted.

              So the issues I'm experiencing with AOMEI backupper being so intermittent is likely because of damaged sectors? Apologies if I misinterpreted that. That would explain why it eventually works, just gotta try read the problem file enough times.

              Were currently just doing OS transfers, ie customer wants to upgrade to a SSD or wants a bigger SSD but does not want to have to reinstall windows and re setup all their programs. I've never liked clones; I prefer doing fresh installs everything works so much smoother, but customers of course don't want to go through the hassle of setting everything up how it was which I can't blame them.

              If the job requires data recovery than there's people we outsource to, I do want to get into that eventually but that's a long way away. Currently watching Scott Moultons video playlist on youtube quite interesting. Planning on taking his course in the new year.
              Last edited by AJ847.63e; 11-02-2023, 07:50 PM.

              Comment


                #8
                Re: Need some recommendations for windows cloning.

                Macarium Reflect works much better than AOEMI. You can still download the free version. Just be sure to select auto verify image after creation in the advanced settings of the clone job.

                For an actual OS backup VEEAM agent for windows works well. Its free and has a bare metal restore option.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Re: Need some recommendations for windows cloning.

                  Originally posted by AJ847.63e View Post
                  Were currently just doing OS transfers, ie customer wants to upgrade to a SSD or wants a bigger SSD but does not want to have to reinstall windows and re setup all their programs. I've never liked clones; I prefer doing fresh installs everything works so much smoother, but customers of course don't want to go through the hassle of setting everything up how it was which I can't blame them.
                  well, in that regard, the customer is always right... also, reinstalling windows just for a os drive upgrade is a major unnecessary hassle both for the technician and the client. u just need to learn how to do proper os drive migration the correct way. the major hard drive manufacturers all have software tools for data migration. so os reinstalls just for drive upgrades isnt the right tool for the job.

                  os reinstalls are only for serious issues with the os, like user error or hd issues bricking the os badly or a malware/ransomware infection and there is no backup disk image to revert to, so reinstalling the os is the only option.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Re: Need some recommendations for windows cloning.

                    Originally posted by m4a2t0t View Post
                    Macarium Reflect works much better than AOEMI.
                    +1 for Macrium Reflect

                    I've used it on many of my own and more modern personal machines - typically after test-installing Windows 7 or 10 on a regular HDD and then later upgrading said machine to an SSD. Also used it to upgrade the laptops of a few relatives and family friends.

                    Just make sure to get the latest version. Some of the older versions have/had weird occasional bugs. But overall, I find Macrium better than AOEMI... though AOEMI is not bad either (used it once or twice in a pinch.)

                    And I DON'T do any of the clones through USB external enclosures. Even USB 3/3.1 ones can be slow compared to directly hooking to a SATA port. And in the case of USB 2.0, the difference is massive.

                    Originally posted by ChaosLegionnaire View Post
                    os reinstalls are only for serious issues with the os, like user error or hd issues bricking the os badly or a malware/ransomware infection and there is no backup disk image to revert to, so reinstalling the os is the only option.
                    Agreed.

                    I don't do OS reinstalled unless absolutely necessary. Often times, the re-installation and setup of the old software will take longer than actually trying to correct the issue with the current OS install. Sure you can tell the customer / owner of the machine to do that themselves, but then they are more likely to forget or mess up something and come back complaining to you... so it's still a hassle one way or another. If I can rescue an OS install, I generally will. Cloning is non-invasive with the right software and everything should work as it was. In some cases, I've done a clone of the cloned OS drive (on a Windows 10 install). No issues.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Re: Need some recommendations for windows cloning.

