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View Full Version : How do you mirror a drive exactly?


xrMike
05-12-2010, 10:11 AM
At work I have a laptop provided by my employer. It is over 5 years old. It functions fine, but I now have a significant amount of data and time invested in it (lots of one-time configuration of network drives, VPN and sharepoint access, and other unique crap that would be VERY time-consuming to set up all over again).

I back up my data infrequently to a network share (stupid, I know). But now I am becoming more concerned about drive failure, and the amount of down-time I would experience if that happened.

I would like to buy a 1 or 2 terrabyte drive and use it to back up the data and photos on my home desktop system, but ALSO mirror the hard drive on my work laptop (if that is possible).

By "mirror" I mean an EXACT DUPLICATE IN EVERY WAY, down to the bit. So that if the drive on my laptop failed, I could go out and buy a new one, image it, pop it in my laptop, and immediately be up and running again with minimal disruption.

Here are some things that might complicate the issue (or maybe not, I don't know, just throwing them out there):


the company uses a product called "PC COE" to force-install security updates on all employee computers
the company uses a McAfee product to encrypt our drives; I have to enter a password during boot process, and then another password (we call it an "NT password" around here) before the OS desktop comes up

Is it even possible to mirror a drive so exactly that it would work without a hitch in this setting? How would you do that? What software would you use?

Thanks.

ocabj
05-12-2010, 10:20 AM
You can use Symantec/Norton Ghost do a drive image. That alone should be a correct image.

Personally, I would just dd the drives. dd is a standard system utility in *nix based Operating Systems and you can use dd to do bit by bit drive duplication.

Stick the drive to copy and the drive to copy to into a *nix box (or just boot off a live *nix disc) and run: dd if=<disk_to_copy> of=<disk_to_copy_to>

i.e. dd if=/dev/sda of=/dev/sdb

dd is basically going to render a true bit to bit clone. And it's free.

ptdog
05-12-2010, 8:13 PM
Hiren's boot CD has lots of different ways to mirror your drive. You pick which one you want to use. It is free to use also. I use this and mirror all my computers at home for quick restoration in a disaster.

http://www.hirensbootcd.net/

Satex
05-12-2010, 10:57 PM
Clonzilla is a very good tool to mirror drives: http://www.clonezilla.org/

yellowsulphur
05-13-2010, 2:20 AM
You can use Symantec/Norton Ghost do a drive image. That alone should be a correct image.

Personally, I would just dd the drives. dd is a standard system utility in *nix based Operating Systems and you can use dd to do bit by bit drive duplication.

Stick the drive to copy and the drive to copy to into a *nix box (or just boot off a live *nix disc) and run: dd if=<disk_to_copy> of=<disk_to_copy_to>

i.e. dd if=/dev/sda of=/dev/sdb

dd is basically going to render a true bit to bit clone. And it's free.

dd is good for the most part just make sure the drive isn't mounted first.

sfwdiy
05-13-2010, 2:25 PM
What OS are you using? I'm assuming some variant of Windows.

Keep in mind that if you're using this as your backup strategy you'll have to re-clone the entire drive every time you want to make a fresh backup. This can be quite time consuming depending on the amount of data we're talking about here.

I'd look into software that can make incremental backups for you so you're only backing up what's changed on the drive since the last backup. You may want to look into Retrospect Backup (http://www.retrospect.com/products/software/retroforwin/). Use something like that with a decent-sized USB drive and your backup solution is pretty well covered. You can restore a drive right back to where it was in just the amount of time it takes to copy the data. I'm pretty sure retrospect can do this automatically to a network share, too.

--B

xrMike
05-13-2010, 3:23 PM
What OS are you using? I'm assuming some variant of Windows.Yeah, Windows XP with SP3.

I'd look into software that can make incremental backups for you so you're only backing up what's changed on the drive since the last backup. You may want to look into Retrospect Backup (http://www.retrospect.com/products/software/retroforwin/). Use something like that with a decent-sized USB drive and your backup solution is pretty well covered. You can restore a drive right back to where it was in just the amount of time it takes to copy the data. I'm pretty sure retrospect can do this automatically to a network share, too.

--BI like this idea (incremental). Looking into this link, and the others provided so far. Thanks everyone.

Ricky-Ray
05-13-2010, 3:24 PM
If the drive is encrypted there's a possibility that duping the drive will not work. I did a little testing at work with encrypted drives and tried to duplicate it with a drive replicator and it did not work. I have not tried any software based version yet.

glock_this
05-13-2010, 3:25 PM
if your on a Mac use CCC - carbon copy cloner.. the BEST utility for Apple computers to clone and mirror a drive. period.

oh, and it is free :)

sfwdiy
05-13-2010, 4:08 PM
if your on a Mac use CCC - carbon copy cloner.. the BEST utility for Apple computers to clone and mirror a drive. period.

oh, and it is free :)

+1 on CCC. Apple's Disk Utility does a lot of the same things, but won't clone a disk you're booted from. CCC can do incremental backups with advanced options as well, plus it has the ability to schedule backups. Good stuff. One thing it does seem to have issues with is making disk images of encrypted drives. Time Machine still seems to work fine in this regard.