                      The only time that I will format a drive is if I can not recover the operating system from the recovery partition but most of the time I can recover the operating systems

                      I have a laptop that I have recovered it twice and it still refuses to work properly I will probably need to format the drive and reinstall the operating system unless I figure out what the issue is but this a computer that insists on Windows 10 and it is a Windows 7 or Windows 8 laptop originally and I have not figured out how to keep it from upgrading to Windows 10

                      I really do not have files that are so important that I need to keep them on the operating system partition and if do have files that are important and need to use them again for something I will use two separate drives and setup the computer that way even to the extent that the software files are stored on the secondary drive and not on the primary drive unfortunately there some programs that give you trouble setting them up that way and become an issue

                      But it has been a long time since I have had to setup a computer that way for my personal use
                      Last edited by sam_sam_sam; 11-19-2023, 07:48 AM.
                      9 PC LCD Monitor
                      6 LCD Flat Screen TV
                      30 Desk Top Switching Power Supply
                      10 Battery Charger Switching Power Supply for Power Tool
                      6 18v Lithium Battery Power Boards for Tool Battery Packs
                      1 XBox 360 Switching Power Supply and M Board
                      25 Servo Drives 220/460 3 Phase
                      6 De-soldering Station Switching Power Supply 1 Power Supply
                      1 Dell Mother Board
                      15 Computer Power Supply
                      1 HP Printer Supply & Control Board * lighting finished it *


                      These two repairs where found with a ESR meter...> Temp at 50*F then at 90*F the ESR reading more than 10%

                      1 Over Head Crane Current Sensing Board ( VFD Failure Five Years Later )
                      2 Hem Saw Computer Stack Board

                      All of these had CAPs POOF
                      All of the mosfet that are taken out by bad caps

                      Comment


                        #12
                        I use Clonezilla. You can download it from Source Forge and burn the image to a USB stick. Change your boot order in the BIOS to make the USB stick the first device. Restart and your computer will boot into the Clonezilla program which is a self-booting ISO. You can do a full disk copy. Good points are that it comes from a trusted repository and it doesn't load itself onto your computer. If using a laptop you will need to use an external USBdrive as the target drive. If i am cloning on a desktop I open the cover and connect the target drive to a Sata port with a sata cable.

                        I have a laptop with a very old HDD. I cloned that HDD to an SSD. Works great, boots fast and I'm not worried about losing another persons valuable data. In my case I just removed the HDD from the laptop and put both the source HDD and the target SSD in my PC to clone. Much faster than using an external USB drive.

                        Try it on some data that's not critical so you can figure out the process.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          For point 1, I'd say having a look at the free version of the Veeam agent as that might work for you.

                          For point 2, Paragon Hard Disk Manager with its WinPE ISO has been really useful (and reliable) for cloning.
                          Veeam Agent for Microsoft Windows offers three product editions that define product functionality and operation modes: Server — a commercial edition that provides access to all product functions. The Server...

                          Comment


                            #14
                            So far , I always used Norton Ghost and was worthy the price . I don't intend to venture in anything else as long as I'm served .

                            Comment


                              #15
                              I would personally go for AOMEI Backupper Pro. I have used Macrium before but it was god-awfully slow to clone a 250GB drive onto a 1TB Samsung (almost 12 hours on the clock).

                              Same drive managed to get cloned in ~2 hours or so using AOMEI. Both clones were 1:1 b2b clones, and AOMEI also allows for resizing the partition to include the rest of the empty space that is left after cloning.

                              I also have managed to clone a failing 10GB Quantum lct10 onto a new Seagate U5 ST310211A with AOMEI. All you need to do after you clone the drive is fix the MBR - for whatever reason both clones required this.
                              Last edited by Dan81; 02-13-2024, 05:56 AM.
                              Main rig:
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                              Comment


                                #16
                                Originally posted by momaka View Post
                                Agreed

                                I don't do OS reinstalled unless absolutely necessary. Often times, the re-installation and setup of the old software will take longer than actually trying to correct the issue with the current OS install. Sure you can tell the customer / owner of the machine to do that themselves, but then they are more likely to forget or mess up something and come back complaining to you... so it's still a hassle one way or another. If I can rescue an OS install, I generally will. Cloning is non-invasive with the right software and everything should work as it was. In some cases, I've done a clone of the cloned OS drive (on a Windows 10 install). No issues.
                                I do this myself most of the time but if I am restoring a system from the original system then I make sure that I have a factory recovery disk that puts the recovery partition back on it so I have a restore point if I can not get a factory recovery disk