--B

JDay
05-13-2010, 5:55 PM
If the drive is encrypted there's a possibility that duping the drive will not work. I did a little testing at work with encrypted drives and tried to duplicate it with a drive replicator and it did not work. I have not tried any software based version yet.

That's why you backup the data that's on an encrypted drive to another encrypted drive instead of making an image.

kapache
05-14-2010, 10:48 AM
used dd_rescue ill do the job.

kapache
05-14-2010, 10:49 AM
Or clonezilla its faster than DD_RESCUE both will surely get the job done for you.

doubledgarage
05-25-2010, 12:14 PM
For practicality, you should look into incremental backups. Ghosting and dd'ing will require full unrestricted and locked access to your hard drive. It's not something you can have running in the background, such as a backup agent doing incremental backups.

I'm pretty sure McAfee's encryption will interfere with Ghost/dd. Ghost primary works by doing a file image of the hard drive and dumping it to an image file. If the hard drive is encrypted, Ghost will not be able to read the files. I'm not sure how dd works but I believe it does a sector copy so it should work. Ghost has an option to do sector copies as well.

doubledgarage
05-25-2010, 12:16 PM
You should dump McAfee and XP for 7's Bitlocker. I'm sure it'll work way better. :)

GP3
05-25-2010, 12:17 PM
I'm not terribly computer savvy but why has no one mentioned a RAID setup? Specifically a RAID 1.

doubledgarage
05-25-2010, 12:32 PM
He's on a laptop so he'll be limited on RAID options, lol. While RAID 1 is a mirror, it's meant more for redundancy than backup. I think the OP is looking for a backup solution more than a redundancy solution.

If OP required a laptop that had to be powered on 24/7 99% of the time, then RAID 1 (with backups) would be ideal. OP seems like he wanted an image of the current state of the hard drive that can be dumped on a new hard drive in the event of failure and popped in the laptop.

Also any logical (opposed to physical) problems on one of the RAID drives will be replicated to the other RAID drive. For example, let's say there is a file structure corruption (rare these days) or the registry takes a dump (rare also), these problems will be replicated on the other RAID drive and still render the computer unusual. RAID should not be confused with backups.

GTKrockeTT
05-25-2010, 12:37 PM
use a fully functional trial version of acronis if it's a one time thing. might be worthwhile enough to buy, up to you.

however, given your laptop is 5 years old, that image you take will be certainly an adventure when you dump it onto a new laptop with different hardware and drivers...nasty.

sometimes a little effort with a clean OS and application install is well worth it.

Chris M
05-25-2010, 12:43 PM
http://www.xxclone.com/

Open Source. Free.

doubledgarage
05-25-2010, 12:44 PM
use a fully functional trial version of acronis if it's a one time thing. might be worthwhile enough to buy, up to you.

however, given your laptop is 5 years old, that image you take will be certainly an adventure when you dump it onto a new laptop with different hardware and drivers...nasty.

sometimes a little effort with a clean OS and application install is well worth it.

+1


(extra characters)

JDay
05-26-2010, 1:22 AM
You should dump McAfee and XP for 7's Bitlocker. I'm sure it'll work way better. :)

You want a motherboard that has a TPM chip in order to have a secure bitlocker setup (also need to enable the PIN at boot). Currently it is quite hard to find consumer motherboards that have these. Sure you can just use a USB stick to store the key but then anyone who gets that USB stick has access to all your files. There's also the problem of people leaving it in the computer.

JDay
05-26-2010, 1:25 AM
He's on a laptop so he'll be limited on RAID options, lol. While RAID 1 is a mirror, it's meant more for redundancy than backup.

RAID isn't a good choice unless you need to have 99% uptime or more. The problem with RAID is that the hard drives are all the same make and model. What that means is that when one drive fails the other is probably going to fail soon too since they have the same service life and have been operated under the exact same conditions. You should absolutely never use RAID as a backup solution.

doubledgarage
05-26-2010, 9:06 AM
You want a motherboard that has a TPM chip in order to have a secure bitlocker setup (also need to enable the PIN at boot). Currently it is quite hard to find consumer motherboards that have these. Sure you can just use a USB stick to store the key but then anyone who gets that USB stick has access to all your files. There's also the problem of people leaving it in the computer.

He's on a laptop. I noticed most laptop motherboards come with a TPM chip. All the Dell Latitudes I have worked with come with TPM chips. The few Toshibas and HPs also do.

RAID isn't a good choice unless you need to have 99% uptime or more. The problem with RAID is that the hard drives are all the same make and model. What that means is that when one drive fails the other is probably going to fail soon too since they have the same service life and have been operated under the exact same conditions. You should absolutely never use RAID as a backup solution.

Yep. +1

JDay
05-26-2010, 4:35 PM
He's on a laptop. I noticed most laptop motherboards come with a TPM chip. All the Dell Latitudes I have worked with come with TPM chips. The few Toshibas and HPs also do.

Only if they're a business class and even then its usually just the higher end ones that have it. You will not find a TPM in any consumer grade laptop.