                                unfortunately I have not found a program that will put a recovery partition on your hard drive that is easy to install

                                9 PC LCD Monitor
                                6 LCD Flat Screen TV
                                30 Desk Top Switching Power Supply
                                10 Battery Charger Switching Power Supply for Power Tool
                                6 18v Lithium Battery Power Boards for Tool Battery Packs
                                1 XBox 360 Switching Power Supply and M Board
                                25 Servo Drives 220/460 3 Phase
                                6 De-soldering Station Switching Power Supply 1 Power Supply
                                1 Dell Mother Board
                                15 Computer Power Supply
                                1 HP Printer Supply & Control Board * lighting finished it *


                                These two repairs where found with a ESR meter...> Temp at 50*F then at 90*F the ESR reading more than 10%

                                1 Over Head Crane Current Sensing Board ( VFD Failure Five Years Later )
                                2 Hem Saw Computer Stack Board

                                All of these had CAPs POOF
                                All of the mosfet that are taken out by bad caps

                                Comment


                                  #17
                                  yea i dislike those drives with a recovery partition because its useless. if the hard drive is hosed, the os typically still wont boot from the recovery partition. i prefer to load up a linux based os live cd like ubuntu and perform data recovery on the bad hard drive using gnu ddrescue. so to me, its (the recovery partition) useless and wastes space on the drive that can be used for other stuff like storage. but thats just me. the recovery partition can still be useful for most mainstream users who lack the ability to get a live cd to rescue their os and/or dmged hard drive.

                                  Comment


                                    #18
                                    Originally posted by ChaosLegionnaire View Post
                                    …. i prefer to load up a linux based os live cd like ubuntu and perform data recovery on the bad hard drive using gnu ddrescue. so to me, its (the recovery partition) useless and wastes space on the drive that can be used for other stuff like storage. but thats just me….. users who lack the ability to get a live cd to rescue their os and/or dmged hard drive.
                                    I have tried to do live CD rescue and have not had success doing it so I might be doing it wrong or not using the right software program to do this procedure correctly and recommendation websites links would be appreciated

                                    9 PC LCD Monitor
                                    6 LCD Flat Screen TV
                                    30 Desk Top Switching Power Supply
                                    10 Battery Charger Switching Power Supply for Power Tool
                                    6 18v Lithium Battery Power Boards for Tool Battery Packs
                                    1 XBox 360 Switching Power Supply and M Board
                                    25 Servo Drives 220/460 3 Phase
                                    6 De-soldering Station Switching Power Supply 1 Power Supply
                                    1 Dell Mother Board
                                    15 Computer Power Supply
                                    1 HP Printer Supply & Control Board * lighting finished it *


                                    These two repairs where found with a ESR meter...> Temp at 50*F then at 90*F the ESR reading more than 10%

                                    1 Over Head Crane Current Sensing Board ( VFD Failure Five Years Later )
                                    2 Hem Saw Computer Stack Board

                                    All of these had CAPs POOF
                                    All of the mosfet that are taken out by bad caps

                                    Comment


                                      #19
                                      Also check out winreducer
                                      build your iso then save to a USB stick for repeat installs. I guess if you modify more further you have to use one of above solutions as well.
                                      happy hacking

                                      Comment


                                        #20
                                        Originally posted by sam_sam_sam View Post

                                        I have tried to do live CD rescue and have not had success doing it so I might be doing it wrong or not using the right software program to do this procedure correctly and recommendation websites links would be appreciated
                                        boot the livedisk,
                                        open a terminal/console and type "man ddrescue"
                                        most linux software has a manual

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